2020 Harmonica Workshop Faculty

Singer, songwriter, and performer, Rob Roy Parnell has been mixing rockin' blues, boogie woogie, R&B and soul for over thirty-five years playing for audiences throughout the United States. With harmonica in hand, he is recognized as one of America’s finest players. 

At age 17 his brother Lee Roy www.leeroyparnell.com introduced Rob Roy Parnell to the harmonica. During the 1990s Parnell worked as a sidemen for Lee Roy traveling the United States playing with many great acts such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, Brooks and Dunn, Patty Loveless, Hal Ketchum, Travis Tritt, Martina McBride, Hank Williams Jr. just to name a few. Over the years Parnell has played all over the United States and was the first performer to play for the Armed Forces at camp delta at “Gitmo” Cuba. For 20 straight years he has played before the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma Red River Shoot Out game and has become part of this long standing tradition at America’s largest state fair.

He remains busy touring, songwriting and session work in the studio. One of his songs “OughtaKnow” was cut and is on the Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark CD “ Blind Cripple and Crazy”.  As stated by Texas Music Magazine “On stage, Rob Roy always delivers a winning and sterling set of roadhouse blues a la Delbert McClinton that travels through the range of Texas styles and modes with the assurance of a new crown prince of the scene."

For thirteen years, Rob Roy has been part of the faculty at the Kerrville Folk Festival’s Harmonica Workshop serving as the musical director of the workshop.

Ronnie Shellist has traveled the U.S., Canada and Europe with his blues showcase featuring various top notch blues artists. The show consists of original blues songs written by Ronnie, classic Chicago blues; as well as a mix of Delta and southern influenced blues artists. His high energy approach and command of his instrument immediately draws you in! In 2006 he posted a video on youtube which now has close to 2.5 million views and provided Ronnie with a massive following. He currently tours with Hohner as one of their top endorsors and clinician for the company putting on roadshows and training sessions. Ronnie was raised in Chicago, where he visits frequently to perform at local venues, festivals and blues dances. Currently he hails from Denver, Colorado.

Todd has been playing harmonica for 28 years, and has been blessed to perform and record with several artists.  Growing up on the church pew in NC, he was exposed to lively music at a young age, and it wasn't long until he picked up his first instrument... the harmonica. Todd recalls, "I remember as a kid when an traveling evangelist visited our church.  The pastor had been announcing that he played a French Horn, but I think he meant French "Harp" instead (which is a common name for harmonica).  So, I was expecting this guy to come to the pulpit playing some type of brass horn. When he walked to the pulpit, whipped out a harmonica and started to play, I was amazed! I was determined that night to learn to play the harmonica, so on the last night of the series of services, I bought a harmonica from him (against my mother's wishes I might add).  The other kids laughed and teased me a little bit, but the harmonica kinda "stuck" with me. After several years, I'm still playing harmonica, but have come to realize that this was just the start of something greater.  Music has opened so many positive doors in my life.  I'm not sure where I'd be today or what I'd be doing had I not picked up that first harmonica.  God has blessed me with a gift, and sharing my music with others is my way of partly giving back."

Today, Todd's soulful, gospel harmonica can be heard in churches and other events across the nation, as well as on many studio recordings.  He's a regular teacher and performer at the annual Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH) convention, and at many other harmonica workshops in the USA.

Hash Brown (Brian Calway) started playing the blues in 1973. He was heavily influenced by local east coast blues legends like Duke Robillard and Roomful of Blues and Ronnie Earl with Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. He played blues all over the north east (NY, CT, ME, VT, RI, NH, MA) until moving to Dallas, TX in 1983. Since then, Hash Brown has played blues in the Dallas area for more than 23 years. Brian said, "So I guess I now have been playing Blues for 32 years(I'm getting old!)."

Upon moving to Texas, Hash Brown immersed himself in the vibrant music scene, becoming an integral part of the bands of ZuZu Bollin, U. P. Wilson, Robert Ealey, Willie Willis, Big Al Dupree and Henry Qualls. Hash Brown is endorsed by: GHS Strings, Hohner Harmoncas, and Category 5 Amplifiers. Hash Brown has toured the US and Europe many times. He has appeared on no less than 30 different recordings.

He has played on 50 different recordings, also have done

TV commercial work for Houston L&P, Big brothers/sisters, and Subaru.  Brian is also a core teacher of Guitar and harmonica in the Mississippi Blues Jam camps based at the Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale, MS.

A tasty harmonica accompanist & soloist, Michael D’Eath moved from his home in England to Texas as a teenager to pursue an entrepreneurial career in high technology. Twenty years later he chose harmonica as his primary instrument. Michael currently performs with Him & Her, a duo with his wife Brenda Freed. Him & Her focuses on performing, recording, songwriting, musical arrangement, and teaching, as well as having a good time with live audiences whether playing a club, house concert, small theater or festival. In addition to performing on three Him & Her albums, Michael was recording engineer for two of them.

Michael has studied privately with Austin legend, JB Henry, as well as with many world class instructors including Norton Buffalo, Gary Primich, Rob Roy Parnell, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, Joe Filisko, JimiLee, Will Scarlett, and Winslow Yerxa. He is an accomplished player in several musical styles on both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas and is a first call session player and sideman. He has performed harmonica on tracks for Marghi Allen, Farrell Droke, The Better Halves and Tracy Weinberg. Michael started performing with his wife, Brenda Freed, in 2000 and together they formed Texas Hot Flash, which won an Austin Music Award in 2005, and opened for the Charlie Daniels Band. Brenda and Michael formed Him & Her in 2005 and they have since played together throughout the Texas Hill Country, the U.S and Europe.

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