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March Mandolin Festival 2018

Limited spaces available – to register, please call the Music School - 603-228-1196

MMF 2018 photo
2017 finale: Tim Connell, David Surette, Steve Roy, Carlo Aonzo

The 16th Annual March Mandolin Festival

Will be held March 2-4, 2018

At the Concord Community Music School in Concord, New Hampshire. This year, the festival features Marla Fibish, Will Patton, Matt Shipman, and David Surette, with special guests Bruce Victor and Susie Burke. This two-day event offers group lessons and workshops on a variety of topics, jam sessions, and an evening concert. As in past years, the festival will present a March 2, Friday night concert featuring the same performers over on the seacoast; this year the show will be returning to the Stone Church in Newmarket, one of the Seacoast’s premier venues for live roots music (this is a separate ticket from the Concord events).

To register for the festival: You may register online at https://www.ccmusicschool.org/index.php/ccms-mando-fest-18; click on the button at the top that says “book now (individual)”. Or, you can send a check for $150 made out to:

Concord Community Music School
 23 Wall St., Concord, NH 03301

Please include your address, phone number and email address with any form of payment!

Lodging is available at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, with a special festival rate. A limited number of rooms have been set aside, so if you are interested, please contact the hotel directly at 603-225-0303.

For more information, contact 207-384-8151, 603-228-1196 (Music School) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday March 2  

March Mandolin Festival concert

featuring Marla Fibish, Will Patton, Matt Shipman, and David Surette, with special guests Bruce Victor and Susie Burke
Stone Church Music Club, Zion’s Hill, Newmarket, NH  7pm  www.stonechurchrocks.com603-659-7700 or for more info 
This is a separate ticket from Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School

Saturday March 3

(all Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School, Concord NH)

Workshop Room schedule 

Community Room - participatory teaching workshops: intermediate level
Recital Hall – participatory sessions: intermediate level
Room 119 - Beginner's session
Studio B - participatory teaching workshops: advanced level

Max and Lauri of Girouard Mandolins, and Jenny Warner of Phoenix Mandolins, will have instruments in the Community Room, and will be available to assist anyone with care/repair issues on Saturday. 

10:00-11:15 class session

Community Room – intro to Brasilian Choro: an overview of the history and style, and learning a basic tune – Will

Recital Hall – Irish session - Marla
Room 119 – Beginner's class: the basics of picking - David
Studio B (advanced) – Playing bluegrass at speedy tempos: techniques to help you survive and thrive – Matt

11:30-12:45 class session

Community Room –  effective and efficient practice strategies - David

Recital Hall – bluegrass session - Matt
Room 119 –Music theory for total beginners w/ Will
Studio B (advanced) –  Understanding and developing phrasing, ornamentation and variation in Irish music - Marla

 12:45-1:45 lunch break

There are a number of quick and easy places to get lunch and/or dinner within walking or driving distance of the school, and parking in Concord NH is not a problem at all. We will assemble a short list of good options, and may try to provide an on-site sandwich purchase option. I am also planning to have coffee/tea and light snacks available for purchase at the school. There are basic kitchen facilities at the school, and you are welcome to bring a cold lunch or even something to heat up in the microwave.

2:00-2:30 Group Tunes

In the Community Room. Led by David, open to all

This is a chance for as many as are interested to play through a selection of choice mandolin tunes in a large group setting. Led by David.

More IMPORTANT info on the Group Tunes is at the end of the festival schedule.

2:45-4:00 class session

Community Room – creating plucked-string soundscapes in ensemble playing – Marla & Bruce Victor
Recital Hall – old-time tunes and folk songs session – David
Room 119 - Beginners: basics of closed chords – Matt
Studio B (advanced) – improvisation beyond just the 1,4,5 chords - Will

4:00-5:00 – open jamming/socializing

5:00-7:30 dinner break

See lunch break

Saturday March 3March Mandolin Festival concert

Featuring Marla Fibish, Will Patton, Matt Shipman, and David Surette, with special guests Susie Burke and Bruce Victor. Admission included for Festival participants; general admission tickets for others available through the Music School (www.ccmusicschool.org or 603-228-1196)

Sunday March 4

10-11:15 class session

Community Room – Playing well with others: essential skills for jamming and group playing w/ Matt

Recital Hall – Beatles session  - Will

Room 119 – Beginners: exploring and using open chords in pleasing ways – Marla

Studio B (advanced)  – Techniques and exercises for right-hand development - David

Roundtable 11:30-1:00

This is planned as a loose, casual way to consolidate everything that goes on Saturday; a chance to ask questions, fill in last-minute gaps, get a close-up demonstration of that tune from Saturday night's concert that mystified you, compare notes, socialize over coffee, pick a few more tunes,etc. In addition, we will get a second chance to play through the group tunes together.

