playing guitar acoustic blues program at Centrum

ProgramMusicAcoustic Blues

About Acoustic Blues

July 29-August 4, 2024

In the depths of summer, Centrum goes deep into the blues. Now in its 30th year, the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival continues to offer a side of the blues that popular culture does not always recognize – its roots! Immerse yourself in a creative community of artists from across the globe who share a passion for early blues traditions and moving the genre forward. Blues week celebrates the music and traditions of African American folk blues, its roots, forerunners, and their stories, while at the same time coming into the future with a new twist on the past. Please join us for a memorable week with some remarkable talent!

Experience Acoustic Blues

Participants learn “knee-to-knee,” in intimate sessions with diverse instruments and artist faculty. Daily classroom instruction covers traditional acoustic blues, performance, history, songs, and styles, as well as technical skills and how to play well with others. Afternoons include discussions on relative topics. Each evening, participants enjoy faculty concerts, fireside chats, jam sessions, and house parties.

Most artist faculty teach two one-hour instrument sessions daily. Sessions are in various styles and techniques and focus on certain traditional methods. Instrumentation includes guitar, harmonica, piano, mandolin, violin, bass, banjo, ukulele, washboard, voice, and accordion. Class also offered in performance, improv, ensembles, and a gospel choir that gathers in the afternoon.

Here an example of how you’ll spend your time:

First day:
4–5:30pm – Check-in, Centrum office
6–8pm – Dinner
8pm – Orientation

Next Day:
Most artist faculty teach two one-hour instrument sessions daily, Tuesday through Friday. Sessions in various styles and techniques that focus on certain tradition bearers are offered. Instrumentation includes guitar, harmonica, piano, mandolin, violin, bass, banjo, ukulele, washboard, voice, and accordion. The Gospel Choir gathers late afternoons. Evenings include events and performances, planned and spontaneous jams.

At the end of the week, the artist faculty take to the stages and share in performance a festive celebration of the traditions they carry as well as their own music and style. Friday and Saturday nights, our legendary Blues in the Clubs series hosts a variety of intimate stages, where each artist gives their own unique performance. We’ll host a show or two in McCurdy Pavilion, a former blimp hanger turned performance space, break bread together, and have a really good time basking in and soaking up the traditions passed along at the gathering.


Take the Gospel Choir track exclusively and receive admission to the gospel class Tuesday through Friday, and all evenings in Building 204, Tuesday through Saturday. The choir performs on Saturday at the USO Hall. Gospel tuition includes admission to the Saturday afternoon mainstage concert in McCurdy Pavilion. Tuition does not include Blues in the Clubs or the Wednesday public event.

Gospel Choir is available for youth however, anyone under the age of 18 must attend with a registered participant or registered guardian over the age of 21. Registered PT Acoustic Blues participants can participate in the Gospel Choir at no additional fee.

The 2024 Gospel Choir will be led by Shirley Smith and Pamela English. Tuition for choir is $175.

"The upcoming gospel choir sessions for the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival promises to be a soul-stirring experience. The choir participants will rehearse daily and learn exciting, uplifting gospel music from two of Detroit’s musical masters, Shirley Smith and Pam English. The choir will perfect their harmonies and infuse each note with passion and devotion. Their music will not just be a form of entertainment but a celebration of faith and spirituality.
The performance will feature a diverse range of songs, featuring some of the gospel’s long-standing chart-topping hits. The choir's dynamic energy and powerful vocals will leave the audience spellbound, uplifted, and inspired. Come witness the magic of gospel music and let your spirit soar!"

Shirley and Pam


Photo of George  Aschmann

George  Aschmann


Among other musical endeavors, George plays violin and sings with the collective Frog and Henry, who’ve played the streets of New Orleans since 2013. They revive the music first made popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s in New Orleans, Chicago, and across the U.S., a mixture of jazz, jugband, stringband, blues, and popular songs. Most of the instruments are from the same time period.

