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 new Historic Cowee School project in Macon County, NC.
Wayne Erbsen, Swannanoa,NC (Balsam Stage)
Wayne is a fine musician who has performed across the country as a solo act and as part of various groups including the Jim Shumate band. He is also the author of numerous instruction and song books and his recordings have appeared on educational CDs including American Heritage's CD of the Civil War. For the past thirty years, Wayne has had his own radio show called "Country Roots" on Asheville's public radio station, WCQS, 88.1 FM.
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.
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 festivalgoers 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.
Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Mars Hill, NC
Created in 1974 and comprised of Mars Hill College students, the Bailey Mountain Cloggers are a traveling performing and competing dance team. Mars Hill College is committed to Appalachian folk dance and it extends clogging scholarships to exceptional dancers, much as other colleges recruit top scholars and athletes. They are twenty-time national champions and have a heavy schedule performing regionally and often abroad.
Blind Pig Gang, Brasstown, NC
The Blind Pig Gang, led by Jerry Wilson and his son Paul, perform a wide variety of country, folk, and gospel. Jerry's tenor singing and rhythm guitar were featured on many recordings by the Wilson Brothers with his brother Ray. Paul's lead vocals and intricate guitar style complement perfectly his father's clear harmonies. Tipper, Jerry's daughter, plays bass with the group while granddaughters Katie and Corie Pressley add vocals and maybe a bit of clogging.
Buncombe Turnpike, Asheville, NC
This bluegrass quintet features bassist, lead singer, and founder Tom Godleski, guitarist Evan Swink, fiddle player John Duncan, and banjo player Seth Rhinehart. Not only does the band play Bluegrass but they also play gospel, and many originals. Buncombe Turnpike won first place in the 2007 North Carolina Mountain State Fair Bluegrass competition and traveled Spain playing their music.
Cherokee Youth Traditional Dance Group, Cherokee, NC
From the Dora Reed Children's Center, this group of preschool children, with their brightly colored costumes and fascinating dance figures, won everyone's hearts here at the festival two years ago. The Center and their families are dedicated to preserving the traditional dances of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
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.
Fines Creek Flatfooters, Haywood County, NC
A group of young cloggers based in the Fines Creek community that have been dancing since 2008. They have performed at many regional events including Shindig on the Green, Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, and Canton's Pickin' in the Park. Heritage Alive!
Freeman Owle, Cherokee NC
Freeman Owle tells traditional Cherokee stories, carves wood and stone, and talks about Cherokee culture and history. Growing up in the Birdtown community, Freeman learned to carve at an early age. "Every young man had a knife in his pocket from the age of seven," he says. At Cherokee High School, he studied woodcarving with Amanda Crowe. He attended Gardner Webb College and then earned a Master's degree in Education from WCU. He taught sixth grade at Cherokee Elementary for fourteen years, and while teaching, began telling Cherokee stories he had learned growing up. Presenting stories and programs on Cherokee history and culture, Freeman's main focus is on the Cherokee way of life and its value to us today.
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 three traditional music competitions in Sylva, Franklin, and Bryson City. We will host a few of the very top winners for 2012-13.
J Creek Cloggers, Waynesville, NC
A high-energy dance team from Haywood County, they incorporate a number of traditional and newer styles into their routines including Buck Dancing, Flat-Footing, and Clogging. They've performed at large events and small over the years, including Folkmoot USA, Labor Day Celebration in Canton (now in its 107th year), and the Fines Creek Festival.
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 who added his daughter Summer on fiddle and vocals, son Brayden on banjo and nephew John Morgan on guitar. They have since added Dustin Norris on mandolin and Jesse Gregory on guitar and vocals. They have been taking the Bluegrass gospel world by storm in the last year and spent their summer touring the US.
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.
Sons of Ralph, Madison & Buncombe Counties, NC
Eighty-five year old Ralph Lewis has been playing and singing his unique style of traditional and alternative Bluegrass since his childhood. Growing up in a family of musicians, Ralph began performing with his older brother, Ervin. He played in many groups including, The Lewis Brothers, The Carolina Pals, and The Piney Mountain Boys. In the 1970s, he joined Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys on national and international tours and at the Grand Ole Opry. Sons, Marty and Don, joined in with them at the Grand Ole Opry when they were kids traveling with their father during school breaks. In 2001, Ralph received the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award which is given to "individuals who have made significant contributions to the folk traditions in the southern mountains."
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.
Trevor & Travis Stuart, Bethel, NC
At ten years old, twins and Haywood County natives, Trevor and Travis Stuart, accompanied Liz and Lynn Shaw of the famed Smathers family, to perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Washington, DC Mall. Strongly influenced by Byard Ray, the Smathers Family, and North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient Red Wilson, they have performed on some of the world's most prestigious stages including London's Albert Hall, Dublin's Vicar Street, Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble, and New York City's Beacon. At home they have been working with the Haywood County JAM Program since it started in the 1990s. The Stuarts have two recordings available.
Vance Trull, Stecoah, NC
Trull has been playing music for most of his life as an in-demand bass player, banjoist, and fiddler for the likes of George Jones, The Country Gentleman and Eddie Adcock. Trull performed with the Fontana Ramblers for years and although Fontana Village was their home stage, they were one of the top square dance bands in the country, at concert halls and dances across the East Coast. With his fancy suit and spotless Cadillac Trull always takes the show. He will be backed up by The Stuart Brothers.
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.
Wild Hog Band, Cashiers, NC
Wild Hog Band are award winning musicians that have been playing bluegrass music for over twenty years. Members Benny Queen, Kelly Smith, Josh Carnes, began playing in Clemson, SC in the mid-80s. With three recordings, Wild Hog has a contemporary sound. They have performed at The Albino Skunk Bluegrass Festival, Asheville Brewgrass Festival as well as occasionally opening for the likes of Tony Rice, Mark O'Connor, the John Cowan Band, and Doc Watson. They are joined today by Joe Kimsey on banjo.