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. Her fieldwork culminated in the book, Music in the Air Somewhere about West Virginia fiddle and song traditions (WVU Press). Erynn performs at festivals and music camps around the globe and often tours with her husband, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carl Jones. Her tunes are becoming common repertoire in fiddle circles and she is also a sought-after teacher. Erynn was the first woman to win First Place Fiddle at Clifftop, the Appalachian Stringband Festival, and has recorded eight albums and appeared in four films. She tours constantly throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and China.
Phil Jamison is nationally known as a dance caller, old-time musician, flatfoot dancer, and scholar of traditional Appalachian dance. He was Coordinator of Old-Time Week for 25 years. Phil has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas since the early 1970s, including close to 40 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. Over the last 30 years, Jamison has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. A 2017 inductee to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, Phil teaches Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College.
Banjo player, singer, songwriter, ace flatfooter and square-dance caller, Evie has appeared from A Prairie Home Companion to Lincoln Center, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to Celtic Connections. She has taken home ribbons in Folk Song from the Mt. Airy, NC Fiddler’s Convention, and in Neo-Trad Band from the Appalachian Stringband Festival, in Clifftop, WV. Evie tours internationally with partner Keith Terry and the Evie Ladin Band and has released eight CDs and two instructional clogging DVDs. She teaches banjo and harmony singing at the the Bay area’s famous Freight & Salvage, online at Peghead Nation and at countless camps. A highly entertaining performer and patient teacher, Evie enjoys facilitating arts learning in diverse communities, always connecting the music with the dance, and educating people about traditional Appalachian culture and history.
Paul Brown has been hooked on traditional southern music since early childhood, when he started picking up songs his mother had learned as a kid in piedmont Virginia. Paul took up banjo at age ten and fiddle a bit later. His playing bears influences of the North Carolina and Virginia masters he sought out as a young adult, and he loves to share what he learned from these memorable players, and the styles and tunes he’s created himself. He also loves dancing and playing fiddle and banjo for square dances. Paul has appeared at camps and festivals around the U.S. since the early 1970s including many times at our Old-Time Week. He’s recorded and produced highly-regarded traditional music albums, and won numerous banjo and fiddle contests.
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.
Kay Justice grew up in the small town of English, West Virginia, located in the southernmost county of the state. At an early age, she began singing in school plays and in church. While in nursing school, she discovered the music of popular folk singers such as Joan Baez, Peter Paul, and Mary, Pete Seeger, Ian and Sylvia and others. Drawn to the music, she began playing the guitar and singing many of the songs she heard and loved. Further exploration led her to seek out the music of Appalachia, her home.
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 Norman and Nancy Blake and James Bryan as part of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. Today he plays concerts and tours with wife, fiddler Erynn Marshall and in 2017 toured Australia with the Galax Bogtrotters and China with Erynn. Carl is known for his fine musicianship, sense of humor, songwriting, and charismatic teaching.
A seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, NC, 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 NC Heritage Award, the state’s highest award for the arts.
Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians in southwestern VA, tagging along to fiddlers conventions across the southern Appalachians. After he 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 shares his love of old-time music and dance with students at Warren Wilson College and young players in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, and he has taught at music camps across the southern Appalachians. Ben is also a member of the prize-winning young stringband The Moose Whisperers – who he first met through the Young Old-Time program at Swannanoa!
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.
Brad Leftwich has long been a gold standard for traditional old-time fiddling and banjo playing. He grew up in Oklahoma in a family with a tradition of old-time music, and learned directly from masters such as Tommy Jarrell, Melvin Wine, Violet Hensley, and the Hammons family among others. For the past 40 years he has performed and taught music around the world, made many recordings, authored books on Round Peak fiddle and banjo for Mel Bay, and created fiddle instructional videos for Homespun. Brad plays with his wife Linda in the duo Leftwich & Higginbotham and in the Hogwire Stringband, and was a member of Tom, Brad & Alice (with Tom Sauber and Alice Gerrard), the Humdingers, and Plank Road. Brad has entertained at the White House, backed up Doc Watson on stage, and counts the late Buck Owens and John Hartford among his admirers.