Photo of Andrew Alli

Andrew Alli


This Richmond, Virginia native was always passionate about music and stumbled upon the blues while taking up his first instrument, the harmonica. He instantly fell in love with the blues and the history that comes with the harp.

Photo of Bruce Sunpie Barnes

Bruce Sunpie Barnes


Bruce Sunpie Barnes is a veteran New Orleans musician, former Park Ranger with the National Park Service for 30 years, actor, photographer, book author, former high school biology teacher, former college football All-American, and former NFL player (Kansas City Chiefs). Sunpie Barnes’ many careers have taken him far and wide. He has traveled to over 50 countries playing his own style of what he calls Afro-Louisiana music incorporating Blues, Zydeco, Gospel, Caribbean and African influenced rhythms and melodies.…

Photo of Mark Brooks

Mark Brooks


Mark Brooks is one of New Orleans’ premiere bassist. He is noted for his versatility vocally as well as instrumentally. Mark is a protégée of the late great Jazz Master, Alvin Batiste along with several of his close friends Branford Marsalis, Donald Harrison, and Henry Butler. Mark has toured and performed with an array of artists across genres such as Jazz, Blues, R&B, and Gospel.…

Photo of Conrad Cayman

Conrad Cayman


Conrad Cayman is a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, ukulele, bass (upright and electric), plectrum banjo, and percussion. He leads a traditional jazz group called The Big Butter Jazz Band, freelances for other LA-based early jazz groups, and is a sponsored artist for Ohana Ukuleles.

In the 10 years since leaving the corporate world and becoming a professional musician he has played trad jazz, swing dance, and ukulele festivals in Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, and Pismo Beach, as well city and amusement park summer concert series, and special client events for actors Hilary Swank, Alan Tudyk, the Geffen Playhouse, Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, and the Rose Parade.…

Photo of Pamela English

Pamela English

Gospel Choir

Pam English’s musical journey began at age three, when Pam began singing in the youth choir at Unity Baptist Church Detroit. Private piano lessons began at age 7 and she recorded her first album with the youth choir at age 9. Pam began playing for churches, directing and teaching choirs at the age of 10. This continued throughout high school, college, and well into her adult musical career.…

Photo of Leroy Etienne

Leroy Etienne


Leroy Etienne is a drummer, percussionist, washboard player, and vocalist, based in Lafayette, Louisiana. His critically album released in 2018 features original compositions by Etienne composed in Louisiana Creole. Featured song writer on the album and book ‘Le Kér Creole’ (Creole Compositions and Stories from Louisiana) native Creole speaker Leroy Etienne said in the 1950s, he was told by teachers not to speak “French” in school.…

Photo of Mary Flower

Mary Flower


Mary Flower’s immense finger picking guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and the mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story.

Photo of Jayy Hopp

Jayy Hopp

Guitar, Percussion

Jayy Hopp was born in Lagrange and started playing music with Gospel (drumming at first, until his cousin formally introduced him to the guitar). Gospel and R&B music was very influential in his formative years. The guitar grooves and distinctive sounds always caught his ear. As he aged, Jayy Hopp expanded his musical vocabulary. He started listening closely to Jimi Hendrix playing style, which led him to Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Jimmy Dawkins, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Son Seals, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Ward (his uncle) and Ike Turner.…

Photo of Benjamin Hunter

Benjamin Hunter


Benjamin Hunter is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, community activist, social entrepreneur, and educator. Benjamin’s work explores the intersections of music & art, community, policy, and culture.

Photo of Hubby Jenkins

Hubby Jenkins


Hubby Jenkins is a talented multi-instrumentalist who endeavors to share his love and knowledge of old-time American music.

Photo of Reverend Robert Jones

Reverend Robert Jones


Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. is a native Detroiter and an inspirational storyteller and musician celebrating the history, humor and power of American Roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American traditional music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs.

