Old Time Week Staff - July 23-29, 2017
Erynn Marshall | www.dittyville.com
Old-Time Music & Dance Week Coordinator Erynn Marshall is an old-time fiddler well-known nationally and beyond for her traditional music. She learned the nuances of old-time fiddling from visiting 80-95 year-old southern fiddlers. Her fieldwork culminated in the book, Music in the Air Somewhere about West Virginia fiddle and song traditions (WVU Press). Erynn teaches and performs at festivals and music camps around the globe and has appeared in three films – Voices of Virginia, The Clifftop Experience and I’ll Fly Away Home. Erynn won 1st place fiddle at Clifftop, the Appalachian Stringband Festival and was the first woman and person born outside the US to do so. For 5 years she directed the concert series and assisted in the curation of the Roots of American Music museum at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA where she still lives. In 2016, Erynn released her her 6th recording, the CD, Greasy Creek, featuring all original tunes. She tours with Carl Jones, the Bow Benders and the Galax Bogtrotters.
Phil Jamison | www.philjamison.com
Founding Coordinator of Old-Time Music & Dance Week, Phil is nationally-known as a dance caller, musician, and flatfoot dancer. Since the early 1970s he has been calling dances and performing and teaching at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas, including more than thirty years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as traditional dance consultant. From 1982 through 2004, he toured and played guitar with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, and he also plays fiddle and banjo. A longtime proponent of traditional Southern square dancing, in 2004, he co-founded Dare To Be Square!, a weekend workshop for square dance callers. Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2015. Phil teaches mathematics and Appalachian music at Warren Wilson College, and in 2008, he became the twelfth recipient of the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement.
James Leva | www.jamesleva.com
James Leva has been fiddling for over forty years and learned from older fiddlers, especially Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, Burl and Sherman Hammons, and Art Stamper. He has performed at major festivals and taught at music camps throughout North America and Europe and has performed with musicians such as Ritchie Stearns, John Doyle, Bruce Molsky, Dirk Powell, Danny Knicely, Riley Baugus and many others. He has recorded some twenty albums with various groups including Plank Road, Ace Weems and the Fat Meat Boys, Hellbenders, Renegades, Purgatory Mountain and Jones & Leva. James has explored the Celtic and West African roots of Appalachian music with musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Mali, Guinea and Senegal and currently performs with his daughter Vivian and Al Tharp (formerly of Plank Road and Beausoleil). James also has taught guitar, banjo, harmony vocals, and songwriting at various camps.
Earl White | www.fiddlersjam.com
Fiddling Earl White has been a mainstay in the old-time, folk and dance community for more 45 years. An original and founding member of the famed Green Grass Cloggers, he is one of few black Americans preserving and playing Appalachian old-time string band music, which was an intricate part of black communities and formed the foundation of American music of today. Earl White is well-known for his extensive repertoire of tunes, and his heartfelt, syncopated, driving style. He has played in numerous old-time stringbands, and he currently leads the “Earl White String Band”, featuring Mark Olitsky (banjo), Adrienne Davis (guitar), and Joseph Dejarnette (bass).
Dan Gellert started playing and singing at hootenannies during the folk-song boom of the early 1960’s, and soon became obsessed with old music, old musicians, and old recordings. Thankful to have survived long enough to be officially called old himself, he continues to have a luminous good time being a musical reactionary, and an amateur musician in the most literal sense. He’s never been a full-time professional, but has performed and taught at venues throughout the US for over 40 years.
John Herrmann | www.myspace.com/newsouthernramblers
John has been traveling the world playing old-time music for over forty years. He plays fiddle with the New Southern Ramblers, but he has performed with many bands including the Henrie Brothers (1st place Galax, 1976), Critton Hollow, the Wandering Ramblers, One-Eyed Dog and the Rockinghams. Equally adept on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and bass, he is known as the “Father of Old-Time Music” in Japan(!), and the originator of the ‘slow jam.’ John has been on staff at numerous music camps from coast to coast. He lives in Madison Co., NC.
