Red Hot Strings 2023 workshop intensive


photo taken May 2016 at Centrum’s ‘Vintage Jazz’ intensive. Third from the left on Matt Munisteri’s right, is our beloved friend John Morton, who was a fine musician and luthier, and an essential counsel in development of the program, suggesting Matt Munisteri, who agreed to Curate and coined the program ‘Red Hot Strings’. Lucky us!



From Hot Jazz to Western Swing, Rags to Beguines, we will be offering Red Hot in-person classroom instruction on guitar, tenor banjo, mandolin, violin, steel guitar, and bass at Fort Worden State Park. Some classes will be available for audit online.


Choice of four daily one-hour class sessions Thursday and Friday, two on Saturday. Ensembles practice in the late afternoons. Evenings’ artist faculty present special-topics and performances. Toward or on the weekend, ensembles perform and on Saturday evening, artist faculty present a public performance. Playing music together happens in between everything else, sometimes replacing sleep.

  • Wednesday May 17 Check-in at 4:00PM Pacific Time. After dinner, Orientation in the Wheeler Theater, followed by sign-up for ensembles in Building 204.
  • Thursday and Friday – four 1-hour class sessions
  • Thursday – Saturday – faculty-led ensembles
  • Saturday – two 1-hour class sessions
  • Saturday – public performance artist faculty 
  • Every evening – faculty presentations and jams sessions.



  • In-Person Full Tuition $460 (non-refundable deposit to hold your place $100)
  • Scholarships awarded on a first come first served and as needed basis. Application is inside the registration software. There is no audition to register.

STAYING AT THE FORT: On campus you will stay in either, a private dorm room in 225 if you prefer Quiet, or the jam house for those who prefer to keep the music going. Both options have private rooms and shared bathrooms. Linens will be provided but bring your own toiletries. Cost for one room for the intensive = $275

ROOM & BOARD option: $515

MEALS ONLY option: Meal plans are $240 for the intensive and start with Wednesday dinner. Three meals daily on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and a farewell breakfast on Sunday. Meals will be in the Fort Worden Commons.

GETTING TO PORT TOWNSEND and CENTRUM: If driving: please enter our physical address (223 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368) into whatever map service you use. We are located within Fort Worden State Park.

SHUTTLE OPTIONS: $120 round-trip or $60 one-way

  • Wednesday 5/17/2023 Pick-up at SEA/TAC airport 2:00PM Pacific Time
  • Sunday 5/21/2023 Depart Centrum at Port Townsend: 9:00AM Pacific Time

Book flights to arrive May 17th by 1PM Pacific Time and depart no earlier than Noon on the 21st. Port Townsend is two hours from Sea/Tac on a good day.

WHAT TO BRING: Your instruments of course. You will need to bring your own shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste. Your accommodations will have soap, towels, and linens. If you get cold at night, I’d toss in a light down or fleece blanket. Layered clothing is strongly recommended, the climate in Port Townsend can be hot and cold.

Info for Youth/Parents: If under 18 and participating in the workshop, a parent or guardian over 21 years old, must register and accompany the minor. If the parent or guardian is not participating in the workshop, there is a registration type for guardian with no cost. However, If the minor is staying on campus in the dorm, the parent or guardian will need to also stay on campus in the dorm and there are costs associated with those accommodations (see Staying at the Fort and Meal Options above).

SKILL LEVEL OR AGE: There is no age or skill restriction however, to get the most out of the intensive, one should be familiar with your instrument and be able to move about at a good clip.

SCHOLARSHIP: Scholarships are awarded on a first come first served and as needed basis. Select the Scholarship registration type when you register.  


Below is a sweet little recording done by Dennis Lichtman while he was here teaching one year.

Scroll below that to see the outstanding list of Artist Faculty Artistic Curator Matt Munisteri has put together for 2023 and below that, their class descriptions.

