Andrew Collins ~ Mandolin ~ www.andrewcollinstrio.com
As experienced educators, there are several ways in which the Andrew Collins Trio connect with the community when out on the road. For music students and older audiences, they have a well developed music arranging and improvisation course. As accomplished instrumentalists, with much experience attending/instructing at various music workshops, they also enjoy teaching master classes which can be either instrument specific for large groups (mandolin, guitar, fiddle and bass) or private one-on-ones. Another common way in which the Andrew Collins Trio enjoy engaging with communities, is through hosting and attending jams. There is no better way to connect personally (and hopefully inspire) hobby and aspiring musicians, than to spend time in the comfort of a living room or pub joining them as peers rather than performers/instructors.
Adam Shier ~ Guitar
Adam fell in love with the sound of Bluegrass while attending college in Halifax and was soon recruiting his best friends to be in a Bluegrass band. The band quickly recorded an album and were excited to win a Music Nova Scotia Award in 2009 for Bluegrass/Country Album of the Year. The (Unseen Strangers) group has grown immensely from these small beginnings but a similar goal remains, to play new energetic bluegrass music with respect to the incredible lineage of its tradition.
James McEleney ~ Bass ~ www.jamesmceleney.com
My name is James McEleney, I am a bass player active in the Toronto jazz and bluegrass/country music scenes. I play regularly as a member of “A Sondheim Jazz Project” “The Unseen Strangers” and “The Andrew Collins Trio”. I like to think of myself as a great appreciator of fine beers and all things batman.
Chris Coole ~ Clawhammer Banjo ~www.chriscoole.com
Chris says: I’ve taught an awful lot of people how to play the banjo and guitar. I love doing it. In the past, I’ve taught lessons to some of the brightest lights in the younger generation of clawhammer players such as Frank Evans, Alison De Groot, and Victor Furtado. So, if you’ve ever wondered how your life would be different if you played the banjo, or played the banjo differently, then wonder no more! Chris Coole is a sought-after teacher of both banjo and guitar at workshops and festivals across Canada and the U.S.
Frank Evans ~ Bluegrass Banjo ~ www.frankevansmusic.com
Frank Evans fell in love with banjo at age 10 and quickly developed a passion for Old Time Appalachian music. He won the youth banjo contest at the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival when he was 13 and later placed second overall. In 2010 Evans joined the bluegrass outfit The Slocan Ramblers and recorded their first album “Shaking Down The Acorns” produced by Juno Award winner Andrew Collins. The album gained attention worldwide and led them to open for Steve Martin at the Toronto Jazz Festival in 2013. Evans became the first banjo player to attend Humber College of Music studying jazz. Currently, Evans tours extensively year round throughout the world and has played at Rockygrass Academy, Merlefest, and Jacob’s Ladder in Israel. He has taught at Rockygrass Academy, Nimble Fingers Bluegrass Camp, and has played, recorded and taught alongside Old Crow Medicine Show, Natalie McMaster, Tony Trischka, Peter Rowan, John Reischman and Ken Whiteley. Evans is now based in Nashville, TN.
Ben Plotnick ~ Fiddle ~ www.benplotnick.com
Ben Plotnick has established himself over the last decade as one of North America’s elite fiddle players. With a variety of acts, he has performed across 4 continents. He has recorded on more than a hundred albums as a session musician, performed at arenas and festivals across the continent with country, folk, Americana and bluegrass bands, and produced 6 records for himself or other collaborative projects. As a classical player, he has performed as a soloist with more than one professional orchestra. As an old time fiddler, he has placed as high as 1st runner-up at the esteemed Canadian Grand Masters fiddle competition. As a member of the Fretless, the band won a Juno award for Instrumental Album of the Year in 2017, to add to their slew of other awards and accolades. As a singer, songwriter and fiddle player in Oliver the Crow, NPR called the duo “An Inspired Collaboration”.
