Instructors and Coaches

Antsy McClain

Antsy is the songwriter and leader of The Trailer Park Troubadours. But he’s more than a shiny piece of aluminum—his songs have depth. Antsy has a unique way of pilfering life observations, social commentary, blending the humorous and serious, and depicting real and imagined scenes from his home town trailer park of Pine View Heights. A master storyteller, troubadour, and indie success story, he’s been featured on PBS, NPR and TEDTalks. Songs “One Less Trailer Here in Pine View Heights,” “My Baby Whistles When She Walks,” and “The Junk Drawer of Your Heart,” are keenly humorous observations about love and loss, while his more serious songs “Field Trip,” “I’m Everyone,” or “Falling in Love in America,” are more akin to personal journal entries written in the act of living. The tightrope he walks between humor and heart makes Antsy McClain a true original.

Antsy’s newest album (his 15th), Under the Light of a Quarter Moon, was started as a collaboration with his friend Pete Huttlinger, who died before the album’s completion. Dedicated to Pete, and including a wonderful cast of players. Rich storytelling and musicianship make Quarter Moon an instant fan favorite. In the last few years, McClain has been playing a lot of solo acoustic shows, but still plays with his band at select theaters around the US. The Trailer Park Troubadours (namesake for that crazy Gibson built Epiphone Airstream Electric Guitar hanging on the Mudpuddle Shop wall in Niles) are an unforgettable night of music, theater, and storytelling. Antsy McClain is one of those rare performers who can have you laughing hysterically and shedding a tear—often within the same song. (Note to California writers and fans, Antsy also puts on a small, fun, affordable weekend music festival every May up in Red Bluff, called WoodFlock, on the Sacramento River. Lots of tent and car camping room, cabins included, or get haul the trailer up, BYO pink flamingos.)

“A national treasure” —Modesto Bee

“A creative force whose roots lie in songwriters like John Prine, Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark” —Houston Chronicle


Rachel Garlin

A San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, Garlin grew up in a music-infused household in Berkeley, California. She spent as much time learning folk songs on her dad’s Gibson J-50 as she did practicing her jump-shot with the State Championship Berkeley High basketball team. She went on to become a member of the Harvard hoops team while cutting her teeth at open mics in and around Cambridge, MA. Before becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, Garlin earned her teaching credential and taught in public schools in Phoenix, Berkeley and New York. Carrying the stories of her students with her, she began recording and touring. Her first album was a collaboration with her own childhood music-teacher-turned producer, Lisa Zeiler.

Songs from Garlin’s first two albums gained her recognition at folk festivals around the country, including the Newport Folk Festival where show won first place in the Talent Search. Her third album was captured during two live shows at the historic Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. Bassist Jon Evans and keys-player Julie Wolf joined the effort and became longtime collaborators. Later, she moved to New York to work with producer Ben Wisch. Garlin’s prolific output and momentum on the road allowed her to tour as far as Sweden and Scotland where she performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in her mother’s homeland. Her songs aired on NPR’s Democracy Now!, Click and Clack’s Car Talk, and were featured in documentary films such as Fuel and A Womb of Their Own. She is currently recording her sixth full-length album at Fantasy Records with producer Julie Wolf. The new EP is due out this month, with Garlin performing at venues in the West, with a full length release scheduled for Spring 2019. Garlin lives in San Francisco with her wife and three kiddos.

Teaching and Social Justice: With a grant from the Music To Life Foundation, Garlin taught social-justice-oriented songwriting workshops at the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Dublin Women’s Prison, and in public schools in Berkeley and New York. Now a faculty member at Live Oak School, Garlin leads songwriting workshops for kids and adults. She also works with the youth record label Upstar Records while mentoring system-involved youth at Sunset Youth Services.

