Cary, NC Bluegrass Camps for Youth

Matt Hooper leads the beginner fiddle camp during the 2016 Pinecone Bluegrass Camps for Youth - photo by Bethany GribbleThis week young bluegrassers in central North Carolina are hard at work boning up on their musical chops at the Youth Bluegrass Camps in Cary, NC. Located just outside of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, these camps are sponsored and administered by PineCone – The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, based in Raleigh.

Designed for teen and preteen students, the week long camps offer instruction from experienced practitioners in beginning and intermediate fiddle, beginning and intermediate songwriting, guitar, and mandolin. Students between ages 8 and 16 are welcome to attend, with discounted fees for Cary residents and members of Pinecone.

These young pickers are also preparing to be featured at a concert on Friday evening outdoors at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center in Cary. Ash Breeze, a family bluegrass/Americana band of young performers, is the featured act, but before their set students from the camp will appear in a recital of what they have learned this week.

Leading the fiddle camps is Matt Hooper (of Don Rigsby & Midnight Call, formerly of Kickin Grass), with Charles Pettee (Shady Grove Band, Charles Pettee & the Iron Mountain Messengers, FolkPsalm) taking guitar and mandolin, and Lynda Dawson (Kickin Grass, Lynda & Pattie) teaching songwriting.

PineCone also offers a Bluegrass Jam Camp for Youth that runs July 25-29 for ages 10-17, and a Youth Jam on September 18. More details can be found online.

Ash BreezeMany bluegrass fans will recall Ash Breeze, who won the prestigious KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest in May 2015 during the Bluegrass & BBQ festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The invitational competition seeks to identify the top young bluegrass group in the US each year through a live, single microphone stage challenge.

The band consists of siblings from the Smith Family of Fayetteville, NC. Corey is on guitar, Nellie on fiddle, Luke on banjo, Eli on mandolin, with Allen (their father) on bass. Corey has garnered national attention for his pair of documentaries on young grassers called Generation Bluegrass, and Nellie is gaining notice for her agile and appealing singing voice.


Ash Breeze records for Travianna Music, an affiliate of Mountain Fever Records.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.