Middle Fork River Expeditions

2021 Musical Adventures on the Salmon River

Video from John Smith’s Aug 8-13, 2017 Middle Fork of the Salmon Music Adventure

In 2015 MFRE began offering professional musician trips to our offerings.  The result has been amazing.  The guests, musicians and MFRE guides all agree that these trips are the best, as there is a way music can connect the group to nature and the canyon itself, not to mention the “tribe” that is formed through music.  We have 9 Music trips offered in 2020 so far.

How do they work?  –  All musicians have their different style and personality, of course.  Musicians play each evening around the campfire, but also at scenic grottos, waterfalls along the way, and even while soaking in a hot spring.  It is up to the musician when and where they want to play but it is always coordinated with the MFRE Expedition Leader.

Many novice guest musicians ask whether they can play with the musicians as well and in many cases this is allowed and encouraged.  If you want to bring an instrument please do and we will bring an extra dry bag for you.  Just be sure it is in a hard case.

Here is our line up for 2020. See our “Dates and Prices” section fo the website for cost and availability.

Middle Fork of the Salmon Musical Adventures

John Smith- Middle Fork July 31- Aug 5

Johnsmith is one of those artists so often under-recognized – he possesses a genius that cannot be denied, ignored, or overlooked. For the past thirty-plus years, Johnsmith has been sharing his music all across America and abroad. He has become a favorite at festivals, clubs, and house concerts alike. In addition to being a Kerrville New Folk Winner, Johnsmith has released eight solo CDs to rave reviews, leads musical tours to Ireland, teaches songwriting, and has served as a staff songwriter in Nashville.

With his faded jeans, his twinkly blue eyes, and his infectious smile, John immediately connects with audiences. You get the sense of a man who loves his life, his family and friends, and who loves nothing more than sharing that love in song and stories all across this land.

Moors and McCumber Middle Fork Aug 8-13

James Moors and Kort McCumber grew up in different places and listening to different kinds of music – classical, rock, bluegrass, you name it. But when they met ten years ago they knew they’d found something golden. Since then, they’ve been cultivating their wide-ranging musical influences in songs that delve into love and life through haunting lyrics, soaring harmonies, and dazzling instrumental proficiency. As Grammy award-winning producer Lloyd Maines puts it, “These guys should be playing every major festival in the country. They bring it all to the stage and deliver it in a big way.”


Music Making with Joe and Hattie Craven

Aug 16-21 Middle Fork

Joe and his 20 year old daughter Hattie will be offering a Music-Making, Songwriting, Singing Experience on your Salmon River trip. Think of it as a floating Music and Creativity Camp! Everyone has music in them and learning to play instruments, brought and found, writing poems of your daily experiences on the river and turning some of those poems into songs to last a lifetime, plus singing and jamming at night around the campfire will enhance your river trip in a unique, creative way. We encourage you to bring instruments on the trip or just show up empty-handed; we’ll take care of the rest. Music is what’s inside you, more than what’s in your hands. Please know that joining the music part of this trip is encouraged – but completely optional, too! Just think, anyone who wishes to, can write a poem and turn it into a song with Joe and Hattie! There will be harmonicas, ukuleles, egg shakers (and more) for those who wish to join and learn.

20 year old Hattie Craven is a vocalist, dancer and actor and educator. She is one the youngest artists to grace the stages of some of the best known west coast music festivals in in the US. She has 2 recordings of her own and sings in her father’s group, Joe Craven & The Sometimers. She has sung in many places around the world to standing ovations.  Hattie’s Website

Joe Craven is a unique and highly regarded musician, educator and producer. He is a teacher and student all at once and he will draw you into his performances by including you as though you’re part of the show itself. His gift of gab is unprecedented and his musical knowledge impressive. Award-winning creativity educator, former museum curator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, music festival emcee and recipient of the Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year, Joe has made music with many folks; Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, mandolin player David Grisman (17 years), David Lindley, harmonica wizard Howard Levy and 7 years recording and touring with banjo fusionist Alison Brown.  Joe’s Website

Darrell Scott Middle Fork Aug 24-29

Darrell and his wife Angela joined us in 2017 and 2019 to celebrate Darrell’s 60th Birthday.  Darrell is an incredible musician and songwriter who also travels with the Zach Brown band.  Please take a look at his site for more information and his Bio!

John Arthur martinez, Randy Brown, Geronimo Trevino III and Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Jon Chandler, Bill Barwick and others.Mike spent many years touring with his dancehall band, but now plays more shows as a solo artist, or in a duo or trio configuration at listening rooms, house concerts, festivals, and private parties.

