Old-Time Week Coordinator Erynn Marshall is a 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 and wrote a book about them called, Music in the Air Somewhere (WVU Press). Her tunes are becoming common repertoire in fiddle circles and she is also a sought-after teacher. Erynn has performed at festivals and music camps around the globe with her husband, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Carl Jones. They are among the artists featured on the new 2021 recording Old-Time Sweethearts. Erynn has won blue ribbons at Clifftop and Mt Airy Fiddlers Conventions, recorded ten albums, and appeared in five films.
Rooted in southern Appalachian mountain tradition, Cary Fridley specializes in resonant, soulful singing and dance music, from old-time country to modern honky-tonk, blues, and jazz. A native of Covington, VA, she has been singing mountain songs all her life, and toured with the Freight Hoppers string band for six years. She currently performs in and around Asheville, NC, and teaches guitar, fiddle, and singing for the Junior Appalachian Musicians program.
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, Alice Gerrard and Carl Jones. 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.
Rick Good was a founding member of the Hotmud Family, a 24 year veteran of Rhythm in Shoes and a 2010 Ohio Heritage Fellow. He is recognized and respected for his driving banjo playing, heartfelt singing and crafty songwriting. With his wife and long-time collaborator, Sharon Leahy, Rick has made a life of creating critically acclaimed performance art rooted in American traditions. He currently plays with the bands Good & Young and The Elements.
2020 marks forty-eight years since Rodney first danced with the Green Grass Cloggers after first being told he would “never make a clogger”! He has shared his love of percussive dance in workshops for beginners around the country, so that no one else will be led to believe that they cannot dance. Known mostly for his smooth flatfooting, he is also a caller, musician, storyteller and co-founder of the Fiddle Puppets (now known as Footworks). He’s toured the US and the British Isles, performing, teaching, and calling square and contra dances. Rodney also produces, stage manages and emcees outdoor festivals and concerts and serves as the Director of Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music Concerts in Boone, NC.
Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians in southwestern VA and began playing old-time music as a teenager. Ben was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the trans-Atlantic roots of the fiddle and banjo in Ireland and West Africa. A passionate educator now living in Asheville, Ben works as an elementary school science teacher and traditional music instructor. He teaches old-time music and dance at Warren Wilson College and in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, and has taught at music camps across the southern Appalachians. Ben is also a member of the prize-winning stringband The Moose Whisperers – who he first met through the Young Old-Time program at Swannanoa!
Jeff is one of the founding members and main songwriters of the alt-trad-rock band, The Horse Flies, about whom the New York Times wrote: “The Horse Flies have figured out how to hold a hoedown in a physics lab.” He’s toured extensively; recorded on a major label; appeared on MTV, A Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered, Mountain Stage, E-Town and more, and performed and taught at numerous festivals, camps, schools, and concert series throughout the US. He has also co-composed and/or mixed music for over 25 feature and documentary films, most with his partner, Judy Hyman, and was featured in Acoustic Guitar magazine for his backup guitar playing. His songs and music have been used by film director Oliver Stone, Natalie Merchant, MTV’s Rock the Vote, and others.
Sharon Leahy is happy to have been a part of the old time community since her days as a Green Grass Clogger in 1979. Though dancing has been her main focus, she has steadfastly transferred that rhythm to guitar and bass and was a member of multiple winning bands at Clifftop. She has also won the Blue Ribbon in clogging both there and at the National Folk Festival at Wolftrap. Singing with her partner, Rick Good for over thirty-five years has taught her the give and take of vocal harmony, the buzz of a good blend and the soul lightening joy of voices joined.
John Harrod has been documenting, playing, and teaching Kentucky music for 45 years. Although he started out playing bluegrass in high school, he credits Mark Wilson and the late Gus Meade with introducing him to the world of traditional music that pre-dates bluegrass. With them he produced a series field recordings that are available from Rounder Records and the Field Recorders’ Collective. He has taught fiddle at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes, the Augusta Heritage Center, and Swannanoa Old- Time Week. He performs with Kentucky Wild Horse, a band that brings together many strands of Kentucky music including old-time songs and fiddle tunes, bluegrass, original songs, and hillbilly swing. His recordings include Spirits of the Lonesome Hills and Wild and Free with Kentucky Wild Horse, and a fiddle CD, Johnny Come Along.
