Bluegrass At Marist CLS

Two years ago, HVBA ran a six-week class for Marist College’s Center for Lifetime Study on The Evolution of Bluegrass, which proved to be a smash hit. CLS is a continuing-education program for seniors, with courses ranging from Drawing and Painting to The History of Computing. It proved to be an excellent venue for the HVBA to help carry out its mission to inform others about bluegrass and to cultivate interest in the genre.

Although we theoretically had limited enrollment, each week saw additional people dropping in, with several standees in the back of the room. For most in attendance, it was their first real exposure to bluegrass. One measure of the program’s success was the number of class members who later showed up at HVBA-sponsored concerts.

Bill Keith

Each session included a presentation on a particular phase in the development of the genre, followed by guest performers discussing their instruments (banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, etc.) and demonstrating their distinctive sound. Needless to say, the program was extremely labor-intensive; its success was due to the many HVBA member musicians who gave of their time and talent. We were particularly fortunate to have the participation of Bill Keith, both as an individual presenter and as a member of the group performance that was the culmination of the course.

By popular demand, we will be running the program again this spring, beginning in April, with Eric Rosi-Marshall doing the presentations, and once again involving the exceptional talents of several of our members. The lineup for this year will be Ambrose Verdibello (fiddle), Joan Harrison (banjo), Betsy Rome (guitar), Wayne Fugate (mandolin), David Gandin (bass), Andy Bing (dobro), and Frank Kara (harmony & mando).

Ruth Oxenberg, Mary Doub, Mary Burdette

Although attendance is limited to members of the CLS program, excellent videos of all six of the previous sessions are available on YouTube, thanks to the recording talents of Fred Robbins. If you follow these links, you will get a good idea of what all the excitement was about:

Evolution of Bluegrass 2012
Week One: Kalia Yeagle (fiddle)


Week Two: Bluegrass Festivals – Mary Doub, Mary Burdette, Ruth Oxenberg


Week Three: Joan Harrison (banjo)


Week Four: David Gandin (bass), Bill Keith (presenter), Jim Rooney (guitar)


Week Five: Korey Brodsky (guitar) & Wayne Fugate (mandolin)


Week Six: Andy Bing (dobro) & The Band

Mike Foley

Mike Foley is currently on the Board of the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association. A retired educator, he has filled up some of his new-found time trying to learn the banjo and mandolin. His mandolin work, in particular, has been compared to lightning, in that he never strikes twice in the same place. He occasionally writes reviews of CD’s by groups of which he is particularly fond as a means of building up his music library. Mike enjoys evening walks by the seashore, candle-light dinners, and quilting.

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