ANNOUNCING the 2016 Artist in Residence Line-up!

Taylor Smith Events, News

Our New Year’s Resolution is to have a summer of music in the Flathead Valley that is unforgettable, inspiring, educational, FUN, and maybe even a little life-changing!

Here at Crown we are starting this year off right, with the very first announcement of our 2016 Artist in Residence Line-up.  We are very proud to announce many new names to the program including gypsy/jazz guitarist Gonzalo Bergara, soulful country singer/songwriter Liz Longley, and the Italian classical guitar duo, SoloDuo, featuring Matteo Mela and Lorenzo Micheli.  We are also introducing  Nashville session guitar legend, Brent Mason, and Punch Brothers guitarist, Chris Eldridge, who will be performing with our returning jazz Crown AIR, Julian Lage.  Josh Turner was our 2015 Chairman’s Fellowship student and is returning this year to take the stage as an Emerging Artist in Residence!

Crown masters, Lee Ritenour and Dweezil Zappa will also be returning as guest performers and faculty, with plans in the works to lead a workshop called “Excel with the Masters”.  As if this wasn’t exciting enough, more artists will be announced in the coming months!

Enriching the lives of guitar students while enriching the lives of music lovers across the Flathead Valley and the world, is what Crown is all about.  With a line-up this strong, 2016 is bound to be a formative experience for Workshop participants and Festival Attendees alike.

If you are interested in taking part in the 2016 Workshop, please visit or call 855-855-5900.  For Crown Passes please visit our STORE or call 855-855-5900.

Bigfork Students thanked for creating digital 2015 Crown Mementos

Taylor Smith News

This summer, a group of Bigfork High School students volunteered and were selected to aid their teacher, Mike Roberts, in creating a flash drive memento containing photos and videos for each of the 2015 Crown participants.  Crown is grateful for all of the hard work put in by Mike Roberts, Mike Roessman, and the students in Bigfork High School’s media department.  Crown’s photographer, Mike Roessman, wrote a heartfelt letter thanking them for their hard work, shared below.


A year ago an ambitious plan was hatched to provide the students participating in the Crown of the Continent workshops with a flash drive memento at the time of their departure. The flash drive was going to contain campus life video, performance based video, as well as still images from their performances and the 7 days of campus life. Without question, this objective could not be achieved without a host of skilled volunteers, technology, and time commitment. In exploring the options in how to assemble and execute the plan, I conferred with Mike Roberts who in my estimation brought his technology skills to the table as well as his acumen as a photographer. Over the course of many months a game plan came together, but lingering in the back of my mind was the fact that the “staff” was going to be a collection of high school students whom I had yet to meet.

Mike Roberts went above and beyond not only to hand pick a select group of students for their technology skills, he also selected students that wouldn’t be affected by missing the first week of school. In the back of my mind I was still very apprehensive mainly because we had to deliver the flash drives by weeks end, inherently a daunting task. One of the big issues was the sheer volume of images that were going to be generated. I really wasn’t sure how the students were going to manage.

These concerns were erased the first day. Riley, Reuben, and Adam were enthusiastic and they attacked the appointed tasks with tremendous energy. On the evening of the first day Riley went home and created a spreadsheet making it easier to track the students that we hadn’t photographed for the facial recognition software baseline images. No one asked her to do this, but she did it on her own, contributing in a very professional and adult manner. Reuben, constantly dug deep into his Photoshop and editing skill set, and provided us with needed page breaks, as well as other custom aspects for the slide show. Adam with his strong video and editing skills also made short work of all the tasks that were sent his way. All three showed up every morning and went right to work. They immersed themselves in the workflow to such a high degree that they knew what the next step was. This continually happened whether they had been given direction or not. As importantly, they managed the process with a consistent team approach and never let ego or attitude derail the flow. I can’t say enough about the maturity and professionalism that these students provided. It gives me hope that the educational process is still working, and the youth of Bigfork High School are growing and developing in a most desirable way. It is without question that this project wouldn’t have been pulled off if these students hadn’t shown up and taken care of business.