Photo of Shari Kane

Shari Kane


Shari started playing guitar at the age of five. By the early 1970’s she had become a devoted blues fan, and learned how to play fingerstyle blues on the acoustic guitar.

Photo of Valerie Kirchhoff

Valerie Kirchhoff


Valerie Kirchhoff (aka “Miss Jubilee”) is a vocalist and bandleader born and raised in St. Louis. Valerie grew up singing in church and school choirs, and discovered a passion for early jazz and blues while in her teens. She formed her first band in 2007 and has been a staple of the St. Louis music scene ever since.…

Photo of Judy LaPrade

Judy LaPrade


Judy LaPrade is a life-long musician and teacher. She grew up in West Virginia where she played and sang in church. By junior high school she led and accompanied the patient choir at the local state mental hospital, then as an adult took the Blues into schools and music therapy groups for people with developmental challenges.…

Photo of Ethan Leinwand

Ethan Leinwand


Barrelhouse blues pianist and preservationist based in St. Louis, MO, and a student of the music’s rich history and varied regional styles, Ethan Leinwand presents personal interpretations of many of the great (and forgotten) old-time masters.

Photo of John “Greyhound” Maxwell

John “Greyhound” Maxwell

Slide Guitar

John “Greyhound” Maxwell brings his singular approach to slide guitar and mandolin, paying homage to the craft and tradition of the masters, while infusing the music with fresh energy. David Lindley is quoted as saying, “John is the best bottleneck player I’ve heard in a long time.” With an approach that is authentic and understated, Maxwell plays with the warmth and dexterity of someone who has loved the blues over a lifetime.…

Photo of Tom Mitchell

Tom Mitchell


Tom Mitchell is a guitar player and singer rooted in the styles of the 1920’s and 30’s jazz, western swing, country blues and old-time music; he’s happily been both sideman and leader for a great variety of musical endeavors. In addition to singing and playing guitar, he’s played mandolin, banjo, tenor guitar or tiple when the need arose.…

Photo of Jerron Paxton

Jerron Paxton

New York

Jerron Paxton is a skilled interpreter of Black traditional music, having spent his life learning the multifaceted musical dialects of blues, old-time, ragtime, and Cajun music and playfully dressing them up in their brightest hues. He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, piano, fiddle and other instruments with deep histories and ties to Black American music — each with a master’s touch.…

Photo of Nick Pence

Nick Pence


Nick Pence is a well-known guitar player from St. Louis. Nick plays with The Bottlesnakes, The Dust Covers or The New Missouri Fox Hunters. These two have worked together in the past, including forming a gospel group The Houndsteeth.

Photo of Mark Puryear

Mark Puryear


Mark Puryear is a musician, ethnomusicologist, and curator. For the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, he curated the 2011 Rhythm and Blues: Tell It Like It Is program as well as the Freedom Sounds event that celebrated the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Photo of Lauren Sheehan

Lauren Sheehan

Band Lab

Lauren Sheehan brings her down-home music uptown, mixing old blues, early jazz and roots of country for a bluesbilly-good-time sound. Dubbed “Portland String Queen” by The Oregonian for her multi-instrumental prowess, Lauren is also known for her unforgettable voice and sings like “an angel with horns”, (Charlie Rowley, fan). She tours, teaches at Pacific University, and has recorded 5 CDs played on radio world-wide, including BBC, NPR, and BBKing’s Bluesville.…

Photo of Shirley Smith

Shirley Smith

Gospel Choir

Shirley Smith is a Detroit native who studied under the tutelage of one of Detroit’s premier harpists and vocal instructors, Patricia Terry-Ross, who was her teacher at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. Shirley studied voice, piano, and harp under Mrs. Ross.

Photo of David Steele

David Steele


Dave began performing as a barroom acoustic solo guitarist and singer while attending Allegheny College in Northwest Pennsylvania in the 1970’s. During the 80’s, Steele expanded his interest to electric blues, as a founding member of the Zipper City Blues Band.

