LMC Mentors, bios
Ferdie Alama (guitar)
Ferdie started playing guitar at a young age, and was inspired by watching folks like Chet Atkins and Les Paul play on TV. He had the great fortune of meeting Chet Atkins in New York City in 1991, and he asked Chet how he could become a good guitar player. Chet’s answer: “Ferdie, go to your room and practice 10 hours a day.” Unfortunately, he was never able to do more than 8. While Ferdie never got to play quite like Chet, he still finds it very rewarding, and these days particularly enjoy songs with complex rhythms played with a finger-picking style. Playing guitar has given Ferdie much pleasure over the years, and he would love to help others to find that same enjoyment for themselves.
Bruce Barr (guitar)
Bruce Barr currently performs music from his 25+ years of song writing. Bruce accompanies himself on guitar, and he is sometimes joined by percussionist Tim Attinger. Punctuated with humor and irony, his songs reflect his life and the lives of those around him.
Bruce has been playing guitar for 50 years, with a focus on finger-picking and interesting chord progressions. He plays acoustic and electric guitar, mostly in the genres of folk, blues, pop/rock, and R&B, with additional forays into country and reggae.
Joe DeCristopher (guitar)
Joe is a long-admired and highly respected area musician. He has played an essential role in musical combinations far too numerous to mention, but it all began decades ago with the acclaimed jazz-fusion group known simply as Fred. Currently Joe plays with in a number of groups, including DePotorLand, Lawson and Disorder, Nine Degrees of Syncopation, and Sink or Swing. He is nimbly adept in all genres, from blues to rockabilly to swing to jazz. His love of the guitar is well matched with his detailed knowledge of musical theory, and he is a most patient teacher.
Audra dePrisco (ukulele)
Audra dePrisco is a longtime upper elementary teacher at Greenwood Friends School in Millville. She is also a ukulele player and singer with a flair for funny songs and ballads. She is the adorable part of the duo Fricknadorable, the other part being her husband, Jeremy. The ukulele, one of the most accessible of the string instruments, takes a very short time to learn and a lifetime to master. A first instrument is fairly inexpensive and very portable. Once a few simple chords are learned, the new player has access to a wide array of songs. Early lessons will include basic chords, strumming rhythms, and changes.
Jeremy dePrisco (guitar OR electronic music)
Jeremy’s early musical experiences involved playing electric bass in high school rock bands. Ultimately, bass guitar led Jeremy to a love of the acoustic guitar, with which he has acquired broad experience and a lengthy list of credits. A few highlights include his time touring with Bodo Band (Hungarian folk), a number of solo albums, several appearances on George Graham’s Homegrown Music, and his collaboration with Dr. Stephen Schrum on the original musical Dog Assassin. Jeremy and his wife Audra formed the Americana duo Fricknadorable in 2011, and they continue to perform throughout the region. Jeremy is currently working on his next solo album.
Beginning or intermediate students who would like to learn a bit about the acoustic guitar will find his approach light and fun. His goal is to get students comfortable with their instruments as quickly as possible, and to make playing guitar something that they look forward to doing every day.
Students who are curious about the technical aspects of electronic music production and recording will get an introduction to this world. The focus will be on key recording concepts and some of the most common elements of the recording process.
Erin Dietrick (voice, violin, trumpet)
Erin is a native of the Susquehanna Valley and has performed as a soloist and with ensembles from Harrisburg to Virginia to New England to Ireland. Erin has a BS in Music Education from Messiah College, where she studied voice, violin, and conducting. She is currently the general music teacher at Greenwood Friends School, where she also retains an active private studio consisting of vocalists and a wide variety of instrumentalists. Erin has also been an active violinist in the Bloomsburg area with local folk artists and has been featured on Paul Loomis’s “World Famous in Bloomsburg” CD.
Erin takes a holistic approach to teaching music and focuses on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of her students. With children she views music making as exploratory in nature. She wants her students to explore the meaning behind the music they are making, as well as their own emotional connections to each piece. She offers beginner to advanced instruction in voice and violin, as well as beginner to intermediate instruction for trumpet.