I would also like to commend Mike Roberts for his tireless and consistent commitment to this project. He was always able to come up with solutions to problems, and inevitably his hand-print is firmly in place on the make-up of our work flow as well as the flash drive development. It’s also important to point out a very big part of who Mr. Roberts is. He is a committed and dedicated teacher who shares not only his knowledge but also his equipment, his very expensive equipment. Having served on the school board myself for 9 years I recognize the difficulty in staying fresh and enthused as a teacher. I watched Mike Roberts never hesitate to take time for a teaching moment. When we had problems, when we needed input, or Mike recognized something worthy of clarification, he stopped the proceedings, gathered the students, and gave them a clear and direct outline of what the next step was going to be. This is in a nutshell is what teaching is all about.

Finally a big thank you also goes out to a past graduate of Bigfork High School, David Meyer. His unwavering commitment (except after the Griz game) and enthusiasm helped bring the group of editors into its complete state. I also believe that he brings to the table a very profound eye as photographer. His help in capturing images in the classrooms and on campus went a long way to help gather enough visual data for the flash drive project.

Lastly I would like to thank Superintendent Jensen, principle Mr. Robbins, and the School Board for allowing these students to participate in this process despite the fact that it was the first week of school. I firmly believe in education first, and daily student participation in class without compromise. But, I also believe that we are raising young adults to participate not only in community, but in real world. I consider the week spent with the Crown to have been very enlightening, educational, and a well-rounded experience for the students. They were faced with pressures and stresses that come with an evolving project, especially a project in its infancy. They needed to use problem solving skills, teamwork, long hours in front of the computer, not to mention dealing with one of the most epic of fly hatches of this century (we’re talking horror movie volumes). Through it all they persevered and excelled without exception. My personal thanks to the students, Mike Roberts, and Big Dave Meyer, we couldn’t have done it without you!

-Mike Roessmann

Power of Music: Crown of the Continent musicians shine

Taylor Smith Events

Daily Interlake News.  Sept 3, 2015

Article by Stefanie Thompson


The Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival would like to thank Stefanie Thompson for her article on the 2015 festival and workshop, featuring Tyvon Hewitt, the Guitars Not Guns Scholarship student.  The mission of the Crown simplifies down to one essential kernel, enriching lives through the study and performance of guitar.  Tyvon is a remarkable young man who exudes positivity and displayed an incredible thirst for collaboration and education during his week and a half in Montana this past summer.  This is truly what Crown is all about.

Tyvon Hewitt, Guitars Not Guns Scholar

Read the Daily Interlake Article here!

If you are interested in joining us for the 2016 Festival and Workshop as a participant please visit our Registration page or contact us at 855-855-5900.

Fellowship Spotlight! Announcing the 2016 Emerging Artist In Residence……

Taylor Smith Fellowship Spotlight, News

The Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival and Workshop is thrilled to announce that 2015’s Chairman’s Scholarship student, Josh Turner, will be returning to Crown for the 2016 season as an Emerging Artist In Residence!  His performances and involvement in many different genres of music during his time here was an inspiration and we greatly look forward to seeing what he does under the spotlight this coming summer.  Turner was first discovered and invited to Crown by founder, David Feffer after his YouTube channel gained national fame.  In 2014, Turner was featured on Good Morning America for his cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”.  These days he has found himself collaborating with the Indianapolis Symphony and celebrating 10 million views on his YouTube channel.  Congratulations Josh Turner!


In the Fellowship Spotlight! interview below, Crown’s Social Media Manager, Amelia Thornton, asks Josh Turner about his thoughts on music, his trajectory, and Crown.  Enjoy this sneak peak into the mind of a very talented young musician.

Tell us more about your background in music and how it led you to where you are today.

Josh:      I have sort of a funny journey to becoming a musician. I was singing in choir and playing piano since I was 8 or 9 years old. Guitar was a real passion of mine all through high school. Actually my childhood ambition was to be a car designer, but then I realized in the 11th hour that I was not interested in it. I wound up picking a college that had a good music program but wasn’t a conservatory so that I could start out sort of not in music and tiptoe into it to see if it felt right. Once I was at Butler, I ended up changing my major to music. It really wasn’t until my senior year that I started to consider trying to pursue music as a career.   So far it has been going alright! I’ve been performing all over the country actually!

How has Youtube and social media helped your career?

