Middle Fork River Expeditions

2020 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 & Aug 6-11 Main Salmon

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.”


Eli West and Ben Winship Aug 16-21

Eli West is a Seattle-based multi-instrumental musician and interactive graphic designer. With an interest in angular phrasing and non-traditional improvisation within the historic precedents of bluegrass and old-time music, his playing both grounds and pushes the ensembles he is involved with.

Ben Winship is a self-made musician who has carved out a niche for himself behind the potato curtain* and under the radar of commercial music. His routine is a constantly shifting mix of performing, recording, engineering and teaching. Mandolin is Ben’s primary ax, but he is also a well respected songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist.

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!

Mike Blakely Sept 18-23 Middle Fork 

Mike Blakely is a three-time winner of Western Writers of America’s Spur Award – once for best western novel of the year, and twice for best western song of the year. As a singer/songwriter, Mike Blakely has released 13 albums, performed all over the U.S. and has made 16 tours to Europe. His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Gary P. Nunn, Red Steagall, Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo, Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros, 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 June 27- July 2

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.

Keith Greeninger- Main Salmon July 21-26

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.


David Roth- Main Salmon Aug 14-19

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.

Music Making with Joe and Hattie Craven – Main Salmon Aug 22-27

Joe and his 18 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.

18 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

Tom Kimmel and Michael Lille Main Salmon Sept 7-12

Singer-songwriter-poet Tom Kimmel‘s songs have been recorded by a host of Grammy-winning artists, including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Levon Helm, Linda Ronstadt, Dianne Reeves, Art Garfunkel and Randy Travis. A soulful, funny and inspiring performer in his own right, Tom‘s as vibrant and creative as ever in his sixth decade of music making.

Michael Lille is an award winning singer/songwriter who has traveled the globe for over four decades sharing his music and love of adventure with friends and fans. A winner (along with Kimmel) of the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Award as well as winning First Place in the Telluride Troubadour competition, Lille has opened for acts as diverse as Bob Dylan and Little Feat, and his albums have featured Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Bonnie Raitt guitarist George Marinelli.

Fast friends since 1993 (and, along with Tom Prasada-Rao, members of the trio The Sherpas) Tom and Michael have shared whitewater river adventures in Nepal, Bhutan, Costa Rica, France, Mexico and the Grand Canyon. This is their first co-hosted trip for Middle Fork River Expeditions and they couldn’t be more excited about it!

Ellis Paul- Main Salmon Sept 15-20

Some artists document their lives through their music. Others chronicle their times. It’s a rare artist who can do both, telling their own story through songs that also encapsulate the essence of people and places who have helped define their era overall. Woody Guthrie comes to mind, and so does Bob Dylan. Bruce Springsteen certainly as well. Yet few others, for whatever genius they may possess, can relate their own history to the history experienced by those who find that common bond, be it in a coming of age, living through the same realities or sharing similar experiences.

Ellis Paul is one of those gifted singer/songwriters. Though some may refer to him as a folk singer, he is more, for lack of a better word, a singular storyteller, a musician whose words reach out from inside and yet also express the feelings, thoughts and sensibilities that most people can relate to in one way or another, regardless of age or upbringing. The exhilaration of the open road. A celebration of heroes. The hope for redemption. Descriptions of those things that are both near and dear. The sharing of love…, intimate, passionate and enduring.


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.

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