Maura Kennedy

Maura Kennedy

Maura Kennedy, a veteran East Coast singer-songwriter known for her angelic voice and straight-to-the-heart melodies is one-half of the Americana duo, The Kennedys. She has released more than a dozen albums in the past twenty years. Artists including Nanci Griffith and Southside Johnny have covered her songs. In 2015 she teamed up with widely published California poet B.D. Love to create “Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love,” a highly anticipated and unique collection.

Learn more at


The Rhythm Guitar Workshop – Maura Kennedy

Maura grew up with the guitar goal of being a great rhythm player. In her early bands, she kept the drummer right in tempo, and at a recent session in New York City, the bandleader told the bass player, “Stay in tempo! Follow Maura’s right hand!” Besides keeping a perfect groove, she specializes in coming up with parts that “sound like a whole band”. Her strong rhythm playing was the bedrock of many Nanci Griffith tours, and being a singer and songwriter, she knows how to use dynamics to bring out the lyric of a song and make one or two guitars get a big sound. There is a lot of music in that instrument, and Maura will show you how to get the most out of it. She’s also a truly caring teacher, and she brings out the fun in learning!

Performance Class: Overcome Jitters and Connect with Listeners – Maura Kennedy

Maura has been singing for audiences since she began staging her own shows on the back steps at the age of five. She’s been perfecting her stagecraft ever since, and her adult life has been spent traveling the US and Europe. She’s always shunned tricks and gimmicks, focusing on making her listeners feel the depth and breadth of a song as deeply and passionately as she does. To help you do the same, Maura will show you how to overcome nervousness before and during the performance, establish and keep a connection with every listener, and portray the kind of confidence that draws the audience in. Maura uses relaxation techniques, meditation, a panoply of stagecraft tips, and positive constructive feedback to show you how you can put your song across in the most effective way. You love the songs you sing, so overcome the obstacles that block you from showing that love to your listeners! Come prepared to play one song for the group.

August Watters

August Watters

AugustWattersAugust Watters is a multi-stylistic, improvising mandolinist, composer/arranger, and teacher in the Boston area. He has performed with some of the leading figures in today’s revival of this most elegant instrument, and the advancement of its musical traditions. His work as an interpreter, improviser, composer and arranger bridges contemporary classical music, jazz, folk music traditions, and the historical concert mandolin repertoire.

As an international clinician and soloist, Watters has performed in Italy, Germany, England, the Czech Republic, England, Canada, and the United States. He is also an Emmy award-winning arranger, with dozens of studio credits as arranger, orchestrator and conductor for television and film music. He is the founder of Boston Mandolins, the New England Mandolin Ensemble, the Festival of Mandolin Chamber Music, and Cape Cod Mandolin Camp. Watters holds a Masters of Music Education from Boston University, and a Bachelor’s of Music from Berklee College, majoring in Jazz Composition and Arranging, summa cum laude.

Watters teaches at Berklee College of Music, where he earned his current rank of Associate Professor of Ear Training by developing and teaching new curricula designed for the needs of improvising string players. His New Acoustic Music Ensemble has trained successive generations of jazz-bluegrass improvisers since its inception in 2000. In addition, Watters has taught Berklee classes in harmony, composition, arranging, and performance, as well as private mandolin lessons.

Steven Prasinos

steven prasinos

Steven is a clinical psychologist and singer/songwriter.  As a psychologist, Steven has developed various psychiatric programs and run a successful psychotherapy practice for more than thirty years.  He has published articles on humorous children, styles of loving and spiritual aspects of psychotherapy.   He has given numerous talks on topics such as dream interpretation and the psychology of music.  He is also a published science fiction author.   As a musician, Steven has been seriously writing songs for more than twenty years and is a longstanding member of the SummerSongs community.  He performs, as “Dr. Steve,” throughout Connecticut and fronts “The Dr. Steve Band.”  Songs such as “The Duck in the Truck and the Cow in the Now”, “International Man” and “Men” are often crowd favorites.  Steven lives with his wife Nancy in rural Connecticut.  They have two daughters and a pet rabbit.