J:         I feel like I found myself here as opposed to ever having tried to get here. Youtube specifically has impacted me in a way I never anticipated. I wouldn’t really consider myself a social media savvy person, per say. I have a twitter account I’ve tweeted like 5 things from! I’ve never really pursued followers actively. When I was in high school I heard about Youtube from one of my sister’s who was in college, and was like, “This is an interesting idea!” and I posted a few videos and they started to get a little traction in a 2007 kind of way, so I kept on doing it. It was a fun way for me to get together with my friends and play music. It was an excuse to do that. Things started to escalate when I got to college. A couple of my videos went modestly viral and once that happened I started getting contacted by people who had seen my music online. That is how I got involved with Crown originally.

How was Crown different from other festivals and camps?

J:         At Swannanoa Gathering, rather than being a Jazz class, you would take an hour fifteen minutes of this style and an hour fifteen minutes of that style. It’s entirely acoustic, all styles for acoustic guitar. I was kind of won over by focusing on just one genre for the whole week at Crown.

In terms of genres, where do you think you fall? You cover many styles on your Youtube channel and even played a variety of styles during your week at Crown!

J:         I’ve kind of enjoyed being a Jack of all Trades, Master of None. I studied classical guitar for three years in college, but I kind of cut my teeth on folk fingerpicking. One of the things that made me want to start playing in the first place was how at home the guitar is in so many different styles of music. I suppose why pick up the instrument if you aren’t going to try a little bit of everything that is available to you.

What did you specifically study at Crown in 2015?

 J:         I was in Jazz Guitar Essentials at Crown. I spent most of my time familiarizing myself with the right hand of the guitar, which is fingerpicking. Jazz to me is much more of a left-hand side of the guitar oriented genre. Your right hand should be able to pick a note line, but your left hand has to really know the neck in order to be a truly proficient Jazz player. In order to be able to play whatever you are thinking you shouldn’t just be shooting for random notes. I’ve been trying to unlock the fret board and catch my left hand up with my right hand in terms of comfort on the instrument.

How do you feel about being Crown’s 2016 Emerging Artist in Residence?

 J:         It’s great. I’m really pleased about it! I’m absolutely thrilled. Also apprehensive because I think it is going to be even more challenging for me than being a student. I’ve already started thinking about if I’m going to be talking to people what it is that I think will be important for them to know, and as I’m performing, what is it I can do that I feel is a reflection of what I do but is also original. I’m a big cover guy, but I want to make sure I’m not going up and playing just a covers set. I’m looking forward to it as an opportunity. The fact that I have this coming up and I know where I want to be when I get there, that becomes a practice goal for me. I’m excited because it is going to be a challenge for me.

What is your trajectory as you continue on in your career?

J:         I love the fact that what I’ve been doing up until this point has been hodge podge. I’ve been doing some performing. I’ve been doing some producing. Certainly my Youtube page is as much an expression of me as a producer as it is me as a performer. I love doing that. In a perfect world, I’d like to be able to do a little bit of everything just on a grander scale. I’m not focused on being a front man, a lot of people ask me about that. But I love arranging and I love producing and I love performing. I’m just going to keep working at them all and see what pans out!

Tell us a little about your experience with Good Morning America.

J:         I was on Good Morning America in June 2014, and that was about my cover of Paul Simon’s Graceland. It was just some sort of off-the-cuff thing I did in my apartment and its funny because I had a video that had waaay more views than “Graceland”, a video of me covering “Sultans of Swing” by the Dire Straits. And the “Sultans of Swing” video had nearly a million views by itself at the time that somebody at Good Morning America picked up the “Graceland” video, which had around 60,000 views. Which is a lot of views, but not a crazy amount. I got a call from Ellen on it too. It was sort of an isolated incident that probably helped lead to my working with things like the Indianapolis Symphony and Crown.

The angle on Good Morning America was that I was a Paul Simon sound-alike. “It’s uncanny, this young kid sounds just like Paul Simon!” But a lot of the comments on the video were saying, “It’s good but he doesn’t really sound that much like Paul Simon”, and I was like, “ That’s what I thought!” [laughs]

You just created a video featuring the song “The Weight” to celebrate 10 million views on your YouTube channel. How do you begin to comprehend 10 million views and what inspired the style in which you produced your Thank You video?

