Performer Bios

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Krüger Brothers

Kruger-Brothers-Aug-2014Born and raised in Europe, brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger started singing and playing instruments at a very young age. Growing up in a family where music was an important part of life, they were exposed to a wide diversity of musical influences. The brothers were performing regularly by the time they were eleven and twelve years old, and they began their professional career in 1979. Jens’ and Uwe’s first public performances were as a duo, and in just a few years they were busking on the streets of cities throughout eastern and western Europe.

CBS Records contracted with Jens and Uwe when Jens was just seventeen years old, and shortly thereafter, the Krugers hosted a radio show on SRG SSR, the Swiss Public broadcast group. Several years later, the brothers teamed up with bass player Joel Landsberg, a native of New York City who also had a very extensive musical upbringing in classical and jazz music (studying with jazz great Milt Hinton), thus forming a trio that has been playing professionally together since 1995. Together, they established the incomparable sound that The Kruger Brothers are known for today. The trio moved to the United States in 2002 and is based in Wilkesboro, NC.

Since their formal introduction to American audiences in 1997, The Kruger Brothers’ remarkable discipline, creativity and their ability to infuse classical music into folk music has resulted in a unique sound that has made them a fixture within the world of acoustic music. The honesty of their writing has since become a hallmark of the trio’s work.

In their ever-expanding body of work – Jens Kruger (banjo and vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar and lead vocals), and Joel Landsberg (bass and vocals) – The Kruger Brothers personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Their original music is crafted around their discerning taste, and the result is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh.

In addition to their regular concert schedule, The Kruger Brothers perform these classical pieces regularly with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver


With almost 40 albums to their credit, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have multiple Grammy, Dove, ICM, IBMA and SPBGMA Award nominations, and are seven-time winners of IBMA’s Vocal Group of the Year Award. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are the reigning Inspirational Country Music Association Vocal Group of the Year, crowned in October at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, on the heels of Lawson’s induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame at the Ryman Auditorium on September 27, 2012.

Lawson was heralded by journalist Craig Havighurst as “one of music’s lions” following Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver’s performance at the 2011 IBMA Awards Press Conference in Nashville. Of DLQ’s performance, which garnered three standing ovations from a sold-out crowd in Nashville, Havighurst wrote: “There was no question who was going to close the show. Doyle Lawson is one of music’s lions at this point, and when he came out in perhaps the most beautiful western jacket I’ve ever seen… he was a holy vision. … When DLQ, in quartet mode, nailed the final chorus of the a cappella gospel song “He Made It All Right,” I swear we were mainlining the holy spirit. You know how the word awesome gets overused and misused? Here’s where it applies.” (

A native Tennessean, Lawson was honored in February 2012 by Governor Bill Haslam and the State of Tennessee for his contributions to the state and America through his music (Senate Joint Resolution 467). Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (DLQ) were very visible in 2011 through multiple national television appearances and a European tour, while their album “Drive Time” spent several weeks atop the new Alternate Roots Top 66 International Bluegrass Chart at #1, reflecting radio airplay nationwide and across the globe. “Drive Time” was also heralded as an Essential Album of 2011 by “Acoustic Guitar” magazine (Feb 2012 issue).

Town Mountain

townmountainTown Mountain was formed out of the fertile music scene of Asheville, located in the mountains of western North Carolina. The sound of the award-winning group can best be described as traditional bluegrass, albeit with a rough-hewn side to it that is not too slick or glossy. They are a band of the here-and-now, yet they have a groove that is based on the bluesy and swinging sounds explored by the first generation of bluegrass pioneers of the last century. With the success of their latest album, Leave The Bottle, the word is out with some of their best reviews yet.

Riding on the momentum of Leave the Bottle, Town Mountain came away from the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass convention with a couple of IBMA Momentum Awards in had for “Band of the Year” and lead singer Robert Greer for “Vocalist of the Year”. Town Mountain includes Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, and Nick  DiSebastian on bass.

Snyder Family Band

SFB-FamilyThe Snyder Family Band features the talents of siblings Zeb and Samantha Snyder from Lexington, NC.  Backed by their dad, Bud, on upright bass, this band has delighted and surprised audiences at venues including Merlefest (Wilkesboro, NC), Music City Roots (Nashville, TN), Bristol Rhythm & Roots (Bristol, VA/TN), the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree (Nashville, TN), the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer Festival (Columbus, OH), and the Red White and Bluegrass Festival (Morganton, NC). They have also appeared on the “WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour” (Lexington, KY) and twice on the PBS TV program “Song of the Mountains” (Marion, VA).

Samantha, now sixteen, began playing classical violin at age three.  In 2007 she won first place at the Jimmy Edmonds Homecoming Competition in Galax, VA. In 2008 at age nine she became the youngest ever to win the prestigious Fiddler of the Festival award at Fiddler’s Grove, NC.  She also won the 2011 Adult Bluegrass Fiddle competition at the Old Fiddler’s Convention held in Galax, VA. In addition to playing fiddle, Samantha sings both lead and harmony vocals.

