Making Bluegrass Happen®
The mission of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation is to preserve and promote the heritage of bluegrass music in America, with a focus on promoting bluegrass music in Texas. The Foundation seeks to educate the public about this distinctly American form of music with roots in Irish, Scottish, and English traditional music through educational programs and workshops, public performances of bluegrass music, historic preservation efforts, and other similar programs. The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation is a non-profit corporation organized under Texas law and recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We love making bluegrass happen!
Board of Directors
Alan W. Tompkins
Alan Tompkins is the founder and president of the Foundation. A native of western Kentucky, he’s an avid bluegrass fan and an established banjo and acoustic bass player. His solo album, No Part of Nothin’, was released in 2012. His love of music began at an early age, and he played southern gospel and country music extensively before and during his college years. With Gerald Jones, Alan co-founded the Frisco Bluegrass Festival (in Frisco, Texas; 2006-07) and Acoustic Music Camp, an annual instructional institute for traditional and acoustic musicians. In 2010, together with the City of Farmers Branch, Texas, Alan created the Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cook-Off, the largest bluegrass event in north Texas, which was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Bluegrass Event of the Year Award in 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2020.
Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in bluegrass music from Glenville State College as well as an associate degree in bluegrass and certificate in audio recording from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music. He is a graduate of the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass class of 2009, served on the Leadership Bluegrass Planning Committee from 2010-2018, and served as Committee Chair from 2011-2014. Alan received the IBMA Momentum Award for Industry Involvement in 2015, is a four-time nominee for IBMA’s Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year Award, and served on the IBMA board of directors from 2015-2019. He presently serves on the board of directors of the IBMA Foundation and the Professional Advisory Committee of the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music. For more, see AlanTompkins.com.
Alan is also Vice President & General Counsel of Unity Hunt, Inc. in Dallas where he manages legal matters for the Lamar Hunt family and affiliated entities. He moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1983 to earn an MBA from SMU and went on to become licensed as both an attorney and CPA in Texas. He has served on the boards of several charitable organizations including the National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum, AFI-Dallas International Film Festival, USA Film Festival, FC Dallas Foundation, Pegasus Theatre, Dallas Christian Leadership, and For The Love Of The Lake Foundation. Alan is a former chair of the State Bar of Texas Entertainment & Sports Law Section.
Gerald L. Jones
Gerald Jones, a native Texan, has been involved with the performance, production, and teaching of music for more than 30 years. He’s played live or recorded with Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Tanya Tucker, Grand Master Fiddle Champion Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, Hank Thompson, Red Steagall, and many others of many genres. Gerald edits Mel Bay’s web magazine Banjo Sessions and frequently contributed to Joe Carr’s web magazine Mandolin Sessions. Gerald is on the board of the Allegro Guitar Society, which presents classical guitar performances in Dallas, Fort Worth and Las Vegas. He also writes and performs many Allegro Guitar Society outreach programs each year. He invented the Acoustic Plus electronic banjo pickup used by Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, and others. A multi-instrumentalist on banjo, mandolin, guitar, violin and dobro, Gerald has won banjos at the Winfield Banjo Championship. Gerald co-founded the Frisco Bluegrass Festival and Acoustic Music Camp, an instructional institute for acoustic musicians. Plus he teaches at many other camps across the country each year. For more about Gerald, see TheGeraldJones.com.
Robert Hough is an intellectual property attorney in Dallas, Texas who has been playing and recording acoustic music for over 20 years. An Arkansas native, Robert studied business management and music technology at the University of Arkansas prior to earning his JD at SMU. Robert is an accomplished musician on guitar, piano, and percussion instruments, and spent time as a studio musician in college. Robert also served four years on the drumline of the Arkansas Razorback Marching Band.
While in college, Robert founded A-Zone Sound, an audio production company focused on creating custom music beds and voice-overs for the advertising and entertainment industries, and providing live sound, lighting, and staging solutions for clients across the nation. Robert served as the President and Chief Audio Engineer of A-Zone Sound for seven years.
Robert currently practices law in the advertising, sports, and entertainment industries, concentrating on legal issues in music, television, and film. Robert is also active in numerous outreach organizations around Texas, including Kairos Prison Ministry and the Dallas Ramp Project. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and shooting, and holds a Master class ranking as a pistol shooter in the United States Practical Shooting Association.
Mark Porter is a native of Montana who lived in Texas for three years and presently resides in Green Bay, Wisconsin with his wife Becky. He works as a senior marketing executive with the H. B. Fuller Company. Prior to moving to Texas in 2015, Mark spent 19 years as a high school, college, and Indoor Football Referee. After coming to Texas, he retired from football officiating and decided to pursue his other passion – music. Mark’s dad, Dean Porter, is a retired professional guitarist, and his grandfather Russell Porter was a nationally known banjo player. After sitting in on a few Texas bluegrass jams, Mark decided to hang up his guitar and start playing mandolin.
Mark presently serves as Social Media Manager for the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation and runs the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook group. He plays mandolin with both the Packerland String Band and a country band, Whiskeysense. Mark is Certified Guitar Repair Technician graduate of the Chicago School of Guitar Repair who recently became a Certified Wernick-Method Bluegrass Jam Instructor.
