Notes From The Road: This is my “Pete’s-eye view” feature on this site, with reports on interesting people and events I encounter in my travels. Banjos, mandolins, and guitars converge on a beautiful old hotel in the heart of bluegrass-land.
November 9-11, 2001
I had been anticipating this one eagerly for a good while. John Lawless (Mr. AcuTab) and Dan and Mariann Miller (Mr. and Mrs. Flatpicking Guitar Magazine) have been some of my favorite people to work with, and they are the successful team behind the Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend. They love the music, are players themselves, and smoothly take care of business down to the last detail. This event attracts over 100 pickers, with instruction on banjo, mandolin, and guitar from a great staff of teachers, in the optimum setting of the Hotel Roanoke. This old and recently renovated hotel in the middle of town, has a gorgeous rooms, excellent food, and ample space for teaching and jamming. I was hired to teach banjo all day Saturday, and offer my bluegrass jamming class Friday night.
We didn’t know beforehand how many takers might want basic jamming instruction, but it turned out to be quite a few, as I’d guessed, about 40 folks, most of whom had had little or no jamming experience. By the end of the evening, they were jamming away in six different groups, and I hope, experiencing “the first day of the rest of their lives”.
Spending the weekend in the company of such great pickers as Craig Smith, Jim Hurst, Roland White, Joe Mullins, Herschel Sizemore, Steve Huber, David Grier, and more, was a heady experience. I found myself wishing I could sit in on all their classes, and I did in fact catch some of Craig Smith’s and Joe Mullins’ workshops. Awesome players and interesting, approachable people.
The faculty concert Saturday night was a highlight. The entire cavalcade of teachers took turns being featured in various settings, and I and the substantial crowd ate it right up. I did my solo piece from the (“award winning”) AcuTab record, Little Liza Jane, and Joan and I did a few numbers, including with the help of Alan Bibey and Jim Hurst– not a bad band!
I sure hope to be asked back to this one next fall! Thanks John, Dan and Mariann for having me.