J:         It is an exponential kind of thing, especially once you gain subscribers. It took me five years to get my first million views and four years after that to get the next 9 million. It starts snowballing. I think covering songs that people know but are a little off the beaten path is key. If you go too big with top 40 songs, the pool of talent you are trying to compete with on YouTube is ridiculously huge. I try to stay out of that. But I realized as I was coming up on 10 million views, this is really momentous. There is a YouTube channel called “Playing for Change” that gets musicians from all over the world to contribute to songs and the revenue of the channel from the touring they subsequently did goes to charities and music organizations and things like that. I’d done a video a couple of years ago like this with three other people to sing a quartet with me a few years back, so I thought what if I did this on a really big scale, and what if I got everyone that has ever been involved in my videos, all together in one video as a thank you.

What is your advice to people who might want to find a similar path online?

J:         I really was not following a deliberate path or plan on my journey to where I am right now or wherever it is that I’m going. I think the thing that has made it as successful as it has been so far, is being really sincere about whatever it is that you post online and posting something that you feel is a good representation of yourself and you aren’t trying to pander to anyone in particular. That’s been really important to me in terms of my YouTube channel. I think there is an element of fending for your own voice that is very important to making yourself stand out.

What is your advice to guitarists from the standpoint of a producer?

J:         With videos, make it as high quality production as you can afford and then don’t over-manipulate it once you have recorded it because it is so easy to make something sound the most perfect, and the thing is I think it makes a much more compelling product when you leave mistakes in. It is something that the audience can connect with when it has a little bit more humanity to it.

How would you describe Crown to someone who has never been here before?

J:         Crown is like a crazy old western place that is removed from reality in this beautiful way that lets you basically remember why you started playing guitar in the first place. Everything else is taken out of the way, every other distraction, and you have this one thing to focus on and that is really beautiful and pretty unique.

Introducing the Bigfork ACES Beginner Guitar Program! Registration is open!

Taylor Smith Events

It has been a long-time goal of the Crown to offer year-round educational opportunities in guitar.  We love our August/September Workshop and Festival, but there was still some room to grow and make a difference in our youth musician community.  Thanks to some amazing local sponsors and educators, that dream has become a reality!

The Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation, along with its sponsoring partners Bigfork Brewfest and Bigfork ACES, is proud to announce the creation of a great new beginner guitar program for 5th through 8th graders.  The six week long Beginner Guitar Program will be taught by Professor Tim Torgerson.

Class times are Mondays 3:45-4:45pm in Room 128 at Bigfork School.  The dates are January 11th, 25th, February 1st, 8th, 22nd & 29th.  The $25 enrollment fee includes a take home guitar.  There are scholarships available!

Apply today by contacting Cathy Hay in person at Bigfork ACES or Diane Kautzman at 406-890-9767 or

The Application deadline is January 6th, 2016.  Space is limited, so please apply early!


Registration is also open for the 2016 Crown Guitar Festival and Workshop.  Visit our REGISTER page or contact Diane Kautzman at 855-855-5900.

Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival 2015: Guitar Heaven with Dweezil Zappa, Lee Ritenour and More in Idyllic Bigfork, Montana

Taylor Smith News

10/28/2015     An Article by Andy Aledort, featured in Guitar World Magazine.


This past September, I had the great privilege of being asked to participate in the sixth annual Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Bigfork, Montana, as an Artist in Residence, where I served as an instructor in group and private capacities and appeared as a performer.

I had heard about COCGF for a few years, as past events have included an incredibly diverse array of brilliant, world-class musicians such as Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Dweezil Zappa, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Steve Lukather, Joe Bonamassa, David Wilcox, Livingston Taylor, Julian Lage, Sonny Landreth, Chris Hillman, John Oates, Robben Ford, Scott Tenant (The LA Guitar Quartet), Alex de Grassi, and Shelby Lynne, and many others.

This is quite clearly a mind-boggling range of stylistic musical mastery. Even more impressive to note is that each of these uniquely talented musicians, aside from their featured performances at the evening public concerts, offered intimate instruction to the COCGF attendees during each of the six days of the event.

In the words of Lee Ritenour, “COCGF is the most unique, inspiring workshop I’ve even been involved with. It combines great teachers, great students and an incredible atmosphere that keeps everyone motivated and creative. There is nothing like this that I know of anywhere else in the world.” Adds legendary jazz guitarist Mike Stern, “The general feeling of the whole situation is really special to me. And in this setting, it’s simply amazing. It’s paradise.”

