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Lanesboro, MN

Yes, the Bluff Country Gathering will continue in spite of the loss of organizer/director Gail Heil, the dreamer who thought a festival and camp dedicated to old time country music could thrive in the upper Midwest. What she began will continue according to her vision.

May 14-17, 2015


2015 Staff


Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones are old-time musicians and inspired tunesmiths. They are married – in life and music. When they play, their instruments and voices blend like two forks of the same river. Southern song-duets and soaring fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo tunes comprise their diverse concert sets. Carl Jones is a respected American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. In the 1980’s he played mandolin with James Bryan, Norman and Nancy Blake as part of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. Erynn has played for thirty-five years, performed and taught at many music camps in the US, Canada and England and learned old-time music from visiting 80-95 year-old southern fiddlers and singers. Her awards include a prestigious first place in fiddle at “Clifftop,” (The Appalachian Stringband Festival), in West Virginia and she was the first woman and person from outside the US to do so. Erynn and Carl live in Galax, Virginia.



Roger Cooper is one of only a handful of Lewis County, Kentucky fiddlers of his generation to grow up performing the region’s distinctive style of local fiddling. Raised in an area of great fiddlers, Roger began his musical career at age 12 playing guitar behind Joe Stamper on Vanceburg’s WKKS radio station. Over the years he has learned from many great notable Kentucky fiddlers like Buddy Thomas, George Hawkins, Jimmy Wheeler, and Bob Prater and has taken his regional style of fiddle playing across the country, performing at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington and at Lincoln Center in New York City. He is also a master artist teaching through the Kentucky Arts Councils’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship program.


L. Scott Miller is a multi-instrumentalist who is passionate about the fiddling from his native Ohio River Valley. He has performed on stages as prestigious as the Grand Ole Opry and won the 2010 Grand Master’s Traditional Fiddle Championship. In addition to performing, Scott teaches at Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University. He will be playing backup guitar with Roger Cooper as well as fiddling.


A seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and claw-hammer banjo player, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina, an area renowned for its unbroken tradition of unaccompanied singing of traditional southern Appalachian ballads that dates back to the early Scots/Irish and English settlers in the mid-17th century. Adams learned to sing from her great-aunt Dellie Chandler Norton and other notable singers in the community such as, Dillard Chandler and the Wallin Family. In addition to ballad singing, Adams is an accomplished clawhammer-style banjo player and storyteller. She began performing in public in her teens and throughout her career she has performed at festivals, concerts, music camps, and workshops around this country and the United Kingdom. In 2013 she received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Dwight Lamb, descended from Danish immigrants, came from a family that cherished the traditions of self-made music and entertainment. Dwight's grandfather, Chris Jerup, played traditional Danish melodies and American-style fiddle tunes on a single-row button accordion. His father, Clarence Lamb, played the fiddle. Dwight took to both these instruments and mastered them, playing a style of fiddling often referred to as “Missouri Valley Style” or "North Missouri Hornpipe Style". The greatest exponent of this style of playing was Uncle Bob Walters of Tekamah, Nebraska and Dwight became a protégé of Walters and learned much of his vast repertoire of hornpipes, waltzes and other dance tunes. He has received the Iowa Arts Award and taught/performed at such places as the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and the Smithsonian Festival.

For over thirty years, Kim Lansford has artfully chosen and compellingly interpreted traditional songs. Rich and nuanced, Kim’s voice perfectly suits the old-time country and early bluegrass songs that she performs. Kim is also an accomplished instrumentalist and is known to be the favorite back-up guitarist of many an old-time fiddler and is equally adept at piano accompaniment. She has previously appeared at the Bluff Country Gathering with her late husband Jim Lansford. Kim lives on a small farm in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri near Galena, in Stone County.