Julie R. Tompkins
Julie Tompkins is a veteran middle-school mathematics teacher who has served as the Foundation’s volunteer staffing coordinator and assistant event manager for the past several years. She regularly uses her artistic talents to assist in the design and creation of innovative products provided to Foundation contributors. Julie earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Dallas, her teaching certificate from Brookhaven College, and a certificate in marketing from the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at SMU. Julie loves working side-by-side with Foundation volunteers at bluegrass music events and getting to know new members of our extended bluegrass family.
Matthew P. Tessier
Matt Tessier, a lifelong Louisiana resident, has been involved in the bluegrass music community as a banjo player and vintage instrument collector for the past 20 years. Like many others, Matt started learning music on the piano at age six but became a banjo player at age 10 after discovering the music of Earl Scruggs. He has played with many local bands during his lifetime and was featured in the award-winning 2011 documentary short film Fanning the Fire produced by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. Matt has worked with the Foundation on nearly all its events as a stage and artist accommodation manager since 2013.
For the past five years Matt has worked for Cavender’s Boot City, based in Tyler, Texas, and presently manages their store in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is an avid watch collector who founded a Facebook group called the Accutron Collectors in 2017. The group has grown to a membership of 1500 and is now the largest Accutron-specific organization in the world.
Lucas A. White
Lucas White is a native Texan with over 20 years of experience in the music industry. Lucas started taking piano lessons at age 5 but quickly switched to fiddle after being introduced to bluegrass music by his grandfather at age 7. At 15, Lucas won the Texas State Flatpicking Championships and has since performed with the Tony Rice Unit, Mountain Heart, Sleepyman Banjo Boys, and the multi-GRAMMY® Zac Brown Band. Lucas has performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage and was featured in the award-winning 2011 documentary short film Fanning the Fire produced by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.
Since 2015, Lucas has been working in Washington D.C. leading music industry coalitions through the halls of Congress. He was a supporter of the Music Modernization Act that was signed into law in 2018 which requires streaming and internet services to pay royalties to songwriters and publishers. Lucas holds a bachelor’s degree in music business from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently completing a second degree with a major in business administration.
Former Board of Directors
Richard S. Tucker
Richard Tucker, a resident of Boulder, Colorado, is an arbitrator and a retired partner of the Texas-based law firm of Jackson Walker, LLP. He graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned his law degree at SMU. Richard served as the mayor of the Town of Argyle, Texas from 2001-07 and was responsible for the creation of the Argyle Bluegrass Festival. Richard was a founding board member and past president of The Foundation for Bluegrass Music, Inc., a tax-exempt organization affiliated with the International Bluegrass Music Association that is dedicated to fostering awareness of bluegrass music with a focus on youth and education. Richard has also been actively involved with organizations including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Symphony Association, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Foundation, and the Planning Commission of the City of Fort Worth.
Clifford G. Fitch
Cliff Fitch was a founding member of the board of directors of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation in 2008, and he re-joined the board in 2016. A native of east Texas and the builder of Fitch Banjos, Cliff has been active as a musician in bluegrass music since the age of 15. Cliff built 85 professional-grade 5-string banjos before retiring from his banjo-building business in 2009. He is a licensed funeral director and the owner of Fitch Mortuary Transportation, LLC, based in Azle, Texas. He has been married to his wife Paula since 1985. Cliff’s other interests include playing electric bass, restoring antique tube radios and Victrola phonographs, and restoring antique Winchester and Colt firearms.
Charlie R. Seraphin
Charlie Seraphin, who has lived and worked in eight states and two foreign countries, is among the more adventurous members of our board. Professionally, he’s managed radio news operations in five cities including Miami and San Francisco. He’s served as VP/General Manager of top-rated radio stations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Dallas. He spent 15 years in professional sports as chief marketing officer for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball, as Executive VP/General Manager of the NBA Development League Tulsa 66ers, and as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Hunt Sports in Dallas. Charlie also served three years as an adjunct professor at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
Charlie is now an author and guest speaker based in Payson, Arizona. His message is simple and direct, with strong emphasis on reflection and personal responsibility. His recent book, One Stupid Mistake–Smart Decision-Making in a Crazy World, is drawn from personal experience with deep roots in common sense. His favorite keynote speech to deliver is Making Good Decisions in a Crazy World, which outlines a simple formula for personal responsibility and success.
Charlie is the proud father of six adult children and two granddaughters. In his spare time, he continues his 40-year quest to learn to play the guitar – with marginal success. He enjoys telling stories, giving advice, and all kinds of music. For more about Charlie, see CharlieSeraphin.com.
Raleigh W. Newsam
Raleigh Newsam is an attorney in Dallas, Texas, where he practices construction, real estate, and intellectual property law. He earned an architecture degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree in management degree from MIT, and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. Born in New York City, he spent his youth in Long Island, New York and Clarksville, Tennessee. It was in Clarksville that he developed his love and enthusiasm for bluegrass and country music. Raleigh has been active with numerous charitable organizations in the north Texas area and is a former President of Dallas Christian Leadership.