“Storytelling at its best” —Curve Magazine

“An impressive catalog of unforgettable songs.” —Diffuser Magazine

Mare Wakefield and Nomad

A songwriting duo based in Nashville, they have called many places home. As of this writing, they are just finishing up a 5 1/2 month US tour. Their vocals, guitar, piano, accordion, and melodica, take listeners through Arizona deserts, Oklahoma oil fields, and Amsterdam canals, heartbreaks, and barroom brawls. Story and song are woven together with Mare’s intimate delivery and Nomad’s exquisite piano and accordion. They are two-time finalists at the prestigious Kerrville New Folk competition in Texas.

Mare lived in eight different places before she was ten. “It was a roller-coaster way to grow up, but my brother and I learned to fit in fast,” she says. “We picked up Wisconsin accents in two weeks. Eighteen months later we were drawling like native Texans. Daddy was a seeker, eventually he became a Salvationist minister. Mama was a gypsy, loving nothing more than a long stretch of highway.”

For Turkish-born Nomad, the journey was equally varied. His musical education began at the exclusive Istanbul Conservatory and continued with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music (the two met 13 years ago at Berklee, Mare was in the songwriter program). Nomad’s gift for musical arrangements includes a full arsenal of classical, folk, and jazz chops. He’s also a joke machine.


Rebecca Troon
accompanies herself on guitar, banjo and percussion. She won first place in songwriting at the Gig Harbor Folk Festival in Washington in 2007. Her song “Animal Skin” was a finalist in the 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards, Best Folk/Americana/Roots category. She’s a member of the Honeysuckle Possums, a harmony-based old-time, originals & bluegrass band. CDs: Turning Around and Animal Skin. Past gigs: Bodie House, Auburn House Concert Series, Magic Juju Houseboat series, Trinity Backstage, Songtree Concert Series; also, Live Oak, Gig Harbor, Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention and Parkfield music festivals.


Severin Browne
was raised in a musical family where all the children were expected to play an instrument. He began with accordion, then moved to drums and saxophone before settling on guitar at the ripe old age of ten. His older brother Jackson, a talented singer/songwriter with many albums for the Asylum/Elektra labels, started out as first chair cornet in the elementary school band, where Severin soon joined him on the drums.

A former Motown recording artist and staff songwriter, Severin continues to enchant audiences with his clear voice, masterful guitar playing and finely crafted songs.  After leaving Motown in the mid-seventies, Severin spent his time writing and performing in the Los Angeles area, where his songs were recorded by Thelma Houston, Patti Dahlstrom, Colin Blunstone, Twiggy, The Dillards, and Pamela Stanley, who had a Billboard #15 hit with Severin’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It.”

His two post-Motown CDs, “From the Edge of The World” released on Moo Records in 1996, and “This Twisted Road” self-released in 2001, have both gotten great reviews. With roots in pop, jazz, country, rock and R&B, Severin surprises his acoustic audiences with melodies.


Stan DeWitt
is a multi-faceted musician, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. As songwriter, he has released seven albums, most recently the rock opera “Silver Bullet” alongside Derek O’Brien (Social Distortion). His album Long Day’s Journey was named a “DIY Top Ten” record by Performing Songwriter magazine in 2002. He has co-produced multiple records for Moonshine, Corrina Carter, Jellykka, Onward Etc., and Rick Schiller, among others. As an educator, he taught music at Coastline Community College for 26 years and authored an online music history course. He is the Minister of Music at Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, where he directs both the choirs for the traditional service and leads the band for the contemporary service and runs a band camp for kids every Summer. Whether fronting a rock band or leading a choir, Stan’s gifts are an invaluable part of camp year after year.


Dale  LaDuke
was born in Grosse Pointe Michigan (suburb of Detroit). He began singing in church choirs when he was 8 years old and was principle soloist and president of his high school choir, as well as trumpet player in the high school band. He went on to sing with the Michigan State Honors Choir and the Michigan State Fair Choir.
A songwriter from the beginning, Dale was determined to observe humanity at all levels, and to this end spent several years traveling around the country as an itinerant street peddler, finally settling in Los Angeles.

