(keep checking back for more additions)
Barry Clinton, Franklin, NC (Children's tent)
A noted musician, Barry currently sings and plays mandolin for the Frogtown Four. A musician since childhood, Barry has played in a number of local and regional bands. He's also the Entertainment Coordinator and Master of Ceremonies for the Franklin Folk festival. Most recently, Barry has taken on the duties of Entertainment Coordinator for the Historic Cowee School project in Macon County, NC.
Phil Jamison, Swannanoa, NC (Circle Tent)
Nationally-known as a dance caller, musician, and flatfoot dancer, Phil has called dances and performed and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the US and overseas for more than thirty years. A longtime member of the Green Grass Cloggers, his flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant. In addition to playing guitar with the New Southern Ramblers, Phil plays fiddle and banjo, and he teaches mathematics and Appalachian music at Warren Wilson College, where he also coordinates the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the Swannanoa Gathering.
Bill Nichols, Maryville, TN (Blue Ridge Stage)
Since Mountain Heritage Day began in the mid-1970s, Bill Nichols has been the MC for every year except one. In 1992, Bill was given the Eva Adcock Award in recognition of his long service with the festival. Considered by many to be the "grandfather of modern clogging," Bill's expertise as a dancer and instructor is in demand. He still spends every summer teaching clogging at Fontana Village where he worked for years after graduating high school. Bill is the co-author of "The Encyclopedia of Traditional Appalachian Square Dancing" and was inducted into America's Clogging Hall of Fame in 1985.
Rodney Sutton, Marshall, NC (Balsam Stage)
A native of eastern North Carolina, where his family has danced and played music for generations, Rodney Sutton is a highly respected representative of the dance and music traditions of his home state. Mr. Sutton is particularly known for his expertise in traditional mountain dance. He is adept at both flatfooting and clogging, and is also in demand as a dance caller. In recent years, he has expanded his presentations to include both storytelling and ballad singing. Sutton was an early member of the Green Grass Cloggers and has danced with that group at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), the Appalachian Stringband Music Festival, and MerleFest. Rodney Sutton has traveled across the United States and Canada and throughout the British Isles performing, teaching, and calling dances and has taught traditional dance in western North Carolina schools, and is a regular instructor at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College, Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia, and Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps in New York.
Many might think of Mountain Heritage Day as a small local festival and in a way we are. When you come to Mountain Heritage Day you see friends and family and many artists you know. But it is not a small event with over 20,000 festival goers across the day. It is the largest event on the Western Carolina University campus each year. And although most all of the acts performing at the festival are from the Western North Carolina mountain region and you may be familiar with them – they are by no means lesser. Read some of these bios below and you may be surprised by the caliber of talent of your neighbors and that we proudly host each year.
The Buckstankle Boys are a group of young men born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Each of them, having being brought up and schooled in the ways of traditional mountain music, decided to form a group to promote the older sounds of bluegrass and oldtime music. Several members of the group are former members of Benton Flippen's Smokey Valley Boys, including myself, Seth Boyd, and most notably our fiddler Any Edmonds who played guitar and banjo with Benton for over 10 years.
They have shared the stage with Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers, the Kruger Brothers, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys, Chatham County Line, and the South Carolina Broadcasters. We have also placed at several Fiddlers' Conventions, including the Mt. Airy Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers' Convention, the Surry Old-Time Fiddlers' Convention, and Fiddlers' Grove.
Crooked Pine Band
Crooked Pine started in 1974 with Craig Bannerman, Marion Boatwright and Frank McConnell. The band played colleges, as well as many western North Carolina venues and lived the best they could with help from friends and family but they ended up going separate ways after several years. Fast forward to 2010, Crooked Pine reformed with the original members of the band who include Craig Bannerman on bass, Marion Boatwright on fiddle, and Frank McConnell on guitar and they added Troy Harrison on banjo and mandolin. Crooked Pine have played for festivals, dances, and other venues from their home base of Brevard all across the region. Recently they were featured in a regional promotion video created by the Transylvania County Chamber of Commerce.
