Get musical lessons from the pros at the Alabama Folk School.
With roots that extend back to England, Scotland, and Ireland, early forms of bluegrass music sprouted in America in the Appalachian Mountains during the early 18th century. More than 300 years later, bluegrass remains more than hillbilly musical enchantment; it’s also a delight to learn to play. In the 21st century, the genre is revered as folk art, and the great thing about folk art is that while one may never achieve the jaw-dropping prowess of the late Earl Scruggs on a mandolin, anybody can learn a bluegrass lick or two. All it takes is a little patience and some superb teachers.
The Alabama Folk School’s April Bluegrass & Gee’s Bend Week, beginning April 16, will offer mandolin instruction from former Bill Monroe guitarist and Lester Flatt mandolin player Roland White. (When asked if he teaches students Bill Monroe songs, White responded, “Yeah, I always include one or two, he’s my favorite. Bill Monroe is our father who art in heaven—I hope.”)
Those who desire to sing bluegrass can sign up for a “vocal nuances” class taught by bluegrass queen Claire Lynch. Lynch sang with Dolly Parton before branching out on her own in 2005 with The Claire Lynch Band. Instruction will also be available from Lynch bassist Mark Schatz as well as Birmingham’s Herb Trotman (banjo) and Jason Bailey (mandolin).
Founded in 2007, the Alabama Folk School is located at Camp McDowell on 1,100 acres of forest in Nauvoo, Alabama. The wooded setting is lush and peaceful, a perfect environment for acoustic instruments and wayward singers. Visit www.alfolkschool.com for details. —Ed Reynolds