Minnesota Bluegrass Winter Weekend

Friday-Sunday, February 28– March 2, 2025 • Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West, Plymouth MN

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Tickets & Registration

  • No upcoming events

Workshops, Gathering Place, Etc.

Winter Bluegrass Weekend - March 1 - 3, 2024

Details updated as they arrive


Thursday, February 29, 6:00pm

Hosted by Chris & Steve Anderson

As at past indoor festivals, we are again inviting any and all Bluegrass Fans to an Open Bluegrass Jam in the Crown Plaza Fireside Lounge on Thursday night, February 29, beginning at 6:00 PM.

This is a FREE Bluegrass Jam, and new jammers (and Listeners too) are WELCOME! You’ll see a few “Jammers’ Commandments” to help novice jammers understand the rotation of turns and instrumental breaks, but LOTS of compassionate folks who’ve BEEN WHERE YOU ARE, and not only Survived, but went on to join in more Jams during Summer, Fall & Winter Weekend Festivals, as well as lots of others for years!

Meet some GREAT FOLKS, make new friends, get tips on playing your instrument and/or singing…..but most importantly, HAVE FUN WITH MUSIC!  You DON’T have to be a Pro at playing, have a History of Bluegrass knowledge, or an expensive instrument – we had none of those when we started either!  Steve and I are past Trombone players who met in Jazz Band, and now he’s a Fiddler and I play Bass and Guitar and Love to Jam!   Come JOIN US!!

Gathering Place - Conference Room E

Make the Gathering  Place your hub for information, upcoming festivals, magazine browsing, and take home crafts for kiddos.

Open at 9am daily.

Friday, March 1

  • 6pm: Gathering Place Opens
  • 7pm: Open Stage Signup Begins
  • 8pm: Bluegrass Jam w/Bill Cagley
  • 9pm: Old-Time Beginner's Jam w/Matt Jensen

Saturday, March 2

  • 9am: Gathering Place Opens
  • 9am - 10am: Wee folks Colorful Crafts & Take Home Fun with Ms Kim
  • 10:00–11am: Yoga with Lucy
  • 11:00am–12pm: Celebrating Lloyd LaPlant's 95th Birthday!
  • 12:00pm - 1:00pm: LBTQ+ Chat/Jam
  • 1:00–2:00pm: Knit Picking—Rosie Daze Band Jam & Crafts
  • 2:00pm - 3:00pm: Meet & Greet with the MBOTMA Board of Directors
  • 3:00–4:00pm: Craig Evans' Old Time Conversations — Clifftop Videos & Conversation
  • 4:00–5:00pm: Ukulele Jam with Steve Forslund
  • 5:00-6:00pm: Closed for Dinner
  • 6:00–10:00pm: Open

Sunday, March 3

  • No Activities

Friday March 1, Europa Room
Spotlight On: Duos

Hosted by Phil Nusbaum

Friday, 7-9 pm - Europa Room

The focus of the 2024 Spotlight On is “Duets.” Between 7 and 9pm on Friday, March 1, four sets of duet artists will give examples aplenty of their duet work and talk about how they do it.

Mabel Houle and the Somebodies: To group members Mabel and Amy Houle and John Whitehead, collaboration is the key. Duet singing is planned out, and this group will demonstrate how they think about arranging voices in a pleasing way.

Zachary and Caleb of the Blue Hills Travelers: When Zach and Caleb perform as a duet, they use techniques to affect the dynamic range of their music and choose when to sing a song or a portion of a song solo or as a duet.

Cheryl Paschke and Joe Alfano: Cheryl (nychelharpa) and Joe (mandolin) are members of Tjärnblom, a group centered on traditional Swedish music. When Cheryl and Joe play as a duet, they use their instruments in ways to affect the musical texture.

A.J. Srubas and David Robinson: When A.J. (fiddle) and David (banjo) perform as a duet, they approach different types of songs in different ways, balancing melody and accompaniment. The two give plenty of examples using their 1950’s bluegrass approach.

Saturday March 2 Workshops 

Studio 2

Time Title & Leader Description
9:00 AM Beginner Old Time Session l—Mary Pat Kleven (MSFA) Get warmed up for the day, connect with friends and meet new ones. All instruments and levels welcome. Sponsored by the Minnesota State Fiddlers Association.
10:00 AM Irish Old Time Jam — Rob Ross Come play Irish tunes at an Old Time Jam! This will be a low-key jam just to get to know the tunes. No fancy ornaments required, chords are allowed, no multi-tune sets. Sedate tempos, handy handouts, and common beginner to intermediate tunes will facilitate playing along. If you already play Irish music, join in and bring a few of your favorites. Everyone is welcome!
11:00 AM Vocal Workshop with Rick Faris Join headliner Rick Faris for a vocal workshop!
12:00 PM Old time bowing foundations — John Wallace Fiddling workshop for the right hand--old time bowing. You build your musical house, but put it on a good foundation. Fiddlers of all levels are welcome.
1:00 PM Beginner Bluegrass Rhythm & Beginner Bluegrass Harmony — Becky Schlegel, Heath Loy & Edie Loy Beginner Bluegrass Rhythm & Beginner Bluegrass Harmony.
2:00 - 3:30PM Band Workshop with Rick Faris Band Join the Rick Faris band to talk about roles as a unit and how the band works together with their individual roles.
4:00 PM Tunes and Styles of Norman Blake — Bill Cagley & Tom Schaefer Tunes and Styles of Norman Blake

