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Berlin Germany

Janie's Jumpstart

Friday-Sunday Sept 27-29, 2019


Janie Rothfield


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Ben Smith




Nathan Bontrager

Clawhammer Banjo



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Jane Rothfield
Janie Rothfield is an award winning clawhammer banjo player and fiddler who has been playing old-time music “forever.” She has toured professionally for over 35 years, during which she has also been a composer, recording artist, band leader, teacher, and event organizer, with fans around the world. Her clawhammer banjo style borrows heavily from both the traditional and inventive aspects of her fiddle style, and is characterized by great power, drive and in-the-pocket rhythm.  Her teaching method combines an easy to learn technique that combines strategies for learning to play by ear quickly with a focus on musicality and rhythm!  Janie performs with numerous old time and dance bands, and currently tours with the duo, Hen's Teeth.  Her latest solo CD, “Out of Thin Air,” features 15 of her own compositions.Two of her tunes have won the Best Non-Traditional Tune at Clifftop Appalachian Stringband Festival!  Her newest solo CD, OUT OF THIN AIR, features all of her own compositions and songs, and in 2016 she release both wonderful CD of Fiddle/Harmonica duets with harmonica master, Brendan Power called PUFNSAW, and OFF THE CUFF AND ON THE FLY with her duo Hen's Teeth (With Nathan Bontrager)!    Jane performs with numerous bands, including Coracree, Hen's Teeth, The Janie Rothfield Old Time Trio and with daughter Shona Carr as Little Missy.
Janie has taught clawhammer banjo and fiddle for over 35 years, privately and at camps and festivals such as Banjo Camp North,  Midwest Banjo Camp, Old Songs Summer Camps, Janie's Jumpstart, Heart of the Alleghanies Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Folk College and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, FOATMAD Weekend (Wales), in England, Scotland, Germany and the Netherlands, and Australia.  
"Janie came highly recommended so I had high expectations.  They were met and exceeded.  I've been playing fiddle for years, trying to learn from books and the internet.  After Janie showed me the proper way to hold the fiddle and bow, and proper bowing technique, all those tunes I know became so much easier to play.  Then she showed me the most important thing about playing any instrument; the difference between playing notes and making music.  And the whole time I never feel like I'm taking lessons.  I feel like I'm just hanging out playing music and learning new things.  Most importantly, I'm excited about learning because it has become fun again."  Jamie McCracken- Janie's Fiddle student
“Janie has shown me how to pull the melody out of old time tunes on my banjo… to make them less busy and more musical. I had developed some poor habits throwing every banjo cliché I ever learned into each tune I played.  Janie showed me how to strip out all of the unnecessary stuff… to concentrate on the melody and rhythm which ultimately “pops” the tunes and makes them more beautiful.”  Tim Wade-clawhammer banjo (Doylestown, PA)   Janie Rothfield fiddles Mike in the Wilderness  Janie Rothfield fiddles with Hilarie Burhans  Valley Forge (from iFiddle theyBanjo CD).   Janie Rothfield fiddles with Brendan Power   Cute Little Tune composed by Jane  Listen to Janie with Hen's Teeth 

Ben Smith is an ethnomusicologist, author, oldtime fiddle & guitar player, teacher, luthier, and the founder of Oldtime Central. A musician since the age of ten and an active gigging musician for the last 20 years, Ben is especially passionate about revitalizing the role of oldtime backup guitar as a nuanced, rollicking participant in oldtime music. Guitar players can have just as much fun as everyone else! To that end, Ben has closely studied the styles of older musicians like Asa Martin, Riley Puckett and Roy Harvey as well as contemporary masters like John Schwab, Carl Jones, Karen Celia Heil and Susie Goehring. He is known as a thorough and patient teacher of both fiddle and guitar.
He has also been central in supporting the growth of the Berlin oldtime scene, bringing regular jams and square dances to the German capital where he lives. In 2018 Ben founded Oldtime Central to create a central online space for the oldtime community to find articles, videos, lessons, resources, jams, festivals and more.

Nathan Bontrager is a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist (cello, fiddle,guitar, clawhammer banjo) who performs and teaches around the world. Nathan has always been an eager student of traditional music from various world cultures and began playing American Appalachian music while living in New Haven, CT and adapting his cello to the old time style.  He soon picked up both fiddle and banjo and upon moving to Germany in 2012, he found himself in great demand for teaching and playing Old Time Music throughout Europe and the UK. Nathan has toured and recorded with his duo Hen’s Teeth (with fiddler Janie Rothfield), the Old Timey Messengers and Root & Branch.  His old time chops on fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar and cello are as also characterized by a modern take on Appalachian songs and tunes.

Nathan has brought clawhammer banjo into a number of unlikely musical scenarios such as the free jazz band, The Unnecessary String Band, with performances on German late-night television with the Rundfunk Tanzorchester, and as a theater musician at the Badisches Schauspielhaus.  He has spent his entire professional life committed to helping students of all ages and musical genres to develop a wide-ranging, solid technical foundation in order to find their own, personal sound and approach to the instrument.   Nathan and Janie (Hen's Teeth) play Gospel Plough and Nathan (Hen's Teeth) play Coon Dog.

Betty Vornbrock
Cathy Fink
Marcy Marxer
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