Kirk Sutphin | www.old97wrecords.com
Kirk Sutphin grew up in Walkertown, North Carolina, heavily exposed to traditional music of the region from the Round Peak fiddle styles of Surry County to the banjo picking of Charlie Poole. Throughout his life, Kirk has made an effort to visit with countless older musicians of the area and has learned tunes from many musicians born around the turn of the 20th century. Kirk is an exceptional fiddler whose sound is often compared to that of Tommy Jarrell. He is also an excellent banjo player in both clawhammer and fingerpicking styles. Kirk continues to be a proponent of western North Carolina mountain music through performances with numerous musicians in the area and his many traditional recordings.
Sheila Kay Adams | www.sheilakayadams.com
A seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina, an area renowned for its unbroken tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing dating back to the early Scottish, Scots/Irish and English settlers in the mid-17th century. In September, 2013, she received the nation’s highest award for the arts, The National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award which recognizes folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America’s culture for future generations. In 2016, Sheila received the North Carolina Heritage Award, the state’s highest award for the arts.
Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians in southwestern Virginia, tagging along to fiddlers conventions across the southern Appalachians throughout his childhood. After he began playing old-time music as a teenager, Ben was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to spend a year immersed in traditional music communities in Ireland and West Africa, studying the historic heritage of the fiddle-banjo duet. A passionate educator living in Asheville, NC, Ben works as an elementary school science instructor and traditional music teacher. He gives banjo and fiddle lessons to young people through the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program and to students at Warren Wilson College, and he has also taught at the Augusta Heritage Center and the John C. Campbell Folk School. When he’s not playing old-time music, Ben enjoys flatfooting and calling square dances.
Dave Keenan | www.davekeenan.com
David Miles Keenan writes music for films, plays telecaster in three country bands, banjo and fiddle in a Bluegrass band, mandolin in a celtic/klezmer band and sings in all of them. Dave spends his summers teaching at music camps and doing musical theater year-round. His style of old-time back up on guitar is both exciting and unique – combining elements of clawhammer and honky-tonk to frame a tune in unexpected ways. Be sure to play some tunes with him!
Kari Sickenberger | www.karisickenberger.com
Kari Sickenberger, a singer and songwriter from Asheville, NC, founded the band, Polecat Creek with her longtime singing partner, Laurelyn Dossett, and they have made three recordings with banjo player Riley Baugus. She plays with Vollie McKenzie in The Western Wildcats, a classic country and honky-tonk dance quintet, and has also worked with Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz, and Alice Gerrard. She recently recorded her first solo CD, Settle Down, which includes western NC musicians Natalya Weinstein, John Cloyd Miller, John Herrmann, Meredith McIntosh, and Trevor Stuart. Kari draws on her experience as a teacher to create a safe and encouraging environment for new and experienced singers alike.
John Hollandsworth | www.blueridgeautoharps.com
A native of Christiansburg in southwest Virginia, John grew up listening to friends and relatives play stringed instruments, and he developed his own autoharp style incorporating both chromatic and diatonic techniques. John has performed and led workshops at the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering, the Willamette Valley Autoharp Gathering, Sore Fingers Summer School, Augusta, the John C. Campbell Folk School, and elsewhere. He has served as editor of the “Interaction Lesson” feature in Autoharp Quarterly magazine, and in 1991, he became the first champion of the prestigious Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering Competition. He has been named the “Best All-Around Performer” of the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention three times, the only autoharp player ever to win this recognition. In 2010, John was inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame.
Carl Jones | www.dittyville.com
Carl Jones is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Macon, GA, Carl presently lives in Galax, VA. He is widely respected for his instrumental talents and original songs about the joys and tribulations of day-to-day life in the South. Carl’s songs have been recorded by The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Kate Campbell, Rickie Simpkins with Tony Rice, and others. His song “Last Time on the Road” appears on the Grammy-award-winning album, Unleashed by the Nashville Bluegrass Band. In the 1980’s Carl played mandolin with James Bryan, Norman and Nancy Blake as part of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. Today he performs with his wife, fiddler Erynn Marshall, the Bow Benders and the Galax Bogtrotters. Carl is known for his fine musicianship, sense of humor, songwriting, and charismatic teaching.
