Hunter to Receive Lunsford Award

A highlight of the annual Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival is the presentation of its namesake award. This year’s recipient of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award is Brian Hunter, a longtime fixture on the mountain music scene. The award will be presented at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 6, on the main stage of the festival, which takes place on the Mars Hill University campus.

Hunter is a cofounder of the influential traditional string band the Midnight Plowboys, which was originally founded in 1980 and got back together at the 2012 Lunsford Festival. His music career began in the 1970s when he and his brothers performed locally as the Hunter Brothers.

In addition to playing music, he has been an important supporter of up-and-coming musicians, has served as a consultant to several organizations that support traditional music, and, in his other role as an Asheville-based certified public accountant, has even provided free tax workshops to musicians.

“He coached musicians on how to be professional; how to show-up, entertain, and get the job done,” says Laura Boosinger, a bandmate in the Midnight Plowboys. “He also made sure musicians learned how to manage their business so that they could continue to be musicians. There’s an old quote: ‘There’s the show and there’s the business.’ Brian Hunter has been a mentor in the regional music community on both accounts.”

“[Hunter] has worked tirelessly to maintain traditional music in Asheville and to connect musicians and tunes across the years,” says Brandon Johnson, mandolin player with Rhiannon & the Relics. “He has hosted jams that intentionally put the younger, middle, and older generations in the same space. This cultivated cross-pollination is the essence of mountain music, and the heart of Bascom Lunsford’s mission. ”

The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award has been given out since 1980 to individuals who have made significant contributions to the folk, musical, and/or dance traditions of the Southern Appalachian mountain region. Past winners include Carol Rifkin (2016), Bobby McMillon (2004), Joe Penland (2005), and Sheila Kay Adams (1997).

The award will be presented by Ed Herron, Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s grandson, and Boosinger, who also is director of the Madison County Arts Council.

The Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival brings together some of the region’s finest musicians and dancers for a day of performances, workshops, and impromptu jams. Festival hours are 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., on the Upper Quad of the university (adjacent to College Street), with a community dance beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Chambers Gymnasium. The Madison Heritage Arts Festival and the university’s homecoming celebration also occur on the campus on October 6.

For updates and information, visit the festival website at or contact festival director Leila Weinstein at (828) 689-1115 or