Special FREE Offer to Bluegrass Community

Beginning this April 5, Vassar College’s LLI ( Lifelong Learning Institute) Program will be offering a broad range of education courses to its paid members.

Deadline for Submissions: March 19

Enter To Win Your Place Here

As part of the HVBA mission, we are one of the many volunteers teaching a six session course entitled, “Bluegrass: Folk Music in Overdrive” to the members of the LLI.

All of the bluegrass classes will be held on Fridays from 1:45 – 3pm at the Vassar campus in Poughkeepsie and are FREE for the bluegrass community!!!

The structure of these sessions, led by HVBA member Andy Bing, will be about 15 minutes of bluegrass history followed by a one hour in-depth examination (with demonstrations) of each of the traditional bluegrass instruments, by a skilled practitioner of that instrument.

Vassar College has graciously allowed us 15 free seats for each class and we are passing this on to you, our dedicated bluegrass lovers!!!

To grab your spot in some or all of these classes, you will need to submit your name to us along with a list of the class(s) you wish to attend.

Because we are limited to only 15 seats each week, we will gather all of your names and randomly select 15 for each class. Winners of the free placements will be announced on March 20. Please do NOT submit your name unless you fully expect to attend. All other names will be placed on a waiting list.


April 5: Mandolin – Tara Linhardt

April 12: Guitar – Keith Edwards

April 26: Fiddle – Ambrose Verdibello

May 3: Banjo – Dick Bowden

May 10: Dobro/Bass – Andy Bing/David Gandin

May 17: Harmony – Gary DiGiovanni/Keith Edwards
Followed by a 45 minute concert with all of the above instruments

Bios of Presenters

Tara Linhardt is an award winning multi-instrumentalist originally from Virginia who performs on mandolin and guitar as her main instruments and also teaches mandolin, guitar, and ukulele. She has won many awards for her skills as an instrumentalist and some for songwriting. She has taken first place in such contests as The Mt. Airy Fiddler’s Convention, the Maury River Fiddler’s Convention, Watermelon Park Festival, and The Deer Creek Fiddler’s Convention just to name a few.  She also has been nominated in multiple years for Washington DC bluegrass instrumentalist of the year. She performs in her Bluegrass, Swing Jazz, Nepali, and Himalayan-Appalachian bands, as well as some others. She has performed at National Geographic, The Smithsonian Folklike Festival, The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, The 9:30 Club, and varieties of other venues, music festivals, and universities.
She does photography and video projects and  is a founding and managing member of The Mountain Music Project, a non-profit which works with preservation, promotion and education about traditional music throughout the world, with its largest focus on the Appalachian areas of the United States and the traditional music of the Nepali Himalaya. She has presented at various venues and Universities such as National Geographic, the Rubin Museum, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Washington, DC, American University, and the Asia Society to name a few.
She has also organized Bluegrass Festivals and music camps as well as events like her  the breaking of the Guinness Book World’s Record for the Largest Mandolin Ensemble in the history of the World. “Tara and the Galax Fiddler’s Convention Mandolin Ensemble” broke the record with 389 mandolins. 

Keith Edwards has been playing his unique brand of bluegrass guitar since he was twelve years old. Raised in the company of Bluegrass musicians on a dairy farm in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, it was only natural for Keith to spend countless childhood hours “parkin’ lot picking” at Bluegrass festivals where he honed his style of playing.
Keith has had the opportunity to play with several groups including South Wind, Chestnut Creek, Steve Toth and Rippling River, Horse Country, the Dick Smith-Mike O’Reilly Band, Straight Drive, Byron Berline and Goldrush, The Feinberg Brothers, Redwood Hill and Zink and Company. He has been featured on several recording projects alongside such musicians as David Grisman, Jon Sholle, Tony Trischka, Andy Statman and Kenny Kosek.