Call or e-mail if you have any questions.  Mary Hilts, Program Manager mhilts @ 360-385-3102 x 116


Red Hot Strings faculty Dennis Lichtman, Tyler Jackson and Matt Weiner at Fort Worden 2019


Artistic Curator, Matt Munisteri

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and Brooklyn native Matt Munisteri grew up with early interest in American folk music that led him from finger-style Country and Ragtime guitar, through Blues, to Tin Pan Alley and Jazz. His own compositions, and lauded guitar playing, accurately reflect this life-long immersion in the history of American Popular Song; linking rural and urban, long-gone with contemporary. As one of “New York’s finest vintage guitar stylists” (Downbeat Magazine), Matt is regularly called upon to play on a wide range of CDs, movie soundtracks, television shows, and commercials. He’s also worked with a wide range of artists in the studio and on the road. Over the past decade he’s worked regularly with violinist Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing, Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, and the singer Catherine Russell, in whose trio he is the guitarist and music director. A sought-after accompanist, Matt has recorded with many of today’s most individual singers, including Holly Cole, Madeline Peyroux, Liz Wright, “Little” Jimmy Scott, Geoff Muldaur, Sasha Dobson, Catherine Russell, Kat Edmonson, and Loudon Wainwright. In addition to arranging for his own bands Matt has contributed arrangements to 5 of Catherine Russell’s CDs, and to Wainwright’s 2010 Grammy-winning CD “Hight Wide and Handsome – The Charlie Poole Project.” In 2014 he was a co-producer of his friend Julian Lage’s debut solo guitar CD “World’s Fair”. Matt has played every one of Carnegie’s Halls, but on the rare occasions that he’s not on the road, Sunday evenings find him crammed into a dim corner of a tiny watering hole on Manhattan’s lower west side, playing music with cherished musicians and friends as The EarRegulars.

Artist Faculty

Tyler Jackson

Tyler Jackson is a world renown tenor banjoist and upright bassist.  Under the tutelage of Buddy Griffin, Tyler quickly learned the ukulele, tenor banjo, and electric bass. Tyler went on to study the double bass at the University of North Texas under Lynn Seaton and began to fine-tune his skills as a professional bassist. During this period, he was asked to work for Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys. Touring with Price took him all over the world and to venues across North America including the Grand Ole Opry, Massy Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Gruene Hall, as well as the Stagecoach Festival, Austin City Limits Live and more. In 2007-09 Ray Price teamed up with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard to form the highly successful “Last of the Breed” tour. Tyler worked with many well-known artists spanning genres including Earl Klugh, John McEuen, Randy Travis, Jim Cullum, and Dale Watson.


Jonathan Stout

Los Angeles-based guitarist and bandleader Jonathan Stout is well-known to swing dancers everywhere for the wonderful dance orchestra he leads, but any fan of swing guitar currently stalking the internet knows him for the beautiful touch he brings to relaxed swinging versions of standards played chord-melody style on an array of prized old archtop guitars. One of the few guitarists working today who harken back to the era when acoustic chord-melody giants roamed the earth, his recordings and Swing Guitar Blog have increased people’s awareness of past masters like Allan Reuss and George Van Eps. During the past year Jonathan has given fans a welcome relief from the pandemic doldrums through his regular “front porch practice sessions”.

