Penny Whistle Workshop (beginning), with Dean Karres

Dean KarresCome for a low stress introduction to the tin whistle (penny whistle). This workshop is for the complete novice.  You will be shown correct hand and finger position; a simple scale; and, we will work through one or more very simple melodies.

A whistle will be given to the first twelve participants.  If you bring your own whistle please make sure it is a “D” whistle.  This is often etched into the whistle body or printed on a label.

Dean plays and teaches bodhrán. He also plays whistle, uilleann pipes, might sing on occasion and is currently in love with ceili drumming. He has led bodhrán clinics at the Kansas City Irish Festival and other Midwestern music festivals since the late 1990’s.  He has led beginning whistle clinics at events in the last few years.


Harmonica Workshop (intermediate), with Dave Witzany

For this intermediate workshop, Dave will teach some simple effects and give an introduction to the blues. If you attended the beginning workshop, you are welcome to stay for this session too. Dave will also have a petting zoo of his own harmonicas and books on the subject, so bring your questions!

If you have a C diatonic, you can bring your own harmonica  to the lesson. For those who don’t have one, there will be a limited number of free harmonicas available, as well as additional inexpensive harmonicas for purchase, thanks to assistance from Corson Music. We encourage you to come out to the workshops and try out this soulful instrument that you can carry in your pocket!

Dave has been a fan of local music since he came to the U of I in the early 80′s and has a long involvement with WEFT community radio. Mainly an audience member, he’s occasionally played harmonica with local bands like the Prairie Jam Band and the Prairie Dogs.

Mo’ Betta Jazz Band

Mo BettaThe Banks Bridgewater Lewis Fine Arts Academy consists of the BBL Fine Arts Academy and the Mo’ Betta Music performance bands. Well known around town, the premier ensemble plays for numerous civic functions and activities, and features instrumental and vocal renditions of jazz and popular music.

The Mo’ Betta Jazz Band’s appearance at the festival is made possible by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University Library, UIUC.

Family Dance with the Volo Bogtrotters

Volo BogtrottersBring the kids and the kids-at-heart to this dance for folks of all ages!

The Volo Bogtrotters are have been a Midwestern favorite since their first gig at the actual Volo Bog in Lake County, Illinois in 1985. Their music is inspired by the classic string band sounds that appeared on 1920s phonograph records, as well as by the square dance tunes played by the master country fiddlers they sought out in small Midwestern towns during the last decades of the 20th century. The band is fronted by fiddlers Lynn “Chirps” Smith, Fred Campeau and Paul Tyler (the latter two drag along a few other instruments) and also includes Steve Rosen on banjo, Jim Nelson on guitar, and Tony Scarimbolo on bass.

The Volo Bogtrotters’ appearance is generously sponsored in part by the Spurlock Museum and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University Library, UIUC.

Mama Edie Armstrong

Mama Edie, the StorytellerMama Edie Armstrong is a bilingual storyteller (Spanish/English), published writer, percussionist, speech/language pathologist, and voice-over artist who has provided international storytelling performances and workshops to parents, teachers, children, social workers, steel workers, attorneys,and various other professionals since 1989.  Her stories are largely inspired by her passionate regard for her African and Native American ancestries.

Mama Edie Armstrong’s appearance at the festival is made possible by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University Library, UIUC.

Dance Try-Its

Yes, you CAN have it all! Spend a delightful hour-and-a-half learning three different dance traditions.

2:30pm-3:15pm: Simple English and Scandinavian dances with Jon and Sue Hanson

Sue and Jon HansonJon and Sue Hanson have been involved in traditional dance since their college days. Originally from Illinois, they moved to California just after college where they were active in both International Folk Dance and Scandinavian Dance. They returned to Illinois in the 1990s and have been members of the Central Illinois English Country Dancers ever since. Jon and Sue enjoy sharing the dances they have learned. In their classes, they emphasize fun and easy dances that everyone can do.


3:15pm-4:00pm: Irish dances with Daniel Flora

Daniel FloraBorn to parents in the Foreign Service (Diplomatic Corps), Daniel Flora learned to love Irish dancing while living in Europe and Canada. He also learned to play the bodhran and honed his skills playing at Irish sessions, including the local session at Dublin O’Neil’s. He is currently an instructor in Balkan and Irish Dances for the Illini Folk Dance Society, and has begun teaching Irish set dancing in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Kids Songwriting Workshop with Dana Sipos

Dana SiposJoin us for an inspired song+writing workshop! First we will explore methods and techniques on how to exercise our songwriting muscles. Putting pen and hearts to paper, we will then compose a song together to be brought to life at a festival performance!

No previous song-writing experience necessary.

Geared for children aged 10 ~ 100

Bones, Jugs ‘n Harmony Family Show

Bones Jugs Harmony 2014Bones Jugs ‘N Harmony can only be described as a cascading menagerie of novelty knick-knacks and catchy hooks, floating over rock solid rhythms and tempered with silly feel-good lyrics. Yes, they make music with bones and with jugs! But don’t let all their silliness distract you from the virtuosity that underlies their magical sound!

The Bones, Jugs ‘n Harmony Family Show at the festival is made possible by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University Library, UIUC.

Pop Wagner Family Show

Pop Wagner

Pop Wagner

Special family show with Pop Wagner!

Pop Wagner has quite the reputation as a singer, picker, fiddler, lasso twirler, poet and downright funny guy.  He appeared quite frequently on Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion during the show’s formative years and for the last four decades he has worked his cowboy magic throughout 44 states and ten countries.

Pop Wagner’s appearance at the festival is made possible in part by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University Library, UIUC.