Studio 3

Time Title & Leader Description
10:00 AM Bluegrass Banjo— Bruce Johnson We'll focus on five basic technical aspects of playing; tuning, timing, tone, touch, and taste. I'll try to answer any banjo playing questions you have.
11:00 AM Contra Dance Tune Jam Session— Audrey Jaber (MSFA) Come play Contra Dance tunes! Moderate tempos, handy handouts, and common beginner to intermediate tunes will facilitate playing along. If you already play contra dance music, join in and bring a few of your favorites. Everyone is welcome! Sponsored by the MSFA
12:00 PM Circle of fifths for beginners — Matt Jensen Bluegrass changes keys a lot to best fit the singer's voice, and a little music theory can help you move what you already know from one key to another so you don't have to sit out those songs in a jam. If you can count to seven you can understand the circle of fifths. Bring your instrument and we'll walk through the circle with the minimum pain possible with lots of time for questions.
2:00 PM French Canadian tunes — Pamela Longtine-America Learn and play French Canadian tunes on fiddle
3:00 PM Melodic Clawhammer and Using the "Pitchfork Stroke" — Caleb James Hall The Pitchfork Stroke is a melodic technique for clawhammer banjo. The term was coined by Cameron DeWhitt the banjoist/host of the podcast "Getup In The Cool." This technique offers a way to access more melody notes using an up-picking style but without losing any clawhammer movement. Students will learn to use this technique while also learning the fiddle tune "Waynesboro."

Studio 5

Time Title & Leader Description
10:00 AM Building instruments for the best sound — David Vincent There are about as many different ways to get the best sound when building an instrument as there are luthiers. Most of them have applications whether your building guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and yes, even banjos. We'll discuss and demonstrate several of them.
11:00 AM Mandolin leads for beginners — Carla Jessica Fahlin This is great tool to quickly learn. In music theory beginners hear about numbers and terminology, but in order for that information to make more sense I relate things to children’s songs that feature key music theory structures( and would have students prove so in lessons).
12:00 PM Building Your Repertoire — Jim Price Building Your Repertoire will add diversity to your portfolio and bring your skills to a broader range of performing opportunities. Open to all experince levels and instruments.
2:00 PM Fiddle & Banjo Duet Workshop — Rob Daves & Caleb Hall The classic pairing: Old time fiddle and banjo. Get some hints at getting the most out of your instruments. We'll teach at least one tune and use it to demonstrate how to use each instrument's unique characteristics to create a great duet sound.
4:00 PM Blues in Bluegrass for Fiddle and Mandolin! — Brian Wicklund Bluegrass is half blues. Learn what notes to alter in your solos to create a bluesy vibe.

Studio 9

Time Title & Leader Description
10:00 AM Introduction to Songwriting. Tell your story with a song! — Tom Peschges Introduction to Songwriting - How to get started writing our own songs. We'll cover basic song structure, developing lyrics and melodies, and where to find ideas. We will also explore the world of co-writing. Knowing how to play an instrument is helpful but not mandatory!
12:00 PM The Generic Bluegrass Song - Basics For Jam Sessions — Jed Malischke How can I play along on songs I don't know in jam sessions? Knowing what the structure of a generic bluegrass song looks like, and the basic rules for chords and chord changes can help. These ideas can work for any instrument and playing level.
1:00 PM Intermediate Bluegrass Banjo - Licks For The Middle of the Neck — Jed Malischke If you are an intermediate level bluegrass banjo player you know about playing frets one through five. You might even be versatile above the seventh fret. In this workshop we'll look at frets five to seven and discover easy licks that can be used in quite a variety of situations.
2:00 PM Beginning Improvisation on Guitar — Greg Landkamer Do you shake your head “no” when it’s your turn to take a break during a jam? Discover the art of guitar improvisation in a beginner-friendly workshop. Learn basic concepts, techniques and exercises to unleash your creativity on the fretboard. Gain confidence in playing with others, primarily for beginners.
3:00 PM Bluegrass and the Bow — Elizabeth Pim & Paul Carlson Learn how to get the best sound out of your instrument! Have you wanted to learn how to make your leads soar? Have you wanted to play in a jam and not play louder than the guitar player, yet sound fabulous? We will learn bow techniques and exercises to help you accomplish these goals!

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