Chatham County's Traditional Music Festival

September 12 - 14, 2024


2023 Showcases

All showcases located in the Dance Tent:

Women in Old-Time Music, Saturday 2pm

Alice Gerrard, Erynn Marshall, Gail Gillespie, Molly Stouten and Tyler Hughes…

…will be playing music and discussing issues that women have faced up to now and celebrating women musicians who have inspired them. It’s been a hardscrabble journey for many women of the past century who had to overcome obstacles just to be able to play music, and most were not documented or recorded. Still, many found a way because the music in their hearts could not be quelled.

Alice Gerrard needs no introduction. She looms as a towering female figure in a world that was once the domain of male musicians and business leaders. Starting in the early 1960s with singing partner Hazel Dickens, she helped open the doors for a host of up-and-coming women performers and entrepreneurs in the fields of bluegrass and old-time music. Quoted from this October, 2022 NY Times article about Alice, Rhiannon Giddens sums up her contribution to women in folk music:  “Alice is inspiring as hell, one of those people who made the world a better place so those who came up behind her didn’t have to fight so hard.” And along with general master musicianship and knowledge, she has one of clearest, most honest and poignant voices that we have ever heard.

Erynn Marshall is an old-time fiddler who lives in Galax, Virginia and is known internationally for her traditional music. Her effortless, transportive way of playing expresses joy, mournfulness, and stays true to the old tunes. Erynn performs at festivals, teaches at music camps around the globe, and tours with her husband – songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carl Jones. Her original tunes are becoming common repertoire in fiddle circles. When she won 1st place fiddle at Clifftop Festival in 2008, she was the first woman to do so in 19 years. Erynn is coordinator for Swannanoa Old-Time Week and Program Director for Alleghany JAM, a non-profit that helps children learn traditional music afterschool. She has graciously put together this amazing showcase and will be its facilitator.

Molly Stouten packed up for a summer as a production potter in Winston Salem NC back in 1972; in her luggage was a brand new Chinese banjo and a copy of Pete Seeger’s book. She went to her first fiddlers conventions and plunked away at the banjo and in less than a year, she borrowed a bass and joined The Swamp Root Stringband. She slapped the bass in bars and square dances and concerts all over New York state including a stint with the Tompkins County Horseflies where she picked up the guitar. During an icy winter in Vermont at the age of 39 and with the support of a best girlfriend, she began her biggest musical challenge – to play the fiddle. Over 50 years, Molly has tromped around the country singing, playing and learning. She has visited and learned from older musicians in the Cumberland Plateau, Virginia and North Carolina and has deeply studied field recordings and 78s.  In the workshop, Molly will be reflecting on the double life of women in old time music.

Tyler Hughes is an old time musician from the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. He has performed internationally and close to home playing banjo tunes, calling square dances, and performing traditional Carter family style autoharp. He has appeared on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, NPR, and PBS among many other stages and shows. When he isn’t performing, Tyler serves as the executive director of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.


Gail Gillespie took up guitar and banjo in the Florida Panhandle in the early 1960s.  A dedicated advocate for old-time string band music, she served on the advisory boards for Pine Cone and was editor of the Old-Time Herald magazine from 2002 to 2008. Gail has been playing banjo with Alice Gerrard and The Herald Angels since 1987. Her major old-time finger picking banjo influences are Bertie Dickens, Kinney Rorrer, A.C. Overton, and Martin Marshall.

Music Maker Presents: Blues Guitar with Jeffrey Scott, Saturday 3:45pm

Jeffrey Scott is a cattleman, a hog farmer, a mortician, and a long-haul truck driver. He’s also a fantastic bluesman. He doesn’t play for fame. He plays because the blues is in his blood. For generations, Scott’s family has lived in a town called Culpeper, nestled in the piedmont of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It seems that Scott, with his unique collection of skills and careers, has taken it upon himself to single-handedly carry on his family’s traditions. He is the son of a farmer and a truck driver, and the nephew of John Jackson, the famed Piedmont bluesman, who was also a caretaker for the City of Fairfax’s Cemeteries.

Jeffrey takes this charge seriously. “I don’t care if you are Elvis Presley or whoever. The blues is the grassroots of all music,” Scott asserts. “Slaves brought this music to America on those slave ships, and that was their way of communicating with each other. Music is a universal language. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you come from. It doesn’t matter who you are. And that’s why Uncle Johnny told me, ‘You got to keep this music alive. Everybody relates to music.”

Shelor Family Showcase, Saturday 12:45pm

Featuring Clay and Jamie Shelor

The Shelor family of Patrick County, VA were recorded at the 1927 Bristol sessions that launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. Nearly a century after those foundational recordings, the songs of the Shelor family are still treasured by old-time music fans around the world. We are fortunate to have some descendants of the original Shelor family living in our region, where they have enriched our lives with their generous spirit and unique repertoire. This showcase will feature the music and stories of the Shelor and Blackard families, in recognition of their living legacy and their ongoing contributions to old-time string band music.

Clay Shelor grew up in Patrick County, VA surrounded by old-time, bluegrass, old-school country, Piedmont blues, and gospel music in his family and community. Inspired by his grandfather, Jesse Shelor, he learned to play the fiddle around age 10. His father James, grandparents Jesse and Clarice, uncles Joe and Paul Shelor, and cousin Buddy Pendleton all pitched in to help him learn to play, teaching him tunes and taking him places to hear and play music. In recent years, he played in the Triangle-area Longleaf Pine Nuts and with Cliff Hale and the Grand Ol’ Ospreys. He enjoys sitting around in jams with his family and friends.

Jamie Shelor grew up hearing her dad Clay and brother Dayne play old-time music, but didn’t start fiddling until she went to the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention when she was a teenager. She has sung and played with the Warren Wilson College bluegrass and old-time bands and played for the Bailey Mountain Cloggers on their tour in Italy this summer. She currently dances with the Green Grass Cloggers in Asheville, NC.



Thank you to our WONDERFUL sponsors! We couldn’t do it without these folks:



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