Specific times will be posted soon. (All information subject to change.)
Bailee Brandon & Jerry Sutton
Bailee is a 13 year old fiddle player who enjoys both playing and singing. She plays piano and is a part of a youth symphony group and a youth choir in Asheville. Bailee has played at Lunsford Festival as well as Shindig on the Green and other events. She is happy to be playing with her granddad Jerry on guitar and uke. Jerry Sutton will also be leading a guitar workshop and open jam at this year’s Lunsford Festival. To register, click here.
Bailey Mountain Cloggers
Mars Hill University’s very own Bailey Mountain Cloggers are 23-time national champions. They trace their origins to a group of dancers assembled by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1950. The ensemble throughout the mountain region, as well as internationally. Because the Bailey Mountain Cloggers are a college team, the lineup of members is slightly different each year. Mars Hill’s commitment to Appalachian folk dance is demonstrated by the fact that it extends clogging scholarships to exceptional dancers, much as it and other colleges recruit top scholars and athletes.
The Buckner Family
George and Brooke Buckner are performing artists who play the mountain music they grew up with in Western North Carolina, sharing their heritage through ballads, banjo tunes and handed down family traditions. George Buckner is from a small town called Barnardsville in Buncombe County. Brooke Windsor Buckner’s family is from the Grapevine community in neighboring Madison county. Today they live at Buckner Farm in the Jupiter community on the Buncombe and Madison county line.
The Carolina Chickpeas are long-time friends Dona Cavanagh (fiddle), Hilary Dirlam (banjo), Maxine Herring (guitar) and Amanda Luther (bass). Hilary Dirlam was the winner of the Lunsford Award in 1996.
Lillian Chase is a 14-year old old-time and bluegrass fiddler and ballad singer with an album already under her belt. The 6th generation native of Western North Carolina found the fiddle at the age of 6, and has a strong interest in the local and regional old-time music that goes with our mountain history. This spirited youngster also plays the stand-up bass, and enjoys playing classical violin in one of the Asheville Symphony Youth orchestras. Lillian was a booked artist at Merlefest in 2018 (a western North Carolina festival that draws 70,000+ attendees), and this year played a concert in Marion, VA, for Song of the Mountains.
Cole Mountain Cloggers
The Mars Hill-based Cole Mountain Cloggers are a team of young dancers from Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, and Avery counties. Led by Jeff Atkins, an alum of MHU’s Bailey Mountain Cloggers and winner of the Lunsford Award in 2017, many of the Cole Mountain Cloggers have deep roots in this region’s traditional culture. In fact, the team’s motto is “Keeping a Mountain Tradition Thriving”!
Green Grass Cloggers
The Green Grass Cloggers are one of North Carolina’s best-known dance teams. Since they began in 1971, they have consistently won prestigious awards all over the state and in 2014 were inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.
The Lonesome Mountain Ears
Gary Spence & friends. Gary arrived in Madison County a few decades ago, and soon began to study and play music with Obray Ramsey, whose recordings he later prepared for the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center. He has been an adjunct music faculty member at Mars Hill University for 43 years and was awarded the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award in 1996.
Roger Howell has had a life-long passion for mountain music. He grew up near Mars Hill, on Banjo Branch, surrounded by the music of older neighbors who played traditional banjo and fiddle tunes like generations before them. His first instrument was the guitar at age ten, with the banjo coming a bit later and eventually the fiddle in his mid-teens. Roger developed a keen interest in the regional mountain music of the Madison County area, picking up licks and developing his fluid fiddle style from mentors like Tommy Hunter and Woodrow Boone. He is known these days as a “Walking Encyclopedia” of fiddle tunes. In 2013, Roger finished recording 532 tunes from memory – a “Memory Collection,” which is housed in the Ramsey Center’s Southern Appalachian Archives. He is actually still recording tunes – and added 52 more tunes to his collection from December 2015 to April 2017. In 2015, the North Carolina Folklore Society honored Roger with the prestigious Brown-Hudson folklore award for his work in preserving and celebrating regional music traditions. Roger will be leading a fiddle workshop and open jam at this year’s festival. To register, click here.
Phil Jamison is a nationally-known dance caller, old-time musician, and flatfoot dancer. He has called dances, performed and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the United States and overseas since the early 1970s, including more than 35 years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his recently-published book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (University of Illinois Press, 2015) tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in Southern Appalachia. Phil will be calling the community dance at the Lunsford Festival, 5.30-7.30, in Chambers Gym.
Madison County Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) Program
The Madison County Arts Council hosts a JAM program on Thursday afternoons. Classes are taught in fiddle, banjo, guitar, clogging and advanced students have the opportunity to play in a string band. They have registered 50 kids this fall. Students perform at Art on the Island, The Bluff Mountain Festival, The Fiddlin’ 5 K and the popular Fiddlers of Madison County. No student is ever turned away for lack of funds. The Madison County Arts Council provides instruments and clogging shoes to students that need them. The program is supported in part by the North Carolina Arts Council and The Franklin Project. The Soiree at Kalamazoo, this year on October 8, raises funds to keep the program affordable for all students.
The Martins are Marty McLean (guitar and vocals), Martin Fox (fiddle, mandolin, and vocals), and Jacques Lewin (banjo and mandolin). They are from the Fairview, NC, area and have been playing together for many years, specializing in Appalachian traditional tunes and songs, early bluegrass, and early country ragtime tunes.
The Midnight Plowboys
The Midnight Plowboys are a traditional roots music string band comprised of talented, fun-loving musicians and stage entertainers. The Asheville-based band is well-known for its diverse musical style, which includes elements of southern fiddle music, bluegrass, Americana, old-time, folk and classic early country songs. Solo and harmony vocals are featured with acoustic instrumental support from fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass.
Joe Penland was born and raised in rural Madison County. He is the proud steward of twelve generations and over 250 years of the rich oral tradition of his Scots and English ancestors. From birth, he has listened to and learned the stories and love songs these travelers brought with them across the ocean and then southwest to the narrow coves and high meadows of Southern Appalachia that many consider the richest repository of British folk songs in the world. For many years, Joe has been instrumental in bringing together the Lunsford Festival’s ballad swap.
The ETSU Old Time Ramblers
The ETSU Old Time Ramblers hail from Eastern Tennessee State University’s bluegrass, old time, and country music program. They are topnotch players and will be sure to make you want to dance!
The Old Time Shivers
The Old Time Shivers are a fiddle and banjo duet comprised of fiddler, guitarist, and singer Joe McDuff and fiddler, banjo player, and singer Willow Dillon. Coming from the central Piedmont, Joe showcases styles from musicians such as Ivy Sheppard and Bill Birchfield. Willow brings styles from fiddlers and banjo players including Bruce Molsky and David Bass. Bringing old-time fiddle tunes and songs from the mountains of Appalachia, the duo hopes to give you a taste of the old-time tradition that has sustained the music for generations.
Rhiannon & The Relics
Rhiannon & The Relics are Rhiannon Ramsey (fiddle), Craig Bannerman (bass, vocals), Troy Harrison (banjo, guitar, mandolin, vocals), Scott Owenby (guitar, mandolin, vocals), and Brandon Johnson (mandolin, guitar, fiddle, vocals). Rhiannon Ramsey began performing with her band when she was 9. She plays a fiddle style from the mountains of western North Carolina and was mentored by legendary Madison County fiddler Arvil Freeman. Troy Harrison will be leading a banjo workshop and open jam at this year’s festival. To register, click here.
Carol Rifkin, Jeanette Queen, and Mark Queen
Carol Rifkin has been deeply involved in the music of Western North Carolina for decades, as a writer whose work appears in the Asheville Citizen-Times and prominent music magazines, and as a performer, dancing and playing oldtime and country music. She has played at the Lunsford Festival since the 1980s. Jeanette Queen and Mark Queen are members of the Queen Family Band, and are the daughter and grandson of Mary Jane Queen. Mary Jane Queen was a banjo-player and storyteller from Jackson County and won the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993. She was also a consultant and inspiration for the film Songcatcher. The Queen Family have been widely honored as master musicians and experts in the lore and language of the western North Carolina mountains. They have received Western Carolina University’s 1999 Mountain Heritage Award, the 2001 Brown-Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society, and an award from the Charlotte Folk Music Society.