Steven Prasinos Psychologist website:
Songwriter website:


Shadow Songs – by Steven Prasinos

In psychology “shadow” is a Jungian term referring to unknown, unsaid or unwanted aspects of the self.  The shadow is the source of inspiration and healing. To explore the shadow requires courage.  Without this courage, we are in a rut or have writers’ block.  With this courage, we find the seeds for songs that are fresh and energetic.  Such songs are healing for the songwriter and for like-minded listeners.   In this class, we will study the process of converting shadow material into song.   We will see how compassion, group support, and curiosity make the shadow less threatening.  We will see how universal shadow material is. As a class, we will support one another in transforming shadow seeds into songs.  These songs may be confessional (direct), narrative (stories), silly (exaggerated) and so on.  The class environment will be playful and supportive. Students will be free to choose to share their explorations or not.  The student will leave the class with a clearer understanding of how inspiration works and the treasures that lie within us.  The class is not group psychotherapy but rather a chance to experience how the heroic songwriter ventures into the cave of oneself for the sake of art.  

Glen Roethel

Glen Roethel brings a fresh energy to the SummerSongs experience. He is the founder of the now-reformed folk-rock harmony trio Gathering Time, and co-founder of, a website which presents news and commentary for the Folk, Roots & Singer-Songwriter communities. He teaches guitar, songwriting, harmony, and performance at SummerSongs and is known for his creative, fun multi-modal classes (which enrich players of all skill levels), plus legendary late-night jam-singalong-dance parties which ring out in the night after the evening coffeehouses and song circles have wrapped up.

He is an award-winning songwriter and 3-time nominee for emPower Posi Awards (Positive music), a jury-selected performer at NERFA and the 5th Annual Singer-Songwriter Cape May festival. He saw his song “Namaste” featured in a multi-media exhibit at the Presidential Museum in Texas for three months, and his songs, “People of the Earth” and “Morning Prayer” published in New Thought songbooks. (“People of the Earth” was later published in the Hal Leonard Corp songbook, 101 Inspiring Songs: The Ultimate New Thought Fakebook).

To Glen’s credit are six self-produced CDs (From Beginning to End, Smaller Things, Unfolding [solos, Inspireline Records]; Red Apples And Gold, Songs of Hope and Freedom [Gathering Time, Inspireline Records]; ambition [gush, Indigo Records]); beautiful compilations of new “healing” songs (Infinite Surface Of The Heart), winter holiday season songs (More Than A Season), and congregational songs/songbook (Go Out and Shine), from the Posi label, [emPower Music & Arts]; as well as guitar/bass/vocal/ukulele/keyboard/percussion performances and co-writes on gorgeous and award-winning recordings by Penny Nichols, Sloan Wainwright, Sue Riley, and many others.



Harmony for Everyone – David Roth and Glen Roethel

No better time in this world than now for some harmony! Join David and Glen in an all-levels exploration of singing together. This will include some basics on harmonic principles, locating the “wheelhouse” of your range, finding and holding your part, and singing fearlessly and whole-heartedly. We’ll explore 3-4 parts on as many songs as time will allow, and through our practice will start to train our ears to find our “place in the choir”.

Songwriting 101 – Vito Petrocitto Jr. & Glen Roethel

Never written a song before? Brimming with ideas that are all dressed up and no place to go? No ideas at all? Let’s roll up our sleeves together and start at the beginning. This all-levels class is geared especially towards those who are new to the craft but also to those who simply might like to strip down their own process a bit by looking through a different lens at this wondrous art form. We’ll write every day, brainstorm compelling individual themes worth writing about, examine the different elements that make a song, and engage in lively dialogue/exercises/demonstrations on topics like sculpting inspiration, developing universal truths from personal stories, tackling tough subject matter, and being honest.  We’ll also have fun in a safe, playful, supportive, permissive, and powerful environment and with any luck – and as time allows – we’ll get to hear some of these new creations during the week.

Coaching, Fun, and General Jammin’ Sing-Along Musical Mayhem!

with Glen Roethel.
Bring your favorite songs by the Beatles, Eagles, America, Steely Dan, Carole King, Temptations, CSNY, Dan Fogelberg, Penny Nichols, Sloan Wainwright, Bad Company, Van Morrison … We’ll all sing ’em, and bang on drums, tables and instruments to them!

