Behind the Scenes at ‘Musicarium’ in Music City!

by | Sep 15, 2023

With the leading lights of fingerstyle guitar gathering in Nashville this year as part of Andy McKee’s annual ‘Musicarium,’ our core production crew flew to Music City to ‘embed’ for three days with an immensely talented group of instructors and workshop attendees of all ages, from the world over. The experience was terrific fun, and truly a treasure trove of material for the film.

In addition to Andy, we spoke with Calum Graham, Trevor Gordon Hall, Jon Gomm, Mike Dawes, Muriel Anderson and the great Stanley Jordan (who shared a bill with Michael on occasion). Each interview was a thrill, and had its own unique and personal path, with plenty of emotion; Michael’s spirit and influence were clearly present, at every turn. With lots of themed workshops throughout the day (with names like, ‘How Not to Play the Guitar,’ and ‘Harmonics 101’), we often found ourselves on-the-fly, moving from room to room to uncover and soak up as much of the love for Michael’s music that we could. 

Calum Graham teaches a workshop at 'Musicarium' in Nashville
Guitarist Mike Dawes with Mischa Hedges at the 'Musicarium' event

The setting couldn’t have been more beautiful, with the 4-day event taking place on the campus of Vanderbilt University, among the storied, 125+-year-old cream-colored stone buildings of the school’s Scarritt-Bennett Conference Center. Almost everywhere you went, you could hear the strum and hum of guitars wafting throughout the peaceful, summertime complex.

The Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville

We met so many people who were there to learn from today’s steel-string masters: a very impressive 16-year-old from Hawaii (who put a Hedges symbol sticker on her case), a delightful young woman from Chile, a friendly bunch of New Yorkers (including our awesome new friend, ‘Cam’), gifted players from Philly, Boston, LA, San Francisco – and some special Seed & Spark supporters of the film. They all welcomed us with open arms, stepping up to our microphones to tell their story, share their journey and explain what Michael had meant to them. A few had seen him perform live, but most had only come to know him after his passing – usually via YouTube and bootleg recordings.

Clare, Mischa, and Jameson covering one of Jon Gomm’s fabulous workshops

It wasn’t a surprise, but many of the attendees cited John Stropes’ excellent (and newly reissued) book with Michael, Rhythm, Sonority and Silence as the ultimate resource on learning how to play Michael’s tunes. One in particular, on this occasion (more on that later, when you see the film). We’re happy to report that Michael’s legacy, and the ‘Next (and, for that matter, the Next-Next) Generation’ are thriving.

One special treat: on the final evening, Andy, Calum and Trevor performed together as their recently-formed trio, ‘Tripliciti,’ in anticipation of their soon-to-be-released debut recording – and performed a lovely cover of one of Michael’s pieces, one you might not expect, that will be on their new album. You’ll definitely want to hear it.

Clare and Mischa covering 'Tripliciti' in concert
Clare and Mischa cover 'Tripliciti'
Clare Major, Jameson Herndon, and Mischa Hedges

Our fantastic Director of Photography, Clare Major, was on hand and in her element to film the concert, all our interviews and on-the-move B-roll as we threaded through various workshops and one-on-one mentor sessions. For this trip, we were also lucky to have a very talented and experienced sound engineer, Jameson Herndon, as part of our ‘Musicarium’ team. Based in Nashville, Jameson has crewed for no less than Ken Burns (as part of his soulful, sprawling, eight-part ‘Country Music’ documentary project). 

Clare and Jameson were total pros; with each shoot, our crew configuration becomes more and more like ‘family.’

A HUGE thanks to Andy McKee, all of the ‘Musicarium’ instructors, and to Billy and his team at Dreamcatcher Events, who puts this complex, wonderful event together every year – thanks for generously welcoming us into the fold. The fingerstyle community that came together in Nashville went out of its way to make us feel at home. The inclusion of this segment in the film will help to imbue the unmistakable energy of the present-day state-of-the-art of acoustic guitar, and the impact of Michael’s playing on musicians everywhere.

Returning to California, we were again reminded how rich Michael’s story is and how far its reach extends. We are so grateful to be able to be making this film at this moment – and again, thank you for helping us get to the places we must go.

Up next (and take 2): 


Mischa and Brendan
Co-Directors, ORACLE: the Life & Music of Michael Hedges

Mischa Hedges returns to California


Become a Sponsor

This film will be funded in part by Michael’s fans, angel donors, business sponsors and grant funding.

Sponsorship packages range from $1,000-$75,000 and include various benefits. They are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, the Stropes Foundation.

Review our available sponsorship packages and let us know if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the film.

Or by check

Write a check to “Stropes Foundation, Inc” with “Oracle Documentary” in the memo and mail to: 

Stropes Foundation, Inc.
1132 Lake Avenue
Racine, WI 53403


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