2019 Instructors Bios

Kellie Allen

An accomplished old-time singer and sought-after backup guitarist and bass player, Kellie Allen hails from Kansas but now lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania with her husband, Pete Peterson. She started playing old-time tunes with her brother, fiddler and banjo player Greg Allen, while she was in her teens and was inspired to sing and play by her musical family. She served a stint in Pay Attention, a 1980s indie rock band, and later toured Europe playing old time music with the Delaware River Band. Known for her Riley Puckett-esque backup style, she sings old-time and early country duets with her partner Pete Peterson, teaches old-time guitar, bass, and singing at festivals and music camps, and has won prizes with the Orpheus Supertones and Waking Up Tillie, as well as individual awards in old time singing. She and Pete have a CD of duets titled “I’ll Never Forsake You.” http://www.mudthumper.com/orpheus-supertones.html


Laura Boosinger

Laura Boosinger is an award-winning performer and recording artist whose primary focus is the interpretation of traditional music from the Southern Appalachian region. Laura’s concerts offer a step back to a simpler time, awakening memories for the old and gently instilling important cultural lessons for the young. Her performances have included The Tennessee Homecoming at The Museum of Appalachia, MERLEFEST and Greensboro’s CITYSTAGES. Laura’s recording “My Carolina Home,” featured on folk programs across the nation, has received consistently glowing reviews. Her recording “Down the Road” is a collection of songs from many of her musical heroes and features some of Nashville’s finest, including Stuart Duncan, John and Jamie Hartford, Buddy Spicher, Aubrey Haynie, Mark Howard and Roy Huskey, Jr.

Paul Brown

Paul Brown learned his first songs and tunes as a kid from his mother, who carried them from her own childhood days in piedmont Virginia. He has also produced numerous recordings from his own fieldwork and other sources, and as a journalist has reported on the lives of significant traditional musicians. He spent years learning from and playing with master fiddlers, banjoists and singers including Benton Flippen, Paul Sutphin, Luther Davis, Robert Sykes, and Tommy and Benny Jarrell. He played with Benton Flippen & The Smokey Valley Boys, Robert Sykes & The Surry County Boys, with Frank and Ginger Bode, Terri McMurray, and Verlen Clifton in The Toast String Stretchers, and with John Schwab and Terri McMurray in the Mostly Mountain Boys. He has won the banjo prize several times at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, where he’s also won the senior fiddle prize and was named a master artist in 2013.  He loves sharing what he’s learned and helping musicians of all levels, and has led classes at music camps nationwide since the mid-1970s. Paul is a former NPR world news journalist who currently produces and hosts the syndicated Across the Blue Ridge show through WFDD Public Radio in Winston-Salem, NC.


Amy Buckingham

Amy Buckingham says she is living proof that life begins at 40.  That’s when she received a fiddle as a birthday present, and nothing has been the same since then.  Amy began music lessons on various instruments at a very young age (5) and has played many since then.  In her earlier adult life she played Celtic bouzouki and mandolin, with some old time mixed in.  Her deep love and appreciation for old time music also began at 40, and she has never looked back.  Amy learned fiddle and banjo from Dwight Diller and Marvin Gaster.  She met her husband Bob at a fiddler’s convention when she asked him to show her how to drop-thumb, and he has been her mentor since then on fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin.  Amy teaches bass, fiddle and mandolin in JAM programs and privately.  Bob and Amy play folk music, blues and old time together as The Blue Ridge Rounders, and Amy sings and plays fiddle, guitar and mandolin in the all-female, old time, BattleAxe Band, based in the Upstate of South Carolina.  Amy first attended Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week as a student in 1999 and has been on staff as co-director since 2017.

Bob Buckingham

Bob BuckinghamBob Buckingham (OTB): Bob Buckingham (OTB) has played banjo since the late 1960’s. For the past 15 years he has taught private lessons in Greenville, SC at 5th String Music and has taught at Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week in Mars Hill and teaches regularly at the John C. Campbell Folk School. He has appeared at festivals and contests winning numerous ribbons. He also has taught workshops throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic regions. He writes for Fiddler Magazine and Bluegrass Unlimited as well as occasionally for Banjo Newsletter.