Sue Riley

Sue Riley

“A life built around music” may be the best way to sum up Sue Riley.

Sue believes in the power of music to touch hearts and heal lives, and she loves to share her passion for music through a wide variety of means.

Sue has been the Music Director of Unity Church of Clearwater for the past 14 years, and involved in their music for the past 26 years, helping many folks find their musical voice. She served as the chairperson of Unity Worldwide Ministries Music Team for 11 years, helping screen hundreds of songs for compilation songbooks.

Sue is a founder of emPower Music and Arts, which is dedicated to “Changing the World, One Song at a Time.” emPower hosts the yearly emPower Posi Awards and PosiFestival in Florida, which recognizes excellence in songwriting for artists who create songs with messages of peace, interfaith, and joyous living. The festival is now in its 12th year.

As one of the leaders in the genre of “Posi” Music (standing for Posi-Tive Music), Sue tours the country performing in PosiPalooza Concerts along with great artists such as Harold Payne, Tom Kimmel, Sloan Wainwright, David Roth, and many others.

A prolific singer-songwriter, Sue has created 8 CDs of original, award-winning, uplifting positive music.


Writing a Humorous Song ~ with Sue Riley

Having a humorous song in your set can go a long way towards endearing yourself to any given audience. Much humor will come from the delivery, but a songwriter can use tailored methods and tools to make a song funny. A humorous song is different than a parody and can even poke gentle fun at the songwriter if written in the first-person. In this class, we’ll explore different kinds of funny songs and the components that go into them, then we’ll build our own from the ground, up.

Pete Kennedy

Pete Kennedy

Pete Kennedy is best known as the guitar-intensive half of folk-rock duo The Kennedys, but his experience spans a wide cross-section of American music. He toured the US and Europe extensively with Nanci Griffith, and he played an important role in the making of her Grammy-winning CD, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” sharing lead guitar duties with Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke. He also toured for a year with Mary Chapin Carpenter; has played with the National Symphony and numerous Broadway road companies including “Cats” and “Evita”; and was a house musician at legendary roots music club the Birchmere. He studied with classical guitarist Larry Snitzler and Jazz legends Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, and Charlie Byrd – so Pete is uniquely able to answer just about any question you might have about making the most of your love and enthusiasm for the guitar.



The 5 Things That Will Improve Your Guitar Playing Now – Pete Kennedy

(Intermediate) The one simple exercise that will do the most to improve your playing. Triads: One bit of theory that will get you playing up and down the guitar neck. Modes: They’re a lot simpler than you think, and they will open up your solo ideas. Harmonics: Your guitar has a wider range than you think! Cool Chords: Pete shows some of the voicings that George Gershwin and Ray Charles used to kick the blues to the next level

Guitar Arranging for Singer Songwriters – Pete Kennedy

Pete has a lifetime of experience backing singer-songwriters on the road and in the studio. His early travels with Mary-Chapin Carpenter led to a steady gig as a member of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra. He can be heard playing the opening guitar solo on Nanci’s Grammy-winning CD,”Other Voices, Other Rooms”, and his work with Nanci involved backing her numerous songwriter colleagues, including Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt as they would show up to collaborate with Nanci on a song or two. Each singer had their own artistic approach, and for Pete the challenge was always to “zone in” on that and play in a way that would frame their lyrics and bring out what they wanted to communicate to the listener. That education was invaluable when he joined forces with fellow Blue Moon orchestra alumnus Maura Boudreau and they became the married Kennedys. Each song on their dozen CDs started as a guitar arrangement, and that is how they are performed live. Pete is thankful to the many mentors who taught him to play with taste and imagination, and he looks forward to mentoring aspiring singer songwriters in developing their own guitar arrangements. This will be a “master class” format, which means that it will be driven by the students’ own performances. Play a song, and Pete will help you get the maximum depth and breadth from your guitar part.


