Newport Guitar Festival August 2004


Updated: July 19, 2004

The Newport Guitar Festival will feature a number of player and builder workshops. Some of the world's premier players will demonstrate their unique abilities and will speak about their art and their instruments. Builders will demonstrate their skills and give you an idea of what goes into the making of a fine instrument. All workshops will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Newport, RI.

Player workshops are $35.00 each. Builder workshops are $20.00 each. Tickets are available in advance from The Music Emporium. Don't wait until it's too late; player workshops are limited to 25 participants.

Player Workshop Schedule

Friday 6th Saturday 7th Sunday 8th
10:00AM - Noon Reserved for Builder Workshops Paul Asbell Anthony Weller Tim Farrell (in mini-concert room)
Noon - 2:00PM Larry Pattis Brooks Williams
2:00PM - 4:00PM Harvey Reid Michael Chapdelaine
4:00PM - 6:00PM Sean McGowan Guy Van Duser Kinloch Nelson


Builder Workshop Schedule
Friday, August 6th

Workshop Room Mini-Concert Room
11:00AM Charles Fox:
Getting Started in Lutherie
Sergei de Jonge:
French Polish Technique
12:00 Noon Laskin/Manzer/Ribbecke
Designing a Dream Guitar


Player Workshops

Paul Asbell

Title: Fingerstyle blues guitar, in the styles of Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Merle Travis, and others.

Time: 10:00AM, Saturday, August 7

Description: Topics covered will include right hand fundamentals, such as alternate-bass technique, Delta-style drones, palm muting, and exercises to create strong grooves. Left-hand issues range from basic chord concepts to sophisticated jazz and ragtime chord substitutions, moving bass lines, "guide tones", etc, with emphasis on creating your own licks, turnarounds and variations within the style. All levels welcome, but many ideas will be geared to the evolved player.

Paul Asbell has played and recorded with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Lightning Hopkins, and numerous others while in his hometown of Chicago, Ill. His most recent acoustic CD, "Steel String Americana", received glowing reviews from Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Sing Out!, Guitar Player, Downbeat, and Vintage Guitar. He has taught guitar for over 30 years.

Michael Chapdelaine

Title: Arranging pop songs and composing for fingerstyle guitar. From Beatles to country music to Bach, the secrets are very similar and can be identified and learned.

Time: 2:00PM, Sunday, August 8

Description: Any tune or idea that you ever thought of or heard, can be played on solo guitar. It's like solving a puzzle. Knowing what to leave in and what to leave out is the key. We will work on issues of:

Melody: what is the melody and where should we put it in the texture and on the fingerboard so that it can sing out and we (player and listeners) can be moved by it.

Harmony: how to discover and voice the chords in a way that will support, and not conflict with, the melody.

Orchestration: none of the notes are equal. We'll talk about how do we deal with that on a technical level.

Technique: We will look at many of the tricks that lead to making the music work on our instrument. (there are a lot of these to talk about).

Michael Chapdelaine is the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world's top competitions in both the Fingerstyle and Classical genres; the National Fingerstyle Championships at Winfield and the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition. He has composed and arranged ten gazillion tunes for solo guitar.

Tim Farrell

Title: Concepts of Arranging for Fingerstyle Guitar

Time: 10:00AM, Sunday, August 8 in the Mini-Concert Room

Description: An exploration of the artistic and intellectual process involved in creating a great fingerstyle arrangement. We will discuss how to choose the right key for the piece, whether to use standard tuning or alternate tunings, and other options such as capos, partial capos, etc. We will cover melody note placement, chord inversions, positioning, etc. Examples will include original tunes and well known songs, including instrumental and vocal songs. The overall goal is to create the most pleasing and most musical arrangement possible.

Sean McGowan

Title: Expanding Your Chord Vocabulary

Time: 4:00PM, Friday, August 6

Description: Sean McGowan will be presenting a workshop for acoustic fingerstyle players and electric jazz players aimed at building a large palette of chord voicings for standards or original compositions. Several different chord theory approaches will be explored. Some basic knowledge of theory is recommended. Sean will also explore the technique of right hand fretting which enables the articulation of polychords, clusters, and four way close voicings. This will be a fun workshop and the voicings are applicable to guitarists of every style looking to expand their current chord vocabulary.

Kinloch Nelson

Title: Alternate Guitar Tunings

Time: 4:00PM, Sunday, August 8

Description: This workshop: part concert, part lecture, part demonstration, part discussion, will look at some common and some not-so-common alternate tunings.

Subject matter to include:

  1. Songs played in each tuning: some chesnuts & some originals
  2. simple fingerings
    more complex fingerings
    some scales and arpegios
  3. a simplified theory, and a definition of terms harmonics & harmonic content, the tuning's "voice"
  4. tuning and notation methods
  5. some comentary on music styles and stylistic influences, historical and cultural context, alternate tunings' appeal & uses.
  6. handouts: tunings list, diagrams, picking patterns and other tricks, lists of songs & players, suggested books
  7. discussion of why/how "standard tuning" ended up the" winner".

Bring guitars (& tuners) if you like. You might want to bring some TAB/music paper & a notebook. I don't mind cassette recorders.

Kinloch Nelson began playing guitar in 1957, performing in 1969 and teaching guitar in 1973. His 30-plus year career has run the gamut from solo classical and folk concerts in coffeehouses and folk festivals to club dates with jazz, country, rockabilly, rhythm & blues, and rock bands.