Susie Coleman

On Susie Coleman’s living room wall hang eight first place singing awards from the annual Old-Time Singing competition at Middle Tennessee’s Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree, two from the Indiana State Folksinging contest, plus top awards at Uncle Dave Macon Days, Bluegrass Along The Harpeth and numerous other traditional music competitions. A lifelong musician and rhythm guitar player, she has since served multiple years as a judge at regional fiddlers conventions and written a series of four songbooks entitled Fabulous Folksongs Every Girl Should Know. Susie and fiddler-husband Kirk Pickering run the PegramJam.com website offering free audio recordings of hundreds of old-time tunes, and created the popular Pegram Jam Chord Chart Book. In addition to giving rhythm guitar and singing lessons, Susie is a web and graphics designer. Visit her website at folkslingers.com.



Hilary Dirlam

Hilary has extensive performance experience. She recently completed a month long tour of Australia with her present band, the Orpheus Supertones. She performed and recorded with North Carolina Heritage Award winners Luke and Harold Smathers and Carroll Best.

Several of Hilary’s original tunes and songs have been recorded by other traditional artists. She recently completed a recording project combining 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.

Hilary, along with Alice Gerrard and others, founded The Old-Time Herald in the mid-1980s. She helped to start the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week at MHU and was director of the program for many years thereafter. She has taught at numerous music camps including the Alabama Folk School, the Western North Carolina Banjo Clinic, as well as in the UK for FOATMAD.

With fiddler Mary Gordon, Hilary has co-authored several books in the All-In-One series, an innovative approach to old-time music including banjo tab and fiddle notation on facing pages. Her book Banjo Without Tears includes interesting tunes for aspiring banjo players. All books include CDs. To find out more, visit www.hilarydirlam.com. For information on the All-In-One books and workshops, visit the All-in-One Facebook page.

Sam Gleaves

Sam Gleaves - BROTMWSam Gleaves was born and raised in Wytheville, Virginia where he began playing music as a teenager with the help of local mentor Jim Lloyd, a multi-instrumentalist, storyteller and barber. Lloyd introduced Gleaves to nationally recognized ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams who shared with Gleaves the old “love songs” of her community tradition. Rooted in Appalachian sounds, Gleaves’ songwriting sings of contemporary rural life and social issues. While earning a degree in Folklore at Berea College, Gleaves performed with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble directed by Al White. In 2015, Gleaves collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Cathy Fink and released a debut record of original songs, titled “Ain’t We Brothers,” which has been featured by The Guardian, National Public Radio, and No Depression. Gleaves tours extensively in the U.S. and he has performed in Ireland, England, Canada, Japan and Italy. In 2017, Gleaves released a duo recording with Tyler Hughes, which received glowing reviews from Fatea, Rock n Reel, fROOTS, and others. In 2018, Gleaves collaborated with Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer on a trio recording, “Shout & Shine,” which Justin Hiltner of the Bluegrass Situation called, “viscerally powerful . . . a perfect illustration of cross-generational mind melds and musical melds.”  Gleaves now makes his home in Hindman, Kentucky where he currently serves as the Traditional Arts Director at the Hindman Settlement School. A passionate teaching artist, Gleaves has shared Appalachian traditions at numerous music camps, colleges, universities, and public schools.


Charlie and Nancy Hartness

Charlie and Nancy Hartness have played old-time string band music together for more than twenty years. Some years ago Charlie tired of the way the guitar hurt his hand and he picked up a ukulele that a friend bought at the Goodwill. He sold his guitar in short order. Charlie and Nancy live in Athens, Georgia, where they are known as the duo Hawk Proof Rooster. www.hawkproofrooster.com


Kay Justice

Kay Justice grew up in the small town of English, WV, located in the southernmost county in the state. At an early age she began singing in school plays and at Sunday school and church. Later, when she was in nursing school, she discovered the music of popular folk singers of the time including Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Ian and Sylvia and others. Drawn to the music, she began singing and playing many of the folk songs of the day. Further exploration into traditional music led Kay to the songs of Appalachia. In the 1970’s, while a student at Clinch Valley College, she met Helen Lewis and Rich Kirby who organized a seminar in Appalachian music. There she heard Addie Grahm, Kate Peters Sturgill, Ralph Stanley, Nimrod Workman, Beechard Smith and other old-time Appalachian singers. Her quest to learn that music was begun and continues today. Kay has taught and performed for many years now in both solo and as a member of various duos and string bands. Past teaching experience includes Blue Ridge Old-time Music Week, Augusta Heritage Vocal Week, Alleghany Echoes, and the Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp. She has performed extensively throughout the United States and in Canada. Kay is known as a gentle and welcoming instructor who loves passing her music to others.

