2019 CBA Youth Academy Camp and Father’s Day Festival

The CBA Youth Academy is a four-day music camp for beginning and intermediate players 8-16 years old. It is one of many CBA youth programs, and held on the Nevada County Fairgrounds during the 44th Annual CBA Father’s Day Festival. The Academy is produced by CBA Youth Program coordinator Darby Brandli, with new Academy director Kimber Ludiker of Della Mae.

The camp always features an energetic star-powered lineup of instructors from national touring acts, from California and beyond. The teachers’ assistants typically include members from young, up-and-coming regional bands. This year’s staff included members of Della Mae, Lonely Heartstring Band, the Central Valley Boys, the Crooked Jades, North Country Blue, and more. Several of the staff also have roles in the four-day CBA Music Camp for adults that precedes the Youth Academy at the Father’s Day Festival, so for many this is a commitment of more than a week to some very high quality music instruction.

After attending the adult camp, studying vocal harmonies with CBA lifetime member Keith Little, I switched gears. Outgoing CBA President Darby Brandli asked me to hang around the Academy and write a story about it. If you know the modern history of the CBA, when Darby asks you to do something, you don’t hesitate. So in between jamming and the festival, I hung around the Sugar Pine Lodge on the Nevada County Fairgrounds at lunch time to observe, take pictures, and talk to the staff. The first day was busy with parents and kids lining up to register and find their respective groups. To the untrained eye, it might have looked a bit chaotic, but it was clear everyone was there for the music and to have some fun.

Before we hear their stories, I must share some highlights of the Father’s Day Festival, which included headliners such as Joe Mullins, Lonely Heartstring Band, Sister Sadie, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Volume Five, and a special reunion of David Parmley and the Cardinal Tradition, as well as the 2019 CBA Emerging Artists, Carolina Blue. All of the above rocked the house, but for many, myself included, a highlight was when Tom Rozum, mandolinist from Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands received his CBA lifetime membership. Tom performed a couple of great sets with his stellar band the Rozumatics, made up of younger California artists who helped create this band in honor of Tom’s work. Finally, as usual, there was a strong old time presence with the Coyote Brothers featuring Tom and Patrick Sauber teaming up with John and Peggy Corzine, the Evie Ladin Band, plus the midnight hot dog stand square dances called by Ronin Fisher.

Following are some audio interviews from Academy staff about their experiences.

Darby talks about her roles going forward in the CBA.

Della Mae fiddler Kimber Ludiker discusses her new Academy Director role, and what’s in store for Della Mae.

Tatiana Hargraves talks about her camp experience and summer plans.

Celia Woodsmith talks about sharing her passion and upcoming Della Mae projects.

Bassman, instructor, and longtime Academy attendee Max Schwartz discusses his longtime involvement with the camp. 

Academy teacher’s assistant Ida Winfrey talks about her TA role and North Country Blue.

TA and North Country Blue fiddler Tessa Schwartz describes engaging the kids and upcoming band activities.

TA Megan January, bassist from North Country Blue talks about new students and the transition from school bands to bluegrass.

Mandolin instructor Maddie Witler shares her approach to youth music instruction and upcoming shows for the Lonely Heartstring Band.

Longtime instructor Yoseff Tucker from the Scroggdogs, the Bow Ties, and Central Valley Boys talks about engaging the kids and his summer festival plans.

The National Anthem is an honored tradition at the Father’s Day Festival, and Megan January does us all proud with her rendition.


Photographs and audio interviews by Dave Berry, copy editing by Debbie Benrubi.

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About the Author

Dave Berry

Dave Berry is a California based author, mandolin picker, and composer who writes the California Report column for Bluegrass Today. He grew up in the Ohio Valley right between where the Big Sandy and Big Scioto rivers dump into the Ohio. His articles, Morning Walk album, and video are available on streaming sites and his website at daveberrymusic.net