Come back soon for information on additional faculty members.

Dennis Willmott
Dennis Willmott is one of the most authentic blues guitarists and singers you’ll ever hear. His mastery of both acoustic and electric styles emanates from early experiences in the 1950’s listening to Leadbelly, Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and “Gatemouth” Brown.

By 1963 he was performing acoustic blues in the Piedmont tradition as well as the Delta and Texas twelve-bar style. Transitioning to the more urban style of electric blues in the early 1990’s, Dennis played with Big Joe Burrell in the last three years of his life and formed his own well-known band Left Eye Jump, which continues to perform all over Vermont.

Dennis has an encyclopedic knowledge of blues history and sub-styles which he conveys in an articulate and entertaining manner. He furthers his mission to bring the blues to more musicians and wider audiences by serving on the board of directors of the Vermont Blues Society.

Paul Asbell, guitars
From his early years playing blues on Chicago’s South Side to his present multi-faceted career based out of northern Vermont, Paul Asbell is a true “musician’s musician”. He has played and recorded with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, Lightnin’ Slim, Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay, Pops Staples, Donny Hathaway.

Moving to Vermont in 1971, Paul played and recorded with a diverse array of artists including Big Mama Thornton, singer-songwriters Paul Siebel, Jim Ringer, Mary McCaslin, and Rosalie Sorrells, and jazz greats Jon Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sonny StittNick Brignola.

Paul formed Kilimanjaro in 1978, recording 2 award-winning albums and touring internationallyIn 1981, Kilimanjaro joined with legendary saxophonist and singer, Joe Burrell to form Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues Band.

Paul has taught guitar for over 45 years. He currently teaches at Middlebury College and University of Vermont


Kenny B 

Kenny B was born in Harlem, NY and was surrounded by music from early childhood. He played piano from 4 to 8 years old and became a Funkateer at 9 when he started playing bass. Early influences were Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and Charles Mingus. In his teenage years Kenny spent time hanging out with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. That’s when he learned from Art that the rhythm section steers the band and a good strong rhythm section is always needed. 

Kenny played with James CottonKoko Taylor and Sleepy LaBeef. For the last 25 years Kenny has played with Luther “”Guitar Jr.”” Johnson, With Luther, Kenny performed in 12 countries from Canada to Europe, to the Pilsner Blues Fest and across 18 cities in Turkey, They also played extensively throughout the States, headlining and receiving co-billing with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Van Morrison, James Montgomery, Taj Mahal, Levon Helm and Junior Wells.

Of his life as a performer Kenny says, “I just love seeing people having a good time.”

To Be Announced, harmonica and vocals


Joe Moore, saxophones and vocals

“Wilson Pickett came to town and Joe Moore, who was in his early teens, hit the road blowing sax all over Florida and then beyond.“ Since then Joe has performed with Slim Harpo, Lee Moses and the showstoppers, AL “TNT” Dynamite Braggs, Junior Walker, Billy Stewart, Big Joe Burrell, Bo Diddley, Joe Lovano and Archie Shepp. Currently he plays with Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen and in his own Joe Moore Band.

Rob Zollman, drums / Retreat co-producer

A musician and educator for over 45 years, Rob Zollman began his career in the classical world as a student of legendary Philadelphia Orchestra Percussionist Michael Bookspan. Studies continued with jazz drummers Carl Mottola and Tom Cohen. Rob moved on to avant garde directions performing in the Harry Partch Ensemble and with Jamaaladeen Tacuma in New Music America. Rob has played in jazz, big band, blues, rock, Brazilian with the band Minas, klezmer and other ethnic music.

In Vermont since 2003, Rob plays in Enerjazz big band, The Handymen, The Silverbacks and occasionally in Left Eye Jump. He does pit work at the Paramount and Middlebury Town Hall Theaters. 

A passionate teacher, Rob’s mission is to offer music-making opportunities to anyone regardless of age and ability. Everyone can make music.

Rob wrote the book Whole Music Drumming after his studies with bassist and renowned educator Edwin Gordon. Past students include Ari Hoenig, Ken Every (Jacksonville Symphony), Gene Jackson (Herbie Hancock) and Mike Shapiro (Flora Purim).

HandsOnVT@gmail.com  802 247-2700
Brandon, Vermont
Creating community and educational programs since 1989