John grew up listening to friends and relatives play, and he developed his own autoharp style incorporating both chromatic and diatonic techniques. John has 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. 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.
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 now Professor and Director Emeritus 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.
Linda Higginbotham is from a family of musicians and colorful characters with deep roots in the pioneer heritage of Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas. She learned to play guitar from her father, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter, and was introduced to old-time music as a teenager in New York by Miles Krassen. She moved to Bloomington, IN where she helped start an active community based on old-time music and dance. She began playing clawhammer banjo and banjo-ukulele after meeting Brad Leftwich, and together they spent many hours visiting and learning from older musicians in the Appalachians and Ozarks. They collaborated throughout the 1980s as Leftwich & Higginbotham, and in the 1990s with the Humdingers. They now play together as a duo and in the Hogwire Stringband.
Abby Ladin is a product of the 1970’s folk music revival: clogging by age 6, performing with her sister Evie at 10, and touring nationally at 18 with the dance and music company Rhythm In Shoes. For over 25 years she’s participated in multi-media performance projects; with choreographer Sharon Leahy, composer Malcom Dalglish, and husband Sam Bartlett. As a musician, she plays stand-up bass and sings harmony vocals in the Hogwire Stringband with master fiddler, Brad Leftwich, and recorded with the late Garry Harrison on the now legendary album, Red Prairie Dawn.
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. Ellie 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.
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 a couple of duos opening for Doc Watson at the Quarter Moon in Columbia and at the Charleston Folk Concert Series.
Over the past eight years, Tatiana Hargreaves has been on the forefront of an up-and-coming generation of old-time, bluegrass and ‘new acoustic’ musicians. Since releasing her first solo album, Started Out To Ramble in 2009, Tatiana has toured with musicians such as Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Laurie Lewis, Darol Anger, and Bruce Molsky. From being only the second woman to take 1st Place at the Clifftop Appalachian Fiddle Contest, to her bluegrass fiddling on Laurie Lewis’ Grammy-nominated album The Hazel And Alice Sessions, Hargreaves shows a musical fluency that flows between old-time and bluegrass worlds with ease.
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.
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.
One of the most well-respected old-time fiddlers of his generation, Bruce Molsky comes at southern roots and blues on fiddle, banjo, guitar, and song with great depth of spirit. Known for his collaborations with musicians of other cultures, his wide-angled approach to traditional folk music has influenced a generation of players and listeners. Bruce is a member of Andy Irvine & Dónal Lunny’s acclaimed Mozaik; he tours frequently with Aly Bain & Ale Möller and with his new trio Molsky’s Mountain Drifters (with Allison de Groot and Stash Wyslouch). Bruce was featured on British rock legend Mark Knopfler’s most recent CD, Tracker, and on Altan’s The Widening Gyre. He is a Visiting Scholar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and a frequent instructor at colleges and camps in the US and Europe. Bruce’s solo concerts and many CDs have become staples for fans of American and world music everywhere.
Rachel was born and raised into a musical family in rural WV where she grew up listening to local fiddlers, going to old-time festivals, and attending squaredances. She now performs full-time on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass as a soloist in addition to touring with The Early Mays and The Kolodner Quartet and has taught at the Augusta Heritage Center (WV), Sore Fingers Summer school (UK), and different various weekend workshops across Europe and the US. Rachel’s multi-instrumental talents and soulful singing bring an incredibly powerful energy to the stage.
Travis Stuart began playing the banjo as a teen in Haywood County, NC. A respected multi-instrumentalist known for his rich style and accompaniment, Travis has toured throughout the US and several foreign countries with the Stuart Brothers and as a sideman with other bluegrass and old-time bands. He learned from old-time masters like the Smathers family, Oscar “Red” Wilson, Snuffy Jenkins, Byard Ray, and Tommy Hunter. Travis currently teaches in the old-time music program at ETSU and has led the Haywood County JAM for many years. He appears on a number of recordings and is especially known for his banjo-fiddle duets with his late brother Trevor. Travis lives in the woods of Haywood County with his family, his dog and cat, and loves many styles of music.