Raised in southeast Tennessee, Joseph Decosimo is a traditional musician and folklorist with a deep respect and love for the older music of his home state and the South. Based out of Durham, NC, he currently performs and teaches old time music anywhere that people are willing to listen. He has dedicated himself to spending time with the master fiddlers living in his home region, including Charlie Acuff, Clyde Davenport and Charlie McCarroll. By grounding himself in a regional repertoire and style, he crafts music for the present with a deep understanding of place and a reverence for the past. In 2007, he won the National Old Time Banjo Championship at Uncle Dave Macon Days and his fiddling has earned him blue ribbons at prestigious contests including the Appalachian Stringband Festival (Clifftop) and the Tennessee Valley Fiddlers Convention in Athens, AL. In 2012-13 he served on the faculty of East Tennessee State University's Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Program.


Gail Gillespie, a former editor of Old Time Herald magazine, is a master of older, local styles of finger-picking banjo playing. She is also an exceptional guitar accompanist and singer of old time songs. Gail appeared at the Bluff Country Gathering previously with her band the New Southern Broadcaster and has also performed and recorded with the Bucksnort Barndance Band, The Herald Angels, and other stringbands.





Pop Wagner, originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio has been playing folk music since his childhood. After moving to the Twin Cities in 1972, the music of the southern mountains, the Midwest and the West have been the main focus of his playing. Wagner plays square dance tunes on the fiddle, fingerpicked blues and older country music on the guitar, and sings with a sensitivity to traditional style. He’s a nationally recognized square dance caller focusing on the traditional style square and big circle dances. He has appeared coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada and toured Europe several times and his frequent appearances on the Prairie Home Companion radio show have gained him numerous fans across the country.


About the Bluff Country Gathering

The Bluff Country Gathering is a four-day event presenting traditional American music, dance and singing styles. Workshops, conducted by a staff of nationally acclaimed musicians, singers, dancers and folklorists, are designed to pass along the traditions of old-time music to participants at all levels of experience. If you want to take workshops, you must register for the whole weekend. Cost is $225 and includes workshops, concert, dance and two noon meals. The registration form is at the bottom of this page.

PUBLIC EVENTS: A concert on Friday night features all the staff musicians. The Barn Dance on Saturday night includes live music by staff musicians and Bob Dalsemer teaching and calling square and circle dances. No experience or partner required for this dance.

CONCERT: Friday May 15 at 8:00 PM. $12.00. Tickets available at the door only.

BARN DANCE: Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 PM. $8.00. Tickets available at the door only.

REGISTRATION: $225 for all events. If you plan to take workshops full registration is required. No refunds after May 1.

Registration Form

Please fill out the entire registration form. Registrations not accepted until January 6. (Printable PDF)





Name/address on the roster? Yes _____ No _____ (The roster will be available to all students.)

Meals: Veggie _____ Meat _____ (Choose only one)

If you have food allergies or special needs, you must notify us before May 1 at 507-498-5452.

Any student age 16 or under must be accompanied by a fully registered parent or guardian.

Interested in volunteering? Most of our registered students help out doing small jobs at the weekend, like setting up tables and chairs for meals and concerts, helping in the kitchen, sitting at the sales table during the public concert or dance, to name a few.

Even the smallest help is greatly appreciated. If you check yes, someone will contact you about matching you to an agreeable task.

Yes, I'd like to help. _____ No, not this time. _____

Make checks payable to Bluff Country Gathering and mail to 18287 Gap Drive, Spring Grove, MN 55974. We do not take credit cards.

Housing is not provided by the Gathering. Lanesboro has many B&Bs, boarding houses, motels and campgrounds in town and nearby. For a listing of these go to www.lanesboro.com or call the tourist office at 800-944-2670.

Thursday Night Potluck dinner starting at 6 pm. Bring a dish to share. Plates/cups/napkins/silverware will be provided. The kitchen is available only to the lunch caterers and will not be available for cooking/ cleaning up/storing leftovers.

Sunday Potluck starting at 9:30 am

Friday and Saturday lunches will again be provided by our favorites, Bob and Diana Suckiel, along with their fabulous crew!

What else to bring? Recorders are a must, since most of the workshops will be taught aurally.




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