CC Bluegrass featured in national magazine

The Colorado College Bluegrass program was featured in the July 2022 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, a nationally-circulated publication widely considered to be the premier magazine for bluegrass music.

"Bluegrass Goes to College" highlights the program's uniqueness among liberal arts institutions and some of the advantages of learning bluegrass under the Block Plan. An interview with CC Bluegrass instructor Keith Reed details how the bluegrass program has grown since he began teaching acoustic guitar and banjo following a career as a full-time traveling and recording bluegrass musician.

CC Bluegrass ensemble members performed during Arts in the Arena in March 2022. Pictured from left are Helen Lenski and Olivia Dossett. Photo by Katya Nicolayevsky '24 / Colorado College

Almost immediately after Reed began teaching guitar and banjo lessons at CC in 2004, he noticed that students were showing great interest in bluegrass and "old-time" styles of music, so he formed a small bluegrass group that soon started performing on campus.

"I noticed very quickly, I saw it in their eyes, there was an obvious spark for this with students," Reed said. "What I love to see is the diversity of students in our program. They're all from different places and backgrounds, but they find this commonality through playing music together. It's accessible, it's simplistic, but it can also be complicated and at a very high level."

Today, Reed often brings notable, professional bluegrass players to CC to perform and to workshop with his students, and his student ensembles are frequently found performing not only on campus, but also in the greater Colorado Springs community, regionally, and nationally. CC Bluegrass ensembles have performed at the annual Durango Bluegrass Meltdown festival and the IBMA festival in North Carolina.

The Bluegrass ensemble jam class meets on Fridays in Packard Hall.

"Our program is very creative and we try to have this experience of performance and what it's like to be on stage, and those ensembles are our top students and are very good," Reed said. "At the same time, this allows all our students to take their minds off the rigorous academic lifestyle and concentrate on something completely different."

Reed focuses on inclusion and creating space for every level of student who wants to get involved, because the atmosphere he cultivates for CC Bluegrass is the same as the one that got him into bluegrass in the first place: friendship.

"Getting together and playing music is bonding at the highest level," he said. "We work one-on-one in lessons, and then it's their turn to go out and get together to practice: take what you've learned and go have fun with your friends."

Visit the Bluegrass Unlimited website to read the full article. Visit the Music Ensembles webpage to learn more about Bluegrass at CC.

Report an issue - Last updated: 03/23/2023