Berklee College of Music hosts its first American Roots Weekend, June 20-22, for acoustic musicians who perform bluegrass, blues, folk, country, acoustic jazz, and swing on instruments such as violin, viola, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar, and harp. Berklee string instructor Joe Walsh, a mandolin player who has performed with Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck and others, will lead the weekend.
The American Roots Weekend is part of Berklee’s popular summer programs. To apply, please visit berklee.edu/summer/berklee-american-roots-weekend.
Leading roots musicians and educators will teach the program, including bassist Viktor Krauss, who has worked with Bill Frisell and Lyle Lovett; Matt Munisteri, who has toured with Mark O’Connor and Madeleine Peyroux; Grammy Award-winning banjo player Alison Brown; Mark Simos, who has written songs for Alison Krauss; and renowned violinist Matt Glaser, director of Berklee’s American Roots Program.
“We’ll also have Darol Anger, Paul Rishell, Annie Raines, and Maeve Gilchrist,” said Walsh. “These are some of the most influential roots musicians in the world.”
This is the first summer session for the American Roots Program since its creation five years ago. “The program has been a huge success. All over the country people ask me about who’s teaching and how the students are doing,” said Walsh. “There’s clearly a lot of excitement about roots music at Berklee now. The camp comes as a response to this, giving people a way to be a part of the scene for a weekend, and a way to check out Berklee.”
Students will participate in ensembles, master classes, and lectures. Participants will also choose from a host of classes including Variations on a Simple Melody as an Intro to Improvisation for Folk Musicians, Country Blues Guitar, Music Theory, and Intro to Ear Training. The evenings will feature faculty concerts and jams.
Berklee’s American Roots Program
The artistic validity of a wide range of American roots styles—including blues, gospel, folk, early country music, bluegrass, old-time, cajun, western swing, polka, Tex-Mex, and others—is beyond dispute. This music is the lifeblood of America’s cultural heritage. The expressive urgency and depth of these styles is supported by strong fundamental musical values. Berklee has created the American Roots Music Program in recognition of the richness of these idioms, and the ways that they fuse with contemporary elements.
The American Roots Music Program produces concerts, hosts visiting artists, designs and implements curriculum, creates and hosts faculty development sessions, and designs and implements symposiums and seminars. Also, using a broader definition of the term “roots,” the program examines the core of what it means to be a musician in all idioms, and contemplates the roots of our western musical traditions, ranging from Bach to traditional African music. The artistic director for the program is Matt Glaser, who served as chair of Berklee’s String Department for 28 years.