This post is a contribution from David Hollender, a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been keeping us updated on the way bluegrass music and traditional acoustic instruments are being presented at the school.
Pete and Joan Wernick are in Boston this week to play at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival and present a Jam Camp. They used the occasion to visit Berklee College of Music Wednesday, where they presented a master class sponsored by the college”s Ensemble Department.
Pete and Joan kicked things off by playing two tunes and then worked with a student band in an open master class format. Students Charlie Worsham, Ashleigh Caudill, Kristen Weber and Joe Walsh, all members of Back Bay Bluegrass, played on stage for Pete, Joan and fellow students.
The extent of Pete”s work with up-and-coming musicians was evidenced by the fact that he had met three of the four band members before and had notes about them going back as far back as ten years ago. By coincidence, Walsh happens to be Joan”s cousin.
Pete and Joan were very complimentary of the band. They offered suggestions and worked with them to fine-tune some fine points of their playing. They spoke about how singers could emphasize the meaning of lyrics and critiqued the arrangements. Along with the specific suggestions Pete and Joan expounded on their personal philosophies of what makes good music and what it takes to reach a large an audience.
Preceding the master class Pete spent time working one-on-one with another student banjo player.
Boston area readers can hear Pete and Joan, Back Bay Bluegrass, The Stringdusters (with Berklee graduates Chris Pandolfi and Andy Hall) play sets Friday night at the Joe Val Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday.