Performer Bios

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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).

Willie Watson

WillieWith a voice that could quaver in the operatic style of his favorite, Roy Orbison, Willie went on to discover North Carolina Appalachian fiddle and banjo players Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham, who played songs like “Cripple Creek,” “Sugar Hill” and “John Brown’s Dream” on a compilation cassette of “round peak style” music. He began to unearth Folkways albums, including the label’s groundbreaking 1952 Harry Smith compilation, Anthology of American Folk Music, which helped kick-start the ‘60s folk revival lovingly captured in the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. He discovered like-minded souls in Old Crow Medicine Show.

“When we started that band, I found people that were cut from the same musical cloth,” he says. “They were my age, into the same thing, going down a similar road. We started sharing our influences, trading records and playing together.”

A few years down that road, Watson’s work with Old Crow is already a large part of the reason that banjo and guitar driven music is heard everywhere in the air these days. On Folk Singer, we find Willie defending his musical turf. A true solo album in every sense, Watson is now center-stage, armed with an acoustic guitar, banjo and the occasional mouth harp. Indeed, hearing Watson’s skillful and subtle banjo and guitar accompaniments and soaring vocals unadorned for the first time is a revelation.

His debut solo album, Folk Singer Vol. 1, was produced by David Rawlings at Woodland Sound Studios, the studio he co-owns with associate producer Gillian Welch in Nashville, TN, over the course of a pair of two-day sessions, for their own Acony Records label. The album spans ten songs from the American folk songbook.

Chatham County Line

chathamChatham County Line is an American bluegrass musical group. Formed in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1999 from members of the band Stillhouse, the band has released seven albums including six on the influential Yep Roc label (who they were linked with by the notable producer Chris Stamey),and have become popular in Europe as well as their native United States. Their most recent tour took in numerous European destinations, including the prestigious Lowlands rock festival in the Netherlands. Chatham County Line made their Canadian debut in July 2009 at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, where they performed beside The Del McCoury Band and The Punch Brothers.

The members met in 1996 when lead singer/songwriter Dave Wilson was playing for “Stillhouse”. Wilson is the son of Charlotte poet Dede Wilson and was living in the Blue House, an infamous Raleigh crash pad and romper room for the areas hottest young musicians. The other members are banjo picker Chandler Holt, upright bassist Greg Readling, and multi-instrumentalist John Teer. Wilson and Readling were playing in the Blue House as “Stillhouse” when Teer and Holt became intrigued “to hear these guys playing original country music that didn’t suck” as Holt recalls. Holt and Teer befriended Wilson at the Blue House and began sitting in with the band. Wilson, over a beer one night, asked the others if they were interested in starting a bluegrass band.

The 23 String Band

23stringsThe 23 String Band plays fun, fuel-injected, original Americana that dangerously weaves across the lanes of modern acoustic music — windows down, accelerator to the floor, on a joyride into the unknown with one eye on the vintage sounds in the rearview mirror. It’s a bluegrass attack fueled by high-octane rock-n-roll energy and triple-distilled oldtimey roots. Your feet hurt from dancing; your face hurts from grinning. Get ready: you’re riding shotgun!


Sons of Bluegrass

sons of bluegrassHeralded as one of the best upcoming Bluegrass bands in the country, the award winning Sons of Bluegrass are setting the standard for a new generation of Bluegrass professionals. Comprised entirely of high caliber Bluegrass Majors from the one of a kind four year B.A. in Bluegrass Music Program at East Tennessee State University, The Sons of Bluegrass provide high quality, high energy entertainment to festivals and venues throughout United States. As Audio-Technica endorsed artists The Sons are working with award winning guitarist and songwriter Tim Stafford as their personal mentor, and are honing their craft to mastery Having been featured in Bluegrass Today several times, having been awarded the 2012 “Arts Build Communities” Grant from The Tennessee Arts Commission, and having been recognized as The 2012 Championship Bluegrass band by the State of North Carolina, the Sons are garnering recognition on a regional and national level at unprecedented speed. Working, performing and recording with some of the biggest names in Bluegrass music The Sons are on the rise.

Snyder Family Band

The 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). Mom, Laine, occasionally joins in with harmony vocals, and six-year-old Owen also makes special appearances singing or playing guitar.

Samantha, now thirteen, 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.

Carolina Crossing

Carolina Crossing is a bluegrass band from the mountains of North Carolina, which was formed in early 2010.  Carolina Crossing is committed to keeping bluegrass music alive with a good selection of standards and original material.  The band enjoys performing hard-driving arrangements to soft ballads.  Venues such as festivals, churches, local events, and private parties are the mainstays of the band’s bookings.

