Shannon Hoover, Band, Bass, Jazz Clinician  

Shannon Hoover, from Greenville SC, plays electric and acoustic bass, piano, and brass. He graduated from Anderson University (SC) in 2004 with a B.A. in Double Bass Performance. He is a freelance performer, composer, private instructor, and the adjunct bass instructor and ensemble director at University of South Carolina-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC. He plays many styles, focusing on jazz, classical, and world music, also keeping a busy performance schedule with several projects such as Hipbones, Clay Ross Band, Wade Baker Trio, Greenville Jazz Collective, and his own group, the Shannon Hoover Trio. Shannon has had the opportunity to play with Branford Marsalis, Harry Kim, Jeff Sipe, Derek Trucks, Mondre Moffett, Delfeayo Marsalis, the late Kofi Burbridge, and the late Clarence Clemons. He also released an EP CD entitled “Follow Me,” featuring  six original compositions.

Andy Jurik, Guitar, Kids’ Rock Band 

Andy Jurik is a performer, educator, and writer based out of Asheville, NC. He holds a D.M.A. in guitar performance (music theory minor) from the University of South Carolina; his dissertation focused on the classical/jazz fusion of third stream music. Fascinated with the genre-crossing possibilities of the acoustic guitar, his arrangements for the instrument range from Scottish lute music and Brazilian choro to Radiohead and the Beatles. Andy currently teaches at the University of North Carolina Asheville and Western Carolina University.

Andy John, Guitar, Jazz Clinician

Andy John teaches guitar and directs student ensembles at the Asheville Music School. Andy has had a wide and varied musical career playing many instruments and many styles. In fourth grade he began taking piano lessons and in fifth grade played clarinet in the school band. In seventh grade he learned to play bassoon and played in the orchestra, marching band and stage band. He also started taking guitar lessons. After high school he decided on music as a career and studied jazz guitar with Mark Boling and received a BA in 1994 in Studio Music and Jazz. He also studied with famed educator Jerry Coker, Donald Brown, and classical guitar with Lily Afshar. He has been teaching and performing constantly ever since, playing a variety of instruments in a variety of settings. He has toured and recorded two CDs with his jazz trio Klarcnova, which has been together since 1998. He recorded a CD and toured with Ruby Slippers. He has toured Canada and recorded two CDs with The Lithuanian Empire. He plays guitar and blues harp with Bandana Klezmer and plays bass in the rock and roll band, Carolina Rex. Andy enjoys the challenge of teaching students of all ages.

Peggy Ratusz, Voice

A well established presence in the Asheville music scene, chanteuse Peggy Ratus performs an infectious, sultry, multi-layered brand of original, traditional and modern Blues, Soul. R&B and Jazz. While influences such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, BB King, Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt are evident, her unique soul and voice are undeniably one of a kind. During live performances, she is inspired by the rhythm, melodies and content of the stories she tells, glowing with every authentic drop of emotion.

Nik Hope, Drums 

Nicholas Hope was born in High Point, NC, and graduated from T.W. Andrews High School. While in high school he earned a scholarship to the Greensboro Music Academy, and then was the first recipient of the John Coltrane Scholarship, which he used to study music at Appalachian State University. At ASU, Nik’s primary teacher was noted drummer Rick Dilling. After graduating college, Nik focused on his professional playing career and toured internationally for five years. He now lives in Asheville, and is a member of the bands Empire Strikes Brass, The Horse You Rode In On, The Chuck Lichtenberger Collective, and Below The Bassline.

Tyler Housholder, Hand Drums 

Tyler Housholder was born in Charlotte North Carolina, and his interest in music has been honed through a diverse education of traditional and Western Percussion. He majored in Percussion Performance at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC, where he developed a foundation in Jazz and Concert Percussion. After being exposed to traditional West African drumming, his interest shifted to djembe and other traditional hand percussion. He moved to Brooklyn in 2002 and studied with master drummers including Mamady Keïta, Michael Markus and M’Bemba Bangoura. While in New York he played and recorded with many bands including Riddim’ Nation, Shae Fiol, Judah Tribe and is a founding member of The Broadcast.

