Old School Bluegrass Instructors & Staff 2023

Fiddle – Nathan Smith www.nathansmithmusic.net

Nathan is a fiddle player and singer currently based in Smiths Falls, ON, by way of Toronto and his hometown of North Bay. His upbeat and soulful original compositions combine a wealth of bluegrass and old-time experience with his upbringing playing Celtic and traditional Canadian fiddle music. He is in high demand as a performer, teacher, and session player. He performs regularly with a number of touring ensembles, including bluegrass band The Barrel Boys, banjo-picking songwriter Hannah Shira Naiman, and dynamic acoustic trad quartet Vinta.

Bluegrass Banjo – Rob McLaren www.robmclaren.ca

An active member of folk-rockers Union Duke and folk-grassers The Barrel Boys, Rob McLaren’s quirky songwriting style has always stood apart from the crowd. His 2019 debut release “Rob McLaren II,” is the first full-length album of original material from the multi-instrumentalist. Named for his great-grandfather, Rob McLaren II showcases the breadth of Rob’s musical aptitudes and experiences, occupying a cozy nook between old-time, honky-tonk, and newgrass, while featuring dizzying chops on a small heap of instruments. The songwriting is alternatingly sincere and silly, at times giving a nod to John Hartford, elsewhere evoking the subtlety of Red Headed Stranger-era Willie Nelson, or the tradition-minded collaborative spontaneity of the Highwoods Stringband.

Clawhammer Banjo – Riley Baugus www.rileybaugusbanjos.com

Riley Baugus, a North Carolina native who lives in Walkertown, began singing and playing music at an early age. Raised in a household where recordings of old-time music were often played, he developed a love and appreciation for traditional southern Appalachian music. Already expertly playing fiddle and guitar, by the time he was twelve, he and his father built a banjo from scrap wood, and he once again began to learn another instrument.  He teaches banjo, guitar, and fiddle at music camps throughout the country and tours regularly with Dirk Powell and Tim O’Brien, and with Ira Bernstein. His singing is featured on the soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning film Cold Mountain. He built the antebellum-style banjos that were used in the film.  He has also collaborated with Laurelyn Dossett and Ira Bernstein on recordings and contributed to albums by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Polecat Creek, Martha Scanlan, Dirk Powell, Adam Tanner, Kirk Sutphin, and the Lonesome Sisters.

Guitar – Kyle Kirkpatrick www.kylekirkpatrick.ca

Kyle Kirkpatrick is a multi-instrumentalist (dobro, guitar, steel guitar) and singer-songwriter based in Smiths Falls, Ontario. His eclectic musical taste and expertise from Bluegrass to Jazz allow him to produce a fresh approach to folk music and take his music to new musical landscapes and stylistic possibilities. Kyle grew up in Lindsay, Ontario while watching his dad, former guitarist for Canadian Country band Montana Sky, perform while strumming along on his ukulele. At the age of 6, Kyle started playing guitar and by the time he was 13 years old, he began playing local bars and festivals. He spent 12 years performing in the vibrant Toronto Folk Music scene, playing dobro and guitar with local Bluegrass bands including his primary group, The Barrel Boys. Additionally, Kyle did session work on dobro, lap steel and pedal steel.

Bass – Sam Allison

In the decades which book-ended the turn of our century, Sam Allison embraced the music over which he had obsessed since his childhood. He dwelled in the cradles of their conception and birth. The Carolinas, the Mississippi Valley, West Virginia, Kentucky, Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland fed him the sounds of tradition that helped to form his musical life. Sam has been nominated for the Canadian Folk Music Award and JUNO for his work as producer of records for Sheesham and Lotus, Lotus Wight and Jenny Whiteley as well as music for television and film. When Sam was a young child, he puzzled his parents by speaking in a broad Brooklyn accent until the age of six years old.

Mandolin – Will Meadows

Hello fellow mandolin pickers! I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching my approach to bluegrass mandolin at Old School Bluegrass Camp! Timing, tuning, taste, tone, and all of the other T’s. I hope to have an interactive experience with y’all, and hope to indulge in a giant ball of mandolin nerdiness!

Vocals and Performance – 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!

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, Site Co-Ordinator www.joeywright.bandcamp.com

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”.

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, including managing the itinerary for The Slocan Ramblers. She is also a trusted house and pet-sitter.