After 7 years of offering 3 day multi-instrument bluegrass seminars, Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend is calling it quits. Jointly hosted since November of 2002 by mandolin legend Herschel Sizemore and our own John Lawless, RBW has fallen prey to the many demands of John’s work with AcuTab, and Herschel’s retirement interests.

The event got its start in 1998 as an an all-banjo event, The AcuTab Banjo Seminar, which John hosted on his own. In 2000, Dan Miller, publisher of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine joined as co-host, and they added mandolin and guitar to the mix. During that period, they welcomed such esteemed artists as Sammy Shelor, Wayne Benson, David Grier and Chris Thile as instructors.

When Dan pulled out after two years, Herschel and John teamed up to continue operating the event, adding fiddle as well as bass, dobro and voice at various times since 2002. They were proud to see legends like Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Roland White, Allen Shelton and Eddie Adcock as members of their faculty, plus younger “impact players” like Ron Stewart, Aubrey Haynie, Rob Ickes, Kenny Smith, Tim Stafford, Adam Steffey and Don Rigsby – just to name a few.

There is a statement from Herschel and John on the RBW web site about the event’s demise.

In all things, there comes a time to say goodbye, and so it is with our Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend. We both find our time stretched thin, and are unwilling to continue with this event absent our full attention and concentration. It has not been an easy decision, but we feel that it would be unfair to hold the weekend with so little time to dedicate to making it beneficial for the registrants.

Ultimately, it has been the students who have attended that have had the biggest impact on RBW, and we thank you all most particularly for supporting this event over the years. Your suggestions and feedback helped us to shape and modify RBW from one year to the next, and it was seeing your exhausted but beaming faces as things came to a close each year that kept us going when the time commitment seemed too severe.

Please don’t blame Bluegrass Today! John says that it is his other commitments and plans that have him in a time bind.

  • Jimmie Scott

    This is certainly sad news! I had the pleasure to attend RBW a couple of times and found it educational and inspiring. I’ll never forget seeing J.D. Crowe and Ron Stewart sit there for the better part of an hour playing banjo and fiddle duets! I picked up so many great tips from the instructors, things that really added finesse to my playing. And the Saturday night faculty concerts were some of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Thanks John and Herschel for all you did. I only hope that RBW will return someday…

  • David Conner

    I am also sad to see that RBW is no more. I would like to thank John, Herschel, Joyce Sizemore, Andy Friedman, and Pam Webber for the work they did to make the weekend such an enjoyable and valuable time well spent. I attended 5 of the 7 years and each year I got something to help me grow in my banjo playing and overall musicianship. They are weekends that I wll cherish the rest of my days. I look foward to any instructional events that John and crew put on in the future!