All Showcases Located in the Dance Tent.
Master’s Showcase with Alice Gerrard, Friday 6:30pm
Simply put, Alice Gerrard is a talent of legendary status. In a career spanning some 50 years, she has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music.
Alice is particularly known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s. The duo produced four classic LPs (recently reissued by Rounder on CD) and influenced scores of young women singers.
Alice’s four solo albums were released to critical acclaim in Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, New Country, and other publications. These superb recordings showcase Alice’s many talents: her compelling, eclectic songwriting; her powerful, hard-edged vocals; and her instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and old-time fiddle. Her most recent album, Follow the Music was nominated for a 2015 Grammy.
Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including projects with many
traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, Luther
Davis and Matokie Slaughter. With her in-depth knowledge of mountain
music, she has produced or written liner notes for a dozen more. She also co-produced
and appeared in two documentary films. A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award.
In 1987 Alice founded The Old-Time Herald and the Old-Time Music Group, a non- profit organization that oversees publication of The Old-Time Herald. Alice served as editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald from 1987 till 2003. She continues to perform solo and with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich, the Herald Angels, and Beverly Smith. We are honored to showcase Ms. Gerrard in this year’s (reinstated) Master’s Showcase.
Banjo Showcase, Saturday 12:45pm
Bob Carlin, Gordy Hinners, Amy Davis & Paul Brown
Bob Carlin, clawhammer banjoist extraordinaire, has taken the distinctive southern banjo style to appreciative audiences all over the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. As a solo performer, and member of John Hartford’s Stringband, Bob has appeared at countless festivals, clubs, schools and museums, including the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Merle Fest, Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass. Various national radio appearances have included NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” , “Mountain Stage” and “The Grand Old Opry.” As a member of the prestigious Virginia and NC Visiting Artist Programs, Carlin presented southern traditional music and the banjo traditions of rural America to audiences who may not have otherwise been exposed to traditional music.
He has studied both in person and on transcriptions the work of master players from previous generations. Combined with archival research, the result has been over fifty different albums, primarily for Rounder Records, countless magazine articles and CD notes as well as several books. Bob will also be delivering a lecture entitled, “Piedmont String Band Music: the African American Connection,” based in part of his book String Bands in the North Carolina Piedmont.
Gordy is an award winning banjo player who has been influenced by the likes of Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham. He has played banjo for the New Southern Ramblers since 1982…much of that time with the late great fiddler Ralph Blizard.
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. Gordy has taught at workshops throughout the country, and has been a part of the Swannanoa Gathering since its inception. He lives in western NC, and teaches Spanish at Mars Hill University.
Paul Brown learned his first songs and tunes as a kid from his mother, who carried them from her own childhood days in Virginia. As much as he loves to play and sing, Paul has also produced numerous recordings from his own fieldwork and other sources. He has reported on the lives of many significant traditional musicians during his more than 30-year radio career. He learned much of his singing, fiddling and banjo playing from masters including including Benton Flippen, Paul Sutphin, Luther Davis, Robert Sykes, and Tommy and Benny Jarrell. He has won the banjo prize several times at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, where he’s also won the senior fiddle prize and was named a master artist. Paul left his world newscaster job at NPR’s Washington, DC headquarters in 2013 after fourteen years in executive, editorial and on-air positions there. He currently produces and hosts the Across the Blue Ridge radio and multimedia program through WFDD Public Radio in Winston-Salem, NC.
Amy Davis grew up in Millerton, New York and learned to play her great-uncle’s Dobson banjo while she was in college. In the 1980s, she performed old time and Cajun music with several bands in southern New England. In 1992, she relocated to North Carolina and earned a Masters in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her subsequent fieldwork took her to western Kentucky and eastern NC. After working at the Southern Folklife Collection, she also earned a Masters in Education at UNC. Amy has taught Music in Durham Public Schools for the past 12 years, and spends each day encouraging young students to sing. She and her husband Jon Newlin have performed for over 15 years with the North Carolina singing string band The Hushpuppies. Both have also toured and recorded with the Maudlin Brothers and have performed with and recorded on three CDs with their niece, Elizabeth LaPrelle. Currently Amy also performs with The BLTs string band and Cajun band the MSA Ramblers.
