We are pleased to once again offer the annual DelFest Academy from May 22nd – 25th, 2016, the Sunday through Wednesday prior to the festival. The Academy is a friendly, encouraging, and intensive four-day learning experience with some of the finest musicians in bluegrass serving as instructors for students of all levels. The Academy currently offers instruction for guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. The all-star instructors provide lessons to students which target their individual needs and leave ample time for plenty of one-on-one interaction.
The cost of the 2016 Academy is $400 and you can register here.
This year’s Academy instructors consist of all of the members of the Travelin’ McCourys, as well as Sierra Hull and Andy Falco. Previous instructors have included Sierra Hull, Jesse Brock, Jesse Cobb, Ronnie Bowman, Kenny Smith, Leigh Gibson, and Don Rigsby. The Academy instructors hold an array of Grammy, IBMA, and SPGMA awards and regularly perform on the Grand Ole Opry and stages across the country.
- Rob McCoury, 2015 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, shows students why his first solo album is aptly titled The 5-String Flamethrower. Rob learned his banjo skills playing with the Del McCoury Band and from greats like Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne, J.D. Crowe, and John Hartford, among others.
- Ronnie McCoury, an 8-time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, has many years of experience playing lead mandolin and backing up Del McCoury both instrumentally and vocally. Ronnie has also released his own solo albums and instructional mandolin lessons on DVD and online.
- Jason Carter has won multiple IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year honors. He has been playing with the Del McCoury Band for over twenty years. Del McCoury described Jason as having a feeling for the blues that the older guys didn’t have. Jason has also released his own solo album and even has a section of the famous Highway 23 named for him in eastern Kentucky.
- Alan Bartram has been playing bass and singing with the Del McCoury Band for over a decade, but has been at it for much longer. Alan has one of the best tenor voices in bluegrass today and can hear all of the harmonies possible in musical arrangements.
- Cody Kilby, a bluegrass guitar prodigy, has also been at it since he was very young. He played lead guitar with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for over 14 years and is the newest member of the Travelin’ McCourys. He has released multiple solo albums using some of the best musicians in bluegrass as support.
- Sierra Hull is another child prodigy, playing mandolin since she was 8, sharing the stage with Alison Krauss on the Grand Ole Opry at 11, and has since played Carnegie Hall, the White House, The Kennedy Center, and graduated from the prestigious Berklee School of Music as the first Bluegrass recipient of the Presidential Award Scholarship. She has also been nominated for IBMA’s mandolin player of the year for 8 straight years.
- Andy Falco has shared the stage many times with The Travelin’ McCourys and has been the guitar player in the Infamous Stringdusters since 2007. Andy can cover both ends of the bluegrass spectrum from traditional to progressive and everything in between and will be a great addition to this year’s staff.
What to Expect
The Academy begins each year on the Sunday evening prior to the festival. Students should plan to arrive on Sunday evening for registration and opening reception (with food and drink provided). This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the instructors and staff, along with fellow students.
Each day begins with a morning jam session by the instructors, followed by a brief Q & A. The individual classes break off from there. Class schedules vary but students can expect one-on-one instruction, class instruction, mixed instrument classes, and vocal classes. Everyone’s favorite segment is Bluegrass Karaoke, where students perform their favorite song with the instructors as their backing band. Another favorite is the Band Scramble where students are assigned a group number to form a band for the chance to perform on the Grandstand Stage at sound check on Thursday night!
Students can look forward to late night jam sessions, impromptu lessons from classmates, and hanging with heroes. Lifelong friendships will be forged and good times will be had. You can join the Delfest Academy Group (click here) on Facebook where current and former students continue their musical learning, share ideas, and find information about the upcoming Academy.
A More Few Details
Please note, food is NOT provided for the duration of the Academy except for the meet and greet on Sunday. Please bring your own food.
Any friend or family member who would like to accompany you, but not attend DelFest Academy must purchase a DelFest Academy Guest Pass. To purchase, after the student has registered for the Academy, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the purchase of an Academy Guest Pass.
Upon arrival, please be prepared to drop your camping gear off at your campsite, and then be directed to the designated parking area to park your vehicle.