Eva Scow

Eva Scow is an American mandolinist and violinist from Fresno, California. She began studying music at a young age, starting on the piano and violin at age 4, and later adding the mandolin at age 8. Growing up she played in Classical orchestras and bands, exploring different kinds of music from Bluegrass to Brazilian Jazz. She began playing professionally in high school, collaborating with different musicians/bands around the country.
At age 15 she recorded for mandolin pioneer David Grisman on his album ‘Tone Poets’. She was selected to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2006 for a Young Artist Spotlight alongside bassist Edgar Meyer. She recorded her debut album with guitarist Dusty Brough entitled ‘Sharon by the Sea’ (Adventure Music) in 2007. The album features influences, from Flamenco, Jazz, and Brazilian folk music. That same year she also recorded with jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson for his album ‘Power of Nine’ (2007). Eva has performed at the International Festival du Mandoline in Lunel, France (2010). She toured alongside country pop duo Attwater, opening up shows for Willie Nelson (2011). Eva has opened concerts for artists Poncho Sanchez, Lee Ritenour, and JJ Cale. She has recorded on numerous projects, ranging in styles from R&B, Country, Pop, and Jazz. Eva also teaches string orchestra and jazz education at the middle school level in Fresno, CA. Eva is a member of the contemporary jazz quartet Espacio, and the progressive funk group The Experience. She continues to play in numerous groups across California as a side-person, equally at home in the classical, folk and jazz idioms.

Mikiya Matsuda

Mikiya Matsuda is a steel guitarist and sometimes string bassist living in San Francisco, CA. He is the leader of the Alcatraz Islanders, a swing-era Hawaiian group, and a regular sideman with various traditional jazz and western swing dance bands in the Bay Area. Mikiya graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in music, studied privately with steel guitarists John Ely and Alan Akaka, but mostly learned (and continues to learn) the instrument by listening and playing along with old western swing, country, Hawaiian, and mainland jazz recordings.

Dave Biller

Dave Biller has toured and recorded with Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson, and Deke Dickerson and is mostly known as a professional pedal steel player, but his record, Hot Guitars of Biller & Wakefield, captured the ears of music lovers everywhere. Like many guitarists of his age, Biller’s first heros’ were classic rock guitarists such as Jimmy Page, Clapton, and Hendrix, but jazz “became his religion” after discovering a ‘Best of Coltrane’ cassette in a clearance bin in an old record store. Dave Biller has a unique guitar style that takes influence from jazz heavyweights such as Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts, country pickers such as Roy Nichols and James Burton and the three Blues Kings; Freddie, Albert, and BB, but he says the guitarist which made the biggest impact on his playing was Django Reinhardt. Of Reinhardt, Biller said “In 1998 I saw the film footage of him for the first time and it changed my life in music forever. It was a pivotal moment and for the next 5 years I was hopelessly lost in the world of gypsy jazz.”


Don Stiernberg

Don Stiernberg has been a professional musician for nearly 50 years. Along the way he has been involved in performing, writing, recording, producing, and teaching but is best known for his mandolin playing. His path was set very early on as he grew up north of Chicago. Emulating his older brother, he experimented with playing various stringed instruments, finally landing on the mandolin. Things got serious when an ad played on the radio: “Study Mandolin with the great Jethro Burns”. At his first lesson he discovered what he wanted to do: play the mandolin, be a musician, and try to be as cool as Jethro Burns! Within a few short years he was playing professionally, first in a bluegrass band with his brother, later standing right next to his hero in The Jethro Burns Quartet. There was no turning back, and thanks to encouragement and mentorship from his family and hero he is still out there trying to achieve those early goals. Currently Don is regarded as a leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, and a respected teacher. In June of 2020 his tenth recording project ”Straight Ahead” by The Don Stiernberg Quartet, was released and quickly garnered praise in The Chicago Tribune as one of the “Best Jazz Recordings of 2020”. There are four online instructional courses for mandolinists available at, and the book “Jazz Mandolin Appetizers” is available from Mel Bay. In person, Don teaches at mandolin-focused camps and events from coast to coast and abroad, and covers the same territory performing at clubs, festivals, and concert halls with his own group. On the horizon is more of the same: a dedicated pursuit of ‘the good notes” to share with audiences, listeners, and students.