The brainchild of COCGF is founder David Feffer, whose original intent with the Crown was, “To promote the artistry of the guitar across all genres in a non-competitive community environment” while also, “providing a place for guitarists to draw creative inspiration from the spectacular natural beauty of northwestern Montana.”

Having experienced the Crown Festival for myself, I can attest that they have well achieved these very ambitious goals. Says Feffer, “From day one, our aim was to establish Flathead Lake as an internationally-regarded center for the guitar. If artists and students could come with their families and stay at a top-notch location, this could be a workshop like no other: an opportunity to bring world-class musicians and people of all levels with a passion for playing the guitar to Montana and introduce them to the unparalleled experience of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park.”

To describe the beauty of the environs, the idyllic Flathead Lake is 28 miles long and is located in the very quaint town of Bigfork. The home of the event is Flathead Lake Lodge, a stunning four-star dude ranch situated on the shoreline of the lake. A short 25 minutes away is the truly spectacular Glacier National Park, a pinnacle of natural beauty within North America.

The park encompasses over 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals. This vast pristine ecosystem has been referred to as the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, a region of protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles. The region that became Glacier National Park is comprised of mountains that began forming 170 million years ago and was first inhabited by Native Americans. The beauty of these natural glaciers, as well as the incredible and distinct wildlife, makes Glacier National Park one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. We were given a guided tour through the park on one of the days of our visit, and it was a breathtaking, unforgettable experience.

One of the most impressive elements of COCGF to me are the broad-minded scholarship/fellowship programs they have established in concert with entities such as D’Addario Strings, the Berklee College of Music, the Zappa Family Trust, The Guitar Foundation of America, and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem, among many other formidable entities, along with the donations of individuals. Over the past five years COCGF has awarded 110 scholarships valued at approximately $425,000.

These scholarships offer incredibly unique opportunities for young guitarists within the classical, jazz, blues, and songwriting fields. As a non-profit organization, COCGF has worked to support their charitable partners including The Glacier Symphony and Chorale, A.C.E.S., The Montana Land Reliance, Montana Public Radio and Broadcasting, North Valley Music School and Ravenwood Outdoor Learning Center. In the effort to further include the community at large, the Crown has offered guitar clinics in nearby Whitefish, Kalispell, Bigfork and Columbia Falls.

Also unique to the Crown are the expansive, musically diverse concerts that take place every night of the six nights of the event, which are open to the public and take place within a 1000-seat tent, each concert presented with state-of-the-art sound and lighting. The list of performing Artists in Residence for COCGF 2015 was more impressive and diverse than ever, including Lee Ritneour, Dave Grusin, Dweezil Zappa and Zappa Plays Zappa, Madeleine Peyroux, Brett Dennen, David Grissom, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Shane Theriot, Romero Lubambo and Jon Herington. After each long day filled with Master Classes and in depth instruction from the artists, each evening would feature an impressive four-hour concert that, over the course of the six days, ran the gamut stylistically from classical, to jazz, to fusion, to progressive rock, to Brazilian jazz to roots-y Americana, to blues and blues/rock.

Another great aspect of the Crown is that the artists and students all dine together each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, allowing the students direct accessibility to their favorite players. Personally, I had the opportunity to discuss my favorite Frank Zappa shows with Dweezil, the art of songwriting with Brett Dennen, and the intricacies of intense theoretical guitar study with Jon Herington. Also, each night following the concert event, jam sessions and get-togethers take place in the lodge, offering teachers and students the opportunity to interact in the most casual way.

On one of these nights at the lodge, not long after the evening’s concert had ended, Jon Herington grabbed an acoustic guitar and began playing some obscure (and some not so obscure) blues, jazz and pop songs with Madeleine. After a few, he encouraged me to grab a guitar, which led to a rambling three and a half hour jam through dozens of Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Band, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young songs, as well as a ton of blues and jazz tunes, with Zappa Plays Zappa band members Ben Thomas and Chris Norton joining in. Somehow, by 3 am we decided maybe going to bed wasn’t such a bad idea.

