Jerry & the Wiseman Institute

Jerry Wicentowski discovered bluegrass music while growing up in New York City, and considers himself as much a fan of his first generation bluegrass idols as he is a performer and practitioner. Vocally, his focus on tone, phrasing, and emotional expression distinguishes his singing from that of many of his contemporaries. It is this emotionality that he has tried to bring to the fore on his two CD releases ‘Lucky Break’ and ‘Thanks, Mac!’, the latter a tribute and expression of gratitude to Mac Wiseman who Jerry considers his mentor. Mac endorsed and praised the recording saying: “Jerry, I’m flattered by your interpretation of my material and I think it’s a wonderful piece of work! I heartily endorse it, and I’m very flattered that you’re carrying on my legacy.” Jerry is thrilled to return to the Bay Area where ‘Jerry and the Wiseman Institute’ last toured successfully in 2019, followed by an appearance at the prestigious Station Inn in Nashville. He feels fortunate and humbled to have assembled the current edition of ‘Jerry and the Wiseman Institute’ and is confident this tour’s audiences will find the Band’s singing and playing very pleasing.

Butch Waller is well known to Bay Area bluegrass fans as the leader, mandolin player, and singer in the band High Country, which has toured nationally and internationally over the past 50+ years. A slew of High Country recordings can be found on various labels and Butch’s “Golden Gate Promenade” is available on Rebel.

Keith Little was born into a musical family living in the Sierra foothills of northern California where he was first introduced to string band music by his father. He quickly developed the instrumental skills on guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin, and fiddle that continue to thrill and inspire audiences regionally, nationally, and internationally dating from his first professional engagement in 1969. Keith’s singing has also made his musical participation invaluable as over the years he has been a member of and/or recorded with (partial list): Rose Maddox, The Vern Williams Band, Frank Wakefield, The Chieftains, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band. Currently Keith performs as a solo artist and with his group ‘The Little Band’, and serves as instructor at many of the top national and international acoustic music workshops.

Tom Bekeny is a mandolinist, fiddler, and experienced teacher who has performed and taught in the U.S. and abroad for over 45 years. He was the mandolinist in such San Francisco Bay Area bands as Done Gone, Tenbrooks, and an early version of the Grant Street String Band with Laurie Lewis. He has appeared with Peter Rowan, the Rowan Brothers, David Grisman, George Cole, vocalist Lua Hadar, and Jerry Garcia. Tom has played mandolin with the highly-acclaimed Kallick Band since 1996, and has held the fiddle spot with California’s premier traditional bluegrass band, High Country, since 1988. He has recorded with many of these groups, was featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Mandolin Magazine, was recently interviewed in Bluegrass Today, and has an instructional DVD on beginning mandolin (Music Star Productions). Tom also plays in the popular trad Bluegrass “jam” band, Bangers and Grass, with west coast bluegrass luminaries Jim Nunally, Steve Pottier, Bill Evans, and Chad Manning.

Steve Pottier has been playing bluegrass music in the Bay Area for decades, performing on guitar, bass, and mandolin. He has played bass with local bands High Country and Done Gone, as well as with Frank Wakefield, the Johnson Mountain Boys, the Mighty Crows, and more recently with Bangers and Grass. Well known for his Clarence White style guitar playing, he recorded a CD with Sandy Rothman on Sierra Records, the highly acclaimed “Bluegrass Guitar Duets.” Steve has taught guitar and mandolin at several music camps, including California Coast Music Camp, Bluegrass at the Beach, Bluegrass Camp in Levelland, Texas, and at the CBA Camp. He wrote a regular column for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.