As a bassist in both jazz and traditional music, Kevin Kehrberg has toured nationally and internationally, including Canada, Japan, and U.S. State Department tours of Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador. He has performed with Howard Alden, Slide Hampton, Roger Humphries, the late Jean Ritchie and Art Stamper, among others, and is a sought-after sideman and session artist. He has taught at many workshops and clinics, including the Swannanoa Gathering and the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Kevin also actively records and performs as a backup guitarist for old-time fiddlers. He holds a Ph.D in musicology and is a member of the music faculty at Warren Wilson College.
Dance musician Sam Bartlett grew up in Vermont, noodling on his grandmother’s mandolin at an early age, and acquired a 5-string banjo at the age of 14 after seeing the Earl Scruggs Review perform. He studied mandolin with Tiny Moore and Peter Ostroushko, and has recorded and performed with a huge assortment of old-time musicians over the years, including Jeff Goehring, Pete Sutherland, Garry Harrison, Dirk Powell, Paul Brown, and Brad Leftwich. His playing has been featured in two Ken Burns documentaries, and his original music has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered. Sam’s banjo playing on Garry Harrison’s Red Prairie Dawn recording has inspired a new generation of old-time finger pickers.
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.
With a degree in music education and a great love for old-time music, Meredith is known as a patient and enthusiastic teacher who will make you laugh. She is a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass with the New Southern Ramblers & Bigfoot and has performed with Alice Gerrard, Balfa Toujours, The Freight Hoppers, and The Bucking Mules. She has recorded with a variety of people including Art Stamper, Dirk Powell, and Si Kahn. She lives in Asheville, NC where she is a certified Alexander Technique teacher and a licensed massage therapist. She teaches good body mechanics in every class, especially those dedicated to the subject of playing with ease and preventing injury.
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.
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 (heartbeatsessions.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.
Thomas Maupin is a self-taught buckdancer who won first place in the senior flatfooting competi- tion at Clifftop and the Silver Stars 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 the American Clogging Hall of Fame. Joining him is his grandson, Daniel Rothwell, who plays banjo, sings, and tells stories. The two 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. In 2017, Thomas received the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship, this country’s highest award for traditional artists.
In the summer of 1916, English scholar Cecil Sharp visited western NC and collected ballads in the Swannanoa Valley. Bobby McMillon will share songs collected by Sharp. Bobby grew up in a musical family and some of his relatives were among those who sang for Sharp. His singing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, and he is the youngest recipient of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award.
Banjo-songster, Larry Sigmon, was born to a musical family in Callaway, Virginia. His father Eldridge Sigmon was a banjo player and fiddle player. Larry formed Unique Sound of the Mountains with bassist Barbara Poole and they won many contest ribbons, made seven albums and were a favorite with flat-footer dancers. They performed at the Carter Fold, Grand Ole Opry and everywhere in-between. Larry continues to play with Martha Spencer (of the Whitetop Mountain Band Susan Blankenship, or other friends such as Ivy and David Sheppard of the South Carolina Broadcasters.
Bruce Greene is known for preserving and playing the fiddle music of Kentucky. As a young man, he collected and learned from the last generation of traditional fiddlers there, some born as far back as the 1880s. These included Hiram Stamper, the family of John Salyer, Manon Campbell, Gusty Wallace, and Jim Bowles, learning their archaic repertoires and bowing techniques. Since the late 1970s, Bruce has lived in western North Carolina with his family, where he has continued to learn from local traditional musicians. He has taught at Swannanoa, Augusta, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and Mars Hill, and he has been invited as a master fiddler to numerous other events. In addition to fiddling, Bruce has studied banjo with the Helton family of eastern Kentucky, and he sings with his partner, Loy McWhirter.
Emily Spencer has been playing music and singing since childhood. She came to SW Virginia in the 1970’s and met fiddler, Thornton Spencer who she married. Together they formed the Whitetop Mountain Band one of the most popular dance bands in the Blue Ridge. Emily began teaching mountain music in 1980 at public schools, colleges and JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians). Along with Albert Hash, Audrey Hash-Ham and Thornton, Emily started the Albert Hash Memorial Band program which has influenced generations of area musicians, including her own children, Kilby and Martha Spencer.