He was one of the founders of the popular Southern California country band Five Wheel Drive that was one of five finalists (and the only country band) in the first Yahoo Music Awards. The band was flown to the red carpet Yahoo awards show at Studio 54 in Manhattan that featured performances by David Bowie, Isaac Hayes, Allanis Morriset and many others. The group recorded two demos for Warner Bros. Nashville before finally disbanding. He then co-founded the folk group Kaedmon which went on to be a top pick of 2006 by both Music Connection magazine and KSUN radio.

He has recently begun to play solo shows around the country. His song “The Lone Ranger” has won or been nominated for several awards; most recently, for “Single of The Year” at the Los Angeles Music Awards.


Michael McNevin
grew up in the train town of Niles, CA, in the San Francisco East Bay hills. His songs read like short stories, full of heart, humor, and a keen eye for detail. Seasoned vocals and clean guitar work underscore the characters and places in his travels. He tours the US as a solo act, and occasionally gets a band together as McNevin & The Spokes. He is a winner of the Kerrville New-folk Award in Texas, a 7-time winner of the West Coast Songwriters “Song Of The Year” award, and a Performing Songwriter Magazine “DIY Artist Of The Year.” He’s shared hall stages with Johnny Cash & The Carter Family, Donovan, Shawn Colvin, Laura Nyro, Richie Havens, and many others across the US and Europe. Festival appearances include Strawberry, High Sierra, Kerrville, Redwood Ramble, American River, Philly Folk Fest, and SummerFolk. He has five CDs and a couple hard-to-find cassettes. Michael is also an Etch-A-Sketch artist of some renown.

In his spare time, Michael runs The Mudpuddle Shop, a converted barbershop. Now in it’s twelfth year, it is a hive for concerts, jams, swaps, and workshops.


Mark Dann
is a staple of the East Coast scene, and a musical Diehard battery at song camp as teacher and coach here in the West. A top notch bassist and professional recording engineer for more than 30 years, he has worked with hundreds of artists at his studios in New York City and Woodstock, including engineering and playing on the legendary Fast Folk Musical Magazine recordings. He’ll be everywhere at song camp—tap Mark for bass lessons, combo performance help, chart writing, Mac Garageband 101. He’s also The camp Guitar Doctor… we think he has a blue Gui-Tardis.


Jaynee Thorne
Jaynee and the camp sound crew help create the show vibe at “Coffee House” every night. Jaynee has been in the LA area since 1962, an import from Roslyn, New York. The Beatles opened her ears to music in 1964. Her maternal grandfather was a popular songwriter of the late 1920s, and her paternal grandmother was an opera singer. Music is in her blood. In addition to live sound, she excels as a songwriter and harmony singer, lending resonance to other singers’ voices. Her solo music has a lyrical grace and crisp guitar arrangements. She has a new album out, dedicated to her folks and grandparents, The Forty-Something First Album.


Nina Jo Smith
Award-winning songwriter Nina Jo Smith is the original indie grrrl (born on the 4th of July.) She accompanies her sweet voice and wise lyrics on guitar and ukulele, connecting easily with audiences of all ages. With memorable melodies, inventive picking, well-crafted lyrics, and gentle humor, Nina Jo plays concerts regularly in SF and SoCal, and also hosts music gatherings at her place in SF. Our camp founder, Penny Nichols, recorded her song “LA Man.” An instant camp classic, it is a nostalgic anthem of the PCH life many of us relive every time we travel on Hwy 1 to camp. The PCH memory lane with Penny and Nina Jo is here, a coastal video collage cut of Penny Nichol’s singing LA Man, on her Golden State CD, a love song to a time and place.


Linda Patterson
has been an artist all her life, working in many different media—canvas, concrete design, and sculpture. She paints in watercolors, oils, pastels, and acrylics. Her Saturday afternoon class includes painting demonstrations and a variety of techniques in water media, inspired by our lovely ocean side location. She is here for you, with personal guidance to nurture your creativity, while encouraging you to listen to your own artistic voice.  In addition to her visual art, she’s attended song camp regularly for several camps, and writes lyrics and spoken word, as does her husband Virgil. Words & Paint—it’s all art!

Linda has a BA in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin and a teaching credential. She earned an MS in Education from Cal State and an MFA in Fine Art from SFSU.