Photo of Clay Swafford

Clay Swafford


Firmly rooted in the blues tradition, Clay Swafford was raised in the small rural community of Providence, Alabama. Born into a musical family; he was immersed in the sounds of Baptist Hymnals, Country and Bluegrass. He took interest in the piano at an early age and, after hearing the music of B.B King and Bobby Blue Bland at age 15, Clay was hooked on the blues.…

Photo of Jontavious Willis

Jontavious Willis

Artistic Director, Acoustic Blues

Blues musician and multi-instrumentalist, Jontavious Willis, from Georgia, has been named Centrum’s Artistic Director for Acoustic Blues beginning in 2020.

Centrum has a variety of ways to be able to attend our workshops even if you’re on a budget. If you need financial assistance, Centrum has a robust tuition scholarship program awarded on a first-come, first-served; and as-needed basis.

Workshop tuition includes admission to everything including great seats at all public performances. We have room and board choices to keep your costs as affordable as possible. A full meal ticket is good for three meals per day.

Tuition, in-person: $640 (non-refundable deposit to hold your place: $100)
Tuition, youth rate: $540 (non-refundable deposit to hold your place: $100)
Room & board: $700
Meals only: $360

Those who stay on the Fort Worden campus are provided with private dorm rooms in Buildings 203 and 225 with shared bathrooms. There is late night jamming in Building 204 and jamming in Dorm 203. Dorm 225 will remain quiet, so folks can rest anytime. Choose the jam or quiet designation when signing up.

Apply online as you register. Please note that except in rare cases, scholarships are available for tuition only. Centrum requires a $50 deposit of scholarship applicants, which is fully refundable if you are unable to attend.
If you are interested in volunteering, or a work trade position, please contact Mary Hilts at mhilts@centrum (dot) org.

Cancellation/Refund Policy
Full payment is due June 17, 2024. If your full payment is not made at this time, your registration will be canceled; $100 of your deposit is nonrefundable.
Any fee that includes a room: no refunds available after June 17, 2024.
Tuition, meals, airport shuttle: no refunds available after June 17, 2024.

Meals are served at Fort Worden Commons. The first meal is dinner on Monday, July 29; the last meal is breakfast on Sunday, August 4, 2024.

Blues Travel Tips
Book flights to arrive Sea/Tac airport Monday July 29 by 1pm Pacific Time, and depart no earlier than noon on Sunday August 4th. Port Townsend is two hours from Sea/Tac on a good day.

If you’re interested in transportation from SeaTac Airport to Fort Worden, choose the shuttle option for when you register. The shuttle costs: $120 round-trip or $60 one-way.

Acoustic Blues shuttle schedule:
Arrive – Monday, July 29, 2024, pick-up at SEA/TAC airport, 2pm, Pacific Time.

Depart – Sunday, August 4, 2024, depart Centrum at Port Townsend, 9am sharp, Pacific Time.

If you have any more questions about Acoustic Blues, please contact Mary Hilts at 360-385-3102, x116, or mhilts@centrum (dot) org.

Find more answers - Centrum FAQs

There is no age or skill restriction however, to get the most out of the workshop, one should be familiar with your instrument and be able to move about on it.

Most of our workshops are family events, and we welcome musicians of all ages and abilities to participate. 

Info for Parents of Under-18 Participants
If under 18 and participating in the workshop, a parent or guardian over 21 years old must register and accompany the minor. Blues participants under 18 years of age are required to review a Centrum Student Contract. If staying in the dorm a parent or guardian must also stay in the dorm.