Deitz Family, Jackson County, NC
Brothers, Joe and Bill, played with famed fiddler Harry Cagle and The Country Cousins for years before creating the family band with Bill's wife, Delores, on bass and daughter, Chrystal, on banjo. The Deitz Family represented Appalachian old-time and Bluegrass music at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN, won the Mountain Heritage Award in 2006 and have been regular performers at Mountain Heritage Day since its beginnings in 1974. In recent years, the Deitz family have enjoyed the addition of the next generation including Joe's granddaughter.
Dixie Darlin' Cloggers
More than four decades ago, the Dixie Darlin' Cloggers, a Haywood County freestyle team, began performing. The current director, Shirley Finger is not a dancer herself, "But I can tell them when they do it wrong," she says. Having always loved being around dancers, the Franklin native is adept at directing the team and making up routines, even if she herself is not part of the figures. From the Dixie Darlin's earliest days, when they bought themselves a retired school bus with money raised selling donuts, the team has performed throughout western North Carolina, up and down the eastern seaboard, and as far away as Canada. They have danced at the White House twice, performed for opening ceremonies of the United States Olympic Trials, and won many first-place titles in major clogging championships (including nine NCHC National Championships). The big team has twenty members; eight couples dance at a time, with the two remaining pairs rotating in between sets.
Formed in the early 1980s, the Foxfire Boys grew out of the world-renowned Foxfire organization. As their repertoire and abilities grew, the Foxfire Boys began to perform their own unique style of bluegrass in larger and more diverse venues. Over the years the group has shared the stage with well known country, bluegrass, and folk artists. The group has made appearances on TNN and CMT television networks and performed at venues such as: The Grand Ole Opry, World's Fair, many folk and art festivals throughout the United States, and a tour of Norway in 1994. The group continues to perform for public and private events throughout the region, including many local benefits. The Foxfire Boys have a passion for family, faith, and community which is demonstrated through their music.
In 1968, David Holt found his life's journey in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. With a passion to become an old-time banjo player, David traveled to remote mountain communities like Kingdom Come, Kentucky and Sodom Laurel, North Carolina searching for the best traditional musicians.
Holt found many old-time mountaineers with a wealth of folk music, stories and wisdom. There was banjoist Wade Mainer, ballad singer Dellie Norton, singing coal miner Nimrod Workman, and washboard player Susie Brunson. Holt learned to play not only banjos, but many unusual instruments like the mouth bow, the bottleneck slide guitar and even the paper bag.
For almost four decades, David's passion for traditional music and culture has fueled a successful performing and recording career. He has earned four Grammy Awards and performed and recorded with many of his mentors including Doc Watson, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff and Chet Atkins.
Jeff Little Trio, Boone, NC
You do not always think of Bluegrass music played on a piano, in fact many can't fathom it. But you will be as amazed as we were last year by Little's solid driving piano Bluegrass. The trio is Steve Lewis on guitar and banjo, Josh Scott on bass, and of course Jeff Little on piano. Little and his trio have been raved about by National Public Radio, PBS, National Council for the Traditional Arts, American Piano Masters Series, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and American Folk Festival – just to name a few.
Mountain Faith, Sylva, NC
Mountain Faith, a Bluegrass gospel family band, was created by bass player Sam McMahan joined by his daughter Summer on fiddle and vocals and son Brayden on banjo. They have since added Dustin Norris on mandolin and Luke Dotson on guitar and vocals. Mountain Faith has been taking the Bluegrass gospel world by storm over the past couple years and recently visited Larry's Country Diner.
Mountain Youth Talent Award Winners, Western NC
These award winning youth musicians hail from across western North Carolina, sponsored by the 4-H and Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, they represent the best talent from traditional music competitions in Sylva, Franklin, and Stecoah. We will host a few of the very top winners for 2014. "Three Creeks Over" with Sabrina Stewart, Sarah Stewart, Sean Crowe; "Graham County Bluegrass Boys" with Jonathan Jones, Joshua Jones, Daylan Carver; and Sabrina Stewart solo.