Zeb, now sixteen, began classical guitar lessons at age seven.  In 2007, he won the top prize, a Wayne Henderson guitar, at the Jimmy Edmonds Homecoming Competition in Galax, VA. In 2011 he became the South Carolina Guitar Champion at RenoFest in Hartsville, SC.  He also placed first in the adult guitar competition at the 2011 Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA.  In addition to guitar and mandolin, Zeb also plays banjo, bass, and dobro and sings lead and harmony vocals.

The Snyder Family’s latest CD, titled “Stages,” was released in October 2011 on the Mountain Roads Recordings record label. Samantha wrote the title track as well as two other songs and Zeb wrote two instrumentals on this project.  There is even a bonus track featuring Owen, the youngest member of the family.

Billy Strings & Don Julin

billy_stringsIncendiary American roots duo Billy Strings & Don Julin tap into the vein of the earliest bluegrass music on their new album Fiddle Tune X,  back when bluegrass was a rough-and-tumble art form pouring out of the Appalachian mountains, made with great virtuosity and huge attitude. With just two instruments (guitar and mandolin) and one voice, this duo has been tearing up stages across America and generating huge buzz based on their intense live shows.

Drenched in sweat, grimacing like a banshee, howling like a bluegrass berserker, and picking with such ferocity that he’s been known to break three strings in one song, 22 year old guitarist and singer Billy Strings could have tumbled out of coal country in the old mountains, tattoos and all, but actually hails from Michigan, where he met mandolinist Don Julin. Older in years and experience, Strings’ musical partner Julin has carved out a lengthy career at the forefront of acoustic mandolin music, known for his wide versatility, powerful picking technique, and remarkable creativity on this humble instrument.

On stage, the two egg each other on to more and more intense riffs and improvised breaks, pushing harder and harder on their own abilities to try to break through to new levels of musicianship.

Amantha Mill

489_amanthamill111Amantha Mill is a community oriented folk/bluegrass act that is based out of Boone, North Carolina. Becca Eggers-Gryder formed Amantha Mill and derived our name from the small mill community of Amantha, NC from which her family comes. The original mill that we are named after washed away many years ago in a flood, but if you’re driving through Cove Creek you can still see part of its footing.  We hope you enjoy the musical heritage that the old Bingham roller mill gave us to share.

Amantha Mill has honed their sound and performance to include musical types from traditional Bluegrass to Swing, Cowboy, Country, and Americana/Roots.  There is something in each of our shows that will satisfy everyone.

Broke Holler

Kim & Pete-3335Kim and Pete McWhirter’s songs come from life’s experiences, and tell stories of love, loss, and inspiration. For the past ten years they have been performing their music all around North Carolina, from Oakracoke to Bryson City. In 2004 Kim joined her husband to share the songs she had written.

The blending of their mountain voices and guitar styles are a natural development of who they are, and where they grew up in Yancey county North Carolina. They have recently renamed the duo “Broke Holler”, and have released their second CD on the “Airborn” record label titled “Mountain Songbook”, a collection of mountain favorites made famous by artists including Doc & Merle Watson, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and the Carter Family.

You might remember them from years past as” He Said She Said”, or “Doc Hill”, both entities have played the Music Fest stages. Their music has been featured on WNCW’s “Local Color” , “This Ole Porch”, and at Merle Fest. Pete and Kim are also potters in Yancey County, continuing the McWhirter family business that has thrived since 1963 Look for them to the left of the main stage, and on the Solar Stage at this years Music Fest n Sugar Grove

Spirit Fiddle

SpiritFiddlePromo5bw10Composed of Champion Fiddler Robin Warren and Guitarist Brian Clancey, Spirit Fiddle, performs a wide variety of energetic music. Their repertoire ranges from bouncy Southern and Texas swing tunes to sweet waltzes, old popular songs, bluegrass numbers, French Canadian and Celtic jigs and reels, and Parisian musette.

From The Boston Museum of Fine Arts to the renowned Fiddler’s Grove Festival in Union Grove, North Carolina, from the syrup festival in Henderson, Texas, to the oldest bluegrass festival in Canada, from sidewalk cafes to coffee houses and formal concerts, audiences delight in the eclectic mix of music Spirit Fiddle performs, and in their natural sense of humor on stage. Since its first appearance over 12 years ago, Spirit Fiddle has given 100s of performances and recorded 6 full-length albums.

After studying classical violin as a child, and giving solo violin recitals in Boston’s Brown Hall and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Master Fiddler Robin Warren took first place prizes in numerous fiddle contests in North Carolina and New England. She was the first fiddler ever to win the coveted Fiddler of the Festival title during 3 different years at Fiddler’s Grove in North Carolina. For this, she was granted the title of Master Fiddler. She is also one of several fiddlers featured in the 1994 PBS Special entitled Fiddler’s Grove, a Celebration of Old-Time Music. She has appeared on over 2 dozen albums and collections.