Ivan Rosenberg ~ www.ivanrosenberg.com
Since releasing his first solo album in 2001, Ivan Rosenberg has gained a dedicated following for his melodic, expressive acoustic music on Dobro and clawhammer banjo. Millions have heard his original songs in the background of well over 400 television programs and films including The Daily Show, Oprah, Call of the Wildman, History Detectives, the Special Edition DVD of Serenity, and the Hollywood blockbuster Kangaroo Jack. Ivan earned an IBMA Award for co-writing the 2009 Song of the Year; played on the Jerry Doulgas-produced CD Southern Filibuster: A Tribute to Tut Taylor; and performed with Chris Coole, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, the April Verch Bigger Band, Lizzy Hoyt, Chris Stuart & Backcountry, Zachary Lucky, Allison Lupton, and many more. Ivan has taught at music camps over 80 times and has been a regular at Walker Creek Music Camp, Old School Bluegrass Camp, Nashville Dobro Camp, Sore Fingers, ResoSummit, California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, 108 Mile Cabin Fever Bluegrass Workshop, NBCMS Acoustic Music Workshop, and the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop.
Kristine Schmitt ~ www.kristineschmitt.com
Kristine Schmitt is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter, specializing in material both drawn from and influenced by music from the early part of the twentieth century. Whether it’s a fifties country ballad, an old mountain tune, a salty twenties blues number, a swinging thirties jazz tune, or belting out one of her own, you’d better hang on tight!
Luthier Luke Mercier
Born in Toronto, Canada in 1972, Luke took to music at a very young age. While completing his classical piano studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Antonin Kubalek in Toronto, Luke began his apprenticeship in Violin restoration at Geo. Heinl & Co. Ltd., in 1991. As a violin restorer and maker for over 25 years, he has come to treasure his experience of having handled, studied and restored many rare and important instruments from the violin family and in particular many of the treasured works that comprise the collection in the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank. Luke currently works out of his home-based shop located in Spring Brook, Ontario. As a semi-active musician, Luke has taken to performing with various players in Appalachian, Celtic, French Canadian and Bluegrass music circles.
Jenny Whiteley ~ Camp Director ~ www. jennywhiteley.com
Music critics have compared Jenny Whiteley’s striking vocals and songwriting to Emmy Lou Harris and Lucinda Williams, raving that she “swings effortlessly from black-hearted back-porch Americana to Laurel Canyon country” (No Depression). Jenny got an early start playing music with her father and uncle, Chris and Ken Whiteley, who formed the popular Original Sloth Band in the heyday of Toronto folk. Throughout Jenny’s childhood, she and her brother Dan were along for the ride at countless concerts and festivals, and before long they were singing and playing washtub and washboard alongside their dad and uncle in The Junior Jug Band. Jenny founded Old School Bluegrass Camp in 2015, and has been producing camps, concerts and events alongside music throughout her career.
Joey Wright ~ Head Cook and Site Co-Ordinator ~www.blackhenmusic.com/joeywright
Ask Joey Wright to describe his music, and he’ll tell you “cinematic quasi bluegrass jazz compositions”. That description is hard to argue with. Joey has played guitar and mandolin with Sarah Harmer and was part of legendary Toronto bluegrass outfits “Crazy Strings” and “Heartbreak Hill”.
Chris Quinn ~ History of Bluegrass Presentation ~www.chris-quinn.ca
“I heard Earl Scruggs when I was 6 years old; that was it.” Chris began playing banjo in 1978. His dad, Murray Quinn, who has remained a lifelong supporter of Chris’ music, got him his first banjo for Christmas. Murray did his best to take Chris out to see live music and meet musicians. “Dad snuck me into a bar once when I was 12 so that I could see a live bluegrass band.” Since 2000, Chris has been the award winning banjo player for The Foggy Hogtown Boys. He has performed on more than 125 recordings as a side-man or featured artist–including 6 projects with The Foggy Hogtown Boys. Chris has performed at festivals and concerts all over the U.S. and Canada as well as having toured internationally. With more than 30 years of experience, he is also a highly acclaimed instructor who is equally comfortable working one on one or with larger groups; Chris has even conducted a banjo workshop in a bomb shelter in the middle east once!
Allison Brown ~ Camp Assistant ~ www.allisonbrown.ca
Allison loves to sing a great song. She brings her distinctly tuneful, sweet and powerful voice to her endless collection of hand-picked roots music repertoire alongside crafted original songs. Allison’s music continues to evolve after two decades of live performance and recording. Allison was a community radio volunteer for over 15 years and loves doing administrative work for musicians and arts organizations. She is also a trusted house and pet-sitter.