Guitar Styles Showcase, Saturday 2:30pm
Tommy Edwards, Dwight Hawkins & David Long
Siler City native Tommy Edwards was raised in a musical family. He focused on banjo while he was in college at East Carolina University, but when he came back home he found that the only bluegrass band in town already had a banjo player, so he switched to guitar. He preferred traditional approaches to bluegrass and developed a unique flat-picking guitar style that he perfected by adapting Bill Monroe’s mandolin leads, and absorbed the techniques of seasoned players like Doc Watson, Arthur Smith, and Don Reno. He was soon good enough to enter competitions at fiddler’s conventions and twice took home the top prize for “World Championship Bluegrass Guitar” at the storied Union Grove Festival.
Edwards formed the The Bluegrass Experience in 1971 with the Beane brothers and friends Snuffy Smith, Charles Lee Conard, and “Fiddlin’ Al” McCanless. The band joined fellow Chapel Hill musicians like Mike Cross and the Red Clay Ramblers to carve their own place in the local traditional music scene as accomplished players and singers, anchored by Tommy’s original songs. Members of The Bluegrass Experience continue to play together and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. Edwards currently plays solo gigs and with his group Carolina Lightnin’ and hosts a radio show on WLHC in Sanford (103.1 FM) called “Bluegrass Saturday Night” that can be heard–you guessed it–every Saturday evening from 7 to 9pm.
Dwight Hawkins, of Raleigh, NC spent his youth circling the country, hopping freight trains. This lifestyle, and the people and musicians he met along the way made him leave punk rock behind to embrace the early-20th-century blues he loves today – a musical style rooted in the Depression era, and closely associated with freight trains and the “hobo” lifestyle. Hawkins describes his playing as pre-war string band music with a little hillbilly, hokum, and jug music. He has traveled the country playing this music, performing in streets with pickup bands, and even playing shows with the likes of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Hackensaw Boys at events like MerleFest and FloydFest.
Settling down in Raleigh now, and new to the Piedmont’s music scene, it is our pleasure to present to you, Mr. Dwight Hawkins.
David Long is a veteran of the North Carolina and Virginia’s old time music scene, having played with bands such as The Freighthoppers, Backstep, Man Alive, and Cool Springs Ramblers. His driving rhythm guitar and powerful vocals have been a mainstay of the festival scene for many years. David is also intrigued with bottleneck slide guitar in the North Mississippi hill country and Delta blues traditions, western swing, and early psychedelia. “Think Carter Stanley meets RL Burnside meets Jimmy Page.” He loves to unearth alternate tunings that add color to the palette of traditional music. David is a tenth generation North Carolinian with deep roots in the western foothills and mountains. He currently lives in Greensboro. Hoppin’ John is honored to present this outstanding musician at this year’s convention.
Fiddle Showcase, Saturday 4pm
Bill Hicks, Steve Kruger & Bob Herring
A local fiddle legend, Bill Hicks is the founding fiddler of the Red Clay Ramblers. Prior to that he played with the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, and appears on their two Rounder LPs. After leaving the Ramblers in 1981, he began playing music with his wife, Libby, both as a duo and with Unknown Tongues. Bill and Libby have a Copper Creek CD, South of Nowhere, and Bill recorded a live show at the Cave in Chapel Hill and self-produced a CD, The Perfect Gig, featuring his original songs. He does occasional studio work with various musicians, including all of Jim Watson’s solo recordings and Chapel Hill’s Joe Woodson. Bill and Libby also teach occasionally at the Augusta Heritage Workshops. He now plays with Craver, Hicks, Watson & Newberry.
Bob is a skilled fiddler and guitar player contemporary with the likes of Rafe Stefanini, Brad Leftwich, and Bruce Molsky. He has recorded two wonderful albums of fiddle tunes (a few of which are his own originals) with Rafe Stefanini called Old Paint and Fresh Coat.
Bob has done wonders keeping the old-time music scene alive in Chapel Hill and can be found playing regularly in house concerts, at Merritt’s Store and all around the town! He is one of old-time music’s unsung legends… stop in and check out his impeccable playing style.
Steve is a hard-driving fiddler who has won first-place ribbons at multiple fiddler’s conventions…including Hoppin’ John 2009 & 2013.
He has been an avid part of the local music scene in areas where he has lived including those in the Boone and Chapel Hill areas in North Carolina and currently in the beautiful mountains of Giles County in Southwest Virginia.
Before moving to Virginia, he helped document traditional artists in five North Carolina counties and co-authored the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina Guidebook. He loves all old-time music but specializes in old-time and “transitional” fiddle styles of North Carolina and Virginia.