GOSPEL CHOIR - Shirley Smith and Pam English
The upcoming gospel choir sessions for the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival promises to be a soul-stirring experience. The choir participants will rehearse daily and learn exciting, uplifting gospel music from two of Detroit’s musical masters, Shirley Smith and Pam English. The choir will perfect their harmonies and infuse each note with passion and devotion. Their music will not just be a form of entertainment but a celebration of faith and spirituality. The performance will feature a diverse range of songs, featuring some of the gospel’s long-standing chart-topping hits. The choir's dynamic energy and powerful vocals will leave the audience spellbound, uplifted, and inspired. Come witness the magic of gospel music and let your spirit soar! - Shirley and Pam

BLUES PIANO - Clay Swafford
In my class we will break down all the fundamental tools that are needed to get the low down soulful sound of blues and the geographical sounds and cultures that have influenced this American art form, including left hand patterns and bass lines and how to make them work independently with right hand licks and chords. We will discuss how to support singers and work with other instruments as well as dynamics and how to use touch and feel to get the most soulful sound. We will learn how to take our time playing and play what counts, how to paint a musical picture. I look forward to working with you guys!!! - Clay

BLUES UKULELE - Conrad Cayman
All classes can be done with standard (GCEA) or baritone (DGBE) tuning, as well as for guitar players with (or without) a capo: 1) Beginner - 12 and 16 bar blues form and variations. Will explore the keys of A, D, G, and C and get familiar with the Roman Numeral system of relating to chords and the functions of the I, IV, and V chords and 7th chords, which will help for the other classes; 2) Beginner – Play the blues in any key using the Circle of 5ths as a quick and easy guide for transposing. The Circle of 5ths will become your best friend, and this class will tie into the intermediate level classes; 3) Beginner/ Intermediate – Easy soloing concepts and tricks. Learn tips on fingerpicking, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, using chord tones, passing notes and arpeggios; 4) Intermediate - Going beyond I-IV-V chords. We’ll look at songs that use II, VI, and diminished chords into progressions and see where you can put them into your own songs. You don’t have to know the Roman Numeral system, we’ll still be using letter names for chords; 5) Intermediate – Trad jazz “blues” songs. What makes them different? Are they blues? We’ll explore St. Louis Blues, Hesitation Blues, Tin Roof Blues, Basin Street Blues, Careless Love, Perdido Street Blues, Texas Moaner Blues, Sugar Blues and maybe a few more; 6) Intermediate Advanced – Turnarounds! What are they? Why do they sound cool? How do they work? Where do they fit in? We’ll look at some of the most common turnarounds; 7) Advanced – Stepping out from open chords and learning chord inversions up the neck to add some flair to your playing. Ok for guitar players looking to explore the neck beyond the 5th fret; 8) Advanced – Time to combine all the previous elements into your solos! Use your embellishments, licks, inversions, and go between single notes and chords.

BLUES VIOLIN - George Aschmann
The blues violin course will be a three part workshop focusing on blues fiddle tunes, song melody playing, and improvisation. We will be flexible in how much time we spend on each of these subjects depending on the interests and levels of participants.
Blues fiddle tunes: Learn one or several tunes that fall into the “blues” style of fiddling, focus on styles, technique, note choice, and variations-introducing the idea of micro improvisation
Song and melody playing-Learn the melody to a song from the 1920s/30s, learn to back up a vocalist, solo around the melody-also micro improvisation. Think Mississippi Sheiks style…
Improvisation-If there is time at the end of the week and students are interested, we will continue to build on the idea of micro improvisation and move toward improvising in a blues oriented style over songs that allow more freedom…a blues progression or simple jazz tune in the 1920/30s style.

SLIDE GUITAR - John Maxwell
Introduction to slide guitar focusing on the basics of intonation, finger picking, standard chords. In addition to exercises on technique, we will learn several songs to apply those techniques in a practical and fun way!
Intermediate to advanced slide guitar. Moving your way around the fretboard to access different progressions, turn arounds and positions, with the goal of spicing up arrangements of songs and making them your own.

BAND LAB - Lauren Sheehan
Band workshop is a fun way to learn some simple songs casually, play in an ensemble, meet some folks and have a good time without a lot of pressure. We will learn several pieces from old jug and string band repertoire and all voices and instruments are welcome. Bring your jugs, harmonicas, horns, fiddles, washboards, guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos and kazoos! Let’s see who shows up and what we can do with what we have. We will perform before the concert on Saturday but no worries. You can hide in the group or step out and take a solo if you are ready.