Steve Kilby

Steve Kilby - BROTMWSteve Kilby, born in Wilkes County NC, now lives in Mouth of Wilson VA with his wife Penny. He began playing guitar at age 12, learning the fiddle tunes of his grandfather. He took this love of old time fiddle tunes and developed flatpicking guitar versions of many of them, which led him to winning most guitar competitions in northwest NC and southwest VA.


Evan Kinney

Evan Kinney grew up in a family of old time music in his native Kennesaw, Georgia. He learned from his father at an early age and has continued to hone his skills by studying the eccentric guitar playing of 20’s recording artists such as Riley Puckett, Slim Bryant and Melvin Dupree. Also a fiddler and banjo player, Evan has performed with bands such as The HickHoppers, Georgia Crackers and Dixieland Squirrel Skinners and has taught traditional music at John C Campbell, The Alabama Folk School, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and The Brooklyn Folk Fest.

Mick Kinney

Mick Kinney has been playing traditional fiddle since the 1970’s, and is skilled in a multitude of instruments in an eclectic repertoire, which includes Cajun, blues, rags, and swing. Mick has taught old-time music at The Swannanoa Gathering, the Alabama Folk School, and the Blue Ridge Old-time Music Week, among others, and performs regularly with his string band, The Georgia Crackers. To learn more about his band and to hear them play, go to https://www.facebook.com/georgiacrackers/app_155326481208883



Allie Lee

Allie Lee - BROTMWAllie (Burbrink) Lee is a guitar and banjo player, singer, and former 7th grade English teacher. Allie sings and plays guitar, banjo, harmonica, and mandolin in a duo with husband Frank Lee. Additionally she sings and plays guitar in The Freight Hoppers. She and Frank also coordinate and teach at an old-time music retreat in the spring called Banjo-Fiddle Frolic. Before moving to North Carolina, Allie worked in Indiana- based band The Whipstitch Sallies from 2010 – 2016, where she sang lead and harmony, wrote songs, played guitar, clawhammer banjo, and harmonica. She also taught guitar camps for kids for several years through Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. Allie lives with Frank and his daughter Willow in Bryson City, NC


Frank Lee

Frank Lee - BROTMWA passion for traditional songs and tunes from the rural South has fueled Frank Lee’s love of performing for the past 40 years. As a founding member of The Freight Hoppers, he has shared this passion with audiences all over the United States, Canada, and northern Europe. His repertoire has a range of old time music from raw Blues from the Mississippi Delta to the hillbilly music recorded in the 1920s to classic bluegrass. Frank first began playing banjo in 1976. In the early 90s, he began studying and playing Round Peak music, inspiring him to explore the tones of fretless and nylon-stringed banjos. His clawhammer instructional DVD on Homespun and recordings with The Freight Hoppers inspire banjo players all over the world to study and emulate his signature sound.

Emolyn Liden

Emolyn Liden is a Brasstown, North Carolina native, raised on a sheep farm a few miles from the John C. Campbell Folk School, where traditional music, dance and craft were, quite literally, all around.  She started clogging, morris and contra/square dancing at a young age.  Her dancing resume now boasts: present member of the Green Grass Cloggers of Asheville; past member of the Cane Creek Cloggers of Chapel Hill; percussive dance duo performances with renowned, Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval; member of Cape Breton step dance team Twistycuffs; 1st place flatfooting winner at Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Convention and 3rd place winner at Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival.  She has learned from and continues the steps of Ira Bernstein, Robert Dotson, Phil Jamison, Rodney Sutton, Thomas Maupin, and others.  She plays old time fiddle and sings in her band The Puddle Jumpers String Band and is building her business specializing in hand knitwear design and instruction as The Roving Knitter (therovingknitter.com/emolynknits.blogspot.com).


Terri McMurray

Terri McMurray shows up with a sharp wit, a memorable smile and great chops on 5-string banjo, banjo uke, and guitar.  She looked and listened hard during her many years around some of the great master traditional musicians in North Carolina and southern Virginia, and it shows in her playing. She co-founded the Old Hollow String Band with Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin, and has since performed with the Toast String Stretchers, the Mostly Mountain Boys and the Mountain Birch Duo with Paul Brown. She has taught at numerous music camps including the Swannanoa Gathering, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Augusta Old-Time Week, Pinewoods Camp and the Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camp. She’s also taught at various banjo camps including Banjo Camp North, American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo Camp and Suwannee Banjo Camp. She is a well-loved teacher known for her engaging manner, patience and ability to work with students of all ages.