Gary Trivette is the band’s upright bass player and sings lead and tenor.  He was born and raised in Watauga County, North Carolina. Curtis Main plays the banjo and compliments the group with his lead and harmony vocals.  He is from Watauga County, North Carolina. Corey Pittman plays lead guitar and fiddle and contributes vocally also.  He makes his home in Avery County, North Carolina. Blake Vance is the band’s mandolin player and also makes his home in Avery County, North Carolina. Tyler Thompson plays lead and rhythm guitar and also contributes vocally.  He was born in Watauga County, North Carolina and now makes his home in Mountain City, Tennessee.

Upright N’ Breathin’

It all started at a secret downtown Boone location, the legendary jam room in Ben Smith’s basement. Ben knew a mandolin player named Jeff Moretz, and they invited John Sheffield over to play some fiddle tunes. John invited Brian Kreher, and from the first night they all played together, they knew something special was happening. It was on. They booked a weekly gig and people started paying attention to their unique mountain sound. They started earning their fans, one show, and one music-lover at a time.

Since those early days of basement jams and back porches, Upright n’ Breathin’ continues to develop and evolve. Today, Jeff Moretz, Brian Kreher, Kim France, Chris Capozzoli and the band’s newest addition from Ashe County, bass player Ryan McClure,  form the core of Upright & Breathin’.

The New River Boys


From their humble beginnings in 2009, The New River Boys, created and established in Boone NC, developed a reputation for their engaging performances and ever-increasing, energetic fan base. With their well-blended harmonies and their infectious personalities, The New River Boys are a fantastic force to be reckoned with! Together, Andrew Jacobs (guitar/vocals), Aaron Simpson (mandolin/vocals), and Everett Hardin (cello/vocals) work to develop and refine the group’s unique sound.


He Said…She Said…he said she said

Appalachian Folk originals with a bluegrass flavor. Kim and Pete’s songs come from life’s experiences, and tell stories of love, loss, and inspiration. Their music has been featured on WNCW’s “Local Color” and “This Ole Porch”, and at Music Fest N Sugar Grovel, where for the past four years Kim and Pete have been guest artists for the Songwriter Showcase.

Kim McWhirter : As a dedicated and professional dancer , Kim McWhirter has honed her rhythm skills that come through in her guitar style. She began playing guitar professionally in 2004 when she joined husband Pete for their first gig. Previous to that, she had been writing songs and working on her vocal style. Kim has been featured at many songwriter workshops and brings an honest voice and heartfelt joy to her songs. She still does a mean buck dance too.

Pete McWhirter : A professional musician since 1984 Pete cut his teeth playing the Asheville North Carolina bars . Mainly progressive rock styles that led him to participate in some Dramatic dance theater with the Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater in the mid 80’s. Ad-lib creative approaches led the way toward his vision of music. In the mid 90’s Pete began to get together with long time friend Kenny Jobe, and pickin’ around the dining room table.

Pete and Kim are also potters in Yancey County, continuing the McWhirter family business that has thrived since 1963, and are currently making small pottery jugs for the Grammy Award-winning traditional group The Carolina Chocolate Drops. They have just released their first album, He Said, She Said’s “The Dream” which is available at their live performances as well as all the on-line stores, Amazon, I-Tunes, and

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!


ETSU Country Pride Band

ETSU-Country-Pride-Summer-2014Comprised of talented young musicians from ETSU’s world renowned Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music program, these folks deliver a truly timeless country sound. Their love of traditional music has brought them from points all over the country into east Tennessee to study the roots of the music they love, and to take their already impressive musical skills to new heights. Covering classic country artists from Kitty Wells to Patsy Cline, Hank Williams to Johnny Cash, a little dash of Elvis, and a few modern gems, ETSU Country Pride stays true to the roots of country music.


Whitetop Mountain Band

whitetop mtnbandThe Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based band from the highest mountains of Virginia. Whitetop, Virginia is an area rich in the old time music tradition; this band has deep roots in mountain music. The members have done much to preserve the Whitetop region’s style of old time fiddling and banjo picking and are legendary musicians and teachers of the style.

At the same time, Whitetop Mountain Band shows are very versatile and entertaining containing everything from fiddle/banjo instrumentals to powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old timey ballads, originals, and four part mountain gospel songs. Shows also include flat foot dancing. The band is well known for their high energy and charisma on stage.