Katie Shore

Like many fiddlers, Katie was inspired at a young age by her grandfather. At six years old she told her parents she wanted to “play music you can clap your hands and stomp your feet to”. Hailing from Fort Worth “Cowtown”, Texas, Katie grew up playing in a world of strong fiddle traditions, attending fiddle contests, music camps such as Mark O’Connor’s and Johnny Gimble’s, and with some classical training, was part of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. After receiving her Associates Degree in Commercial Music in 2008, Katie moved to Austin, Texas. In addition to becoming a luthier and teacher, Katie leads her own project and has performed and collaborated with musicians including The Jitterbug Vipers, Continental Graffiti, Ghosts Along the Brazos, Willie Nelson and George Strait. Inspired by many styles and cultures, Katie’s voice and fiddle have taken her around the country and abroad. Currently the female vocalist and fiddle player for 9-time Grammy Award winning band, Asleep at the Wheel, Katie looks forward to every new adventure and opportunity to play!



Jeremy Wakefield

Jeremy Wakefield is more like Speedy West fused with Jerry Byrd. And a little bit of Noel Boggs.” Those are the words used by Wayne Hancock to describe Jeremy Wakefield’s playing, and he isn’t far from the truth. Throw in a big dash of Joaquin Murphey and Jeremy’s own unique sensibilities and you’ve got one of the world’s best non-pedal steel guitarists. In the 30 years that Jeremy has been on the scene, he has played with and contributed to some of the finest Western Swing and Rockabilly music made this side of 1960. His credits include Wayne Hancock, Asleep At The Wheel, Deke Dickerson, The Hot Club of Cowtown, The Horton Brothers, Biller and Wakefield, The Lucky Stars, Bonebrake Syncopators, Dave Stuckey and the Rhythm Gang, Smith’s Ranch Boys, Pete Krebs, Richard Cheese, and many others. Most recently, Jeremy has been played with Nashville’s Swingin’ West, alongside guitar great Andy Reiss.

The one place you’re most likely to have heard Jeremy’s playing is on SpongeBob SquarePants. His background compositions and steel guitar sounds can be heard in nearly episode of the show, paying homage to the great legacy of Hawaiian Steel Guitar music.

His 1999 recording with Dave Biller, The Hot Guitars of Biller & Wakefield, gave a taste of the influence that Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West left behind to a whole new generation of listeners. Not only did the record capture their great picking on a program of all original music, but also the joy and humor that embodies Hillbilly Jazz. His 2005 release, “Steel Guitar Caviar”, brought more swing and jazz, and also featured the brilliant (RHS faculty) Jonathan Stout on guitar.
Listen to any one of these recordings and you’ll hear that even at his earliest he had it together with a great touch beyond his years. He’s developed his playing today to a frighteningly articulate and fluid level, and he has a musicality that is natural and unpretentious.



2023 Class Descriptions


Jeremy Wakefield
1) The Melody is Your Friend! Or: Wait, How Does This Song Go?
We’ll learn some standard Western Swing melodies as an avenue to training your ear and finding your way around the fingerboard. Knowing the melody helps lay the groundwork for improvising solos, composing ensemble arrangements, and just keeping things interesting! The steel guitar is uniquely suited to interpreting a melody – from emulating the natural slurs of a human voice to adding staccato punctuations, and we’ll dissect multiple fingering choices to make these melodies phrase the way you want.
We’ll work on a few western swing standards, and maybe pick a few out of thin air.
Possible selections: Right or Wrong, Sweet Jennie Lee, Liza Jane, San Antonio Rose

2) Double-Stops for Steel Guitar! Or, “But First, the Dyad!”
A workshop on getting around the fingerboard using the all-important double-stop. Getting your double stops together can help you to hear which notes in a harmonic progression are important, clarify your ideas when you consider adding another note, and provide a useful tool for mapping the neck. Will include exploration of bar-hand moves in various tunings and a few useful slant positions, as well as some important double-stop technique for the picking hand.