From bass player/band member with Bonnie Raitt for a decade to countless studio sessions and tours with artists ranging from John Mayall, CSN, Maria Muldaur and Ringo Starr, to T.V. appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” “Midnight Special,” and “Muppets Tonight,” as well as tuba performances with Dr. John and the legendary Spinal Tap, Freebo has achieved status and respect in a creative and highly competitive field.

Not satisfied with simply resting on his laurels as a top sideman, however, Freebo has continued to push his creative envelope, and has evolved into an award winning singer/songwriter with three solo CDs to his credit; 1999’s “The End Of The Beginning,” 2002’s “Dog People” (songs about the human/canine connection), and his latest, “Before The Separation”, which was nominated in 5 categories in the JPF Awards, had 2 songs in the top 10 of the International Songwriting Competition, and won the prestigious South Florida Folk Festival Songwriting Competition.

Showing his complete arrival and comfort as a singer/songwriter, The Philadelphia Inquirer said of his latest CD, “Freebo’s stepping into a new role of singer/songwriter suits him well. ‘Before the Separation’ flows with a compassionate spirit rooted in ’60s ideals, but packing a gently urgent relevancy. The songs are built on Freebo’s acoustic guitar and fretless bass, giving them a sublimely folkish foundation that occasionally heads off into rock and soul. The finale, “The Freedom Wall,” shows that, in addition to an engaging earnestness, Freebo is also capable of biting irony”.

Freebo’s songs span styles from folk, blues, & country to R&B, reggae, and rock’n’roll, and incorporate themes of love, struggle, triumph, peace, and the journey of life. His live performances, mainly on acoustic guitar, take you on a musical and lyrical ride, creating an intimate unity with his audience.

Tom Prasada-Rao


Tom Prasada-Rao doesn’t really teach songwriting. He encourages and facilitates and strives to create an environment of comfort and safety – a place where anything is possible. His process is to learn by doing with scores of quick, fun exercises. It’s together, not top down – he never gives out an assignment that he doesn’t do as well.

TPR was the songwriting instructor at the University of Virginia’s Young Writer’s Workshops from 2000 to 2007. That program was modeled after The University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. It was there at UVA, while creating the songwriting curriculum, that he developed his craft.

Over the years TPR has been on the teaching staff at The Swannanoa Gathering, SummerSongs, Lamb’s Retreat, Kerrville, Sister’s, and Rocky Mountain Song Schools, and Kerrville’s Boys & Girls Musicamp.

Jud Caswell

jud caswell

Heralded by Sing Out! magazine as “one of the leading singer-songwriters on the current scene,” Jud Caswell has won eight nationally recognized songwriting contests, including the Dave Carter Memorial, Boston Folk Festival, and Kerrville New Folk contests. He has a degree in music from Dartmouth College, and his song “Blackberry Time” is being taught in the songwriting curriculum at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Jud comes from that place where the two Maines meet: where ex-hippies play cribbage with fishermen and a kind of rural poetry is salted with Yankee gumption. He grew up on a little farm in Morrill, Maine, picking carrots and milking goats; listening to records by Cat Stevens and the Beatles, reading Mark Twain and Kahlil Gibran. A multi-instrumentalist from an early age, he wandered through jazz bands, orchestras and medieval ensembles before finding his home on the acoustic guitar. Jud is currently teaching songwriting, capo techniques, and touring widely in support of his latest CD, “Blackberry Time,” released in 2007.

Vito Petroccitto Jr.

Vito Petroccitto Jr.

Vito Petroccitto Jr, another veteran of many Summer/Wintersongs and a guitar legend in New York’s Hudson Valley, brings twenty-five years of teaching experience and his unique blend of expertise and fun to camp.

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Vito Petroccitto has strong roots in music. Fathered by a musical legend in his own right, Vito’s life has centered around music and entertaining since his beginning. Raised by a gigging dad, becoming a musician seemed a natural career choice; a road that he has proudly taken.

Currently, Vito still fronts the band Four Guys in Disguise on occasion (which he co-founded in 1989), a collection of talented musicians who are recognized in the Hudson Valley region as area’s finest.