Flora Eyster (flute)
Flora is an award-winning flutist with concert, improvisation and composition experience. She studied classical and modern music at Bard College. She has played flute for over 25 years from Boston to Europe, and enjoys free jazz, traditional jazz, bluegrass, folk music of the 60’s, and current folk/jam bands like Railroad Earth and Cabinet. She plays the entire flute family –- C, alto, and bass flute — and has a flute collection from around the world. You can sample her film and flight music at www.travelinplacemusic.com or at CD Baby.
Flora will happily instruct beginner flutists. Students can help create their own three-lesson programs, based on the musical style(s) they would like to learn. Flora will provide basic practice materials for home review, as well as coordinated strength-building physical exercises for breath and posture. In addition, Flora will share information on kinds of flutes, instrument care, and how to obtain an instrument.
Richard Grace (banjo)
Richard, an accomplished singer, banjo player, and guitar player, has been performing and producing acoustic music in central Pennsylvania for the past 25 years. Richard’s music reflects the influences of Jerry Garcia, Woody Guthrie, and John Hartford, and he is especially fond of Irish music. Richard was the founder of the alternative bluegrass band The Redd I Ramblers, and he currently performs with both Pages of Paul and Celtica. With Celtica, a traditional Irish folk and jam band, Richard is the vocalist and song archivist. He will provide mentoring and instruction to banjo beginners on basic techniques and practice approaches.
Bob Gutheinz (hammer dulcimer)
When Bob first heard the gentle tinkling sound of a hammer dulcimer, he knew it was something he wanted. He finds playing the dulcimer relaxing and enjoyable, and he especially likes playing Celtic music and holiday carols. With a teacher’s help in understanding the layout of the instrument, plus a little time and persistence, students can learn to pick out a wide variety of tunes. Bob is looking forward to helping people discover the intricate beauties of his favorite instrument.
Larry Mitchell (piano, mandolin)
Larry has always loved to sing. He started singing and performing when he was about 5 years old. He started piano lessons when he was 6 years old, and he’s been playing ever since. In his teenage years he also took organ lessons, and he was a church organist for many years. He has also played piano or keyboards with many different groups.
Larry started playing mandolin about 20 years ago when a friend loaned him an instrument. He soon bought his own mandolin, dived into heavy practice mode, and—as he says—“learned to play by the seat of my pants.” Larry has played the mandolin with several groups and currently plays with Vamp ‘Till Ready, where he enjoys learning fiddle tunes for the mandolin.
Jack Pyers (songwriting, arranging, recording)
Jack is a veteran stage musician, touring artist, and music producer from central PA. As a Billboard Charts bassist and guitarist, he performed in the heavy metal and hard-rock genre. He was an original member of regional favorite Harpo and toured nationally with the Atlantic Records band Dirty Looks. Jack has recently returned to the stage with a stripped-down performance as an acoustic singer-songwriter, yet his hard-rock roots are clearly evident. You can check out his unique sound and energy on Facebook at Jack Pyers Music.
Pyers’ mentorship program will provide guidance on songwriting and arranging, keys to playing together in a band, preparation for recording sessions, and particular recording techniques vital to successful recording.
Stan Sloditskie (accordion)
When Stan was a kid, he was surrounded by accordions. His father, his uncles, and his aunts all played, and he took lessons for a while as a teenager. Although he left the instrument behind for many years, he got interested again when he was 55. This time he learned to play by ear, and for years since has played in a number of country bands. These days he plays mostly for folks in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as at LMC Jams. He knows that many folks look at an accordion and say to themselves, “That would be too hard to learn.” But, he says, if you have the proper instruction, it isn’t really all that hard.
Fred Strickland (bass)
Fred took a few guitar lessons when he was 10, quit after a while, but took it up again in high school to play in a rock “combo” (“Louie, Louie” and so forth). His experiences in that band taught him all kinds of life lessons, and he considers those beginnings of his musical journey “one of the best things that ever happened to me.” For many years thereafter, though, he mostly set the stage for others to play — helping to start the King Street Coffeehouse, helping with the Local Music Collective, etc. He didn’t perform much other than playing at home or at LMC jams. In recent years, he is glad to say, he has had a chance to get back on stage, playing bass and singing with the band DePotorLand, writing a few tunes, and smiling broadly all the while!