Ron is a performer and scholar of the music of the Appalachian region. A founding member of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers, with whom he performed on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, Ron is also Professor of Music and Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of I Wonder As I Wander, a biography of folk icon John Jacob Niles. Ron began fiddling thirty years ago in Rockbridge County, VA and has since participated in various workshops and festivals across the region including Hindman Settlement School’s Folk Week, Augusta’s Old-Time and Singing weeks, Berea’s Christmas Dance School, and many times at Swannanoa. He has also performed music across the globe with the Red State Ramblers and recently shared shape note singing with Sufi chant in Lancashire, England.
Joe Newberry | www.joenewberry.me
Known around the world for his banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a powerful guitarist, singer and IBMA Award-winning songwriter. A frequent guest on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, he was recently a featured singer on the Transatlantic Sessions tour of the United Kingdom. In addition to solo work and teaching, he plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, sits in the banjo chair with old-time music legends Mike Craver, Bill Hicks, and Jim Watson, and also performs with the dynamic fiddler and stepdancer April Verch.
Kenny Jackson | www.kennyjacksonmusic.com
Kenny Jackson has been called “one of the finest old-time musicians active today” (Gail Gillespie), and “a fiddler’s fiddler whose playing has depth, nuance, and layers of subtlety along with fire” (Erynn Marshall). Inspired early on by the music at family gatherings in his grandparents’ Kentucky home, Kenny picked up guitar and then banjo while in his teens. However, once exposed to southern Appalachian old-time fiddling around 1979, it became his most passionate pursuit, and he spent some years absorbing the music in visits with elder musicians, and in many hours spent learning from the music of old-time fiddlers on field and old commercial recordings. As a result Kenny draws on a deep well of traditional music for his interpretations and new-made tunes. Since the mid-1980s, he’s performed at major festivals, concerts, broadcasts, and dances in the US and abroad with Leftwich, Higginbotham and Jackson, the Rhythm Rats, Big Medicine, and lately with the Bow Benders. Over the past 25+ years Kenny has taught many emerging old-time musicians in private lessons as well as at workshops and music camps around the US.
Clelia Stefanini has heard old-time music since birth. Her parents, Rafe Stefanini and Nikki Lee, took her to many music events where she assimilated the sound and true tone of this music. At 14, she decided she wanted to learn the fiddle, and Rafe was only happy to teach her. Now, 12 years later, Clelia has become one of the best traditional old-time fiddle players in the country. She has won top prizes in many fiddle and band contests all throughout the South, and has developed into an accomplished teacher as well. Clelia performs in a duo with her father, Rafe, and most recently recorded a CD with The Immigrant Band. Her fiddling has been described as “Zeus hurling musical thunderbolts from Mt. Olympus,” which only partly describes a musician that, although impactful and powerful, possesses a growing subtlety and nuance that betrays her young age and appearance.
Ellie Grace | www.leelaandelliegrace.com
Ellie was born into a deep musical tradition and began her life-long love affair with Appalachian clogging at the ripe old age of five. She has spent her life performing professionally as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and dancer, first as a young member of her family band and now as an independent artist. She has toured internationally with her sister duo (Leela & Ellie Grace), the Dirk Powell Band, the all-female old-time trio Blue Eyed Girl, and several percussive dance companies. Ellie is an experienced and dynamic teacher, having taught at camps, schools, and festivals across the country for well over twenty years. In 2015, Ellie was the first Appalachian clogger to graduate from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with an MFA in Dance. Ellie has recently had the joy of teaching at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, busily infecting the undergrads with her ridiculous love of traditional music and dance.
Adrienne Davis is a 12-year veteran of old-time style guitar. Her steadfast rhythm and defined bass runs are complementary in old-time ensembles, and secure a solid foundation for that old-time sound. Adrienne gained an interest in old-time music while squaredancing to the sounds the Foghorn String Band when living in Portland, Oregon. She later met Earl White and was introduced to a host of fine old-time guitar masters. She loves and emulates the sounds of various vintage guitar players. Adrienne also plays and teaches the banjo ukulele and advocates the rhythmic role of uke and guitar in old-time music.