The Whitetop Mountain Band is one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains. They have a great following at square dances all over Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky at venues like the Carter Family Fold. The band has also performed at all sorts of venues throughout the United States from festivals to concerts, competitions, and colleges. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, National Folklife Festival, World Music Institute in NYC, Carter Family Festival, Dock Boggs Festival, World Fair, Virginia Arts Festival, Floydfest, Ola Belle Reed Festival and Merlefest are a few of the many festivals the band has performed at. They were featured on the NCTA Crooked Road Music tour of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho in October 2007 and the East Coast tour of MD, VA, PA, NJ, WV and D.C. in 2010. The band members have toured overseas in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. WTMB has also taught and been master musicians/dancers for workshops and classes in fiddle, banjo, guitar, vocals, and dance all over the US. Some of these include Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC, Cowan Creek Music School in KY, Mountain Music School in Big Stone Gap, and Mt. Rogers Combined School.

The band currently has recordings on the Arhoolie Record Label and Virginia Foundation of the Humanities. The band members have also been recorded by JuneAppal, Heritage and been on fiddle compilations for Rounder Records.

The Whitetop Mountain Band has been featured in many books, magazines, and TV/radio shows about Appalachian music such as The Guide to the Crooked Road, A Hotbed of Musicians, Strings of Life, In Good Keeping, Country Music Television, Travel Channel, PBS, Old Time Herald, and many TV news and radio programs.


Andy Ferrell & Oncoming Train

Andy Ferrell and Oncoming Train  It would make perfect sense for an artist from this region to create    a  modern equivalent to a sound Watson once called “traditional plus.” Ironically, it took a lengthy journey “On The Road” far from home — an extended soul searching stay in New Zealand, to be exact – for Ferrell to decide to defy conventional expectations and pursue his musical dreams. After attending Florida State and later enrolling in the renowned music program at East Tennessee State, he quit school altogether, formed his trio Oncoming Train (anchored by upright bassist Zach Smith) and began recording and performing. He still enjoys performing alone on occasion, but likes the extra dimensions and danceability that the trio brings to his songs.

The Buck Stops Here

Buck Stops Here2The Buck Stops Here (Gailanne, Shona, Julie, Rebecca & Jeffrey) is a band that likes a challenge. Gailanne Amundsen (of Jubal’s Kin) started the band with a few phone calls in August of 2013. She chose 3 girls from different parts of the east coast and asked if they wanted to try an experiment. She thought long and hard about who she wanted in the band and how they would all fit together like a creatively compatible puzzle. Putting some fiddles, old time AND bluegrass banjo, guitars, drums, upright bass and many singers in the pot; she knew she wanted a project that could combine old-time music with a very contemporary edge, great musicianship and spot on vocals.
Gailanne is the common link between the four girls, and her story of meeting them all is remarkably similar. All involve meeting at old-time music festivals and playing music all night long till the early morning sun. Rebecca and Julie met at a square dance at Appalachian State University, and have played together in other projects. At a festival Julie had been drawn over to where Shona sat singing in the eerie beginnings of dawn before the band started. They all met up for the first time a month later in Asheville North Carolina, took out their instruments and started to play……and they didn’t stop for next 2 days. In that first meeting they knew they had something special to offer the world. With original songs and tunes, a new take on traditional songs and an undeniable foot stomping groove, they take the old-time style and lend it a unique youthful energy. They are influenced by acts such as The Duhks, Dirk Powell, Carter Family and the Horseflies to name a few. With beautiful 4 part harmony, funky bass and original songs and tunes, these 4 girls (and their token buck) will win you over with their intimacy and reverence for the music they play.

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 picture

Trevor 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.



Alexa Rose

musicsugargroveSinger-songwriter Alexa Rose hails from the mountains of Virginia, bringing with her a blend of folk roots and soulful Americana. “With a voice that is as clear and lite as a spring morning in Appalachia and lyrics that could stand alone in a book of poetry, Alexa is first and foremost an artist. Like all great artists she has that uncanny ability to take a sparse palette and create images that are at once simple in their construction but so complex in their imagery.” (H.R. Smith)

Alexa’s debut album, North, was released in 2013 on the Catawba Records label.. She has been featured on WVTF Public Radio’s “Back to the Blue Ridge” program and is currently working on her second album.


Jeb Wooley

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






General Watson & the Demonbow Ramblers


DSC_4848Hailing from Boone, NC General Watson & the Demonbow Ramblers bring the full spectrum of Appalachian music to you – from Doc Watson to Sun Ra.




Sweet Treats


Sweet Treats is an Appalachian Americana duo composed of singer-songwriters Ashley Heath and Kevin Reese. Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, the two play a combination of mountain and roots based music mixed with other broad influences picked up along their musical journey.






many more to come….