Instructors

2019 Instructors 

Nate Lee

Nate Lee is a Nashville based bluegrass musician with a well-rounded musical career. His musical journey started at the age of eight when he got his first fiddle and that path led him through countless lessons and music camps and eventually to an intense study of bluegrass music at the college level. After completing a degree in Commercial Music at South Plains College, Nate went on to tour and record with bluegrass, western swing, new acoustic, and Americana bands. Nate currently tours with the Jim Hurst Trio (featuring Jim, Nate, and Erik Alvar), Irene Kelley, and from time to time can be seen with Town Mountain and Becky Buller.

​Although Nate is in demand on stage and in the studio, his first love and finest skill is teaching. With more than twelve years’ experience as a teacher and workshop instructor, Nate has gained a loyal following of students who enjoy his comprehensive teaching methods and relaxed, encouraging demeanor. Nate doesn’t just teach you a song; he teaches you how to play melody, chords, improvise, and groove on that song. With an affinity for turning beginners into jammers, and jammers into professionals, Nate has developed a curriculum that teaches you to play well with others and become the player you’ve always wanted to be!

Deanie Richardson

Deanie has several titles under her belt, entering and winning numerous fiddle contests before she started playing bluegrass or bluegrass festivals. She has been nominated for the Academy of Country Music Awards Top Fiddle Player of the Year for 2010 putting her up against Stuart Duncan, a fellow fiddler she admires greatly. She includes Stuart along with Mark O' Connor, Howdy Forrester, Kenny Baker and Tommy Jackson in the list of musicians that have influenced her playing over the years.

Thriving on diversity, she has shared the stage and/or recording studio with such artists as Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Bob Seger, Dale Ann Bradley, Emmy Lou Harris, Ry Cooder, David Olney, Hank Williams Jr, Del McCoury Band, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Holly Dunn to name a few. Deanie has toured with the Chieftains, Vince Gill, Bob Seger, and will be starting 2016 with the new band, Sister Sadie.

With appearances on Letterman, Leno, Conan and the Today Show at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall as well as touring all over including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland Deanie has had the opportunity to play the wide range of styles that she does so well. She doesn't limit herself to just the fiddle, Deanie also plays mandolin and acoustic guitar.

She has been a mentor to many young musicians, something that Deanie feels very fortunate to be a part of. Working with kids has given her the opportunity to nurture the next generation of bluegrass pickers, something she believes in with all of her heart. She has shared her liveliness and love for music with many students over the years. Deanie is a presence on stage. She radiates a type of contagious energy; literally bursting at the seams of her small frame so that you feel you are a part of the magic when she takes one of her solos. She says that her beloved fiddle vibrates her entire body as she plays; maybe that's what you feel as you listen to her music. Or maybe it comes from within. They say you get back what you give out. If that’s true then Deanie’s cup is overflowing. Her motto.... "Love Hard, Work Hard, Play Hard.... in that order.

Megan Lynch Chowning 

Megan Lynch, originally from Redding, California, is a seven time national fiddle champion, touring musician, recording artist, teacher, singer, and flatfooter. She recently finished a four year touring stint with legendary country music artists Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, and has played with bluegrass stars Dale Ann Bradley, Roland White, Larry Cordle, Jim Hurst, Chris Jones, 3 Fox Drive, Due West, Chris Stuart, and BEML (the duo of Bill Evans and Megan). 

Megan has fiddled and sung on more than two dozen projects, and has a new CD out called Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue. She has taught fiddle at prestigious camps such as Augusta Heritage Week, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week in the UK, and the California Bluegrass Association Camp, among many others. Megan has also judged the National Fiddle Championships three times, as well as many state championships throughout the country. She’s the c0-director of the Nashville Acoustic Camps with her husband Adam. But sometimes she just likes to sit quietly and smell the flowers. To see a long list of other really important stuff about Megan, click here... 

April Verch

Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch knows how relevant an old tune can be. She was raised surrounded by living, breathing roots music—her father’s country band rehearsing; the lively music at church and at community dances; the tunes she rocked out to win fiddle competitions. She thought every little girl learned to stepdance at the age of three and fiddle at the age of six. She knew nothing else and decided early on that she wanted to be a professional musician.

She took that leap, and for over two decades has been recording and captivating audiences worldwide, exploring new and nuanced places each step of the way. On February 17, 2017, she will release The April Verch Anthology (Slab Town Records), an 18-track collection celebrating her life’s work. Hand-picked by Verch, the songs on this compilation offer an enchanting mix of regional Canadian, American old-time, bluegrass, country and Americana tracks.

The April Verch Anthology is a testament to the many chapters in Verch’s musical journey. Moving from exuberant stepdancer to fiddle wunderkind and silver-voiced singer; from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller.  The compilation is an excursion through Verch’s 1998-2015 recordings, featuring tunes and songs dear to Verch as well as a healthy dose of fan favorites and two newly recorded tracks.  “Through this anthology, I am reminded of the inspirations with which I began and of the hopes I hold for the future.  I take a moment to reflect and to celebrate,” says Verch.

While Verch is perhaps best known for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley, Canada, her performances extend into old-time American and Appalachian styles and far beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Verch and her fellow trio members pare down their arrangements, highlighting the simple pleasures of upright bass, guitar, clawhammer banjo, voices, fiddle, and stepping in intimate conversation. At the heart lie Verch’s delicate voice, energetic footwork, and stunning playing.  Sometimes she sings, steps and fiddles all at once, with apparent ease and precision. Verch is – as they say – a triple threat in performance, her live show a beautiful companion to her music: versatile, robust, and masterfully executed.

Verch began her full time touring career in 2000 and has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. She also presents workshops, master classes, and lectures as part of her tours and at selected music camps.

Verch won’t be the one to tell you about her championship titles, nominations, and awards, or the fact that she was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called “Fiddle Nation”.  Instead, in speaking with her, you’ll hear about how passionate she is about sharing her music; in small gatherings in remote communities in Iqaluit, to large prestigious concert halls like Mozartsal in Vienna.

Even as she plays with the tradition she inherited, Verch keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. It’s why Rolling Stone cited her “One of the 12 best things we saw at MerleFest in 2016.”

“Just as contemporary bluegrass has Alison Krauss as an ambassador, the Ottawa Valley has April Verch,” said NPR’s Marco Werman on “The World.”  And Verch never forgets the roots of her music, that connection to the people out there in the audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song.  “It’s about joining together to celebrate everyday life, through music.  We’re all in this together.”

Clelia Stefanini

Clelia Stefanini has followed in her’s father’s footsteps quickly becoming outstanding on fiddle , guitar and vocals.  She was first prize winner in fiddle at the 2013 Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, W. Virginia.  She is also an accomplished teacher privately and at music camps.