Marla Fibish

A San Francisco native, Marla Fibish has become one of the prominent voices of the mandolin in Irish music, bringing a musicality to the tradition that is not often heard on the instrument. Her dynamic playing is featured on the 2017 Noctambule release A Sweetish Tune, the 2010 recording with the band Three Mile Stone, and The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley released in 2011, an all instrumental project that features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments: mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, and dordan. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar, and button accordion. She sings and writes music and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. This work is featured in her current duo project Noctambule, with guitarist and husband Bruce Victor. Their earlier releases include Travel in the Shadows in 2013 and The Waking in 2015. An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students and classes, online at Peghead Nation, and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including the Mandolin Symposium, the Swannanoa Gathering, California Coast Music Camp, Colorado Roots Music Camp, Lark Camp, Portal Irish Music Week, and O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. Her instructional DVD Irish Mandolin Basics: Tunes & Technique has been a popular self-learning tool, focused on acquiring the foundational technique for playing Irish music on the mandolin. www.marlafibish.com

Will Patton

Will Patton has been playing music since the age of 6, starting on piano and taking up guitar at age 12. Mandolin and bass soon followed, and he's been leading bands since he was thirteen. Based in VT, his travels have taken him to Rio, Paris and the Caribbean as well as all over the U.S. and Canada, playing rock and roll, folk, bluegrass, Brazilian music, and jazz. His bands have opened for Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Maynard Ferguson, John McLaughlin and Toots Thielemans. He has shared the stage with Roy Eldridge and Mose Allison and is featured on many recordings as a bassist and mandolinist. During the last twenty years he has been visiting and playing in Paris, and his collaborations with legendary gypsy guitarist Ninine Garcia as documented on his recordings have received critical acclaim both in the U.S. and abroad. His 6 recordings have all been very well reviewed nationally and have been heard on folk, World and jazz radio shows all across America. His most recent release is Time’s Arrow (2014). Will has taught mandolin at Ashokan Western and Swing week, Django in June Camp, and many others.  www.wpatton.com

Matt Shipman

Matt Shipman currently resides in Portland, ME and is a performer and teacher of acoustic and traditional music. Although guitar and mandolin were his first love, he also plays bouzouki, and clawhammwer banjo. He attended the Hartt School of Music for a time, and eventually received his degree from Vermont College, majoring in a self designed major of Traditional Music Studies. For this study he traveled through Nova Scotia, North Carolina and Maine recording and compiling songs and stories from people he met, which later culminated as a radio documentary about traditional music in the 21st century. Matt performs with his wife Erica Brown in a duo called Darlin’ Corey, as well as with Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection, High Range bluegrass band, and Boghat, a traditional Irish band. Matt has put out recordings with High Range and Erica Brown and has also has released 2 recordings of his own; his most recent recording is When Evening Falls with Darlin’ Corey. Matt and Erica have been music educators for over 12 years and recently opened a teaching studio in their Portland, ME home called Darlin’ Corey Studios (www.darlincoreystudios.com), where they give lessons to people of all ages and abilities.  www.shippymusic.com

David Surette

David Surette is highly regarded throughout New England and beyond for his work on the mandolin, guitar (both flatpick and fingerstyle), and bouzouki; Sing Out Magazine wrote that "Surette's playing is always inventive, and sets a new standard for traditional instrumentalists." As part of a duo with his wife, singer Susie Burke, they have performed regularly together for many years (30 years in 2018!), recording several albums and building a reputation as one of New England’s top folk duos. Surette was a founding member of the Airdance band with fiddler Rodney Miller, with whom he recorded four albums and toured nationally. He has also released five critically-acclaimed solo CDs; his most recent release, Waiting For The Sun, is a duo recording with Susie. He is also an experienced teacher, and coordinates folk music programming and teaches regularly at the Concord Community Music School, as well as at numerous summer music camps and festivals.  www.BurkeSurette.com

About the group tunes

None of these tunes will probably be taught in the classes. They are for the group tunes playing session that takes place after lunch, and as part of the Sunday morning roundtable. For beginners, several of the tunes can be strummed with easy, open-position chords. I will have chord charts available at the festival, if anyone wants them. And I will not be sending out written music for these, as a way to really encourage working on them by ear, and memorization, two extremely valuable skills. Good luck! Here's the list of tunes for this year.


Italian mazurka Em/G

Balkan tune D

Pete’s Portland Fancy G

Belle of Lexington D

Good Morning to Your Nightcap Am

Here's the address for the Bandcamp site (you can also google Surette Bandcamp), where you can download the tunes. 


There is a slow and a faster version of each tune, played for learning, not as a concert piece. My hope is that people will find this to be a good resource for learning the tunes by ear. You can also download tunes from past years while you are there.

While you’re there, download a free copy of the Live at the March Mandolin Festival vol. 2 live album. It’s a fun listen. Here’s some more info.This is a little taste of some of what goes on at the March Mandolin Festival. For me, it represents a great opportunity to work on some solo arrangements, and to get to jam and play music with musical friends old and new. These recordings are offered in that same spirit of musical friendship. Enjoy them, and if you are moved to donate, feel free. But enjoy. Burn copies for your friends. If you are burning to LP, side one has tracks 1-5, and side 2 is 6-9.

They were all recorded live at the festival between 2007 and 2012. Four solos, three duets, and a couple of group numbers. Lots of originals, some Celtic and old-time trad, and Django and Zeppelin, of course. Some scenic detours, but no train wrecks. Live in a really nice sounding hall, totally acoustic. On all tracks, I was using my 1918 F-2 or my Trillium 5-course cittern. Thanks to my trail buddies: Susie Burke, Keith Murphy, Glen Loper, Will Patton, Mike Compton, Baron Collins-Hill, Isa Burke, and Steve Roy.


Time & Location

Date 03-02-2018
Event End Date 03-04-2018
Cut off date 02-23-2018 8:00 am
Individual Price $150.00
Online registration is no longer available. To register, please call 603-228-1196.
$150.00 9
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