Dave Biller
1) Single Line Soloing
We’ll be dealing with the raw concepts necessary for improvising in a swing style, beginning with the basics – scales and modes, building chords out of those, applying those items to common chord progressions in early jazz and swing. We’ll look at common chord progressions, how they’re used again and again in swing standards, and we’ll start training our ears by transcribing parts of solos. My take is not necessarily to write out complete solos, but instead to learn certain passages that catch my ear and then learn to apply them to other tunes.

2) The Advancing Swing Soloist – “Playing in the bag”
This class will get deeper into realizing authentic sounding improvisations within the idiom. Junior Bernard and Eddie Van Halen had the same 12 notes at their disposal, yet they sound different – and that’s even without considering the amps and whammy bar! Why do modern jazz guitarists sometimes sound wrong when they’re playing early jazz or swing? Understanding that styles of music are like languages, and regional styles are like dialects, helps us to understand the particulars of Swing and Western Swing, and learning to hear subtleties is key. So we’ll be developing our ears as we work on our idiomatic vocabulary and phrasing, with the goal of finding a balance between book-learnin’ and honky-tonkin’.


Don Stiernberg
This class examines chord voicings suitable to swing of all kinds. You’ll get all the
types of chords you’ll need, boiled down to manageable amounts by function or family. Rhythm strokes for the pick hand will also be examined, along with actual rhythms commonly used and how to make everything swing. All this in the context of a batch of essential tunes that we will get a handle on and play.

The BIG 3? Oh yeah, that would be(in alphabetical order) Jethro Burns, Johnny Gimble and Tiny Moore. We’ll listen to and examine transcriptions of their solos with the goal of finding how they went about bringing the language of jazz to the fretboard of the greatest instrument in the world. The routes and sounds heard will illuminate our own individual approaches to improvisation. Or as Jethro himself once said, “Steal ever(every)chance you get, just steal from the best…”


Tyler Jackson
1) Playing in a band – Want to be “the banjo player” in a traditional jazz band? Then this is the class for you! Common comping styles, fills, and basic soloing will all be tackled. Students will learn how to play solid rhythm and how to efficiently navigate through standard chord progressions used in traditional jazz through a series of commonly used chord shapes. In addition to the above, students will also get several chord-melody solos to work on and take home.

2) Solo-style tenor banjo – Take your playing to the next level by studying the masters of the past AND the masters of the present. Students will be given arrangements to learn that focus on both single-string and chord melody solos in the style of Harry Reser, Perry Bechtel, and Eddie Peabody. Improvisation, both single-string and chordal styles, will be covered as well. This year we will also be studying the playing styles of current four string banjo players such as Buddy Wachter, Don Vappie, and more. Proper technique will be a major focus in our classes. Everything from figuring out difficult fingerings to mastering advanced right and left hand technique will be tackled. If you’re serious about the tenor banjo then you don’t want to miss this!


Jonathan Stout
1) Swing-Era Rhythm Guitar – From basics to all the tips and tricks on what every swing guitar player actually spends 90% of their time doing: Although “four to the bar” rhythm guitar seems like it’d be a pretty slim topic, we’ll talk about the subtitles of time-feel and rhythmic variations that will make those quarter notes actually swing, using the examples of Freddie Green (Count Basie), Allan Reuss (Benny Goodman) and John Trueheart (Chick Webb). We’ll cover the right voicings for the job, especially in how to choose the right voicings for a given size/style of band, and we will learn to expand simple changes with walking inversions, passing chords/substitutions, and walking inner voices (and also when not to).

2) Swashbuckling Chord-Melody Soloing – The (practically) lost art of Swing-Era chord melody intros, solos and breaks:
We’ll cover the voicings and vocabulary of Swing-Era chord-melody intros, solos and breaks. Using examples from John Trueheart, Carmen Mastren and Dick McDonough, we’ll start with “bread and butter” chord-melody basics, before adding some hipper and more complex tricks ala George Van Eps, and then finally concentrating on the “Swashbuckling” super-swinging (yet super-economical) style of Allan Reuss. Lastly, we’ll also talk about the differences between improvising chord-melody solos in a band context versus playing solo guitar.