Main Salmon Musical Adventures

Joe Crookston Main Salmon Aug 14-19

Songwriter, guitarist, painter, fiddler, slide player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible. Named 2016 Folk Alliance International Artist-in- Resident, he’s played with Suzanne Vega, Dar Williams, David Francey, John McCutcheon, John Gorka, Judy Collins and 100’s more. His songs are cinematic and are being made into award winning films. Watch this trailer for Brooklyn in July

He’ll  surprise you and awaken the cynics.   He’s plumbing for lyrical gold like a social archeologist.  His songs are universal, his rhythm infectious and in concert, he is funny as hell one moment and transcendent the next.


David Roth- Main Salmon Aug 30-Sept 4

David Roth strikes many chords, hearts, and minds with his unique songs, offbeat observations, moving stories, sense of the hilarious, and powerful singing and subject matter. As singer, songwriter, recording artist, keynote speaker, workshop leader, and instructor, David has earned top honors at premier songwriter competitions – Kerrville (TX) and Falcon Ridge (NY) – and taken his music, experience, and expertise to a wide variety of venues in this and other countries full-time for three decades.

Keith Greeninger- Main Salmon Sept 7-12

As a singer-songwriter, Keith (on the right above) paints intricate portraits of the human condition with powerful melodic images, deep engaging guitar rhythms and husky, heart-wrenching vocals. His masterfully crafted tunes and powerful presence have earned him the top songwriting awards at the prestigious Telluride Blue Grass Festival, The Kerrville Folk Festival and The Napa Valley Folk Festival. Keith has toured the national Folk and Americana circuit extensively for over two decades. He’s performed at festivals and legendary venues, appeared on countless national radio shows, and shared stages with dozens of the country’s best-known artists. Keith’s records and personal appearances have garnered him a legion of devoted fans, and the respect, admiration and appreciation of music critics far and wide.

Bernice Lewis- Main Salmon Sept 15-20

With almost four decades of performing festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses, colleges, and house concerts, along with a half dozen acclaimed CDs, Bernice Lewis has built a solid national fan base. She is also a published poet, a producer, and an educator extraordinaire. Lewis — who studied vocal improvisation with Bobby McFerrin, guitar technique with Alex DeGrassi and Guy van Duser, and songwriting with Rosanne Cash and Cris Williamson — has been a featured performer on NPR’s Mountain Stage program, as well as at the Kennedy Center. In 2008, she was awarded an Artist in Residence position by the National Park Service. In 1987, she was a finalist in the prestigious New Folk Songwriting Contest at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival, where she continues to be a main stage favorite. Her ballad, “Bridges That Hold,” was included in Peter, Paul and Mary’s Lifelines video (PBS). She was featured in Yoga Journal for her work with sound and yoga, and has shared the stage with many renowned artists, including Dar Williams, Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Pete Seeger, Ellis Paul, Rory Block, Livingston Taylor, Odetta, Christine Lavin, Marty Sexton, Patty Larkin, Catie Curtis, Mary Gauthier… it’s a long list. She has a forty-year old daily yoga practice, loves good coffee, and her religion is the Grand Canyon.

Richard and Tova Tillinghast- Main Salmon Sept 15-20

Music and whitewater run in the veins of Richard and Tova Tillinghast. Tova grew up in Boise, Idaho, beginning cello at age five, taking the first of many family raft trips on the Salmon River at age 10, and kayaking western rivers through her adolescence. In her twenties she worked summers as a raft guide on the Salmon while living in Stanley, Idaho. Her winters were spent skiing and trekking in the Sawtooth mountains while playing cello in the Walla Walla Symphony and Whitman College Symphony. Her love of nature eventually led to her present conservation work in the Columbia River Gorge, with a focus on river habitat restoration.

Richard Tillinghast claims that moving water gave him his musical rhythm. He began kayaking on the Chattooga River in South Carolina, performing music at night and kayaking during the day. He crisscrossed America paddling from California to West Virginia to Washington state, living off money from gigs he picked up along the way, including short stints as a safety kayaker in Ecuador and Nepal. He recorded his first CD, “Men and Their Machines” in 1996. Eastern music critic Dave Horner wrote, “He is a poet; he has traveled America and abroad, with his senses open and attuned and has distilled many thoughts, impressions and feelings into a beautiful, restless volume of verse in song” (Creative Loafing, SC). Eventually, his work on the river, as a musician, and as a counselor for troubled teens led to his dream of merging whitewater and music as a therapeutic way of life.