Preach Jacobs, Hip Hop 

Preach Jacobs ( is an emcee/journalist from Columbia, South Carolina, who has shared the stage with the likes of 50 Cent, George Clinton, Nelly, Talib Kweli, and many others. His brand of neo-soul/funk-inspired hip-hop is reminiscent of the Native Tongue era. Preach’s debut, “Garveyism” (2008), received critical acclaim domestically and abroad (selling over 7,000 units independently under his own Blusic Productions imprint), landing on over a dozen best of the year lists including favorable reviews for,, Straight No Chaser magazine (U.K) and HYPE (South Africa). Maple St. Sessions (2010), with U.K. producer/DJ Denz, was picked up by R2 Records out of London (Thievery Corporation, Louie Vega, N’Dambi). Jacobs is also an accomplished journalist and photographer, with his work gracing the covers of Vapors magazine (L.A, California), Lo-Fi, Free Times, and more.

Jonathan Santos, Lyricism 

Soul-Songwriter, Poet, Cultural Community worker, Educator, Tai Chi practitioner and father, Jonathan “Santos” is an artist of many forms. Born in NYC with family ancestry out of the Mississippi Delta and Puerto Rico, Jonathan Santos grew up between the US and Japan, traveling throughout China, Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, and settling in the South Eastern U.S to hone his craft. He earned his BA in Political Science at North Carolina A&T State University, and  has been performing throughout grassroots networks throughout the South East U.S. for the past 10 years. From his experience and study, “Santos” as he is casually known, has a passion for and genuine insight into the complexities of the social construct of race, culture, and privilege as they play out in communities here in the U.S. As an artist committed to creating works of inspiration and awareness, Santos reminds us to always start with self with his latest CD title, “I’m Changing the World, by Changing Me!” Putting his philosophy to practice, Santos works through a vehicle of his creation; GlocalSoul Edutainment- an outreach effort aimed at bridging the power of music and performance with education around self empowerment, social justice, Community building, and Wellness.
Based in Asheville since 2010, he currently has residencies at local Middle schools, High Schools and community centers empowering students to sharpen their critical thinking, creative writing and self expression.

Sarah Tucker, Songwriting 

Sarah is a singer and songwriter with great talent in many genres including rock, pop, country, folk, and old time – the music of her mountain home. Her love of literature, poetry and theatre strengthens her gift, writing songs with depth and passion. At sixteen, Sarah won the Asheville Music Hall’s Brown Bag Singer Songwriter Competition in December of 2011. She was featured in the film documentary “Over Home: Love Songs of Madison County”, as the next generation ballad songwriter and performer. Sarah released her first original CD, The Windowsill Girl in March 2013. That same year, Sarah was voted Best Young Musician in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress. In 2015, Sarah won the Appalachian Songwriting Challenge for her original “Bishop Coal Miner.” It was included on Sarah’s second CD of original songs ‘Hey There Beautiful,’ released in 2015. From her Asheville, NC home, Sarah performs 100+ solo gigs each year both local and regional.

Juan Holladay, Lyricism

Tuscon, Arizona, native Juan Holladay came to Asheville as a student at Warren Wilson College. He played music at Warren Wilson while getting a B.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in Latin American Studies. After graduation, he decided to try music as a career. His neo-soul outfit, The Secret B-Sides, won Best Soul Group in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress three consecutive years, headlining local clubs and sharing the stage with the likes of Soulive, Gift Of Gab, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and Ibeyi.

Robin Tolleson, Drums, Spinterview 

Robin Tolleson has been a professional musician and music journalist for over 35 years. He has recorded and toured with Hip Bones, Secret B-Sides, Big Block Dodge, Patrick O’Hearn, Indigo Swing, Gregory James, Cabo Verde and many others, and is a regular contributor to Modern Drummer and Downbeat magazines. He teaches drums, and performs his unique DJ-style music history class, The Spinterview, combining music from his vinyl vault and bits of his interviews with music icons such as Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana, Phil Collins, Bela Fleck and Anderson .Paak.

