Musician Showcases

All Showcases Located in the Dance Tent.

Singing Showcase, Friday 7pm

Kari Sickenberger, Cliff Hale & Marie Vanderbeck

Kari Sickenberger

“A powerful voice with a lot to say, Kari Sickenberger sings her heart out… In the tradition of great country singers, Kari can sing you to tears or laughter, sadness or joy. That’s what it’s all about!” — Alice Gerrard

kariKari Sickenberger is a singer and songwriter from Asheville, NC. She and singing partner, Laurelyn Dossett founded the band Polecat Creek and they have made three records together with world class banjo player Riley Baugus.  Kari has also toured with and sung on recordings by Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz. She teams up with Vollie McKenzie in the Asheville band, The Western Wildcats, a classic country and honky tonk dance quintet.  Kari has worked on projects with fiddler, Natalya Weinstein and singer, songwriter and mulit-instrumentalist, John Miller, both founding members of the original acoustic trio, Red June.  Kari also regularly teaches private and public singing and harmony workshops.

Cliff Hale

Cliff grew up listening to all kinds of American Roots music thanks to a sharing father who hadCliff-Headshot a deep appreciation for the same and a great music collection! From a singing family, he was coaxed to join in with the family quartet as a child and has been singing ever since. While attending WVU, he had the good fortune to play and sing in a band of talented musicians who shared passion and respect for hardcore bluegrass. Originally from West Virginia, Cliff is proud to call the Old North State home for the past 15 years. You may have seen him out and about singing with the Piedmont Melody Makers, Longleaf Pine Nuts, Wayworn Travelers, Rye Mountain Boys or starring as Hank Williams in the Cape Fear Regional Theatre production of Lost Highway.

Marie Vanderbeck

Born in NYC, moved to North Carolina in 1994, Marie is passionate about her vocals. Marie marie pichas studied with and learned from the likes of Hazel Dickens, Ginny Hawker, Becky & Bill Kimmons, Kate Brislan and Rhiannon Giddens. Her latest endeavor is sharing her joy of singing through teaching the amazing sounds one can do with one’s voice. Marie is a regular instructor at Shakori Hills’ vocal skill building workshops.

“In every song she sings, you can feel the love and respect that Marie brings to this music she has chosen — or has it chosen her? Somehow, she has been captivated by the music and culture of mountain people to the point where she can feel and convey it. You’ll feel its joys and sorrows when she sings.” — Becky Kimmons of Bare Bones

Fiddle Showcase, Saturday, 3:30pm

Earl White, Jane Rothfield, Al McCanless, Randy Johnson

Earl White

Fiddlin’ Earl White has been a prominent figure in the old time music and dance community for more than 40 years. He is one of few Black Americans playing and perpetuating the music that was once an important part of black culture and communities across the US. He is an earlwhite1original and founding member of the Green Grass Cloggers, and received his first fiddle in 1975.

Earl’s energetic, rhythmic, driving style is attributed to many years of dancing with the Green Grass Cloggers, and his fiddling is as heartfelt as his dancing of earlier years. He has played with many of the finest old time musicians in the country, under the guise of The Too Wet to Plow Stringband, Early Night and the Daytimers, The Dukes of Earl, Sweet Bama, The Earl White Band/Earl White Stringband, and the dynanmic duo of Adrienne Davis and Earl White. His bands have graced many audiences with their superb music as workshops or concerts.

Jane Rothfield

Fiddler and clawhammer banjo player, Janie Rothfield, has been playing old time music sinceJanie Rothfield her early teens, learning from older generations of traditional musicians like Leo Beaudoin, Willis Edgerton and Eddie Lowe, and from playing with revival and contemporary traditional musicians from around the world. In her 30+ year career, she has played concerts, festivals, workshops and music camps in the US, UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Canada, Mexico and Australia. In addition to her solo work, Janie plays in multiple band configurations. Her latest CD release, Out of Thin Air, features 13 of her own original tunes and songs in the old time style with daughter, Shona Carr, Cathy Fink, Joe Newberry, Brendan Power, Sam Stallings and Barbara Rosner.