Dick Bowden hails originally from the State of Maine where he began playing guitar at age 8.  After seeing Flatt & Scruggs in person in 1964 and having his picture taken with Earl Scruggs, he started on banjo at age 11.  By age 15 Dick began playing banjo in the Bowden Family band, which morphed into the Fort Knox Volunteers bluegrass band in time for the rise of bluegrass festivals in New York and New England in the 1970s.  In the 1980s Dick played banjo in the Boston-based Berkshire Mountain Boys, and was the bench banjo player for Joe Val’s New England Bluegrass Boys, also of Boston. 

Moving to Dutchess County NY in 1989, Dick switched back to guitar for a 10+ year run as half of The Case Brothers – Martin & Gibson. Moving to Connecticut in the late 1990s Dick led The Old Time Bluegrass Singers playing mostly guitar but a little banjo. After the Old Time Bluegrass Singers wrapped up, Dick began producing Dick Bowden’s Flying Circus bluegrass band.   

He moved to the Catskills in Ulster County NY in 2017. Dick has written for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, and Bluegrass Today and Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association websites.   For over 10 years Dick has been an instructor at Banjo Camp North in Charlton Mass. Dick has performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, at bluegrass festivals and concerts in all the northeastern states, and from Mississippi to the Canadian Maritimes. He is extremely interested in the history of the banjo, and of country and bluegrass music.

Andy Bing has been a bluegrass fan since early childhood, when his parents noticed that he really liked the one record in their collection that featured the five-string banjo. Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers were early favorites. He began performing music in his teens and studied the dobro guitar in the Washington D.C. area with Seldom Scene dobro legend Mike Auldridge.

After relocating to Ulster County NY, he played dobro and mandolin with several area bluegrass bands, including No Brakes, the Wickers Creek Band, CB Smith, and Burnt Hills Bluegrass. Following a move to Castleton on Hudson, he joined Washington County Line Bluegrass, which won the 2011 band contest at the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival in Vermont.

With these bands he has performed at many bluegrass festivals in New York and New England, including Jenny Brook, Noppet Hill, Southern Tier, and Plattsburgh. He also played Irish folk music for 25 years with a band based in the Binghamton area.  He has presented and/or performed with the dobro and mandolin at prior classes sponsored by the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association.

David Gandin is a Hudson Valley resident who has been playing upright bass in the New York area for the past 15 years, with such acts as the Demolition String Band, the Brooklyn Corndodgers, Straight Drive, Sheriff Bob and the Goodtimers and Long Steel Rail. 

He also occasionally receives calls to play with regional and nationally touring bands where he has shared the stage with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, John Herald, Leigh Gibson and others. 

He is a big believer that all bluegrass bands should not sound the same and is not afraid to shake things up on the bass if necessary.  Rumor has it that he has also been sighted in uniform and at full attention as a member of “Dick Bowden’s Flying Circus.”  

Ambrose Verdibello lives in Millbrook, NY and plays several string instruments (fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, steel guitar) in a variety of styles including blues, bluegrass, old time, Cajun, Irish traditional, early jazz and western swing. He teaches traditional music styles on fiddle, guitar and banjo and regularly plays for contra dances in the Hudson Valley and nearby.

Ambrose is the executive director of the Field Recorders’ Collective, an organization which produces CDs from rare non-commercially available field recordings of Appalachian traditional music. He is also a regular accompanist and teacher for the youth music ensemble, The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers. For the last seven years he has been a judge at the fiddle contest held at the annual Dutchess County Fair. Last year he won the fiddle contest at the inaugural Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention at Hancock Shaker Village, sponsored by the Old Tone festival.

Gary DiGiovanni started learning banjo at the age of 18, when he became aware of folksy players like Pete Seeger.  Then he got hooked on the bluegrass style after hearing Allen Shelton and, of course, Earl Scruggs.  It was too late before he realized playing banjo was not a good way to pick up girls.  Over the years, Gary has been with a number of groups in New Jersey and New York.  His longest stint has been with No Brakes, which has achieved some notoriety in the Mid-Hudson Valley region. 

One Response

  • Thank you for this great opportunity!! I would like to attend the Fiddle (4/26) and Harmony (5/17).

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