Jim Richter (jimrichter.com)

Jim Richter is a multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, banjo, guitar) who over the last 40 years has focused on roots-based American music with a special focus on traditional electric and acoustic blues. Jim started his musical life as a bluegrass banjoist, followed by many years as an electric guitarist specializing in the styles of Freddy King and Hollywood Fats. However, the last two decades, blues mandolin has truly been the niche Jim was meant to embrace. Though respectful of the historical blues mandolin pioneers, Jim has sought to expand blues mandolin expression and repertoire though leveraging his background as an electric blues guitarist. Jim has become recognized as one of the leaders in this area. Also, Jim’s extensive knowledge of guitar-based classic rock has led him to transcribe and arrange many tunes for mandolin that show how versatile the mandolin can be in reimagining rock tunes without “bluegrassifying” them. Jim is most proud of the work he has done in mandolin education especially for adult learners. Partnering with Don Julin, Jim developed the Jim Richter Mandolin Camp for the Rest of Us that focuses on three areas: 1) mandolin instruction for the non-bluegrasser, 2) adult learners who need a different approach to instruction and 3) teaching students how to harness what they already know to build self-efficacy and immediate use of that knowledge while playing with others. This camp enters its 10th year in 2023. Jim’s discography includes his own self-titled work, The Road Home (tribute to Butch Baldassari), Tribute to Yank Rachell, Hootenanny with Gordon Bonham (live concert DVD), and Too Damn Cold by the Forecasters. Jim is also a licensed mental health counselor who directs a mental health center in Indianapolis, Indiana and was a doctoral candidate in psychology before deciding enjoying life was more important.

Don Julin (donjulin.com)

Don Julin is one of Michigan’s premier instrumentalists and the nation’s foremost mandolin educators. From jazz to folk, gypsy to avant-garde, Julin is loved for his talent and fluidity. 2012 saw Don release his CD Vibe, as well as the much acclaimed Mandolin for Dummies, a much needed addition to mandolin instruction. 2014 will see Don’s release of Mandolin Exercises for Dummies.  Don has achieved national acclaim for his original compositions from his cd’s Tractor and Mr. Natural. Don has won national songwriting contests and his music is often heard on NPR’s radio magazine All Things Considered. Don performs thoughout the United States and Europe and has been a featured performer for the Classical Mandolin Society of America including other international events.  Don’s performances with Billy Strings over the last two years have shaken up the old time and Americana worlds. The last half dozen years as seen Don rally multiple mandolin instructors together to contribute to Don’s “Mandolins Heal the World” instruction site.

Mike Compton (mikecompton.net)

Befriended and mentored by Bill Monroe, the acknowledged Father of Bluegrass Music, Mike Compton is one of today’s foremost interpreters of Monroe’s genre-creating mandolin style. Mandolin students from around the world make the pilgrimage to his annual Monroe Mandolin Camp in Nashville, TN, where Compton and a select handful of other experts teach everything form the basics of bluegrass mandolin to the most intimate details of Monroe’s endlessly inspiring mandolin style.

Mike Compton’s decades of touring and recording with musical luminaries ranging from rockstars Sting, Gregg Allman and Elvis Costello, to straight-from-the-still acoustic legends like John Hartford, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, Ralph Stanley, and David Grisman, have established Compton as a true master of the modern American mandolin and a premier interpreter of roots and Americana musical styles. Compton’s mastery of mandolin is at once effortless and exceptional. A compelling entertainer either alone or with a group, his skills as a singer, arranger, instrumentalist, composer and accompanist also make him in-demand as a band member and ensemble player at festivals, clubs and concert halls, recording sessions, music workshops and as a private instructor. With more than 140 CDS in his discography, including work with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Patty Loveless, Compton has helped keep mandolin a cool, relevant sound as the modern musical styles ebb and evolve to reach an everbroadening audience.

A native of Mississippi, Compton picked up the mandolin in his teens and absorbed the area’s native blues, old-time country and bluegrass sounds. He soon gravitated to Nashville, where he helped found one of the 20th Century’s most admired and influential bluegrass groups, the iconic Nashville Bluegrass Band. He’s also been a part of the John Hartford Stringband, Helen Highwater Stringband, 1942, Compton & Newberry, and other seminal groups.

When A-list Americana producer T-Bone Burnett needed experts in authentic rural musical styles to anchor the landmark O Brother, Where Art Thou? Movie project and subsequent tour, he called upon Compton’s unique knowledge and signature mandolin style to authenticate the Soggy Bottom boys’ rootsy sound. That Grammy Award Album of the Year- winning album went on to sell seven million copies and sparked a global revival in old-time and bluegrass musical styles.

