Goleta Valley Historical Society invites you to experience a historic ranch preserved for our community.

Workshops & Hosted Jams

46th Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention & Festival!
Sunday, October 8, 2017

2016 Workshop Schedule

All workshops are included in your admission.  Thank you to our expert panel of teachers!
goleta workshop 2010 low copy



Old-Time Mandolin
by Pat MacSwyney
The workshop will be geared for both novice and seasoned mandolin players alike. We will focus on applying fiddle-friendly ornament and chording to a classic breakdown from West Virginia Fiddler Henry Reed (1884-1968) and a 1930s-era rag from the repertoire of mandolin player Ted Hawkins from the seminal Georgia string band, The Skillet Lickers.

Clawhammer Banjo
by Chris Berry
Clawhammer banjo for advanced beginners/intermediate players. We’ll learn a tune (maybe in a tuning you’re not familiar with) and talk about techniques for improving your playing and identifying tunings as you’re learning new tunes. Bring something to record the lesson and the tune!

Old-Time Fiddle Tunes & Bowing
by David Bragger
This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the fiddler playing some incredible tunes with a focus on rhythm and interchangeable variations.  I’ll be drawing from a vast repertoire of Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina fiddle tunes that are rhythmic and easy to grasp. As always, my workshops emphasize the key ingredient to old-time fiddle: Bowing!! All workshop attendees will receive audio files of the tunes with phrase by phrase instruction.

Freestyle Flatfooting
by Ruth Alpert
Flatfooting, Buck Dancing and Clogging are related, but different styles, of foot percussion. Freestyle flatfooting is improvised, in which every dancer finds their own expression. I will start by teaching you some basic steps to get you going, and then we will focus on playing the tune with our feet!


At the heart of any great old-time festival is the jamming! Fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins, washtub basses, and other stringed instruments are picked, plucked, strummed and banged on in jams that vary in size, from 2 to 25 people!
Musicians are free to start old-time jams anywhere around the grounds. Additionally, there will be assigned areas for jams too. This year we’ll even have 5 hosted jams for musicians and beginners who are just breaking into the world of playing with others OR who simply want to meet new folks to make old-time music with!

jam 1

Led- Jam Sessions:

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Ben Guzman

West Virginia Old-Time Jam
hosted by Joe Wack

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Steve Lewis

Beginners Old-Time Jam
hosted by Pat MacSwyney
Old-Time jam session for any and all instruments. The jam will be geared for beginners who would like to dip their toes in the world of Old-Time jamming but also encourage all you veteran players to join in and support our next generation of Old-Time musicians! (Held at the Mel Durham Contest Stage)

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Jim Mueller


Pat Mac Swyney is a Los Angeles based multi instrumentalist who plays Old-Time with The DEAD ROOSTER Memorial String Band; Traditional Jazz with The SWING RIOTS Quirktette; and Balkan with the eastern European women’s choir NEVENKA.

David Bragger, festival artistic director, teaches old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin to students of all ages and levels. He is also the host of the Old Time Tiki Parlour which produces concerts, workshops, CDs and films by the best old-time musicians alive, including Kirk Sutphin, Dan Gellert, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Bob Carlin, Eric & Suzy Thompson, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Scott Prouty, etc. David is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students in four continents! He is renowned for his ability to break down tunes and bowing with ease and clarity. David also plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder and in several local dance bands.

Ruth Alpert has been flatfooting for 35 years. She has taught workshops, danced with old-time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, and is a two time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013 and 2014. Currently, Ruth is the percussion section of The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female string band playing original and traditional music.

Chris Berry a native of Long Beach, has been playing country blues and old-time country music on guitar and banjo for over 25 years. He learned many tunes from the late legendary Illinois/Southern California fiddler Mel Durham and plays banjo on his CD “Skillet Fork.” With David Bragger, Susan Platz and Tim Riley, Chris is a member of Sausage Grinder, Los Angeles’ premier old-time, hillbilly and blues jug band. Sausage Grinder has performed at the Portland Old-Time Gathering, the Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention, the Los Angeles Old-Time Social, the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest, and throughout Southern California.