Larry Pattis

Title: The Art of Practice -- Technical Excellence, Expressive Freedom, and Creative Explorations

Time: 12:00 Noon, Saturday, August 7


This workshop will focus on helping the aspiring guitarist/musician focus to create his/her own practice regimen, develop musical skills with an ear towards expressive playing, and to begin to unlock the mysteries of creating original music for the guitar. Self-awareness and self-direction on the guitar are achievable goals that form the foundation of your ability to develop as a musician over time. Handout materials will be in DADGAD tuning; principles are applicable to any tuning.

Larry Pattis has been lauded internationally for his touch, his tone, and his original compositions in the contemporary fingerstyle community.

Harvey Reid

Title: Innovative Techniques

Time: 2:00PM, Saturday, August 7

Description: Songwriter/guitarist Harvey Reid will share his 35 years of insights into guitar music and will demonstrate his many innovative guitar techniques, particularly the use of the partial capo, which he pioneered. He will also discuss issues involving songwriting, performing, recording and amplifying the acoustic guitar, and will bring his 6-string banjo & slide guitar. Anyone who is interested in Reid's eclectic approach to music, guitars & life as a guitarist is welcome to participate. Reid is a national fingerpicking and flatpicking champion, songwriter and lifelong performer who has released 18 highly-successful albums on his own record label.

Guy Van Duser

Title: "The Circle Of 5ths Actually Goes Backwards"

Time: 4:00PM, Saturday, August 7

Description: Guy Van Duser teaches essential chord theory for guitarists. This workshop offers basic music theory focusing on the construction of chord patterns and cycles for song writing (or song understanding, if you are trying to work by ear). What you'll learn leads toward improving arranging skills for guitar, such as chord/melody instrumental arrangements, transposing, and more advanced techniques. Any level.

Brooks Williams

Title: Getting your guitar to sing: guitar for singers, songwriters and accompanists!

Time: 12:00 Noon, Sunday, August 8

Description: Accompanying a singer is one of the finer guitar arts. The best accompanists think like a jazz trio, play with the finesse of a fingerstyle instrumentalist, and deliver phrases and melodies like a singer. In this workshop we'll look at five techniques that can develop your playing, enhance your arranging abilities, and make your guitar sing!

Anthony Weller

Title: Duo Accompanying

Time: 10:00AM, Sunday, August 8

Description: A workshop in the flexible art of being the sole rhythm section accompanying a soloist (vocalist, horn, other guitarist, etc.) -- and what to do when it's suddenly your turn to solo. I'll concentrate primarily in jazz, though other genres can benefit.

Anthony Weller is a classical and jazz guitarist who has played with world-renowned musicians, such as the Herb Pomeroy Trio, Tommy Crook, Stephane Grappelli, and many others.


Builder Workshops

Charles Fox

Title: Getting Started in Lutherie

Location: Mini-concert room

Time: 11:00AM - Noon, Friday, August 6

Description: Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a luthier? What kind of past experience or expertise you might need to succeed? How to develop your interest into a vocation?

Guitar making is a tremendously challenging and fulfilling activity that is attracting new participants from all backgrounds and walks of life. For those of you who are wondering how to enter the craft, or how best to develop the skills required of today's luthiers, Charles Fox is here to share the insights he has gleaned from nearly four decades of active involvement in the development of modern American guitar making. As founder and director of the American School of Lutherie, he has introduced many hundreds of guitar makers to their craft. Charles will sketch an overview of today's vibrant guitar making scene, discuss the numerous resources available to aspiring luthiers, and explore how one's individual experience and personal strengths can translate into success in this unique field. He'll also review the basic tools and equipment required to begin to practice the craft right now.

The presentation will include time for questions. All participants will receive a Luthier's Bibliography and Luthier's Resource Guide.

Sergei de Jonge

Title: French Polishing Technique

Location: Workshop room

Time: 11:00AM - 2:00, Friday, August 6

Description: This will be a hands-on workshop, demonstrating the age-old technique of French Polishing. (more info coming soon)

Ervin Somogyi

Title: Tonewoods: A demo and workshop with Ervin Somogyi.

Location: ** CANCELLED **

Time: 12:15PM - 2:00, Friday, August 6

Note: Due to health concerns, Ervin will be unable to attend the Newport Guitar Festival, and has had to cancel this workshop. We are scheduling another workshop in its place and time slot (see below). (Note that Ervin will still have a table in the Ballroom, manned by his assistant, Hiro).

Grit Laskin | Linda Manzer | Tom Ribbecke

Title: Designing a dream guitar for your client (and for yourself)

Location: Mini-concert room

Time: 12:15PM - 2:00, Friday, August 6

Description: Three established and innovative luthiers discuss their processes for creating their idea of an ultimate guitar. They'll be starting with a blank page and will walk the audience through every aspect of the guitar: Materials / Dimensions / Tone / Aesthetics / Ergonomics / Inlay / Electronics. There will be plenty of time allotted for Q & A.


  • William "Grit" Laskin - Since 1971, maker of steel-string, flamenco and classical guitars; originator of the Armrest and Ribrest body bevels, and the sliding-door soundport; known as well for his engraved inlay art.
  • Linda Manzer - Flattop/Archtop builder has designed dozens of guitars throughout her 30 year career including the 42 stringed Pikasso guitar, a sitar guitar, many smaller guitars and the ergonomic "Wedge" feature.
  • Tom Ribbecke - Over thirty years, in the business of guitar making, archtops, flattops, solidbody electric, and convertable semi hollow designs, developer of unique carved top designs, currently working on the "Halfling" series.


Please note: Workshop contents and the workshop schedule are subject to change without notice.


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