Connoisseur of hand-painted vintage silk ties, popularizer of the denim overall urban fashion statement, lover of iconic men’s hats and curator of oddball official days (ask him about National Lost Sock Memorial Day or National Root Canal Appreciation Day), Mike Compton thrives at the intersection of traditional funk and modern authenticity.

Equally skilled in bluegrass, old-time string band music, country blues, rootsy Americana styles, and much more, Compton soars beyond easy categorization as an acoustic mandolin player and singer. Gifted at tastefully incorporating rural, roots-based lead and rhythm mandolin styles into modern Americana music, Compton’s unique musical skillset allows him to entertain audiences ranging from rockers and urban hipsters to die-hard country, folk and bluegrass fans.

Associate Faculty

Laurelyn Dossett (https://www.laurelyndossett.com/)

Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in Stokes County, NC.  Her songs have appeared in film and television (Hell on Wheels, Ain’t In it for My Health) and have been recorded by many artists including Grammy-winning Levon Helm (Anna Lee) and Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops (Leaving Eden). 

In 2020-2021 Laurelyn hosted “A Place in the Band,” a discussion series sponsored by the Blue Ridge Music Center.  This series of recorded interviews focused on women in bluegrass and roots music, both artists and industry professionals, the particular challenges that they face, and their rich history or contributions to bluegrass and folk music.

She has partnered with Triad Stage’s Preston Lane on six plays-with-music:  Brother Wolf (2006), Beautiful Star:An Appalachian Nativity (2006), Bloody Blackbeard (2008), Providence Gap(2010), Snow Queen (2013, and Radiunt Abundunt (2016). In 2018 she wrote the songs for playwright Mike Wiley’s Leaving Eden; it premiered at Playmaker’s Repertory in 2018.

Her song cycle, The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs was commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony and premiered in Raleigh in 2011, Grant Llewellyn conducting.  Guest artists on that project included Mike Compton, Rhiannon Giddens, Joe Newberry and Jason Sypher. The cd “The Gathering” made many of the top 10 holiday cds in 2011, including the NY Times, the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune.  The Wall Street Journal said “It’s what the holidays were before shopping and Irving Berlin.”  It was reprised by the Winston-Salem Symphony in 2019, Timothy Redmond conducting.

Laurelyn has written songs for various protest movements in North Carolina including My Beloved Enemy and Vote Against Amendment One. She remains a voice for social justice and environmental activism in North Carolina and beyond.  The River’s Lament is her testament to the devastation of the Dan River coal ash spill. She founded and continues to host the annual “Songs of Hope and Justice” at the North Carolina Folk Festival. 

Laurelyn has taught songwriting and singing at the Augusta Heritage Center and the Monroe Mandolin Camp, as well as at many universities, workshops and festivals. She is the recipient of the Betty Cone Medal of Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting, the Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Additional Staff: Concert Performance

Gordon Bonham (http://gordonbonham.com/)

Gordon Bonham brings together a mix of styles from the Mississippi Delta to the back alleys of Chicago, from big Texas shuffles to jumpin’ West Coast swing. After several years of tearing up the road, Bonham brings it all together in Indiana, the Crossroads of America.

Bonham has performed several times with the legendary Pinetop Perkins, most notably in Cleveland along with Robert Lockwood, Jr. as part of the grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He played off and on for ten years with the late Indianapolis blues mandolin man, “Yank” Rachell, as well as Chicago piano man Jimmy Walker. He also handled the guitar spot for the late harmonica ace Gary Primich in Austin, TX in the late “80’s. Gordon has worked three times with Bo Diddley as band leader and rang in the 2000 new year at the Slippery Noodle playing with Blues Brother Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Other notable gigs include a mini tour with “Ice Cream Man” John Brimm and sharing the Main Stage at the Chicago Blues Fest with Billy Boy Arnold and the late Sunny Land Slim. Bonham has also opened for such greats as Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Solomon Burke and B.B.King.

Locally, Bonham was a founding member of the critically acclaimed Cooler Kings, followed by the Gordon Bonham Blues Band. Their CD “Low Down and Blue” was chosen by David Lindquist of the Indianapolis Star as no.3 of the Top Ten Releases of 1999. He continues to be a host of the blues jam at the world famous Slippery Noodle Inn, and is a regular with the Indianapolis Jazz Fest.

With two European tours, and recently two tours of Sweden, the growing list of memorable gigs and credentials continue to stack up, making Gordon Bonham’s music a must have for anyone who appreciates serious and soulful blues.

The Banister Bluegrass Band (https://www.facebook.com/BanisterFamilyBluegrassBand/)