Meet the Coon Holler Music Instructors
Judy Green is the owner and operator of Coon Holler Music Studio, located in rural Clinton, Indiana. Her story begins with early childhood memories of being surrounded by wonderful friends and family making music together. As a small girl in the late 1940’s, she remembers standing on a Coca-Cola box to reach the microphone during her grandpa’s radio show in Kentucky. She also recalls many joyful weekend gatherings, where friends and family played their stringed instruments and sang bluegrass and gospel tunes. In Judy’s words, “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to sing harmony. It was just something we all did. There was always a crowd of folks around, listening and talking and enjoying the fellowship, food and music that would go on into the wee hours of the morning.”
There were many people who influenced Judy's musical talent and interests.. Her maternal grandfather played guitar and sang with well-known artists and gospel groups during that time, often performing in famous venues such as Renfrow Valley and The Grand Ol’ Opry. Judy’s grandmother was also a talented singer, and Judy’s mother played guitar and sang as the oldest child in the family’s gospel group. Judy's father was a barbershop singer, and he recalled his own father always had a guitar standing in the corner of his barbershop, where he would give a shave and a haircut and a song.
Judy’s career as a Wabash Valley musician began when she was around ten years old, singing with her sisters in a gospel trio for churches and gatherings in and around Riley, Indiana. Throughout her teens and early adulthood, Judy sang and played guitar with many talented Wabash Valley musicians and bluegrass bands. She had the opportunity to travel with a career in music, but chose instead to focus on raising a family. Many years passed, and after her children had grown and she became the very first female driver in the country to retire from UPS, Judy was determined to use her extra time to make as much music as possible. At first, she reluctantly agreed to give a few guitar lessons, but it didn’t take long before her local music connections and love of playing and singing drew people of all ages to the beautiful log home that she and her husband had built together on Coon Holler Road. This was the beginning of Coon Holler Music Studio, where her earliest memories would come full circle, and once again people of all ages would gather to learn, play, and sing together, sometimes late into the night.
Fast forward more than fifteen years and Judy is busier than ever, teaching, jamming, and performing with her students and friends of all ages. She feels being able to play and sing with so many different people, bridging the gap between young and old, is a wonderful gift that she is happy to share.
Richard Riggs has been a Coon Holler Music instructor for over ten years. He specializes in banjo, guitar, and mandolin. During Coon Holler shows, you can almost always find him with Judy on stage, standing behind the kids playing lively banjo licks and managing the sound equipment. In his own words…
"I was born in Shelburn, Indiana. I grew up on a farm where I shared responsibilities with three brothers. After graduating from North Central High School, I attended Indiana State University, where I received a BS degree. I then took a position at CBS Records in Terre Haute. During this time, I continued to farm with my Dad until he retired from farming. I relocated to a new CBS facility in Carrollton, Georgia, when the Terre Haute plant closed in 1982. Bluegrass music was very popular in Georgia. I quickly joined a local bluegrass group and played many festivals throughout Georgia and Alabama during the three year stay in Georgia.
Music was always part of my life growing up. My mother was an accomplished pianist and violinist. She also played guitar and accordion. My oldest brother won three state championships playing accordion when he was eleven years old. My Dad played guitar and enjoyed singing country songs.
I started playing guitar when I was a senior in high school. I began learning to play the banjo when I was 24 years old, and I am still learning. During the last forty years, I have played in several bluegrass bands, including “Back Porch,” “Shifting Sands,” “Shady River Band,” and most recently, “Blue Moon.”
Playing music has provided me many opportunities to meet interesting people and to attend festival and events too numerous to list. My most exciting experience was playing in a bluegrass band during half time at an Atlanta Hawks basketball game in Atlanta, Georgia."