Raised on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Joseph is recognized as a leading interpreter of the region’s rich fiddle, banjo, and song repertoire. Based in Durham, North Carolina, his fiddling and banjo playing can be heard on recordings by the Blue Ridge Broadcasters, the Rocky Creek Ramblers, and the prize-winning string band, the Bucking Mules. He studied under master musicians Clyde Davenport,Charlie Acuff, and Charlie McCarroll and he’s earned Blue Ribbons at the most prestigious fiddle contests around the South, including a National Old-Time Banjo Championship and a win in the Clifftop Fiddle Contest. Joseph holds a PhD in American Studies and an MA in Folklore, and has served on the faculty in ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies Program.
Charlie Hartness was mesmerized by old-time music at the 1994 Fiddle Tunes Festival in Port Townsend, WA, and Jere Canote will always be his ukulele oracle. Charlie has played uke with several fantastic string bands, including Tricia Spencer & Howard Rains & The Skeleton Keys, Hog-Eyed Man, Uncle Wiggily, Jimmy Triplett’s Sky Island Stringband, The Lizella Rockets, The Yam Family Band with Joyce and Jim Cauthen, and every day with his wife Nancy as the duo, Hawk Proof Rooster.
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 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. She received an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Smith College in May of 2015 and performs professionally as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and dancer. In addition to her time on faculty at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, Ellie has directed schools of folk music and dance in Missouri and North Carolina and been a master teacher at camps and festivals across the continent for over twenty years. In 2019, she released a solo album called On the Side of Love.
Karen Mueller is one of the top autoharp players in the world, and is an International Autoharp Champion and a member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame. Based in Minnesota, she tours across the US and in the UK, has recorded six critically-acclaimed solo recordings, and published three instructional books. A veteran of Swannanoa, Augusta, John C. Campbell Folk School, Ozark Folk Center, Sore Fingers Week, Walnut Valley Festival, Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering, Seattle Autoharp Week and Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival, she has over 30 years of experience teaching workshops as well as maintaining a studio of 40 private students in the Minneapolis area. She also performs, teaches and records on the mountain dulcimer, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, guitar and ukulele.
Judy is a co-founding member of the alt-trad band, The Horse Flies, who have toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including appearances on E-Town, A Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered, World Café, and Mountain Stage, and recorded many albums. Judy has been featured twice in Fiddler magazine, including their 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations, as one of 20 master fiddlers in their “Fiddlers 20” booklet/CD set, and again when she was commissioned to write an original waltz. Judy played with Natalie Merchant’s band on several albums and tours, including appearances on Good Morning America and Late Night with Letterman. She also composes music for film and television, was featured in Electronic Musician magazine for her film music, and has won an Emmy Award. An old-time fiddler at heart, Judy has taught at music camps throughout the U.S. and is delighted to be coming back to Swannanoa.
Paul Kovac’s a pretty versatile picker and singer and can handle himself on a variety of instruments and styles. His natural curiosity & passion for traditional music, and his respect for older pioneering musicians, has made for some interesting collaborations over the past 40+ years. A natural teacher, Paul enjoys sharing his first-hand knowledge with others equally curious.
Born and raised in Stillwater, OK, Nokosee Fields began studying orchestral violin at a young age but has recently turned his attention to teaching, touring and performing various forms of traditional American music. As a bassist, he tours with the country band, Western Centuries, as well as the old-time band Steam Machine. He has taught at the Augusta Heritage Center, tutored at Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, was the artist-in-residence for the Portland Old-Time Gathering, and won first place in the 2019 Clifftop fiddle competition. Nokosee’s lengthy and diverse experience in the performing arts gives him a unique approach to creating, listening and facilitating music.
