Tim Stafford to be new ETSU Bluegrass Artist in Residence

The Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University has announced that Tim Stafford will serve as their Artist in Residence for the 2023-24 academic year. This recurring one-year position was created to give students in the program the opportunity to study directly under recognized professionals in the industry, and gain from their wisdom and experience.

Stafford, guitarist with Blue Highway for nearly 30 years, and a noted songwriter and recording artist on his own, is also a graduate of ETSU’s bluegrass program, and says that he can’t wait to get started in this new role.

“I’m really looking forward to working with students at ETSU this year as the Artist in Residence. I feel there are great opportunities to showcase the program and its students in a variety of ways. I look forward to teaching guitar, bluegrass bands, and unique songwriting classes and performances with our students. I was there when Jack Tottle started the ETSU program, and it’s amazing how far it’s come and how far it can go. It’s gonna be fun being part of that!”

Prior to his time with Blue Highway, Stafford was a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station and was featured on their Every Time You Say Goodbye album in 1992. More than 250 of his original or co-written songs have been recorded by roughly 75 different artists.

Also announced today are two new faculty members in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Roots Music program for the coming year. Holger Olesen, also an ETSU alum, will come onboard to teach the Instrument Building and Maintenance class. Recently graduated with his degree in Engineering Technology, he taught guitar building at ETSU as part of his graduate project. Holder is currently the bass player with the Little Roy and Lizzy Show.

He is likewise psyched to get started.

“I’m excited to become a part of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music program as an instructor in the guitar building and instrument repair classes. Since previously being a student myself, I have always felt that the program has given students a wide knowledge of many different aspects of the music business, and I’m glad to be a part these new instrument focused classes that will expand that knowledge even more.

Also new this fall at ETSU is guitar whiz Trey Hensley who will teach acoustic guitar and electric guitar, and lead country bands in the program. Now well established within the Nashville scene, Trey currently performs in a genre-busting duo with reso-guitar ace Rob Ickes where he shows off his impressive vocal chops as well as his blistering guitar playing.

Like Tim and Holger, Trey is honored to begin at ETSU.

“I’m immensely proud to be an instructor in the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Roots Music Studies program. ETSU is such an amazingly bright spot within the music community, and to get to share my experiences with the students is an incredible honor.”

The ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Roots Music program offers a four year bachelors degree, plus minor and concentrations. Full details can be found online.

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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.