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

Eddie Bond

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.

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.

Alice Gerrard

Alice Gerrard’s career spans some 50 years, learning from and performing with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats. Alice is especially known for her collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and 70’s, producing four classic LPs (reissued on CD) and influencing countless women singers. Her solo albums have been critically acclaimed in Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, and New Country, among others, and showcase her compelling, eclectic songwriting; her powerful, hard-edged vocals; and her instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and fiddle. Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings—with many traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, and Matokie Slaughter; she has also recorded with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich as Tom, Brad & Alice, with the Harmony Sisters, with Beverly Smith, with the Piedmont Melody Makers, and most recently with singer Kay Justice. She also co-produced and appeared in two documentary films. In 1987 she founded the Old-Time Herald magazine and edited it until 2003. A tireless advocate for traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award. Her recording, Follow the Music, was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for best folk album. Alice (along with Hazel) was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Assoc. Hall of Fame in 2017. She makes her home in Durham, NC. www.alicegerrard.com


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

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



Frank Lee

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.

Sarah Westhues Owen

Sarah Westhues Owen has been playing traditional music for most of her life.  She comes from a musical family and her parents, husband Jake, and son Ben are among her biggest musical influences.  She currently plays fiddle in her family band, the Owen Family Stringband.  Sarah has taught fiddle, guitar, and band classes at the Madison County Junior Appalachian Musicians program (through the Madison County Arts Council) for the past eight years.  She is the lead teacher for the program and enjoys sharing what she knows with the youth of her community.

 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

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.




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


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

Margaret Wright has been seriously playing the Mountain Dulcimer since 1994.  A not-so-by-chance visit to the McSpadden Dulcimer Shoppe changed the course of her family’s life.  Margaret teaches all around the country and loves to get folks started and direct them toward Old Time Music and jamming.  She and her late husband, Jerry, organized the very popular Palestine (Texas) Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival in 2002. She utilizes an enjoyable teaching style with a goal of getting you playing! Margaret is also the collector of tunes and author of the Twelve Tune Songbooks, a set of booklets devoted to transcribing tunes into a simple to read dulcimer tablature.   She and her family, including sons, Hollis and Lloyd, have 8 cd’s to their credit.   She would enjoy hearing from you.  margaretgwright@yahoo.com