Vito boasts performances with musicians such as:
Merl Saunders, Professor Louie and the Cromatix, Tony Levin, Peter Levin, Jerry Marotta, Joe Bouchard, John Platania, Tommy Byrnes, Pete Seeger, Buddy Cage, John Hall and Larry Hoppen, Freebo, Severin Browne, David Roth, Sloan Wainwright, Penny Nichols, Ritt Henn, and many others.

Four Guys has opened for Eddie Money, The Doobie Brothers, Orleans, The Rascals, The Chris Barrons Band (Lead Vocalist/Spin Doctors), and Deep Banana Blackout, among others.

Vito’s versatility in entertainment includes radio and television. He has written and performed parodies in conjunction with FM 101.5 WPDH and on a solo basis for more than fifteen years, cracking up listeners in the tri-state area with his unique style. Vito is a talented storyteller, incorporating musical genius to create a perfect blend of lyric and melody. A fine example would include “The Yankee Song,” a musical tribute co-written by Vito and members of the WPDH morning show in advance of the Yanks 1998 championship season. Mark Cooper and Mike Colvin composed clever lyrics in combination with Vito’s musical vision, creating a song that sparked pride in Yankee fans of all ages and struck a chord with the players as well. “The Yankee Song” could be heard in the Yanks clubhouse, radio stations from Albany to Long Island, and everywhere in between. Its notoriety peaked the interest of Al Trautwig, of MSG Network as well as WFAN and WPLJ’s Scott and Todd in New York City. The song is alive and well and is often requested by Vito’s audience during his live performances everywhere.

The self-proclaimed “greatest guitar player in the world” has been making music for more than 25 years. His comedic antics and mind-blowing solos have created a one of a kind act that keeps audiences begging for more. Known for his feel-good approach to entertainment, he thrills lay people and professionals alike.

Vito’s expansive musical career has included Four Guys CDs featuring Johnny Philibuster, Live Tracks, I Am America, and his latest solo efforts The Blare Horse Project (featuring some of his finest parody work to date), and the “Yankee Song” single CD (released in 2004). He also contributed to a number of other projects including WPDH and WPYXs parody compilations, as well as session work for a number of talented artists. Vito recently appeared on David Roth’s Think Twice double CD, released his own first solo effort entitled En Vito Veritas, and also a 2007 CD with the Four Guys in Disguise band.


Musician’s Palette. Music Theory – Vito Petroccitto Jr.

“The Musician’s Palette” is much like a painter’s palette of colors, only our paint you can hear! The painter has colors to paint a picture we can see. They’re beautiful colors, some straight, others blended together to create gorgeous tones for our eyes. The musician has the same thing, only our colors are sounds like chords and scales! In this course I will show you the relationship between notes, chords, scales, keys, and how they all work in concert together to bring us beautiful pictures we can hear! Please join me in exploring the wonderful views of sound. Applies to instruments of all kinds! It also will help you develop your jamming skills and give you more tools for your songwriting toolbox. If you’ve ever been stuck using the same four chords over and over again, this information might give you a new boost to get out of that rut! What you could walk away with: A better understanding of theory; Knowledge of which chords go together in any given key; Vito’s “Page of Relations” (which is like throwing the circle of fifths at the wall and having all of its secrets become totally apparent; An understanding of the Nashville number system and then some. I’ve been teaching guitar for many years so I’m sure there will be something to gain here! Let’s get to painting!!

Songwriting 101 – Vito Petrocitto Jr. & Glen Roethel

Never written a song before? Brimming with ideas that are all dressed up and no place to go? No ideas at all? Let’s roll up our sleeves together and start at the beginning. This all-levels class is geared especially towards those who are new to the craft but also to those who simply might like to strip down their own process a bit by looking through a different lens at this wondrous art form. We’ll write every day, brainstorm compelling individual themes worth writing about, examine the different elements that make a song, and engage in lively dialogue/exercises/demonstrations on topics like sculpting inspiration, developing universal truths from personal stories, tackling tough subject matter, and being honest.  We’ll also have fun in a safe, playful, supportive, permissive, and powerful environment and with any luck – and as time allows – we’ll get to hear some of these new creations during the week.