From Jessica Lang (a guitar playing/stongwriter college student at Belmont University

I want to send my sincere thanks to the IBMA Foundation for providing grant funds so I could study at Kaufman Kamp June 11-17. I was able to study with Steve Kaufman, Beppe Gambetta, and Robin Kessinger, as well as take a masterclass with John Doyle. In my classes, I learned lots of really useful techniques and tools to further enhance my guitar playing, in particular improvisation techniques for flatpicking guitar and creating solo arrangements of songs. Two of my goals at camp were to learn more about playing up the neck and arranging, so I was able to intensely study these topics and am excited to work on them now that I’m home from camp.

I was able to reconnect with some friends from previous years at camp and make new ones, as well as attend lots of inspiring staff concerts and a square dance, and perform at the student open mic showcases.

Thanks again for all that the IBMA Foundation has done for me—I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly put into words how much your support means to me! It’s helped me attend my dream college (entering senior year this fall) and pursue instruction from some incredible musicians over the years.  IBMA has always been very near and dear to my heart, growing up performing at the festival, my many years with Kids on Bluegrass, attending the educational conferences, and performing in the Songwriter Showcase with my mentor, Rick Lang.

Thanks again for everything!

Jessie Lang

From Sam Mougin (age 13, upright bass player from Goodlettsville, TN)

I would like to thank the IBMA Foundation for giving me the opportunity to attend Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp (Bluegrass Week), held at the Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee. It was a fantastic week of learning! I also made new friendships and engaged in the pursuit of playing bluegrass music with my peers from the United States and also from the Czech Republic.

During my time at the Steve Kaufman Kamp (June 18-24, 2023), the daily schedule included classes from 10:00 am to 11:55 am and from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. In the beginner upright bass class, we were fortunate to have Dan Boner as our morning instructor, while Tommy Sauter took charge of the afternoon session. On Monday, in Dan Boner’s initial class, we began charting and utilizing the number system. This involved converting the song “Amazing Grace” from letters to numerical notations. Throughout the week, we employed the same approach with other songs such as “Roly Poly,” “Pathway of Teardrops,” “Train 45,” “West of West Virginia,” and “Legend of the Rebel Soldier.” During these sessions, Dan would play the guitar and lead the vocals while each of us in the class would accompany him on the bass. Tommy’s class later in the day followed a similar format, except that he played the bass alongside us, as he does not play the guitar. He also taught us some basic jazz bass skills.

Even after the regular classes, numerous events and activities continued, including open mic sessions, multiple jam sessions and master classes. Initially intending to enroll in a bass master class, I discovered no sessions were available that day. So I explored other options and eventually signed up for a flat-picking guitar class led by Allen Shadd and a vocal class instructed by Don Rigsby, where I learned a lot about singing harmony.

On Thursday night my friend, mandolin player/singer Wyatt Ellis signed us up for an open mic performance. We had two banjos–Eddie Ray Buzzini from North Carolina and Jan Handlik from Czech Republic, Ian Lane (fiddle) from Florida, and Andrew Rigsby from Kentucky (guitar and baritone). I played bass and sang tenor. It was a lot of fun!

We jammed every night from the time we got to the camp on Sunday, so on Thursday we were more confident and could truly enjoy performing on stage in front of the audience. I have to say that most of the participants of the camp (around 300) attended the open mic performances every night, and everyone was very appreciative and supportive.

While attending the camp, I can say I learned a lot and improved my skills on bass. The master classes proved to be exceptionally informative and educational as well, providing participants with the opportunity to learn in their classes and have one-on-ones with amazing musicians, to expand their musical knowledge in one specific area. Once again, thank you IBMA Foundation for this incredible experience of going to the Steve Kaufman Bluegrass Kamp. 


Return to the August, 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.

Top left photo: Jessie Lang at the Steve Kaufman Kamp (second from left onstage)
Top left photo: Sam Mougin at the Steve Kaufman Kamp (middle)