Workshop instructors 2014

Bluegrass workshop: 7. – 10. July, 2014:

There will be classes in banjo, guitar, dobro, fiddle, bass and mandolin, pluss harmony singing, may be some other classes also. Instructors for 2014 are not chosen yet, we will evaluate this year’s classes and start selecting them early this fall.

Bluegrass workshop instructors 2013 were:

Banjo  – Petr Brandejs (CZ)
Petr will help coordinate the overall workshop program.
Petr dobráPeter Brandejs (born 1969 in Nachod, Czech Republic) began playing the guitar at the age of 11 and the five-string banjo at 15. In 1989 he and his brother Pavel founded the band Bluegrass Cwrkot. Peter then played with groups Nugget (Austria), E.G. Revival and more, he also accompanied Jack Tottle and Rose Maddox. In 1997-2005 he played professionally with the band Poutníci (where he recorded 2 CDs), from 1995 to 2010 Petr led his own Petr Brandejs Band (7 CDs). In 2009, due to the sudden death of Milan Leppelt he returned to Bluegrass Cwrkot (1 CD).

Peter was three times elected the Banjo Player of the Year in the Czech Republic. In 1998 he released the book How to Play the Five-string Banjo (in Czech), and in 2008 the DVD The Five-string Banjo in Czech Country Hits. Since 1995 he has organized (and taught) bluegrass workshops in the Czech Republic, he has also taught in Norway at the Risor festival many times, and in Slovenia and Slovakia. Petr is the first certified Wernick method teacher in Europe and is also a past chairman of the EBMA as well as current chairman of the Czech BMA. He currently lives in Noyý Jicin, Czech Republic. He is married and has two children.

Harmony singing – Sue Thompson (US) and Don Share (US)
Sue will also help coordinate the Band Lab sessions.
Sue and Don 313 largeSue Thompson is a noted vocalist, guitarist and teacher with a lifelong passion for bluegrass and traditional music. A powerful and soulful lead singer and an ace harmony singer, Sue is also one of a small number of accomplished women flatpickers. She performs and teaches at workshops and festivals in North America, Europe and Japan. Her recordings include the late Mike Seeger’s GRAMMY-nominated Third Annual Farewell Reunion and the Western music extravaganza Tall Boots (where her fellow musicians nicknamed her Harmony Wizard). Her instructional CD, How to Sing Harmony the Natural Way, has won praise on three continents. Sue loves to teach people how to sing harmony intuitively by ear, and her lessons, coaching and workshops are high-energy, fun sessions, where people learn in a supportive, positive atmosphere. Beginners are often amazed at how quickly they can start figuring out harmony parts using Sue’s methods. Experienced singers discover how to find their harmonies much faster, blend better, polish their vocal arrangements, reduce strain and bring out the best in their voices.
Don Share is a bluegrass groove-master, whose powerful sense of rhythm, soulful lead singing and impeccable harmonies help define the sound of his acclaimed band, the DownTown Mountain Boys. Don’s masterful teaching, rapport with his students, and great sense of humor have made him a sought-after harmony workshop leader, both in the USA and abroad. He collaborated on How to Sing Harmony the Natural Way, an instructional CD series with Keith Little and Sue Thompson, and is currently at work with Sue on the next installment of the series.

Mandolin – Radim Zenkl (US)
Radim ZenklRadim Zenkl – born in Czechoslovakia, where he played in and lead several bluegrass bands. He escaped from this communist country in 1989 to USA. Zenkl settled in California and soon shared the stage with artists such as David Grisman, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall and others. In 1992 Zenkl won the prestigious U.S. Mandolin Championship (Winfield, KS), and invented a special mandolin technique which sounds remarkably like two instruments simultaneously. According to David Grisman: «Zenkl has re-invented the mandolin in several different ways». Zenkl has recorded eight solo CDs (released on Acoustic Disc, Shanachie and Ventana) and has appeared on more than sixty other recordings. His worldwide touring and teaching schedule includes guest lectures at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki. Radim has built up an extensive repertoire for solo mandolin, some of it he will feature at the festival. Besides the mandolin he plays many ethnic flutes including the Norwegian seljefløyte. Don’t miss it and if you are a mandolin player, don’t miss a chance to be taught by one of the best, back again by popular demand from last year’s students. 
Guitar – Ralph Schut (NL/CZ)

Ralph SchutRalph Christian Frederick Martin Schut was named after Ralph Stanley and the founder of the legendary Martin guitar company. Born in the Netherlands, he moved to the Czech Republic at the age of 19. The main reason for moving to this country (and learning the language) was the high level of musicianship and the large bluegrass music scene in the Czech Republic. He has since performed in several bands and has enjoyed every minute of it. Ralph was raised on bluegrass and ‘50s country music. When playing with his band G-runs ‘n Roses, he aims to combine the soul of real country music with the drive of ’80s and ’90s bluegrass. Although he now plays banjo most of the time, he still loves to play guitar and teach at several workshops a year. With his band, G-runs ‘n Roses, he has won the EWOB (#1 European Bluegrass Band 2010) as well as the La Roche contest. Ralph is a lively, enthusiastic and dedicated musician who teaches right from the bottom of his heart. He also plays the banjo and the mandolin, but he considers the guitar his main instrument. Ralph is the co-author of the Czech teaching DVD Bluegrass Guitar which will soon be followed with a DVD for advanced players.

