Professors who rock

David Sumner 

assistant professor of English and environmental studies

From Left: Joel Kiff, David Sumner, Rob Higgins and Julie Siepman form the band Yamhillbillies.

Photo courtesy of the Yamhillbillies


Sumner entered the musical world at a young age taking piano lessons. His parents were more fond of the idea than he was.

“I hated it,” Sumner said.

Eventually, his parents came to the conclusion that piano was not the right fit and allowed him to get his instrument of choice: guitar.

“I’ve been playing music on my own ever since then,” Sumner said.

Now, Sumner has an 18-year-old son who shares his musical abilities.

“He’s a fiddler and a mandolinist,” Sumner said.

Father and son, along with friend and banjoist, Joel Kiff, held jam sessions in their living room. However, their jam sessions began to move out of the living room and into the public eye.

“We did a few open nights at Cornerstone,” Sumner said. “Then people started asking us to play longer sets.”

Now, Sumner is part of the Yamhillbillies, a bluegrass group comprised of Kiff, stand-up bass player Rob Higgins, fiddler Julie Siepman and himself.

The Yamhillbillies have grown into a popular local band, playing gigs at the request of Harvestfest, Panther Creek Wines and local churches for events and fundraisers.

“We like to play music, and it’s fun,” Sumner said. “And we’re amateurs. We don’t sound as polished as a recorded band, but we’re having fun.”

Sumner still practices bluegrass with his son.

“The reason I play bluegrass and the reason I’m interested in it is because it’s cross generational,” Sumner said. “Music has always been a consistent part of my life and now I have a consistent outlet.”

The Yamhillbillies next performance will be at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the First Baptist Church for its silent auction.

Michael Huntsberger

Assistant professor of mass communication 

Michael Huntsberger, assistant professor of mass communication often brings his mandolin to his office to practice.

It is not uncommon to find Huntsberger toting his mandolin around campus or practicing in his office.

“It’s really cool to play an instrument that’s different, and one that’s portable too,” Huntsberger said. “I can take it home and bring it here, or take in on the road with me when I go to conferences.”

Although the mandolin has been a new pursuit of his, Huntsberger has earlier roots in music.

“I was in band since elementary and middle school,” Huntsberger said.

His musical pursuits took on a more serious note in college.

“I went to college in the ’70s at Evergreen State College,“ Huntsberger said. “My big venture was a three-piece rock ‘n’ roll power trio.”

Huntsberger, passionate about guitar since a young age, was the guitar player for the band.

“We were pretty serious about rehearsing,” Huntsberger said.

That was in 1981, and about nine months later the band broke up after the bass player moved out of state.

“Summer of that year, I started to develop a job at Evergreen as a radio station manager,” Huntsberger said. “Since then I’ve kind of dabbled.”

Today, Huntsberger uses his musical skills in radio productions and looks forward to the next jam session with other musically inclined professors at Linfield.


Chrissy Shane/Features editor

Chrissy Shane can be reached at

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