Erynn Marshall is a fiddler known internationally as a performing artist and for her knowledge of fiddle traditions. Erynn learned the nuances of Appalachian old-time fiddling from her visits with 80-95 year-old southern fiddlers. Erynn and music-partner/husband Carl Jones, have performed across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and China. She has won blue ribbons at Clifftop and Mt Airy fiddlers’ conventions, written one book, produced several recordings and appeared in five films. Erynn is Coordinator of Old-Time Music & Dance Week and has directed music programs at the Blue Ridge Music Center (Galax, VA) and Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) a non-profit organization that helps children learn traditional music in afterschool programs.
April Verch is perhaps best known for her step-dancing and for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley (Ontario, Canada), but her performances include old-time American, classic country and beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of traditional sounds. April has released fourteen albums, an instructional step-dance DVD, a book of original fiddle tunes, and a Canadian Fiddle Tune teaching method for Mel Bay. She’s been touring full time and internationally since 2000, and is in demand for her enthusiastic, clear and concise teaching abilities at music camps far and wide.
Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians in the Virginia mountains. A passionate educator and community builder, he has worked as an elementary school science instructor, naturalist, traditional music teacher, and square-dance caller. Ben has taught music and dance at Warren Wilson College, the Junior Appalachian Musicians program (JAM), and traditional music camps throughout the U.S. He is a founding member of the prize-winning young string band The Moose Whisperers, and was a Thomas J. Watson Fellow in 2005.
Founding Coordinator of Old-Time Music & Dance Week, Phil is nationally-known as a dance caller, flatfoot dancer, and old-time musician on banjo, fiddle, and guitar. He has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and abroad, including over forty years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers and twenty-two years with Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard & the New Southern Ramblers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant. 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 for many years on Appalachian dance, resulting in his book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance. A 2017 inductee to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, Phil teaches traditional Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College.
Mike “Lightnin’” Wells was raised in eastern North Carolina and began his interest in and love for old-time and traditional music nearly 50 years ago. He has worked extensively with traditional artists such as Big Boy Henry, Algia Mae Hinton and John Dee Holeman and is recognized in the U.S. and abroad as one of the finest practitioners of traditional blues. His latest CD, O Lightnin’ Where Art Thou received rave reviews in Living Blues magazine and features Piedmont and Delta blues, mountain and hillbilly tunes, and songs from the American songbag. Lightnin’ is also one of the finest ukulele players in the state of North Carolina and he’ll be sharing his skills and expertise on this small but mighty instrument this year during Old Time Week.
Eddie was born in Galax, VA and learned the old style of Appalachian singing and playing from friends and neighbors. His maternal grandmother taught Eddie to flat-foot and play the guitar. Grandpa Bond played guitar and sang duets with Eddie’s Grandma who played autoharp and taught Eddie many of the old mountain ballads. Great-uncle Leon Hill took Eddie to visit many mountain fiddlers and musicians who would visit Uncle Leon’s house in return. Eddie has won first place in Fiddle, Banjo, and Autoharp at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention as well as many other contests, and in 2018, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship, our nation’s highest honor for a folk artist. Currently, Eddie teaches the next generation of old-time musicians at the local high school of Grayson County, VA.
Adam grew up in northern California, and was exposed to old-time, acoustic blues, bluegrass and early country music in his early teens. Proficient on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals, Adam draws his greatest inspiration from early 78rpm discs and field recordings. He has toured in both the US and Europe as a member of The Crooked Jades, The Hunger Mountain Boys, The Twilite Broadcasters, and most recently, The Vaden Landers Band. He has taught old-time fiddle, guitar and mandolin at the Swannanoa Gathering, Mars Hill College Blue Ridge Old-Time Week, Augusta Heritage Old-Time Week, The Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop and Mike Compton’s Monroe Mandolin Camp. He’s made eight recordings and written an e-book on old-time mandolin entitled Shuffle of the Pick, available in Apple iBooks and Amazon. Adam is currently on staff at East Tennessee State University’s, Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music program.
Cary Fridley is an Appalachian singer, instrumentalist and innovative educator. Born in the Virginia mountains, Cary began playing the banjo at a young age. In the 90’s, she joined the Freight Hoppers, singing and playing traditional old-time guitar. During her six years with the group, they produced three albums and toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. She’s a familiar face on the Asheville music scene with her own country band and as a freelance bassist. She has three solo albums of traditional songs and tunes and is a member of the Fine Arts Faculty at AB-Tech in Asheville. She teaches old-time music at three regional JAM (Junior Appalachian Musician) programs in Buncombe, Haywood and Madison counties, and offers traditional music classes for adults at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts and the Folkmoot Center in Waynesville, NC. She has a Masters in Music Education from UNCG and has taught at Mars Hill Old-Time Music Week, LEAF, Dusty Strings Traditional Workshops in Seattle, WA, and at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV.
Elizabeth LaPrelle is a scholar and singer of Appalachian ballads from Rural Retreat, VA. She built her style and repertoire from mentors like Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, family and friends, and research into archival recordings. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary with a major in Southern Appalachian Traditional Performance, and now tours the US regularly performing and teaching. She’s also a banjo player, and a visual and interdisciplinary artist.