Brian Clancey brings a lifetime of experience (from Renaissance lute to bluegrass) to his sensitive guitar arrangements of Spirit Fiddle tunes. Drawing on musical experience that crosses boundaries of time and style, he is able to create an authentic setting for each Spirit Fiddle tune. Brian is known throughout the Boston area as an outstanding rhythm player, and he is a popular backup guitar player at contests and festivals throughout New England.

SavannahSavannah Smith

Newcomer Savannah Smith, originally from Tupelo, brings North Mississippi soul to whatever stage she graces. Her original songs and their heartfelt melodies evoke emotions usually associated with more seasoned writers. Savannah is poised and ready to be the next important female singer/songwriter to come from the talent rich region of Western North Carolina!

Be on the lookout for Savannah’s new project, recorded at the prestigious Echo Mountain studios in Asheville, NC. You don’t wanna miss this talented young artist perform!


The Cockman Family

cockman1_600Since launching their performing career in February of 1988, the Cockman Family has developed the classic family harmonies and youthful flair that is the Cockman Family trademark. Their unique bluegrass gospel style, original songs and original arrangements of the old gospel songs have been immensely popular with their audiences. This group’s family ties are strong and the warmth of that is conveyed in their performances.
UNC-TV has featured The Cockman Family on seven one-hour “The Arthur Smith Show: Now & Then” public television specials, “Carolina Christmas,” and “George Beverly Shea & Friends.” The Cockman Family also starred in an hour-long holiday program entitled “A Cockman Family Christmas: Maker of the Stars.” The holiday program was included on the national programming of the American Public Television.
The family performed many shows during three summers at Opryland and Dollywood.
The Cockman Family was awarded the 2011 North Carolina Community Traditions Award, given by the North Carolina Folklore Society. This award recognizes contributions and appreciation of state folk life. Billy Cockman is the current, National Banjo Champion. In addition, he is a former North Carolina State banjo championship and South Carolina State banjo championship. Ben Cockman won the 2012 South Carolina State and West Virginia State Flat-pick Guitar championships, the 2012 Merlefest Flat-pick guitar championship, the 2012 Wayne Henderson Bluegrass Festival Guitar Flat-pick championship and the 2012 Ossipee Music Festival’s New England Guitar Championship. Ben also won the 2013 4th place National Guitar Flat-Pick and 4th place National Mandolin championships. Caroline Cockman Fisher, lead singer of the group was chosen the 2011 Songwriter of the Year by PowerGrass Internet Radio. The Cockman Family was awarded the 2011 Bluegrass Gospel Group of the Year by Southern Branch Bluegrass Radio. Dr. John Cockman, Jr., instructs a summer fiddle camp in Boone for mountain kids. Ben teaches guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro and bass full time. Billy teaches banjo part time and David teaches bass fiddle and guitar part time.
The two oldest grandchildren, the “Butterpats,” Arwen & Lorien Cockman, ages 12 &14 won the National WMA Harmony Yodeling Duo and the WMA Youth Harmony awards at the Western Music Association in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
With 10 grandchildren, the Bluegrass Tradition lives on.

Mike Preslar

Mike Preslar

Mike is a Resident of Rural Avery County that regularly plays venues around the High Country. Composing Original Songs drawn from experience’s and covering Traditional Folk, Blues, Gospel and Irish Ballads Mike enjoys the songs that tell a Story and Paint a Picture. Don’t be afraid to Sing along if you know the Tune!

Polly Lorien

Polly LorienPolly Lorien grew up singing in a quiet coulee in Montana, then spent her college years learning to blow glass in Boston. During the cold North Carolina winter of 2004, she started pickin’ on a friend’s guitar and quickly got hooked. Polly began writing her own songs in 2007 while living in Hawaii.

North Carolina proved irresistible, and by 2008 Polly was back. In 2012 she released a full album of original tunes (“Lorien & Early”), accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Bob Early. Polly continues making music and glass, although her priority these days is her wonderful one-year-old daughter, Ginger Mae.

This savvy songstress has more than just love to wail about—her original tunes are as thoughtful as they are soulful. Polly’s custom blend of blues, folk, and jazz is known as “Hickster Jive.” Her songs urge listeners to live life to the fullest – it’s Hickster Jive to Help You Thrive!

Trevor McKenzie

Trevor pictureTrevor McKenzie is a fiddler, singer, and song compositioneer. He always has his ear to the ground for local histories and songs which capture life, communities, and personalities from both within the Appalachian Region and places off (but usually within the “Slaw Zone“). McKenzie will be playing solo in the Cove Creek Museum at MusicFest but he can often be heard picking with the Elkville String Band or guesting as a sideman for various other regional acts.

Jeb Wooley

Jeb Wooley is an acoustic duo from western North Carolina and East Tennessee performing Americana standards and Old Time Classics.



many more to come….