Guitar – Ondra Kozak (CZ)
ondraOndra studied classical violin for 10 years in Orlova (CZ). He found guitar in the age of nine, playing bluegrass since he was 15. He was voted Czech Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Since 2004 he’s been attending bluegrass workshops and musical camps as an instructor. He organizes regular bluegrass workshops at the Banjo Jamboree festival in Caslav (CZ). He also runs a website with bluegrass guitar tabulatures (

He’s been playing with the band Fragment (since 2006) and G-runs ‘n Roses (since 2012) on guitar and fiddle and with the band East-West on mandolin since 2011. His former band Kreni (2000-2010) was voted The Best European Band of The Year 2009 at the La Roche sur Foron Bluegrass Festival. He recorded 4 CDs with Kreni and 3 CDs with the Petr Brandejs Band (2004-2010). In 2008 he released an instructional DVD for bluegrass guitar beginners, in cooperation with Ralph Schut, which will soon be followed with a DVD for advanced players. Besides that, a DVD with guitar and fiddle solos in Czech bluegrass standards came out in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Ondra also plays electric guitar, he studied jazz guitar at The Music Conservatory in Ostrava a short period and played with the jazz-fusion band Jazzyk (2009-2010). Besides playing guitar, he occasionally plays fiddle and mandolin with the band Blackjack (fiddle), Sue Thompson & The Brandejs Band (mamdolin, fiddle) and others.

Dobro – Henrich Novak (SK)

Henrich NovakHenrich Novak lives in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Through the years he has played with many national and international bands. With the band Fragment, he toured the United
States 10 times and recorded 9 albums. He was awarded the John Dopyera Award (1991, 1994), Best Dobro Player at the European Bluegrass Band Championship in
Vienna, Austria (1997), Slovak Bluegrass Music Association Dobro Player of the Year (1999, 2000). In 2002 he became the first official Dobro instructor in the
School of Music in Trnava. He teaches regularly at workshops and music camps all over the Europe. Henrich’s recent band is called Rough And Rocky Road and
consists of top Czech and Slovak bluegrass musicians. They played at Risor Bluegrass Festival in 2012.

Fiddle – Martin Burza (SK)

Martin BurzaRalph discovered this talented fiddle player from Slovakia when he was a mere 16 years old. Already at that age, he was playing like a devil while looking as innocent as an angel. It was immediately clear that they had to play together and Martin soon became a founding member of G-runs ‘n Roses, touring Europe before he had even finished high school.

Martin took classical violin lessons from age 6 till 18 and has played in several bluegrass bands since he was 13 years old. Martin enjoys listening to different kinds of music, including the Punch Brothers, Coldplay and Jamie Cullum. Among his favorite musicians are Bobby Hicks, Mark O’Connor, Aubrey Haynie and Chris Thile. He has been teaching fiddle at Petr Brandejs well known bluegrass workshop in the Czech Republic and at bluegrass festivals elsewhere.

Fiddle – Oystein Fosshagen (NO)
Øystein feleinstruktørFor band musicians: How to play the bluegrass fiddle in your bluegrass band.
Oystein Fosshagen has been a valuable supporter of the Risor workshops and festivals since the first festival 12 years ago. The last few years he has been a regular member of the Oystein Sunde Band. Sunde, one of our most beloved artists, started Norway’s first bluegrass band, Christiania Fusel & Bluegrass, back in 1968. Today Sunde has gone back to his roots and assembled a bluegrass backup band consisting of some of our very best bluegrass musicians. Oystein Fosshagen plays the fiddle in the band, but he is a multi-instrumentalist and a much sought after studio and freelance musician. You will find his name on hundreds of LPs and CDs, playing fiddle, guitar, bass or mandolin. And in bands like Rikosjett, Akaustisk Soda, Banjovi and many more. Oystein is an enthusiastic and popular instructor, highly appreciated by his students.

Bass – Davide Bartolini
Our Italian ace muscian and producer from Bergen, Norway, will be here again for the double bass lessons this year. He has been on the festival stage for many years with Oystein Fosshagen’s band, Akaustisk Soda and impressed us all with his eminent playing, in bluegrass, jazz, folk and world music or whatever type of style is needed.