With an event that accommodates close to three hundred people including tutors, we need a few dedicated support staff to help run a smooth show. There are many helpers at Sore Fingers and the few we feature here are those you will see most regularly at the events. Most of them are musicians and this lends a very special essence because they are tuned in to what we do here: teaching people to play this kind of music!
Gill Harrison 1949 - 2010
Our good friend Gill passed away in the summer of 2010 after a short illness. Gill joined the SFSS team on the fourth Sore Fingers Week and took on the role of Scratch Band and Concert coordinator and was soon dubbed “Professor McGonnagill”. She did this job until Sore Fingers Easter 2010. Throughout her time with us, Gill proved to be an amazing asset to the team and succeeded in putting more bands than imaginable on to the S.F. Week stage on a yearly basis. Her work and commitment to promote success and achievement for every student who passed through her hands is second to none. There are many of her past students who perform regularly at festivals and in clubs around the country who would have never taken the plunge without her words and actions of encouragement. Gill will be missed by many of us on a personal level. Moira and I were fortunate to count her as a friend benefiting from her support over many years. She was an eternal optimist and when pronounced terminally ill Gill told us all to “get on with it”. In her memory and honour, that’s exactly what we will do: carry that wonderful fun spirit forward and focus on her own immortal words: ”You can never have too much fun”. In the way she was so often to remind us.
Moira Wirtz - Events Director
Moira has been involved with Sore Fingers Week from the very start back in 1996 using both her administrative and musical skills as a singer and player of the double bass to fine tune the event (to you and me, that means putting some order into John's chaotic ideas). Moira takes care of the event administration and will make sure you have a place on a course, and bed to sleep in when you arrive. She also takes care of tutor hospitality and makes everybody who works for the event comfortable and happy. This stressful job has caused some of us to dub her as "Cruella". Nobody dares challenge her though, she pays the wages!
Greg Smith - Scratch band coordinator and concert organiser
Greg has been attending Sore Fingers Week for many years before joining the regular staff. He has been assisting the late Gill Harrison with the difficult but essential job of nurturing the students into scratch bands ready for the student concert which is held every year at Sore Fingers Week. It’s a job that requires knowledge of music, experience of playing in bands and a cool, calm head! Greg has the lot! A fine fiddler and a member of the New Essex Bluegrass Band, he knows what it’s like at the sharp end of performing and entertaining an audience. You’re I safe hands and he and his team will make sure that you perform at your absolute best in the phenomenon that is the Sore Fingers Student Concert!
Jason Titley - Scratch Band Tutor
Jason has been an associate of this event for several years now and has become a regular Scratch band tutor which involves the delicate task of advising the newly formed bands how to get over the difficulties of turning five individual musicians of varying ability into a tight unit in just three days! Jason knows you have to cover everything, arranging, band dynamics, playing technique and even the unexpected like the fall outs and the arguments. It helps that Jason is a seasoned performer and an able musician himself having graced the British Bluegrass stages with the Daily Planet, Natural Hazard and Rabbi John and also toured with such luminaries as Tim O'Brien. Jason is a fabulous guitarist and can flat-pick with the best of em'. It's that kind of experience we crave at Sore Fingers. We are privileged to have such a chap working for you.
Joe Rusby - Sound and recording engineer
Joe is one of Britain's most sought after sound engineers. His work with sister Kate and many other top rated folk and roots musicians has earned him the highest of reputations on the British acoustic music scene. Joe also does the sound on the main stage at Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, so he knows how to work with the top guns. Being a thoroughly nice chap (except with the stage monkeys), we haven't found anything about him that would suggest a silly nickname...yet! Joe sits at the mixing desk and produces the best concert sound in stage monitors and front of house systems year after year. An absolutely vital ingredient for the quality event Sore Fingers Week has become! Thanks Joe
Josh Clark - Sound and recording engineer
Another fine musician Josh is currently a full time member of The Scoville Units and knows what it feels like to get on stage with all the technology that surrounds you. He has been assisting Joe Rusby for several years and is the producer of the Sore Fingers Student Concert CD. As well as being a fine percussionist and more recently getting his guitar playing up to speed, he brings extensive knowledge of the technical side of stage work. He is a great live sound and recording engineer and with the kind of standards our tutors and scratch bands expect us to work to, we have to call upon the best, at all times…
Jackie Kempton - Dipin Coordinator
Jackie is crazy about Old Time music and always has a permanent smile on her face when she’s at Sore Fingers Week. She likes having fun and that filters down into her activity as the principle dip-in coordinator for Sore Fingers Week. She’s just the person to get the extra mile out of people – who can resist that smile? She always makes sure our evening dip–ins run smoothly and an absolute treat to watch. She rounds up the most distinguished Bluegrass stars (the tutors) and gets them to go on stage playing for fun and all for your entertainment. An absolute treasure, Jackie is another person without whom the event wouldn’t be the same. And she still finds time to get down to the bar after work and have more fun. Brilliant!
Rex Preston, Dave Kosky - Catering posse
When it was getting obvious that we needed to organise the tea breaks for so many people, we needed a team of caterers. Well, you could do worse than ask two of the best musicians around who in between washing up cups and prepping the next trea break will play some amazing music. Rex plays mandolin like a demon and Dave is one of the best flat-pick guitarists around. At the end of the week, they usually get a little spot in the tutor concert to show they can make serious music as well as a decent cup of coffee. Appropriate nicknames were applied here too: please let me introduce you to "Tea-Rex" and "Charkosky"!
Carolyn and Nigel Harris - Merchandising
Carolyn and Nigel first came along to chaperone daughter Jacey who plays a mean banjo - no doubt because of all the good tuition she has received at S.F.Week. Together, they manage the merchandising stall. With nearly twenty tutors who all have CDs and books to sell, keeping count of the money is a bit of a nightmare. Carolyn is a wizard with cash and has everything under control to the last penny. That means the tutors can get on with teaching knowing their merchandise is in safe hands, and with the Harris clan behind the counter, sell more goods! I defy anyone to go past the stall without been tempted into buying something, a bit like Aunty Wainwright's really.
John Wirtz - Course Co-ordinator
John was originally invited to work as the sound engineer at the first Sore Fingers Week back in 1996. When in year two, the then organisers Mike & Andrea Preston found themselves double booked, they asked John and Moira to caretake the event on their behalf. Following this experience, John became an integral part of the organising team and got involved with booking tutors, a job which he continues to do to this day. As things have become busier, John no longer works the mixing desk and usually hangs around (the bar mainly) handing out orders to people who already know what they are doing. Makes him feel good and justifies his unofficial title "The Captain"! You might see him M/Cing one of the concerts and even playing his guitar...in the bar!