I conducted an hour-plus clinic in the Main Lodge entitled, “Being a Sideman,” that I hosted with master drummer Kirk Covington (Tribal Tech, Joe Zawinul, Robben Ford, Allan Holdsworth), joined by the fabulous local bassist Don Caverly. Kirk and I discussed our approaches to best fulfilling the sideman role—for me, in performance and recording with Dickey Betts, Double Trouble, and The Band of Gypsys, and for him in his capacity for the many high-profile gigs he has played throughout his distinguished career. We also took advantage of the opportunity to illustrate our points via performance as a trio, which was a total blast—the best part was that one of us would just start playing any random song and the other two were expected to get on it immediately. What better way to clearly illustrate the expectations assigned to a sideman?

In the early evening, the three of us were scheduled to perform for an hour in the performance space next to the Main Stage, and Jon Herington graciously joined us for a no-holds-barred jam through tunes by John Scofield, The Band, Muddy Waters, Freddie King and Albert King. It was an absolute honor and pleasure to play with such incredible musicians in front of such a fantastic, appreciative and in-tune audience. We were all on the same wavelength: the love of music!

To clearly illustrate the volume of instruction available on a daily basis at COCGF, there were 10 different classrooms from which one could choose: Playing with the Masters with Dweezil Zappa and Tim Miller, Jazz Rock Evolution with James Hogan, Classic Guitar Perfected with the LA Guitar Quartet, Brazilian Emerges in MT with Romero Lubambo, Personalized Rock and Blues with Jared Meeker, Beyond Six String with Susan Mazer, Join the Band with Dennis McCumber, Jazz Class with Mark Dziuba, the Art of Songwriting with Bret Boyer, and Six Styles Acoustic with Brett Denner and Madeline Peyroux. In addition, each day featured a Master Class Clinic conducted (in chronological order) by the LA Guitar Quartet, Brett Denner, Madeline Peyroux, Jon Herington, David Grissom and Romero Lubambo; these artists also made numerous guest appearances in the daily classrooms.

Saturday night was the big faculty concert, and for my performance slot I chose to play Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House,” in a trio setting, with Trebbor Riddle on bass and Valley Lopez on drums. With the vast array of styles and sounds presented by the many great players there, no one was representing a Hendrix-style take on the synthesis of different blues and rock sounds and styles, and this approach seemed to fit the bill. I did my best to pay homage to Jimi’s vibe, including playing with my teeth, abusing the tremolo bar, utilizing feedback and assaulting the instrument in ways that might not even be legal in Montana.

My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone on the COCGF Board of Directors for inviting me to participate in this extraordinary event, including David Feffer, Steve Anderson, Dennis Anderson, David Berman, and David Green, and I look forward to return visits.

For more information on COCGF and future events, check out

Fellowship Spotlight! An Interview with Haakon Kjeldsberg, 2015 Zappa Family Scholar

Taylor Smith Fellowship Spotlight

Amelia Thornton (Crown’s Social Media Manager) interviews 2015 Zappa Family Fellowship winner, Haakon Kjeldsberg on his experience at the 2015 Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival and Workshop.


How was Crown different from other music camps you have attended?

Haakon:        “I got to meet more guitar-oriented players at the Crown. It felt grander, like a bigger event because of all the stuff happening and all the concerts. And also because of the pre-week I got to experience.”

During the pre-week you got to adventure to Cedar Island in the middle of Flathead lake and face your worst fears, bees!

H:       “Let’s look at all the hornets! I wonder if they’re different here! [laughs] It was good to overcome some of my fear. Now its winter, so it’s no fear!”

Did you get to overcome any other fears?

H:        “I had to speak in front of an audience, which I hadn’t really done before. So that was new for me.”

Has anything changed about practicing or performing since being a Crown participant?

H:       “I appreciate practice time a lot more now. Phil Goldenberg had a great workshop about practice. There is really no better teacher than yourself, because you know what you have to work on. Crown was definitely a boost in motivation, experiencing all these players that are better than you and knowing that they have worked hard to get their results. It is kind of an eye opener, that you can do this too if you just stay at it.
Just go for it. Really.”

You have performed with Dweezil a number of times over the last few years. Your sister Karoline even got to announce you at Crown, and recently at a show in Oslo. How did it go in Oslo?

H:        “It has kind of become almost a tradition, my sister is included and she does stage presentation. She did something crazy, she was asking if she could do some crowdsurfing. Dweezil was a little hesitant at first, “If we are going to do this, we have to make it safe!” It went well, it was a fun thing!”

Since returning home to Horten Norway, what have you been working on in your practice sessions?