Rafe Stefanini has been one of the foremost interpreters of American traditional mountain music on fiddle, banjo and guitar and song for nearly three decades, since his arrival to the US from his native Italy in 1983. The late Mike Seeger once called him “a national treasure.” Rafe’s work with bands like the Wildcats, L7s, Big Hoedown, Rockinghams and his current duo with daughter Clelia has taken him all around the US, Southeast Asia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Australia and many more places near and far. As a teacher he has been a staple at music events such as the Swannanoa Gathering, Ashokan Fiddle and Dance, and Augusta Old-Time Week. Rafe has judged and won numerous ribbons at the prestigious Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. He has produced an impressive catalog of recordings, many of them considered classics. Rafe and Clelia’s newest recording is a CD with The Immigrant Band (John Herrmann, John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary).
Gordy Hinners | www.myspace.com/newsouthernramblers
A veteran of the old-time music and dance scene, Gordy is known for his distinctive clawhammer style on the fretless banjo and his masterful rhythmic footwork as a clogger and buckdancer. He plays banjo with the New Southern Ramblers and for many years was a mainstay of the Green Grass Cloggers. Gordy has taught at workshops throughout the country, and has been a part of the Gathering since its inception. He lives in western NC, and teaches Spanish at Mars Hill University.
Don Pedi | www.donpedi.com
A spectacular mountain dulcimer player who can match the fiddle note-for-note on tunes, Don has been collecting, preserving and performing Appalachian music for more than four decades. He has spent most of his life working, playing music and living alongside old-time musicians in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, and he has developed a playing style that translates the older style fiddle and banjo tunes, ballads, and songs to the dulcimer, while maintaining traditional rhythms and stylistic sensibilities. He’s performed at many festivals across the country, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, and he played music and appeared in the film, Songcatcher.
Greg Canote | www.canote.com
Greg Canote has spent most of his musical life singing and playing with his twin brother Jere as The Canote Brothers. He has played hundreds of square dances with his brother and with dance icon Sandy Bradley (Small Wonder String Band). While his first love is old-time, over the years, he has also dipped his toes and fingers into bluegrass with Curly Maple, 1920’s tunes with Volunteer Park Conservatory Orchestra, ragtime with the Bing Bang Boys, country with El Rancho Cowboys, swing and honky-tonk with the Honky Tonk Review. For thirteen years, Greg and Jere were the affable, musical sidekicks on National Public Radio’s Sandy Bradley’s Potluck out of Seattle, and the two have led a successful, ongoing stringband workshop since 1983. Greg has been on staff at many festivals and workshops in the states, including: Old Time Week at the Swannanoa Gathering, the Augusta Heritage Workshops, Pinewoods, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and American Banjo Camp.
With a degree in music education and a great love for old-time music, Meredith is known as a patient and enthusiastic teacher & will make you laugh. A multi-instrumentalist who plays bass with the New Southern Ramblers & Bigfoot, Meredith has performed with Alice Gerrard, Balfa Toujours, The Freight Hoppers, The Bucking Mules and has recorded with a variety of people including Polo Burguiere, Dirk Powell, and Si Kahn. She lives in Asheville, NC where she is a certified Alexander Technique teacher and a licensed massage therapist.
Jere and twin brother Greg Canote have been performing together since childhood. With Greg on the fiddle and Jere on guitar and banjo, they have played for concerts, dances and musical events in forty-seven states and a few foreign countries. Jere also got bit by the banjo building bug, resulting in his own open-back 5-strings, minstrel banjos, pony, piccolo, and guitar banjos, and many banjo ukes! Jere says “I love the one-man-band quality of clawhammer banjo, and love to teach how to combine melody, chords, and rhythmic bounce into one happy sound.” In 2010, Jere released 5 String Circus, a collection of songs and tunes played on the Gold Tone Cello Banjo. Soon after, he released Uke Life, featuring flatpicking and clawhammer technique on the ukulele. For over thirty years, the twins have taught a thriving Seattle string band workshop and have been regular teachers at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, Portland Uke Fest and many more.
