2018 Musician Showcases
All Showcases Located in the Dance Tent.
Masters Showcase: Joe Thrift, Friday 7pm
We are honored to present Joseph Thrift, master musician, composer and violin maker in this year’s Master’s Showcase. Joe is a hard-driving fiddler who has composed tunes that are now widely played by old-time musicians — most of us will easily recognize “Whiteface.” In this showcase, he will playing all original tunes with some of his friends.
Joe Thrift has steeped himself in all aspects of the instrument. Born in Winston-Salem, Joe grew up in a family that was sympathetic to his musical interests. His father was a pipe organ builder, and his mother an organist and choir director. In the early 1970s, Joe became interested in building instruments and playing music. In 1976, Joe moved to Newark-On-Trent, England, to attend the Newark School of Violin Making. After graduating, he returned to Winston-Salem and opened a violin shop, making, repairing, and restoring violins, violas, and cellos. As he became more interested in playing fiddle, he made regular visits to Tommy Jarrell‘s house near Mount Airy.
By 1982, Joe was performing with his fiddling friend Rich Hartness and Rich’s band, Too Wet to Plow. Soon Joe and Hartness formed the Red Hots, which also included Tom Riccio and Riley Baugus. The Red Hots made several recordings and have performed in the region for years. Joe has recorded and performed with other groups also, including a period as keyboard player for Donna the Buffalo in the 1990s. In 2000, Joe started the band Man Alive with Bill and Nancy Sluys and guitar player David Long. Next, he played in the group jimmyjohnnyjoe with Mark Olitsky, Jason Sypher, and Debra Clifford.
Join us for this rare highlight of a master fiddler with a truly unique style…you will not be disappointed!
Fiddle Players Showcase, Saturday, 2:30pm
David Bass, Clay Buckner & Ivy Shepherd
David Bass has been the lightning speed fiddler for the Five Points Rounders’ Rowdy Square Dances, in what has now become a Hoppin’ John Saturday night tradition. He is also is one of those rare musicians who can play the fiddle and do flatfoot dancing at the same time, and do both well! As a member of the Freight Hoppers, and as a legend in his own right among today’s young old time fiddlers, Bass has been a driving force behind old time music’s steadily ascending popularity with young music listeners around the country. He has won numerous first place awards as a solo fiddler and with the Freight Hoppers
Clay has been playing fiddle since the early 1970s. He started out learning old time music in the Boone area of NC, and after a few years, moved to Chapel Hill, where he was suddenly exposed to everything from Django Reinhardt to the Bothy Band. He joined locally famous bluegrass band, the Red Clay Ramblers, in 1980 and continued to play and learn a variety of styles, with influences including Michael Platt, Fred Lail, Triona and Michae O’Domhnaill. These days, he is most active in the local Irish music scene, as has become especially enamored of the music of County Clare, to which he makes an annual pilgrimage. He currently lives in Carrboro, where he plays and teaches as much as he can!
Ivy is a diverse musician who plays multiple instruments including fiddle & banjo. She’s also a wonderful singer. Ivy has played with legendary band, The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers as well as her own band The South Carolina Broadcasters. Ivy can currently be heard as host of the old time music radio show Born In The Mountain on WBCM – Radio Bristol. She also hosts a gospel show on 90.7 WEHC called “An Old Revival Meeting” and can be heard on Mt. Airy’s WPAQ as well as Bluegrass Country Radio. We are excited to have Ivy round out a fantastic lineup for the Fiddle Player’s Showcase!
Mandolin Players Showcase, Saturday 1pm
Featuring Tony Williamson and Jerry Stuart
Tony Williamson can only be described as a mandolin virtuoso, proficient in bluegrass, jazz, classical and pop. A 2018 NC Heritage Award recipient and 1994 IBMA recorded event of the year, Tony has traveled the world playing with greats such as Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Bobby Hicks, Tony Rice, Vassar Clements, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall, Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas.
“Quite simply, what Tony Williamson doesn’t know about mandolin is probably not worth knowing. As a player, collector, dealer, historian and mandolin community activist, Williamson has helped keep the mandolin’s great American legacy alive while uplifting and encouraging generations of modern players. From bluegrass, to classical, pop and other forms, Tony Williamson is a national treasure.” – David McCarty, staff writer for Fretboard Journal, Bluegrass Unlimited, and Mandolin Magazine
If you are a mandolin player, chances are good that you know of this man… if you are not, you have likely only heard his songs, like “Rocky Run,” that have been recorded by numerous artists and played on the airways for decades.
Just ask David Grisman, Marty Stuart, Tim O’Brien, or Roland White, for example, and they’ll tell you that Jerry was an important second-generation proponent of [Bill] Monroe-style mandolin playing, having played with the Stanley Brothers in the 1950s and sharing some learning experiences from Bill Monroe, himself. But Jerry didn’t just copy Bill’s licks. He went a step further and became one of the first players to follow Monroe’s lead in creating original tunes specifically for bluegrass mandolin.
It is a great honor to showcase these mandolin masters at Hoppin’ John’s first-ever mandolin players showcase.
Banjo Players Showcase, Saturday, 4:30pm
Featuring Frank Lee & Allie Burbrink Lee, and Gail Gillespie
Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink Lee
Frank and Allie Burbrink Lee, from Bryson City, NC, are a clawhammer-playing duo. Having made a name for himself as the syncopated, melodic player in The Freight Hoppers, Frank is a national treasure when it comes to clawhammer. He has an instructional DVD on Homespun and released four albums with The Freight Hoppers, with whom he toured North America and Europe. His ability to match a fiddler note-for-note is particularly unique. In the duo, Frank plays not only steel string banjo but also a low-pitched nylon string, fretless banjo.
Allie’s jumpstart into clawhammer came when she studied it for a week at John C. Campbell Folk School. That summer, she met Frank in a banjo workshop, which led to her taking his class at Augusta Heritage Center a few years later. She played banjo and wrote songs in her band The Whipstitch Sallies and was featured in the Banjo Babes calendar for 2016. Allie enjoys playing banjo to accompany her singing, Frank‘s fiddle playing, and Frank’s nylon string banjo playing.
Frank & Allie’s most recent album is Roll On, Clouds (2018).
Gail Gillespie has long been an enthusiastic player and promoter of old-style fingerpicked or up-picked banjo styles. In 1966 she traded a funky classical guitar for an old Slingerland banjo and obtained a copy of the the red-cover Pete Seeger banjo book. In that volume, it was Mike Seeger’s two-finger and three finger chapters that really struck her fancy. That was the very same banjo sound she heard on her J.E. Mainer stringband 78s and New Lost City Rambler LPs. In the last 20 years she’s mostly played old-time 3-finger style though occasionally enjoys picking solo fandangos at home for her own amusement. She confesses to playing some clawhammer, but in the mid-1970s her husband Dwight had gotten so good at it that she felt the need to strike out with something different but compatible, first fiddle and then eventually, the old-time up-picking.