Since the Carter Family began collecting and recording old-time country music in the 1920s in the hills of Virginia, new generations of musicians have molded and shaped bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, pop and rock, carrying the genres forward and leaving their own indelible marks on them.
Siblings Tashina and Tristan Clarridge's childhoods were embedded in these traditions. Living in the mountains of Northern California and homeschooled, the two began learning music around the age of 2. Early on, they were introduced to music camps, where they made strong and long-lasting connections with other students. Multi-instrumentalists Tristan Clarridge and Brittany Haas joined the band Crooked Still after meeting at the camps when they were kids.
The Clarridges also went on to perform and collaborate with musicians who founded or taught at these music camps, including such musical giants as Darol Anger, Alasdair Fraser, Mark O'Connor, Natalie MacMaster, Laurie Lewis and others.
These progressive bluegrass, folk-country and Americana musicians and others — David Grisman for one; even Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna — have left their mark on traditional music for decades. Their predecessors run back to Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs and The Stanley Brothers, to name a few.
"Even Monroe, who we think of now as being old-school, was a complete innovator doing new things with traditional music," Tristan Clarridge says during a phone interview. "That lineage goes farther and farther back."
Since the Clarridges, along with hammer dulcimer player Simon Chrisman, formed The Bee Eaters, they've been on a personal and musical trajectory of growth. Teaching hundreds of lessons and workshops in communities and schools, it was only natural that they become inspired to found the Shasta Music Summit in Mount Shasta, California. The 13th annual summit will be held July 5-12.
"I see the summit as a place where young people can dig deeply into a tradition of music," Tristan Clarridge says. "They can learn from masters within a tradition who understand the value and integrity of a particular genre, and they also can see how all of these traditional genres are connected. They can hear an Irish fiddler play a tune, then hear an Appalachian fiddler play a tune, then hear Daryl Angor play a tune, and make the connection that it's the same tune, just informed by place and time.
"One thing that defines players like Darol and Grisman is the fact that they are open-minded listeners and are willing to hear any music that is good. So they're informed by many styles. That's something all of us at the show relate to, and we'll be playing different genres of music."
A local show in the Rogue Valley — featuring national fiddle champions Tristan and Tashina Clarridge and hammer dulcimer player Simon Chrisman, along with banjo virtuoso, composer and ethno-musicologist Ben Krakauer— will bring young musicians from the Shasta Music Summit to perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets will be $25 at the door, half-price for ages 25 and younger. See grizzlypeakwinery.com or call 541-482 -5700 for information.
Look for powerhouse vocalist and bluegrass guitarist Daisy Kerr, 12, fiddlers Miles Quale, 11, mandolin player Teo Quale,11, folk cellist Aerie Walker, 14, and songwriters and bluegrass multi-instrumentalists Lela Miatke, 16, and Rainy Miatke, 14.
Teo and Miles Quale from Alameda, California, and others are core members of the summit and return year after year. As homeschoolers, the summit could be considered the students' summer music camp.
Informed by young musical adventurers (and Shasta alumni) such as Sarah Jarosz, Alex Hargreaves, Molly Tuttle and Dominick Leslie, these youngsters are among next generation of innovators and tradition-bearers in bluegrass, old-time, jazz and Celtic music.
Just as Tristan and Tashina Clarridge made musical connections with instructors and young players their own age at various music camps, each of these students are making connections with each other and their teachers.
"To see that journey and that lineage is really cool," Tristan Clarridge says. "I'm 30 now, and I've gotten to see this cycle in action. It's cool to remember when I first went to fiddle camp at age 9, and Darol Angor was teaching there."