Al McCanless

Allen McCanless, aka Fiddlin’ Al McCanless, has over 50 years of performing experience.   Starting on harmonica and guitar in high school, he took up fiddle as a sophomore at themccanless UNC-CH School of Pharmacy in 1965. He was a founding member of  legendary Newgrass group, the New Deal String Band, and has been a member of the Bluegrass Experience off and on for 45 years.  Al spent years learning Irish-Celtic fiddle tunes and has made two recordings with his group Celtic Jam. He appeared on the first Red Clay Rambler Folkways recording, “The Red Clay Ramblers with Fiddlin’ Al McCanless.” He has also recorded with Mike Cross, Alice Gerrard and many other groups as a guest fiddler. Now retired from pharmacy, Al spends his time in Pittsboro making pottery at  “All In One Pottery” with his wife Louise, building old-time open back banjos and gardening. He plays fiddle with the Outlier’s Bluegrass Band and is making recordings of tunes he has learned over the years.

Hoppin’ John is honored to present some bluegrass fiddling in this year’s showcase!

Randy Johnson

randy johnsonRandy Johnson is a fun loving award-winning old-time fiddler who honed his skills playing for dances in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He has toured with the Coal Country Cloggers, performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Black Mountain Leaf Festival, Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival and has been an artist-in-residence for the Ohio Arts Council. He has recorded on the Yodel-ay-Hee, Lutra and Rounder labels.


Banjo Showcase, Saturday, 2pm

Jacki Spector, Joseph DeCosimo & Jake Owen

Joseph DeCosimo

Raised in southeast Tennessee, Joseph Decosimo is a traditional musician and folklorist with a josephbanjodeep respect and love for the older music of the South. Now based out of Durham, NC, he currently performs and teaches old time music anywhere that people are willing to listen. When not playing music, he is writing a dissertation of aesthetics, musical learning, and sound technologies in old time music.

In seventh grade, he purchased a banjo from a neighbor and quickly found his way to the backrooms of the local Friday night opry where he encountered older musicians from the region. At sixteen, he began making regular visits to learn from old time fiddler Charlie Acuff. He has dedicated himself to spending time with the master fiddlers, including Clyde Davenport and Charlie McCarroll. By grounding himself in a regional repertoire and style, he crafts music for the present with a deep understanding of place and a reverence for the past.

A sought-after teacher and performer of old time music, he has taught and performed at the festivals and camps around the continent, including Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Swannanoa Gathering, Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week, Augusta Heritage Center, Ashokan Southern Week and the Berkeley Old Time Music Festival. From 2012-2013, he served on the faculty of East Tennessee State University, teaching Appalachian Studies, Old Time Fiddle and Banjo.

Jacki Spector

Jacki Spector has been playing music since the age of three when she first sat down in front of a piano. At 14, she started playing folk music on guitar, but it was a borrowed banjo and anjackies Mt Airy 2017 by Mark Sanderford adult education class that led her down the Old Time Music road. While living in the Boston area, she played with several groups, and has played with the Pilot Mountain Bobcats since moving to NC in 1988. She particularly likes to follow a fiddle and is mostly an ensemble player; but she also enjoys using the banjo to accompany singing. She has been teaching music in one form or the other for over 30 years, and is currently helping to bring the new generation along in the JAM program. At Hoppin’ John, we think Jacki has mastered the art of the non-solo string band banjoist! *Photo by Mark Sanderford.

Jake Owen

All Jake wanted us to say about him is that he is a family man, banjo maker, teacher and musician from Madison County NC. We also know that he has been playing traditional music his entire life, as his father, Malcolm, and Uncle Blanton were founding members of the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, and Malcolm is a former Hoppin ‘John Master’s Showcase featured artist. Jake, with various bands, has played at Merlefest, was a first place banjo winner at Clifftop and has taught at the Mars Hill College’s Old-Time Week. He and his wife Sarah have three children who continue to carry on this family musical tradition. We are delighted that Jake has finally accepted our invitation to be part of the Hoppin’ John Fiddlers’ Convention.