Hailing from Big Stone Gap, VA, Tyler Hughes has been practicing Appalachia’s musical and dance traditions for over a decade. A multi-instrumentalist, square-dance caller and educator, Tyler’s music draws on his own family’s history in the Virginia coal mines to tell the stories of resilient people and places. He has performed on such stages as the historic Carter Family Fold, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and WSM’s Grand Ole Opry.
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 began fiddling fifty years ago in Rockbridge County, VA and has since participated in various workshops and festivals across the region including Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Family Folk Week, Augusta’s Old-Time and Singing weeks, Berea’s Christmas Dance School, The Dulcimer Homecoming, and many times at Swannanoa. He also performed music across the globe with the Red State Ramblers and collaborated on a social art project sharing shape-note singing with Sufi chant in Lancashire, England. He loves weekly participation in the Lexington and Berea weekly old time jams.
A singer and songwriter, Alice’s recordings with Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s influenced a generation of women musicians from Laurie Lewis to the Judds. Her songs have been recorded by Kathy Mattea, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Tatiana Hargreaves and Allison deGoot, and Rhiannon Giddens, among others. One of our Master Music Makers, Alice was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame in 2017. A documentary film about Alice, You Gave Me a Song, premiered at the Full Frame Independent Film Festival in 2019.
Kari has been coaching and leading singing classes and workshops since 2004. With NC artist Laurelyn Dossett, she is a founding member of the original roots country band, Polecat Creek, and with musical partner, Vollie McKenzie, she sings country and honky-tonk in various configurations. She has toured widely, recorded four albums, and has toured and recorded with WV musicians Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz. She draws on her experience as a Spanish and English teacher and her lifelong love for and experience with traditional and original roots music to create a safe and encouraging teaching environment for new and experienced singers alike.
Vollie McKenzie is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter and a fixture on the Asheville music scene, delighting audiences and dance floors with his playing and singing. He has played in various swing bands, old-time groups and with Kari Sickenberger in one of Asheville’s favorite local bands, The Western Wildcats, performing vintage country and honky-tonk classics. In his home state of SC, Vollie played in several duos opening for Doc Watson at the Quarter Moon in Columbia and at the Charleston Folk Concert Series.
Ellie Grace was born into a deep musical tradition and began clogging at the ripe old age of five. She has toured internationally as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and dancer. Ellie holds an MFA in Dance and has directed schools of folk music and dance in Missouri and North Carolina as well as being on faculty at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of North Carolina. With an undying commitment to using the performing arts to build community and lift others up, she leads a folk community chorus in Kansas City, MO. At the end of 2019, she released a highly-anticipated solo album of all original songs, On the Side of Love. In 2021, Ellie became a mama and is delighted to be bringing her kiddo to Swannanoa for the first time!
Jake Blount is a multi-instrumentalist and singer based in Providence, RI. He was the recipient of the 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize, and has placed first in the Traditional Band and Banjo contests at Clifftop. A specialist in traditional Black folk music, Blount has released two full-length albums to widespread critical acclaim, most recently, The New Faith, as part of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ African American Legacy Series.
Beverly Smith is a singer, songwriter and dance caller who plays fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar. Praised for her recordings of early country duets with Carl Jones, Alice Gerrard and John Grimm, her guitar playing has been featured on recordings by fiddlers Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Tara Nevins and Matt Brown, and her singing with Mick Moloney, John Doyle, Laurie Lewis and others. A founding member of The Heartbeats Rhythm Quartet, she’s also played with Big Hoedown and The Rockinghams. She’s taught guitar, fiddle, singing and dance at camps throughout the US, UK, Finland, Canada and Spain and co-directs the Roots of American Music Week at Mars Hill. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, E-Town, Mountain Stage and Voice of America, and was featured in the October 2000 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
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.
Gordy Hinners, known for his driving fretless banjo style and his masterful, rhythmic flatfooting, has been performing traditional Appalachian music and dance for over 40 years. He spent many years touring with the well-known and influential dance company, the Green Grass Cloggers, and for over 20 years with the New Southern Ramblers and master fiddler and National Heritage Fellow, Ralph Blizard. He has won many awards for both his dancing and banjo playing, and has participated in every edition of our Old Time Week but one.
Janie Rothfield is an American fiddler, clawhammer banjo and guitar player who is widely recognized for her inventive style, her groove and award-winning original tunes. She is a full-time touring musician playing concerts, workshops, festivals, and dances around the world and online. She has taught fiddle, banjo and guitar at many music camps including Janie’s Jumpstart, Midwest Banjo Camp, Great Lakes Music Camp, Fiddle Hell, Mandolin Camp North, Banjo Camp North, John C Campbell Folk School, Swannanoa Gathering Old-Time Week, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, FOAOTMAD (UK) Music Camps and more!!
