Listen closely and you’ll hear the bright sound of rolling banjos and chopping mandolins, the deep bow of the fiddle, guitar strums and thumping bass, as the strings of summer ride the cool breezes through the Lanark Highlands this July.
Old School Bluegrass Camp is nestled among the rolling hills, forests and fields in the tiny hamlet community of Elphin, ON on the home property of camp director Jenny Whiteley and head cook Joey Wright.
Old School Bluegrass Camp returns for its sixth season as pandemic restrictions ease and al fresco music in small groups is permitted. The OSBC team is making the most of the glorious Ontario summer outdoors by adding two pop-up camp weekends in 2021; bookending the full week annual camp. Three days dedicated to fiddle and banjo happen July 1 to 3, leading up to the full camp week, which offers instruction in fiddle, clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, mandolin, guitar and upright bass from July 4 to 9, and the week wraps up with three days of old time music from July 9 to 11. As limited numbers of student camper spots are available, campers at the pop-up camps will receive direct and intimate instruction with a very low student-to-teacher ratio like no other camp of its kind. Workshops, instruction, jams, concerts, home-cooked healthy food and more; all outdoors in the beautiful natural landscape of northeastern Ontario. All health protocols will be compliant with local regulations. Old School Bluegrass Camp is an adult camp for students 18 and over camping on-site, enjoying a week of learning music at all skill levels from beginner to advanced.
The fiddle and banjo camp features Canadian and U.S. Fiddle Champion Shane Cook, and Nathan Smith of the Barrel Boys and Red River Ramblers sharing their expertise in many different styles of fiddle music. Sam Allison (Lotus Wight of Sheesham & Lotus) and the Barrel Boys’ Rob McLaren will lead the clawhammer and bluegrass banjo component. Workshops focused on timing, phrasing and communication with other players will highlight the programming, which will include bluegrass, Celtic, swing, old time and country styles. The long and storied relationship between the fiddle and banjo will be a focus of the three-day camp.
The old time camp features old-time banjo expert Chris Coole leading banjo and guitar and Teilhard Frost (Sheesham & Lotus) leading fiddle, harmonica and percussion. Kristine Schmitt will guide performance and voice coaching, and Luke Mercier joins in to lead more fiddle and banjo programming.
The sixth annual Old School Bluegrass Camp week July 4 to 9 also features a stellar lineup of instructors: John Showman (fiddle), Adrian Gross (mandolin), Darryl Poulsen (guitar) Guy Donis (bluegrass banjo), Sam Allison (upright bass), and Chris Coole (clawhammer banjo). Performance coaching from Kristine Schmitt and a history of bluegrass presentation from banjoist Chris Quinn are also part of the weeks’ activities. There are still class spots available in the upright bass and guitar classes, and prospective students can be added to a waiting list for the other instrument classes, or attend as a camp companion along with another student.