Nancy learned old-time guitar as an adult in Seattle, where she attended Jere & Greg Canote’s weekly stringband class. A proponent of maintaining a strong and steady rhythm, Nancy has performed with The Lizella Rockets, The Turtle Valley String Band, Tricia Spencer & Howard Rains, Jimmy Triplett, Beverly Smith, Hog-Eyed Man, the Yam Family Band, and, most importantly, with her husband, Charlie Hartness, in the duo, Hawk Proof Rooster.
Carl Jones is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalistborn in Macon, GA. He presently lives in Galax, VA and is widely respected for his instrumental talents and original songs about the joys and tribulations of life in the South. Carl’s songs have been recorded by The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Kate Campbell, Rickie Simpkins w/ Tony Rice and others. His song “Last Time on the Road” appears on the Grammy-award-winning album, Unleashed by the Nashville Bluegrass Band. He has recorded with Norman & Nancy Blake’s Rising Fawn String Ensemble, James Bryan, Beverly Smith and others. and currently performs, records and teaches with fiddler, Erynn Marshall. Both are featured on the 2021 release Old-Time Sweethearts.
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.
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.
Emily has been playing and teaching music for most of her life. With a background in classical music and public school music education, she came to NC to pursue Appalachian studies and learn from well-known fiddle masters. She has a complex and powerful fiddling style that has won her first place in numerous stringband and fiddle contests, including the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. Emily has performed with Old Buck and Blue Ridge Broadcasters, and currently conducts youth orchestras and teaches fiddle and violin.)
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.
Jake Blount is a banjoist, fiddler, singer and scholar based in Providence, RI. He is a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, a two-time winner at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop) and a board member of Bluegrass Pride. He has toured nationally and internationally as a solo artist, with his duo Tui, and with his band The Moose Whisperers. He has presented his music and research at the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, Berklee College of Music and elsewhere. His most recent album, Spider Tales, was named among the best of 2020 by NPR, the New Yorker, The Guardian, Bandcamp and more, and was nominated for Album of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards.
Mattias was born and raised in Oslo, Norway and has been immersed in Old-Time music from an early age. After years of travelling to various old time festivals in the Appalachian mountains he started playing fiddle at the age of nine. He has had the opportunity to learn from and play with some of the most experienced old time fiddlers from various regions in the area including Eddie Bond, Bruce Greene, and Bruce Molsky. Mattias has performed and taught in Norway, USA, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Poland, and England. He is a founding member of The Moose Whisperers with fellow Swannanoa staffer, Jake Blount. In 2016 they won the Clifftop Old-Time Band contest. He has also won the Galax Old-Time Band with the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters. In 2019, he won first place in the Galax Fiddle Contest and was selected as the festival’s Best All-Around Performer. In addition to playing Old-Time music, Mattias plays Norwegian folk music on the violin and Hardanger fiddle and is now a student at the Norwegian State Academy of Music.
Ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. Three Grammys, in three different categories, almost forty years apart. What does that mean? “Either I don’t do anything well for very long, or I bore easily.” Janis Ian wrote her first song at 12, was published at 13, made a record at 14, had a hit at 15, and was a has-been at 16. It’s been uphill ever since. Her writer’s catalogue includes “Stars”, recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, and Nina Simone; “Society’s Child,” which provoked the burning of a radio station and the firing of DJs who played it, “Jesse”, and the seminal “At Seventeen”, recorded most recently by Celine Dion. The musical guest on the very first Saturday Night Live, her list of interests includes technology (her article “The Internet Debacle” was cited in the Grokster and Napster cases), science fiction (nine short stories published in the field, with “Prayerville” adapted for theatre by Sci-Fest LA), children’s books (The Tiny Mouse was a Kirkus Children’s Book of the Year), and her own life (her autobiography, Society’s Child, was starred by Publisher’s Weekly and her narration of it won her another Grammy, for “Best Spoken Word”). A favorite guitarist of the late Chet Atkins, she was also the first female player to have a signature acoustic guitar by a major company (Santa Cruz.) She truly believes artists should know about everything, without limitation, and she hopes passing on some of her own hard-earned knowledge will help others avoid her mistakes – or at least, not care as much about them. We are delighted to welcome Janis back for her fifth Swannanoa Gathering.