Mikiya Matsuda
1) Transcription 101 – This course is an introduction to the often daunting, task of transcribing music for steel guitar. Where do I start if I don’t know the tuning or can’t make out all the notes on my scratchy 78? There are so many Es on my guitar, how do I know which one is being played? Do I need to write the music down? Why do I even need to transcribe in the first place?! Together, we’ll tackle these questions and other common challenges to learning music from recordings. We’ll also explore ways of transcribing that focus on things other than the notes. And finally, we’ll address the inevitable question, “so you’ve learned your favorite solo, now what?”
While the course will primarily focus on transcribing for steel guitar music, players of any instrument are warmly welcome.

2) Big Band Horns for Steel Guitar –
It’s long been speculated that some of the most iconic steel guitar tunings (A6th, C6th, E13th, and their variants) were developed to mimic the rich sounds of horn sections in the Big Band era. In this course, we’ll test the claim by going straight to the source and learn to play some classic backgrounds, riffs, and shout choruses heard on recordings by Count Basie and other bands of the Swing Era.
Through the process of adapting Big Band horn parts to steel guitar (something that all the great Western Swing and many Hawaiian players did themselves), we’ll expand our knowledge of the fretboard and build a deeper vocabulary of rhythms and harmonies that we can use as both accompanists and soloists.


Matt Munisteri
1) Eddie and Eldon: The Art of Accompaniment
A violinist who’s an old friend, once said to me “The guitar really is THE ULTIMATE ACCOMPANIST – I mean, it’s not only great at accompanying singers and instrumentalist, it also accompanies YOU, the guitarist. Unlike a piano, it can go with you, always be by your side, and unlike an accordion there’s always one somewhere at the ready!” Well, Yes. And some of the most sophisticated guitar accompaniments ever brought to a pop song can be heard on recordings from the 1920’s, ’30’s and 40’s. Two of the most influential accompanists during these years, Eddie Lang and Eldon Shamblin, shared an ability to seamlessly weave together bass runs, chord fills, and trombone-like tenor lines into lush settings that managed to steal nothing from a song’s performance, a melody’s integrity, yet kept a happy light shining on the guitarist’s own creative eccentricities. Lang and Shamblin spent much of their working lives in the background, but careful listening reveals a thorough command of their instruments, and by learning examples of their work we gain fresh perspectives for understanding the fretboard, and hopefully can be lead to our own ways of taking a song by the hand.

2) Rhythm and Repertoire
This will be an advanced class on swing rhythm guitar. We’re going to go beyond “knowing a few chords shapes that suffice” as I show exactly how I incorporate leading tones, internal movement, and counterpoint and contrary motion, into my rhythm playing. We’re also going to focus on honing our feel, by working on our touch, tone and technique, so that our rhythm playing can inhabit that airy space in an ensemble that’s usually reserved for brushes on a snare, while still providing a meaty quarter note that is felt as much as heard. We’re going to move through a variety of songs pretty quickly, as we practice reading chord charts and gaining fluency in the voicings that facilitate fluid and appropriate harmonic movement (“passing chords”). Some of the fingering I use is unconventional and physically demanding, so we’ll also learn about not hurting ourselves! In summary, you know the joke “What’s the difference between a large pizza and a jazz musician?” (a large pizza can feed a family of four.) Well, basically, my rhythm guitar playing has been my large pizza – I wouldn’t have a roof over my head without it! – and simply put, in this class I’ll be giving it all up!

there are a couple more to come, please check back in a bit.


THE ENSEMBLES (subject to change)


OG Western SwingBrownies, Doughboys, Playboys – Katie and DonThe Hot Twin GuitarsTiny, Eldon, Junior, Herbie etc. – Biller and WakefieldBenny and Basie – Jonathan and MattHula Swing – Mikiya and MattMandolin Orchestra – Tyler, Eva