The Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music degree program at East Tennessee State University has announced three new faculty members starting this Fall 2014 semester.
Nate Olson has been hired as an Assistant Professor, a lecturer position. Growing up in the Western US, Nate has pursued contest fiddling on the competitive scene since he was a youth. Along the way he has picked up several Utah State fiddle championships, and has a recently published book with Mel Bay, Championship Contest Fiddling, which includes both transcriptions and interviews with top contest winners. In addition to classroom work, Nate will offer private fiddle instruction on campus.
His musical education includes a doctorate in music education from Columbia University, and he has a stint as the assistant director of the Folk Music Program at Brigham Young University under his belt. Several touring bluegrass groups in Utah have relied on his services over the years, including Cold Creek, Lincoln Highway, and Enoch Train.
Nate says that he “is very excited to join the incredible faculty at ETSU and to work with the talented students who attend. It truly is a unique institution, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the fantastic work they are doing to train the next generation of bluegrass, old time, country, and celtic artists.”
Also new this semester is Jason Davis, who is teaching private banjo lessons for students in the program. Jason is the banjo player with Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice, and is known for his crisp, traditional playing. He had also worked perviously with Grasstowne, Kenny & Amanda Smith, and Michelle Nixon. In addition to recordings with the groups listed above, Jason has a pair of solo CDs and a banjo tab book available.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the bluegrass program at ETSU. The school has a reputation as the best when it comes to their bluegrass department, and I’m honored to be involved. My main concern is to help students achieve their goals as banjo players any way I can. I’ve been teaching private lessons over the last few years and it’s something I really enjoy. There are a lot of really great players in the program so that makes teaching even more enjoyable. Theres nothing more rewarding than students absorbing what you teach them.
I also like that this job is flexible for a touring musician. I play around 100 days per year and the staff are willing to work with me when I have to be gone.”
Coming onboard to offer bass lessons this semester is Dwayne Anderson, who also works as bass player with Darin & Brooke Aldridge. He is a graduate of ETSU, where he studied with Barry Bales, and an experienced bluegrass performer having worked with both Blue Shadow and with Clearview before singing on with the Aldridges.
Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Studies Director Dan Boner said that he welcomes these new members of the team, and is looking forward to a great year in Johnson City.
“Dwayne was the first recipient of our full-tuition ACMA/Leon Kiser Memorial Scholarship. He will draw from his experiences as a student at ETSU, as well as his professional musical career, to guide our bass students in the right direction.
Jason’s background as a Scruggs/Crowe-style banjo player will fit in perfectly at ETSU. His teaching ability is well grounded in traditional bluegrass – a style which attracts so many students to ETSU.
It has been several years since we have been able to hire a full-time tenure-track assistant professor for our program. Nate’s doctoral preparation in music education will serve us as we create new courses and modify Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, and Country Music curriculum. He’s also a darn good bluegrass fiddler!”
Full details on the program, which offers both a minor and a bachelor of arts degree, can be found online.