PERCUSSION - Leroy Etienne
Leroy will be teaching a little drum kit, blues licks, swing, funk and some zydeco licks and we'll leave a little something for rub board. Brushes and drum pads available to borrow.

In this workshop participants will explore the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements of the blues and related styles of music. Learn techniques to develop your timing and execution in real time. Expand your ear and active listening ability. This workshop will explore creating improvisational lines beyond the pentatonic “blues” scale. By including other scales, chromatic lines, harmonies and rhythmic concepts participants will expand their musical vocabulary and improvisational technique. When we speak, often we don't think too much about articulation, it's almost second nature. Pitch and tone are used to convey meaning. When we improvise with a musical instrument or our voice, through practice we can develop similar abilities. This workshop is accessible to advanced beginners on any instrument and vocalists.

BAND IN THE HAND - Mary Flower
intermediate players welcome. Ragtime on the guitar is musically complex and can be a hefty challenge for fingerpickers. Fingerpick the alternating bass. keep the rhythm going, add in the syncopated melody and you have the band in the hand. Class will learn pieces by some of Mary's favorite roots players like Willie Brown, Gary Davis. Pink Anderson and more. Students will enjoy the I VI II V (Mary, that's one, six, two five) progression and how it lays out in different keys.
Participants can video the material at the end of class each day. Ability to read tab very helpful.

SLIDING THE BLUES (Lap style) - Mary Flower
Bring your Dobros, Weissenborns or lap steels with raised action along with a tone bar of some kind. (This is not a bottleneck slide class). Class will explore basic techniques like vibrato and tone while learning how to get around the neck for solo and group playing. We will learn to build a 12 bar blues from the ground up much like Black Ace and Casey Bill Weldon used to do. Expect to be in G tuning (GBCGBD) as well as D major tuning (DADF#AD).

Fingerstyle Blues Guitar - Shari Kane
Intermediate to advanced. Combining Bass Lines with Rhythm and Solos. This is a great course for players that tend to play by themselves but want to up their guitar game. This course will teach how to incorporate bass lines into your riffs and solos. We will work on combining the ‘My Babe’ guitar lick with a boogie bass line for the song This Train is Bound for Glory, and shuffle rhythms with solo licks for the verse, bridge, and a lead solo for the song “Honest I Do’

TWO BLUES GUITARS - Shari Kane and Dave Steele
Using a Capo to Play with other Guitar Players - Intermediate with good fingerpicking experience. It can be a challenge to play guitar with other guitar players and not play the same exact things at the exact same times. One solution is to use a capo and play in a different area of the fretboard, using different chords, but because of the capo - ending up in the same key. Here’s a great course that will teach you how do just that.

Intermediate blues and rag mandolin. Designed for players with solid basic mandolin skills, this class will show you how to develop rhythm chops, boogie bass, and moveable chords. In addition we’ll use the traditional mandolin classic, ‘The Jackson Stomp,’ to learn how to make variations on a melody.

THREE NOTES and the TRUTH - Tom Mitchell
Have you ever wondered how a guitar player moved through what seemed to be a 12 bar blues but used more than the usual three chords? If you are curious I think I have something that will be a valuable tool if you aren’t already aware of it. Three note chords, used by guitar players from all genres from the late 20s to the present are a vital part of a every guitar players arsenal. We will start by getting comfortable with moving one simple shape around to play a minor blues concentrating on getting the whole class to swing together. The next thing we will do is add some more shapes and sounds to make it more interesting and move on to a major blues and go through some often used variations that I've written out so you can follow and play . Time permitting I would like to bring a few tunes /songs that aren't necessarily twelve bar blues but that I feel are still heavily seated in the blues tradition and put these new shapes to some more good use. I will have chord diagrams written for every thing we work on so you can always refer to them. The other thing we might work on is looking at these these shapes and sounds so that we can make the best use of them. At this point I would ask you not to let a little music theory (I mean a very little) send you running. The more you know about how these things work the more you will be able to use them in your playing. I consider this class to be at the intermediate level but welcome any one who is interested in seeing if this class is for them.