Steve Alford, Jazz Clinician 

Composer/bandleader/multi-woodwind player Steve Alford is a graduate of the prestigious Studio Music and Jazz program at the University of Miami. Alford traveled the world as a musician before settling down in Asheville, NC. He performs actively in Asheville and beyond, leading and directing the acclaimed genre-bending big band Rational Discourse and METAL, and as a member of the E.Normus Trio and Road Less Traveled. When not performing or composing, Alford divides his musical time between teaching at UNC Asheville and his own thriving private studio.

Jacob Rodriguez, Jazz Clinician

Jacob Rodriguez is a San Antonio, TX native who began playing the saxophone at age 11. He moved to New York City to pursue his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied under Joe Temperley, Dick Oatts, Chris Rosenberg, and Justin DiCioccio. While centered in New York, Jacob performed around the country with jazz contemporaries Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, Walter Smith III, and Marcus Gilmore, as well as with legendary artists including Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Jacob has been a member of the Michael Bublé band since 2007, appearing on the Grammy Award winning albums “Michael Bublé Meets Madison Square Garden” as well as Bublé’s “Crazy Love.” Jacob is currently on a world tour with Bublé, playing arenas around the world. Jacob currently makes his home in Asheville, North Carolina, where he teaches, records, and performs with original music groups ranging from soul to free jazz to indie rock.

Ben Bjorlie, Jazz Clinician

Ben Bjorlie, a native North Carolinian, grew up in a musical family where his parents played in the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, his mother a cellist and his father a bassist. He started on clarinet in 5th grade. By the time he was in high school he had earned his place in the National Honors Band as well as All-State and District bands. At 13, Ben picked up his Dad’s bass and was playing along to records by artists like Stanley Clark and Marcus Miller. In high school Ben was invited to play in the marching band drum line where he developed his love for drumming. Ben attended Appalachian State University where he received his undergraduate music degree in percussion, participating in Jazz ensembles, orchestras, and musical theater productions. While at ASU, Ben continued studying bass with Charlotte area bassist Ron Brendle. Since moving to the Asheville area in 1998, Ben has been performing as a freelance bassist and drummer with a variety of groups including the Asheville Horns, Bayou Diesel, Orange Krush, Nuevo Montuno Salsa Orchestra, David Zoll trio, Asheville Jazz Orchestra, and many more. He is currently the house bassist for the Tuesday night funk jam at the Asheville Music Hall, and the house drummer for the Thursday night jazz jam at Barleys.

Rick Simerly, Jazz Clinician

Rick Simerly is a jazz trombonist and former Associate Professor of Music at Milligan College in Tennessee. He has been described by David Baker as “… one of the most exciting and consistently creative trombonists in jazz today.” Jamey Aebersold depicts him as “…an astounding player with fantastic range and a keen sense of developing a solo. His playing takes you on musical journeys and each one is different and exciting.” Rick has toured with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and has played in the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Nelson Riddle, Les Elgart, Bob Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Morrow, and Charlie Spivak. He has performed with jazz artists Billy Taylor, James Moody, Slide Hampton, Rufus Reid, Jon Faddis, Bobby Shew, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Milt Hinton, Eric Alexander, Dave McKenna, Butch Miles, Adam Nussbaum, Plas Johnson, Jake Hanna, Tommy Newsom, Joe Wilder, Pat LaBarbera, Steve Wilson, Bobby Watson and many others. His CD, Simple/Complexity, received rave reviews from critics and performers throughout the United States and was described as a “chop busting display” by Cadence Magazine. His latest CD, Obscurity, is on the Double-Time Jazz label and features Eric Alexander, David Hazeltine, Lynn Seaton, Steve Davis and Scott Wendholt. He is a veteran faculty member of the famed Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops and has been artist in residence at numerous jazz camps nationwide. Rick has also served as a faculty member at the renowned Brubeck Institute in Stockton, CA. As a clinician, he regularly performs clinics and concerts throughout the United States and has been a featured soloist for the International Association of Jazz Educators, The International Trombone Association and the Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Rick is an Artist/Clinician for Michael Rath Trombones of England.