Emily Schaad is known for a complex and powerful fiddling style and has taken first place in numerous stringband and fiddle contests, including the Appalachian Stringband Music Festival in Clifftop, WV. Emily came to the music of the southern Appalachians as a classical violist and string teacher, and once the archaic and driving sound of the fiddle and banjo found her, she never looked back. Originally from the Hudson Valley of New York, she relocated to western NC to study Appalachian culture and music at Appalachian State University. She was fortunate enough to spend time visiting with such old-time music greats as Clyde Davenport, Benton Flippen, Joe Thompson, and Chester MacMillian. She is currently on the music faculty of Clemson University.
Becky Hill is a percussive dancer, choreographer and square dance caller, currently seeking her MFA in Dance at the University of Maryland. She has studied with many percussive dance visionaries, organizes Helvetia Hoot, and was a U.S. State Department OneBeat Fellow in 2018. She performs with the T-Mart Rounders, calls square dances and teaches throughout the country.
Hubby Jenkins is a talented multi-instrumentalist who endeavors to share his love and knowledge of old-time American music. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he delved into his southern roots, following the thread of African American history that wove itself through America’s traditional music forms. As an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later the Rhiannon Giddens band, Hubby has performed at festivals and venues worldwide, earning himself Grammy and Americana Award nominations. Today he shares his knowledge and love of old-time American music through his dynamic solo performances and engaging workshops.
Over the last thirty years, Stephen Seifert has been a featured mountain dulcimer performer and instructor at hundreds of dulcimer festivals and other music events including Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta, John C. Campbell, Ozark Folk Center, Walnut Valley Festival, Palestine Old-Time and Dulcimer Festival, and many more. He was Adjunct Instructor of Mountain Dulcimer with David Schnaufer at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music from 1997 to 2001. While he plays all kinds of music, he’s spent a large portion of his life trying to learn old-time tunes from old recordings and in-person on a variety of traditional instruments. For old-time, using a number of tunings, he likes playing melody-drone style both with and without a noter. Most recently he’s been one of the five coordinators of QuaranTune, a four-day festival that takes place entirely online three times a year featuring dozens of instructors and performers from all over the world. Stephen has authored ten books, four CDs, and hundreds of instructional videos.
Cary grew up in Greensboro, NC in a family of musicians. He began playing guitar at age 12, joined his first band at 15, and began giving guitar lessons while still in high school. Cary performs a variety of American string-band genres including old-time, blues, and swing, and is proficient on guitar, four-string banjo, and harmonica. He has won many ribbons for guitar, harmonica, and singing and is the author of How to Play Old-Time Fiddle Tunes on Harmonica. His recordings include Papa Charlie Done Sung That Song: A Tribute to Papa Charlie Jackson, and most recently, North Carolina Breakdown: Old-Time Fiddle Tunes on Harmonica.
Travis began playing the banjo as a teen in Haywood County, NC. A respected multi-instrumentalist known for his rich style and accompaniment,he’s especially known for his banjo/fiddle duets with his late brother Trevor. He learned from old-time masters like the Smathers family, Oscar “Red” Wilson, Snuffy Jenkins, Byard Ray and Tommy Hunter, and has toured throughout the US and several foreign countries as a member of several bluegrass and old-time bands. He appears on a number of recordings, teaches in the old-time music program at ETSU and has led the Haywood County JAM for many years.
Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman is involved with kids and music in all the many facets of her working life. She has taught music to elementary students at Asheville charter schools and coordinated children’s programming at regional music conferences. Her main gig is as a musician on the folk/indie circuit with The Moon and You, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. She is also the Music Teacher for the Asheville chapter of Arts for Life (artsforlifenc.org), a non-profit providing art and music programming for patients in NC’s major children’s hospitals and outpatient clinics. In 2016 Melissa founded Arts For Life’s Heartbeat Sessions program (heartbeatses- sions.org), in joyful collaboration with Echo Mountain Recording Studios and many talented members of the Asheville music community. Melissa looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa, leading a ragtag crew of amazing kids and counselors on adventures through space and time. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.
GUEST MASTER ARTISTS
Joyce and Jim Cauthen have played old-time music since the mid-’70s. Joyce is the author of With Fiddle and Well-Rosined Bow: The History of Old-Time Fiddling in Alabama, and the two have contributed tunes for the album Possum Up A Gum Stump: Home, Field, and Commercial Recordings of Alabama Fiddlers.
WV native, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and dance-caller, Mack is a winner of the Vandalia Award, WV’s highest honor for the preservation of traditional music and life. He has always been active in traditional music and continues a busy schedule with the Samples Brothers Band.
Bruce Greene, fiddle, and Don Pedi, mountain dulcimer, have been friends and musical partners for more than twenty years, working, playing music, and living alongside old time country musicians in NC, TN, and KY. They love the old fiddle tunes, and will share music and stories of several musicians they got to know.
Mac Traynham and Shay Garriock are an old-time duo specializing in the traditional banjo and fiddle music of Southwest VA. They have won numerous contest prizes, as individuals and also together in various stringbands.
After a trip to Mt. Airy in 1979, Andy immersed himself in traditional music with musicians in NC, VA, WV, KY and TN, playing banjo with Earnest East and the Pine Ridge Boys and Patsy for over a decade. Joseph Decosimo, who learned from Charlie Acuff, Clyde Davenport, and other older players, will be joining Andy.