In this class we will be learning some cool Blues heads drawing from some Swing, R&B and Western Swing favorites Like Bill Jennings, The Benny Goodman Sextet ,T Bone Walker, Bob Wills, Duke Ellington and more . I will bring every thing In notation and tab but in class I hope to break them down into easy bits and learn them just by playing. We will also work on any chord variations that may come up and if needed spend some time getting that together. I really want to get a lot of playing in so once every one has learned a tune we can take turns soloing while the rest of the class works on playing good backup. I consider this class to be at the intermediate level but welcome any one who is interested in seeing if this class is for them. This class is primarily a guitar class but if you can read music in standard or learn by listening this could be fun for other instruments. I am so looking forward to it! - Tom

We will be looking at how to play in other keys in open tuning with out a capo. We will also develop our slide phrasing and chording with a slide. The mission of this class is to reveal just how versatile open D or any vestapool tuning really is.

Honoring harmonica greats including Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior wells, and more. Andrew has developed his own unique style of playing, while still paying his respects to his biggest influences from the past. 

from blues, to jazz, to zydeco accordion. 

UPRIGHT BASS - Mark Brooks
one of New Orleans' premiere bassists noted for his versatility vocally as well as instrumentally. Mark exemplifies both team leadership and professionalism which has kept him in high demand through the years both locally and internationally. Mark will share his tips on playing from years on the bandstand.

BLUES MANDOLIN - Benjamin Hunter
Ben plays jazz, blues, classical, folk, and world styles and brings it all to his touch on the mandolin but will be leaning into traditional Blues styles. .

BLUES BANJO - Hubby Jenkins
Hubby weaves African American history into his rich classes on how to play the instrument.


HOLY BLUES by Reverend Robert Jones
Guitar players dig deep into your souls and bring out the spirit in your playing,

Singing Blues Melodies -with Valerie Kirchhoff
In this course we'll explore examples from blues melodies of old, and we'll work on how to sing them authentically while using your own true voice. 

Blues Vocal Tricks and Techniques with Valerie Kirchhoff
Drawing inspiration from singers such as Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Alice Moore and others, this course is designed to add the tricks and techniques that will lay a solid foundation for your blues singing. 


BLUES PIANO Hand Positions and Phrasing - with Ethan Leinwand
This right-hand focused class is all about the foundations of playing blues melodically.  Instead of aimlessly floating up and down the blues scale, we'll find quality hand positions you can lock into, and from those hand positions we'll explore the cadence of blues phrasing.

BLUES PIANO Two-Handed Grooves - with Ethan Leinwand
This class is focused on rhythms and feels. We'll look at how the right hand can team up with the left hand bass figures to establish rock-solid pockets.    

Two and Three Finger Picking Blues with Jontavious Willis - 
In various keys, different rhythm patterns and picking techniques with the right hand.


Zydeco Dance with Sunpie Barnes, Leroy Entienne and friends
Wednesday, July 31, 7:30 p.m., McCurdy Pavilion
General Admission: $20
Acoustic Blues Showcase
Saturday, August 3, 1:30 p.m., McCurdy Pavilion
Reserved Seating $50, $40, $27
Blues in the Clubs 
Friday and Saturday, August 2-3. Various Fort Worden Venues
7:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Wristbands $30

acoustic blues lessons at Centrum

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Acoustic Blues Workshops

Acoustic Blues Facts

  • Artistic Director: Jontavious Willis
  • Established in 1993
  • Gospel Choir Track
  • Instrumentation includes guitar, harmonica, piano, mandolin, violin, bass, banjo, ukulele, washboard, voice, and accordion

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