H:        “I’m working on chords, really understanding chords and triads. Finding different ways to play them. I kind of had this revelation at the Crown Festival, because I met many great chordal players, who could really integrate nice chords into melodies. I understood the importance of really knowing your instrument and having this control and command of how to execute chords. Different variations and whatnot.”

One of the biggest things I noticed about you this summer were your skills as a teacher and dedication to practice. You were constantly jamming with the other scholarship students and participants and teaching them things you knew a lot about. What would be your advice to guitarists that are trying to improve?

H:        “Chords and substitutions are a great way to avoid the scale trap, which is about going up and down the scale. If you learn the chord tones and extensions you learn the scale but in a different order. The things to work on: number one is Chords, number two is Listening. Becoming a better listener is important in a live playing setting so you can adapt and adjust to the way the sound is. It is about finding your place in the landscape of sound.”  

If you could describe Crown to someone who has never heard of it before, what would your elevator pitch be?

H:       “A fellowship of great musicians and also apprentices. The Crown is people of all different levels, connecting and seeking to improve in some way, while having fun and experiencing music. There is lots of variety.”

Why is Music important?

H:        “You just have to like it. There is no way to escape.”

A Year End Note From The Crown’s Development Director, Diane Kautzman

Taylor Smith Events


Dear Crown Family and Friends: 

 “For one week of the year we have the world’s best backyard!” Anonymous Crown Attendee 2014

Thank you for making that possible! Your support of the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation has provided over 129 scholarships and fellowships, and is instrumental in educating and mentoring the future generations of musicians from the Flathead and Mission valleys, the country and world for the past six years. Check out these links to find our more: 2015 Participant Highlights2015 Participant Highlights Part 2.

Your support has allowed beginning guitar classes to be taught in afterschool programs, elementary and high schools, and local colleges, augmenting music education and profoundly influencing students’ musical ambitions and hopes. The ultimate goal of the foundation is to build an outstanding education and mentoring program for dozens of recipients each year, making a critical difference in advancing their artistic and musical career development.

You made it possible for over 5,000 people per week to attend affordable world-class performances in a beautiful natural setting, allowing collaboration and an interaction that cannot be replicated.

As 2015 draws to a close, the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation is finishing up the first quarter of our 7th year and launching Vision 2020, a five year development plan for our next generation of musicians.  We need your help to continue this mission. Your year-end contribution will change, improve and enrich the lives of our next generation of musicians. Join us now in making this happen.  Make your donation at or by mailing it to: PO Box 2882, Bigfork, MT 59911.

We thank you in advance for your generous donation.

The Crown Family wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday season.


Diane Kautzman

Director of Development
Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation
Phone: 406-270-1559

P.S.  Please go to the Crown’s YouTube channel and see what your donations are accomplishing.

The Crown Capital Equipment Campaign receives a generous $6,500 matching funds pledge, from a passionate donor

Taylor Smith News

Capital Equipment Campaign

CenterStaging, LA’s premier rehearsal and backline facility specializing in production and tech support for television and live performances recently presented the Crown of the Continent Guitar Foundation (Crown) with a rare offer. CenterStaging provides backline gear that is used on practically every major television show, as well as numerous tours, concerts, and live events.  Known for state-of-the-art backline musical gear, they turn over their inventory often and have offered incredible deals on slightly used backline gear, that is perfect for Crown students and artists.  In addition to used equipment, CenterStaging is also extending the steep discounts they get from the manufacturers like Fender and PRS to the Crown.

“This offer could not have come at a better time”, say Crown Festival Manager, Arin Lever.  “Going into our seventh year the Crown is ready to make the move from relying upon borrowing and renting equipment and make investments into ownership”.

A former Crown Board Member and Workshop Participant, seeing first-hand how investing in this equipment will benefit the nonprofit guitar foundation, made a matching funds pledge on September, 15th 2015 of $6,500 to help get the ball rolling.  He hopes the matching funds pledge, will encourage others to donate and make a difference.   The foundation is hoping to raise $25,000 in 2015 and an additional $25,000 in 2016.

Online donations to the Crown Capital Equipment Campaign can be made by visiting  Checks can be made out to COCGF and mailed to:
PO Box 2882 – Bigfork, MT 59911. For all inquiries and questions please contact Diane Kautzman at 855-855-5900 or