 Barbara Panter-Connah

The Rosin Sisters are Barbara Panter-Connah and Jan Smith from Atlanta, and Ann Whitley-Singleton from Dahlonega, Georgia. These three “heart sisters” came together as a trio about eight years ago when Ann was still living in the big city, but they have known each other through the traditional music scene for almost thirty years. They perform around the southeast and have taught harmony singing here at the Blue Ridge Old-time Music Week, the Palestine Old-time Music and Dulcimer Festival in Palestine, Texas, the 2014 Organization of American Kodaly Educators Conference, and the Bear on the Square Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. They have produced two CD’s, Sweet Sunny South and Walking Through Times Door.

Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson fell in love with old-time banjo more than 50 years ago, and says “When everyone else wanted to sound like Tommy Jarrell, I wanted to sound like Charlie Poole.” In fact, he owns one of Poole’s banjos. “It seems to know some tunes better than others,” Peterson says. He used that banjo to win the Grand Prize Three-Finger Banjo award at the Charlie Poole festival in Eden, NC and has been a frequent prizewinner at the Appalachian Stringband Festival. He currently plays banjo in the Orpheus Supertones (with Walt Koken, Clare Milliner, Hilary Dirlam, and his wife Kellie Allen) and in several other bands, including the Ubiquitones (with Adam Hurt, Beth Hartness and Kellie) and the Jane Rothfield Trio (with Jane and Kellie). He writes articles and reviews for the Old-time Herald and lives in Oxford PA, where he and Kellie host music parties and house concerts.


Howard Rains

Howard Rains - BROTMWHoward Rains is a native Texas artist and fiddler, now living in Kansas. He comes from a musical and artistic family and his two obsessions are painting and playing traditional American fiddle music. The New York Times has said, “Rains has established himself as an authority on old Texas-style fiddling.” Howard plays rare, old tunes learned from friends, family, mentors, and old recordings. As much known for his painting as his fiddling, Howard has focused much of his work on documenting living traditional musicians in watercolor in his unique style. SpencerAndRains.com


Robby Robertson

Robby Robertson grew up playing music with friends and family around Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina.  He plays for dances and gatherings that aren’t too far from home and has taught old-time music to kids through the JAM program in Haywood County for the last 17 years.




Emily Schaad

Emily Schaad has been playing and teaching music for nearly her whole life. With a background in classical music and public school music education, she first came to North Carolina to learn from well-known fiddle masters and earn an MA in Appalachian studies. She is known for a complex and powerful fiddling style, and has taken first place in numerous stringband and fiddle contests, including the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. Emily currently performs with old-time stringband Blue Ridge Broadcasters, conducts youth orchestras in NC and SC, teaches fiddle and violin, and is working toward a doctorate in music education.


Beverly Smith

One of the most respected guitar players in old time music today, Beverly Smith is also in demand as a singer, fiddler, mandolin player and dance caller. Besides her highly praised recordings of early country duets with Carl Jones, John Grimm and Alice Gerrard, her guitar playing has been featured on recordings of fiddlers Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Tara Nevins and Brad Leftwich, and her singing with Mick Moloney, John Doyle, Laurie Lewis, Alice Gerrard and others.  Along with Rose Sinclair, Tara Nevins and June Drucker, she was a founding member of The Heartbeats Rhythm Quartet. Following the Heartbeats she joined with Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini to form Big Hoedown and later played with Rafe, John Herrmann and Meredith McIntosh as The Rockinghams.  She has taught at music camps all over the world, has been a featured guest on A Prairie Home Companion, ETown, Mountain Stage and Voice of America, and has toured extensively in both the US, Canada and Europe.  Her guitar playing was featured in the October 2000 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

Jan Smith

The Rosin Sisters are Barbara Panter-Connah and Jan Smith from Atlanta, and Ann Whitley-Singleton from Dahlonega, Georgia. These three “heart sisters” came together as a trio about eight years ago when Ann was still living in the big city, but they have known each other through the traditional music scene for almost thirty years. They perform around the southeast and have taught harmony singing here at the Blue Ridge Old-time Music Week, the Palestine Old-time Music and Dulcimer Festival in Palestine, Texas, the 2014 Organization of American Kodaly Educators Conference, and the Bear on the Square Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. They have produced two CD’s, Sweet Sunny South and Walking Through Times Door.

