Who's Who?

A Non-Exhaustive List of Reasons to Be Excited for the Diversity Showcase

Written by: Kara Kundert

We're just so excited for our showcase tomorrow night, we couldn't wait to start showing off our performers! We have one amazing line-up for you folks. Check them out and tell me you aren't excited to see this show!

We're so lucky to have Bill Evans, one of the world's preeminent banjo players, living here with us in the Bay Area. In a career that has spanned over 35 years, Bill has blessed us as a performer, instructor, songwriter, and composer, and has performed with such musicians as The Infamous Stringdusters, Laurie Lewis, Stuart Duncan, Mike Marshall, and Megan Lynch. He has also basically single-handedly built the present day Bay Area jam scene through his introductory jam classes at Freight & Salvage.

Henry Warde and Ryan Breen first realized they shared a love of bluegrass music as 17-year-olds in their high school shop class in Portola Valley, CA. From there, it was only a hop, skip, and jump to the formation of Windy Hill, named for the best vista in their hometown. They have gone on to win several band competitions and awards, and have released three albums: Let's Go to the Fair (2011), Lonesome Garbage Man (2013), and Bluegrass Sounds from California (2017).

After picking up fiddle at the age of 10, Brandon Godman has since gone on to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with. After some early days playing square dances and fiddle competitions, he later went on to pursue a career in music in Nashville. There he played with some of the top acts in bluegrass and country, such as Karl Shiflett, Wildfire, The Band Perry, and New Found Road.

2016 IBMA Instrumentalist Momentum Award nominee Justin Hiltner is definitely one of the most qualified people to be in the room. Having produced first ever diversity showcase at the IBMA World of Bluegrass conference in 2016, Justin is one of the most prominently gay bluegrass musicians in the history of the genre. He has performed with artists from Roland White to Ed Helms and in venues ranging from Bonnaroo to the Grand Ole Opry.

Karen Celia Heil is both a expert fiddler and guitarist and skilled instructor, with a passion for old-time fiddle music and square dance. She has taught everywhere from the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes to our very own Freight & Salvage. She is also the music director of The Tin Can Banjo Project, which aims to get people of all ages interested in music and instruments by building their very own banjo out of household items.

After first picking up the bass in his early teens and going on to receive classical training, Jon Weisberger ventured into bluegrass a little later than most. But that didn't slow him down for a beat. He has since gone on to be the inaugural winner of the IBMA Songwriter of the Year award in 2012 and play with such musicians as Tony Trischka, Roland White, and Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers.

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