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

Tatiana Hargreaves, David Bass, Clay Buckner & Ivy Shepherd

Tatiana Hargreaves

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 the second woman to place first 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.

After touring as a member of Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands and finishing her degree at Hampshire College, Tatiana now makes her home in Durham, where she is spending time with Alice Gerrard and helping with the documentary in progress “You Gave Me A Song: The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard.” Tatiana’s most recent project with clawhammer banjo innovator Allison de Groot is set to be released soon. Tatiana also teaches and performs locally and hosts the monthly Pinecone youth bluegrass jam in Raleigh.

David Bass

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 Buckner

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 Sheppard

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 4:30pm

Featuring Tony Williamson and Jerry Stuart

Tony Williamson

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

Jerry Stuart

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, 1pm

Featuring Hilary Dirlam, Pete Peterson & Marsha Bowman Todd

Hilary Dirlam

Along with being the Program Director of Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week at Mars Hill University for the past 26 years and the Co-Founder of The Old-Time Herald with Alice Gerrard, Brad Leftwich and Linda Higenbotham, Hilary is an outstanding banjo player.

She recently completed a month long tour of Australia with her present band, the Orpheus Supertones, and has performed and recorded with NC Heritage Award winners Luke and Harold Smathers and Carroll Best. Several of Hilary’s original tune and songs have been recorded by other traditional artists. She recently completed a recording project combing banjo with traditional Nepali instruments, including Sarangi Master Parashuram Bhandari and Tabla Master Achyut Ram Bhandari. She has recorded over ten albums of traditional Tibetan vocal music, which are internationally available.

Marsha Bowman Todd

Marsha Bowman Todd is a hard driving clawhammer banjo player. Being Richard and Barbara Bowman’s daughter, she has been around music since birth. Marsha started playing at age 4 and joined her family band, the Slate Mountain Ramblers, at age 9 playing mandolin. A few years later, she switched to guitar, then on to banjo. In addition to being an award-winning clawhammer banjo player at Galax, Mt. Airy, Fiddler’s Grove and other area fiddlers’ conventions, Marsha also plays the two-finger banjo style, and even switches it up on occasion with finger picks for a three-finger bluegrass style. She also plays the bass and fiddle, is an award-winning flat foot dancer, and adds vocals on select tunes, occasionally getting her dad to join in. Her capabilities as a banjo player and musician are the very definition of versatility!

Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson has specialized in finger style banjo for over 50 years, playing in the styles of DaCosta Woltz, Frank Jenkins, and Uncle Dave Macon, though his chief banjo hero is Charlie Poole, whose sound and songs Pete replicates to a T. He also plays guitar in the old time style, using a thumbpick, in the ways of guitarists such as Roy Harvey, Maybelle Carter and Riley Puckett. Pete has traveled the world performing at festivals, concerts, music camps and workshops, and has won many prizes for his banjo and guitar playing, as well as for solo singing and in duets with his wife, Kellie Allen. He currently plays with the Orpheus Supertones and in the Janie Rothfield Trio. Pete writes regularly for the Old-Time Herald and can be heard on many recordings.