Tricia Spencer

Tricia Spencer - BROTMWTricia Spencer is a Kansas fiddler who grew up learning the tradition of old-time music from her grandparents.  At an early age, she was perched up on some stage tapping her foot to the beat of fiddles, banjos, mandolins and guitars.  While growing up, her free time was spent traveling to festivals and fiddling contests throughout the Midwest where she learned from the likes of Pete McMahan, Cyril Stinnet, Lymon Enloe, Dwight Lamb, Amos Chase, and Lucy Pierce. Tricia is multi-instrumentalist who has studied with some of the great masters in old-time and is highly sought after as a performer, dance fiddler, and instructor. SpencerAndRains.com


Ellen Vigour

Ellen Vigour has been playing mandolin in old-time string bands since the late 1970’s (including the Crossroads String Band, the Blue Sky Girls, the Green Hills String Band, Country Ham, and Uncle Henry’s Favorites). She formed her band, Uncle Henry’s Favorites, over thirty years ago and the group is still going strong with all the original members. As well as performing at many festivals in the United States, she has performed with Uncle Henry’s Favorites in the UK, and on A Prairie Home Companion. Ellen has presented mandolin, fiddle, and string band workshops at various music camps and festivals including Augusta Heritage Center, Blue Ridge Old-time Music Week, Front Porch String Band Camp, The Woodfest, and Buffalo Gap. Ellen and her husband Pete have organized many string band camps and workshops in their local area. They have been performing traditional music together for 40 years.

 Pete Vigour

Pete Vigour has enjoyed learning and playing old-time music since his childhood in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  He and his wife Ellen have resided in the Charlottesville area since the 1970’s.  Pete is an experienced music teacher, including teaching mandolin and other instruments in local schools for 25 years, and also at Augusta, Pinewoods, Sierra Swing, Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week and his own music camps.  He has won first place ribbons in both fiddle and clawhammer banjo at fiddlers’ conventions in Virginia and West Virginia. With his wife Ellen, Pete has played and toured with the old-time string band, Uncle Henry’s Favorites, since 1985.  He enjoys jamming with his students at every opportunity.


Helen White

A fiddler, singer, guitarist and tunesmith, Helen White is well known and respected as a musician in her home region of Southwest Virginia and her native North Carolina. She has taught at numerous camps around the country. She founded the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program and led it for 15 years.  This notable program introduces children to traditional music in afterschool settings – currently in 40 locations in 4 states. Helen has toured extensively with Wayne Henderson in the U.S. and Europe. Her compositions include works for theater and video projects as well as a Booklist honored recording of original songs for children. She has recently returned to school to study music composition. 

Ann Whitley:

Raised in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Ann was singing and playing music from a very young age. Though she was always drawn to country and bluegrass music, her first exposure to old-time music in the country dance scene in Atlanta told her where she belonged.  Her violin came out of the closet and she listened and played and worked to make the instrument become a fiddle.  Soon she was playing with the Peavine Creek String Band, the Atlanta Swamp Opera Cajun Band, and now with Whistlin’ Rufus and the Rosin Sisters.  Her love of singing caused her to take up the guitar in 2001, then the bass, then the ukulele, and now the clawhammer banjo.  A retired public school educator, she is Curriculum Director and a fiddle teacher for the Georgia Pick & Bow Traditional Music School, an after-school program teaching Appalachian Music to 4th graders through high school in Dahlonega, Georgia, where she lives and also teaches private lessons for youngsters and adults.  For many years now she has co-directed the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week at Mars Hill University, and has taught singing and fiddle at the Alabama Folk School for the past five years.

Lloyd Wright

Lloyd Wright has been performing music in the Old Time scene for over 20 years alongside his family: Jerry, Margaret, and Hollis, who are all accomplished musicians, storytellers, song writers, and entertainers. Lloyd’s recent ambitions have focused on his festival in Kennard, Texas at The Old Mill Music Festival where he hosts a wide array of artists every November. He and his wife, April, are enthusiastic performers in East Texas and have recently completed their first duet album “Wondrous Love,” featuring old time gospel, fiddle tunes and a touch of bluegrass.



Margaret Wright