Phil and Gaye Johnson, Green Creek, NC
Gaye met Phil in 1969 backstage at Santa Monica College Theater while the family had moved briefly to the west coast. They formed a duo that performs acoustic country with Gaye's soaring voice and tight harmonies and moved back to her native Polk County. The past twenty-seven years and five recordings later they once toured Singapore with the Green Grass Cloggers, regularly appeared at festivals, concert halls across the US, host a live radio show, have made multiple appearances on TNN and have appeared on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion.
The Queen Family, John's Creek, NC
The Queen Family, from the Caney Fork section of Jackson County, represents a long line of pickers and singers. Their matriarch Mary Jane Queen was a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner who performed at Mountain Heritage Day since the1980s. Her husband Claude built a "picking porch" on their house big enough for all of the children to play together. The band is now led by Junior and his son Mark on banjo, Jeanette on guitar, Henry on banjo, and other family members both near and far regularly join in.
Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, Roan Mountain, TN
The Hilltoppers have introduced much of the world to their infectious, down-to-earth old-time music. After appearing at numerous folk festivals in the 1980s including Pete Seeger's Clearwater Revival, Brandywine Festival and Smithsonian Folklife Festival – they made the cover of many a magazine and newspaper – they were a sought after sensation. Janice Birchfield, bass player and wife of Bill, fiddler, became used to unexpected visitors like Sid Vicious and Boy George showing up at their modest home to experience their music. The Hilltoppers receive them with gracious humility and continue to play drivin' old-time dance music at festivals and concerts throughout the country.
Stoney Creek Boys, Buncombe County, NC
Founded in 1969, the Stoney Creek Boys have been pillars of mountain music and staples at both Shindig on the Green and Mountain Heritage Day for years. Bass player Boyd Black is an original member. The band started out playing for dances on a tennis court in Montreat and now includes famous fiddler Arvil Freeman, prominent Nashville studio musician Leonard Hollifield, and banjo player George Banks.
Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Choir
For the past four decades, members of the Tried Stone Young Adult Choir of Asheville have served as traveling musical ambassadors, touring around the country singing for various denominations, dignitaries, political conventions and church anniversaries. Cornell Proctor has led the choir since its inception and serves as the group's keyboardist, along with Terry Letman. The choir specializes in "down-home, hard-driving gospel music," said Proctor, who also directs Tried Stone's Senior Choir, which is 50 years old, and the church's decades-old Junior Choir. Through the years, music has been a constant at Tried Stone Church, even as the congregation has moved several times around Asheville. In 1993, a fire destroyed the sanctuary on Carroll Street, but the congregation and choirs keep going strong under the leadership of Elder Alfred Blount, church pastor.
Tsalagi Touring Group
Craft demonstrations and traditional dance are this authentic Cherokee group's forte. Staff members at the Ocanaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC, the group specializes in crafts such as bead work, finger weaving, wood carving, and basket making. They have performed their dances at a number of regional festivals including Folkmoot. They also performed at the National Museum of the Native American in the spring of 2014.
Whitewater Bluegrass Co, Buncombe County, NC
Performing for over 30 years, Whitewater Bluegrass Co. is a versatile group that plays Bluegrass, country, and mountain swing. The band is made up of Steve Sutton on banjo, "Uncle Ted" White on acoustic bass, Bill Byerly on guitar, David Pendley on mandolin, and newest to the group, Danielle Bishop on fiddle. They have played at Folkmoot USA, Smoky Mountain Folk and the Biltmore Estate among many other festivals and events in the Southeast.
Singer-songwriter Woody Pines was a founding member of the Kitchen Syncopators, a legendary busking street jugband. Since the Kitchen Syncopators disbanded, Woody Pines has been writing and recording albums and performing as part of the band by the same name. Co-founder of the band, Gill Landry, has gone on to join Old Crow Medicine Show but the rest of the band includes Shawn Supra on the upright bass, Brad Tucker on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Woody on guitar, harmonica and lead vocals. Alongside artists like Old Crow Medicine Show and Pokey LaFarge, Woody Pines forages for tunes in the secret world of old 78′s. Integrating sounds from Leadbelly to Bob Dylan, from Woodie Guthrie to Preservation Hall, this Asheville and now Nashville-based band sings songs of fast cars, pretty women and hard luck.