Tova and Richard began playing music together in 2005, quickly becoming staples of the Columbia Gorge music scene. Rodger Nichols of The Dalles Chronicle (Oregon) writes, “Pairing a guitar and banjo playing singer-songwriter with a classically trained cellist is not an obvious choice, but it’s a musical marriage that works beautifully.” Tova and Richard did indeed marry in 2011, and in the years since have produced several CDs and children, all to critical acclaim. Recordings include Blue Tattoo (1995), Men and Their Machines (1996), Onehum (2005), Sweet By and By (2009), The Door Is Open (2014), and their newest release, Random Perfect Plan.

“From his first gig in London at age 19, Tillinghast has played hundreds of shows nationwide. Through the years, he has quietly built a reputation for warm, welcoming shows. His eclectic, heartfelt songs are often offset by hilarious comedic banter with the audience. His music is a deep, healing well.” (Edge Magazine, South Carolina)

Darrell Scott– Main Salmon ~ Sept 22-27- Cost is $2699/person

Darrell Scott

There is an absence of light, before the light.  A simple bare stage in the waning gloaming, and I can see Darrell make his way to a lone microphone.  He is here to shine that light on matters of the heart─the grit, grease, gristle, and most importantly, the marrow beneath the breastbone.

And what is the path that shapes us as we go along, those true defining moments without which we would be hollow versions of our current selves?  For Darrell, it was coming from a musical family with a father who had him smitten with guitars by the age of 4, alongside a brother who played Jerry Reed style as well.  From there, things only ramped up with literature and poetry endeavors while a student at Tufts University, along with playing his way through life.  This would never change.

When those hands of his make their way across the strings and fretboard, there is palpable loss of air in the theater, as the listeners, our feet and bodies firmly on the ground, watch his sonic wings take him upwards in flight, and realize we are as along for the ride through the skies as he is.  Inevitably, to feel this being channeled, privy to this shared physical space, is both heady and inspiring.  Small are the number of things in life which allow us to be so deeply immersed and mesmerized by a moment that we are unable to even be aware of the rest of the world humming and whirring away outside.  This is Darrell Scott terra firma, where he takes us, with these otherworldly gifts.

The wordsmithing and craftsmanship of the songs that become timeless─although a lost cause for many who try to write them─ is far from a dying art, thanks to Darrell’s work.  He is more so existing creatively at levels we just don’t fathom anymore.

He mines and cultivates the everyday moment, taking the rote, menial, mundane, and allowing it to be surreal, ever poignant, and candidly honest, lilting, blooming, and resonating. The words he fosters allow us to make sense of the world, what is at stake here, and our place in it. And ultimately, Darrell knows the sole truth of life is that love is all that matters, that we don’t always get it right, but that’s the instinctive and requisite circuitous allure of things, why we forever chase it, and why it is held sacred.

2017 and 2018 Darrell opened for and performing with the Zac Brown Band, these days find him roaming his Tennessee wilderness acreage hiking along the small river, playing music, or sharing each day with the woman he loves, also an artist in her own right.   He often leads songwriting workshops to help people tell their own truths with their stories, and is as busy as always writing, producing, performing, and just plain fully immersing himself at the hips in life.

If one really opens their eyes and sees how incomparably varied in surreal depth and breadth the musical territory he is both delving into and setting the high water mark with,  it leaves the rest in a bewildered wash of gravel road dust and fading taillights.  For good luck finding that two-legged soul who walks around among us who can keep up with him─ain’t gonna happen.

– Nathaniel Riverhorse Nakadate

RainSong Guitars Sponsorship

Middle Fork River Expeditions have partnered with RainSong guitars and they allow our musicians to play in the wilderness and not worry about damaging their own super pricey guitars.  Plus these guitars sound amazing!  Most woods show increasing damping with frequency, making the highest notes sound muddy. Carbon fiber’s damping is almost constant across the acoustic spectrum resulting in a full range of sound — from a treble that rings with crystalline clarity to a bass that is warm without being muddy. And, because of Projection Tuned Layering’s uniform stiffness, the RainSong acoustic sound is impeccably balanced and very, VERY loud. Once you have heard the classic carbon sound you’ll recognize it anywhere, as distinctive as anything on earth.

Check out this great article on Carbon Fiber guitars:)


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