Rodney has been clogging for more than 45 years despite being told he would “never make a clogger.” He has taught workshops for beginners at camps around the country, so that no one else will be told, or led to believe, that they cannot “make a clogger.” These days Rodney is known mostly for his smooth flatfooting. He is also a caller, musician, storyteller, a veteran of the early days of the Green Grass Cloggers, and co-founder of the Fiddle Puppets (now known as Footworks). Over the years, he has traveled all across the US and in the British Isles, performing, teaching, and calling square and contra dances. Rodney also produces, outdoor festivals and concerts, and is currently Director of Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music Concerts in Boone, NC.
Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman has been involved with kids and music throughout her working life. She traveled for years with bands on the folk circuit, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. When not on the road she gives private cello lessons, and teaches music on the pediatric unit at Mission Hospital in Asheville as the Music Fellow for Arts for Life (www.aflnc.org), a non-profit that provides art and music activities to patients at North Carolina’s children’s hospitals. Melissa has taught music at Evergreen Community Charter School and Rainbow Community School in Asheville, and coordinated children’s programming at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) conference in Montreat, NC. In 2010 she was the music teacher for our Children’s Program, and it was ‘love at first Gathering.’ In 2014, Melissa took on the role of Children’s Program Coordinator, and now she looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.
Alice Gerrard | www.alicegerrard.com
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/musician, Alice Gerrard is a celebrated pioneer and legend in her own time. Known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dicken’s in the 1960’s and 70s, this duo produced four classic LPs and was a major influence and inspiration for scores of young women singers. She has recorded over twenty albums, been featured in two documentary films and founded the Old-Time Herald magazine. Her honors include a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society Tommy Jarrell Award, and the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award for lifetime achievement.
Lee Sexton was born in 1928 in Linefork, Kentucky. He and his wife Opal still live in Linefork about a hundred yards from his homeplace. He started playing banjo as soon as he was old enough to hold the instrument, and quit school after the eighth grade in order to earn his own way, first playing music and then working in the coal mines. His playing was featured in the square dance scene in Coal Miner’s Daughter. “Lee Sexton is one of the finest traditional old-time banjo players in the country.”– David Holt.
Thomas Maupin describes himself as a “self-taught buckdancer with a flatfoot style.” He has won First Place in the senior flatfooting competition at the Appalachian String Band Festival at Clifftop, WV, as well as the Silver Stars talent contest at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. A recipient of a Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award, Thomas was featured in a recent documentary film, Let Your Feet Do the Talkin’ and in 2013, he was inducted into American Clogging Hall of Fame. Joining him is his grandson, Daniel Rothwell, who plays banjo, sings, and tells stories. The two have been performing together since Rothwell was small, and they have appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, the Museum of Appalachia’s Fall Homecoming, Uncle Dave Macon Days, the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, and the National Folk Festival.
Ada & Jimmy McCown
Jimmy and Ada McCown are from Pikeville in eastern KY – an area renowned for its traditional music. Jimmy took up the six-string banjo (tuned like a banjo rather than guitar) and loves to play a spirited fiddle tune too. Ada has been playing guitar since 1970. They have traveled much with their music even playing on the Grand Ole Opry. Jimmy was close musical friends with the late Paul David Smith and Snake Chapman and plays many of their tunes. Jimmy and Ada will be joined by fiddler John Harrod (who has collected recordings from Kentucky musicians for decades) and Tona Barkley on guitar.
The Smith Family
The Smiths are one of the most musical families in Galax, VA. Snake (pictured) plays guitar, Richard the fiddle and Snake’s son Kyle-Dean plays 3-finger banjo. Traditional music has been passed down in this family for several generations and the Smith family played with or knew many revered older-generation musicians in the Blue Ridge including: Emmett Lundy, Luther Davis, Wade Ward, Tommy Jarrell, and others. It’s a rare opportunity to hear first-hand stories about some of these legendary players.