New bluegrass and folk music camp takes root in Northern Arizona

Roots & Boots Music Camp

By Julie Sullivan Brace

In 2005, a group of young, rabid pickers and bluegrass fanatics dreamed of starting their own festival that would feature both traditional and progressive bluegrass and acoustic music. In 2006, that dream became a reality, and now in its 14th year, Flagstaff, Arizona’s Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival has grown up from humble beginnings to be one of the West’s best festivals with top names gracing its stage. 

This fall’s lineup boasts some of the genre’s most acclaimed performers, including newgrass pioneer Sam Bush, bluegrass legend Del McCoury, celebrating his 80th birthday with David Grisman at his side, and the phenomenal chart topper, Sierra Hull.

Now, one of Pickin’ in the Pines’ founders and current Artistic Director, Julie Sullivan Brace, has expanded her passion for bluegrass into the Roots & Boots Music Camp, a four-day music immersion camp to be held this June for serious adult students interested in the study of bluegrass and folk music styles. 

The camp is designed so students can chose their instrument track of choice, which will be taught in morning and afternoon sessions. Daily electives after each immersion track mornings and afternoons, are open and will feature tricks and tips from instructors, with lots of opportunity for working on singing. 

Everyone is encouraged to participate in a daily singing elective with resident songbird Rebekah Rolland Arizona’s own Run Boy Run. There will also be lots of time for interacting with instructors during meals and breaks, and jamming together in the evenings.

Held in the San Francisco Peaks of Northern Arizona just 60 miles from the Grand Canyon, the camp’s location, the Arizona Nordic Village, is nestled in a mixed-conifer forest at 8000 ft. and offers miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. It is a natural setting for “woodshedding” with your instrument, and/or working on your singing and songwriting skills.

The camp runs from early check-in Tuesday, June 25, to Saturday morning checkout on June 29. Expect primitive tent camping or bring your van or RV. This is a rain or shine event, though many classes will be held inside yurts. Campfires will be allowed if there is no fire ban in place at the time of the camp. All meals are provided, and dinners will be prepared by different local guest chefs from Flagstaff. Enrollment is limited to just 35 campers.

John Reischman.

John Reischman.

KC Groves.

KC Groves.

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Roots and Boots’ roster of renowned performers and instructors includes John Reischman, of John Reischman & The Jaybirds, and KC Groves who co-founded Uncle Earl and more recently played with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado. They will be joined by Matt Rolland and Rebekah Rolland of Run Boy Run, as well as Peter McLaughlin and Chris Brashear, both of Colton House Trio. Avram Siegel, a veteran of the Kathy Kallick Band, Peter Rowan Band and Mike Witcher’s band, rounds out the line up as the camp’s banjo instructor.