Guest Artists From Past Florida Fiddlers Conventions

2008 Guest Artist – Kirk Sutphin

Raised in Walkertown, North Carolina, heavily exposed to traditional music of the region from the Round Peak fiddle styles of Surry County to the banjo picking of Charlie Poole. Throughout his life, Kirk has made an effort to visit with countless older musicians of the area. He has learned tunes from many musicians born around the turn of the 20th century. 

Kirk is an exceptional fiddler whose sound is often compared to that of Tommy Jarrell. He is also an excellent banjo player in both clawhammer and finger-picking styles. Kirk has taught at music camps, from the Swannanoa Gathering and Mars Hill’s Blue-Ridge Old Time Music Week in North Carolina, to the Old-Time Music Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia. Kirk continues to be a proponent of western North Carolina mountain music through performances with numerous musicians in the area. He has made a number of recordings. Kirk spent many hours playing music with Tommy Jarrell, learning his fiddle style. Tommy reportedly said that Kirk captured the nuance of his fiddling more than anyone. 

2008 Guest Artist – Riley Baugus

He has performed throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and England. He has played with several old-time string bands, including The Farmer’s Daughters, The Konnarock Critters, The Red Hots, Backstep, and the Old Hollow Stringband. He tours regularly with Dirk Powell and Tim O’Brien, and frequently performs and tours with the dancer Ira Bernstein, with the duo show Appalachian Roots. 

Riley often performs as a guest musician with the Dirk Powell Band and the North Carolina folk band Polecat Creek. He sang on the soundtrack to the 2003 film Cold Mountain. He has recorded with Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Dirk Powell, and Martha Scanlan. He has taught banjo at the Augusta Heritage Center’s Old Time Week and at the Midwest Banjo Camp. Baugus released his first album, Life of Riley, in 2001. A second album, Long Steel Rail, was released in 2006. 

2010 Guest Artist – Jake Krack

Received his B.A. degree from Berea College in Kentucky in 2007. He has had two internships: at the Smithsonian Institution and with the West Virginia Humanities Council, working on the Mountain Music Heritage Project. Jake performed on the A Prairie Home Companion radio program in 1998, and on the Mountain Stage radio program in 2000. Also in 2000 he performed at the Millennium Stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He performed at MerleFest in 2002 and in the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Jake has won first place in old-time fiddle at the Galax Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia (2003, 2006, and 2008), the Henry Reed Festival (2007), the Clifftop festival in Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia (2006), the Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention in Mount Airy, North Carolina (2002, 2004, and 2009), and the under-60 category at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, West Virginia (2002). He compiled, arranged, and co-produced the 2007 Smithsonian Folkways CD Classic Old-time Fiddle From Smithsonian Folkways, and coproduced Lester McCumbers’ CD Old Timey. He was featured in The New York Times in 1999 and appeared in the 2004 PBS documentary Soundmix: Five Young Musicians. 

2011 Guest Arttist – Matt Brown

Musician, teacher, producer, and podcaster based in Louisville, Kentucky. Matt has studied with an array of extraordinary old-time musicians including Brad Leftwich, Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Paul Brown, Ginny Hawker, and Tracy Schwarz. He has performed at The Grand Ole Opry, The Station Inn, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Wheatland Music Festival, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. 

Matt has released four albums including My Native Home, which includes collaborations with Tim O’Brien, Ben Krakauer, Brittany Haas, and Mark Schatz. He was featured on the Compass Records tribute album, Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie. 

He has been on staff at The Colorado Suzuki Institute, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, Strings by the Sea, the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute, Old-Time Week at The Swannanoa Gathering, and Southern Week at Ashokan. He taught workshops at Berklee College of Music, Morehead State University, Swallow Hill Music, The School For Strings, Music for Youth, and the Music Institute of Chicago. From 2011 to 2019, he was a teaching artist at Chicago’s venerable Old Town School of Folk Music. 

2013 Guest Artist – Judy Hyman

With roots in classical training, Appalachian fiddle music, and modern rock, was a founding member of the alt-folk rock band, The Horse Flies. With The Flies she toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and recorded 8 albums, including releases on MCA and Rounder Records. 

She composes music for film, television, and multi-media and received an Emmy for “Musical Composition/Arrangement: Special Achievement” for her score for the documentary, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine. 

Judy has toured and recorded with the remarkable Natalie Merchant several times and appears on her albums, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, Leave Your Sleep, and Retrospective.  She has been featured twice in Fiddler Magazine (for her fiddle playing), and once in Electronic Musician (for her film composing). She was also included as one of 20 master fiddlers in a  booklet/cd set celebrating Fiddler Magazine’s 20th anniversary. She was commissioned to create a new waltz to celebrate Fiddler Magazine’s 25th anniversary in 2019. 

2014 Guest Artist – John Harrod

John has documented, recorded, and performed traditional music for more than 45 years. Born and raised in Shelby County, Kentucky, he has a B.A. from Centre College (1967) and an M.A. from Oxford University (1969) which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. In the 1970s and ’80s, he played with a number of bands including the Progress Red Hot String Band, the Bill Livers String Ensemble, and the Gray Eagle Band that re-introduced traditional musicians such as Bill Livers and Lily May Ledford to Kentucky audiences. 

During this time he also worked for three years as a Kentucky Arts Council folk artist-in-residence in Wolfe, Estill, and Trimble Counties. Along with Mark Wilson and Guthrie Meade, he produced a series of field recordings of Kentucky fiddle and banjo players that is still available on Rounder Records. In 2015 the Field Recorders Collective issued his recordings of Carlton Rawlings and Darley Fulks, two exceptional and heretofore unknown fiddlers who have had a great impact on his life. John’s field recordings are housed at both Berea College and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead. 

He has taught fiddle and conducted workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center, the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music, and the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. In 2004 John received the Folk Heritage Award of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts for his work in traditional music. 

2015 Guest Artist – Chirps Smith

Born and raised in downstate Illinois. As a young man, he played with the Indian Creek Delta Boys and learned fiddle tunes directly from old-timers, including Harvey “Pappy” Taylor and Noah Beavers. This homemade music was transported to the Midwest by homesteaders who, bringing their fiddle tunes with them, multiplied them by learning new ones from their neighbors. 

Chirps became a regular player at Chicago Barn Dance Company’s dances after moving to Chicago in 1978. Since 1985, he has played lead fiddle in the Volo Bogtrotters string band and currently plays in the New Bad Habits. 

2016 Guest Artist – Joseph Decosimo

Reared in the rich traditional music community around Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau and is a leading performer of Old-Time fiddle and banjo music. Joseph is a traditional musician and folklorist with a deep respect and love for the older sounds of his home state, Appalachia, and the broader American South. His Old-Time fiddling and banjo playing have introduced listeners around the US, UK, Canada, and Australia to the richness and vibrancy of the region’s musical traditions. He holds a PhD in American Studies and an MA in Folklore. 

A sought-after teacher and performer of old time music, he has taught and performed at the  Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA; the Swannanoa Gathering in  Swannanoa, NC; the Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week in Mars Hill, NC; the Nimble Fingers  Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Workshop in Sorrento, BC; the Augusta Heritage Center in  Elkins, WV; the Ashokan Southern Week in Olivebridge, NY; and the Berkeley Old Time Music  Festival in Berkeley, CA. From 2012-2013, he served on the faculty of East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Program, teaching Appalachian Studies, Old Time Fiddle and Banjo, and working with student bands. 

2017 Guest Artist – Eddie Bond

Raised in a family of musicians in the Grayson County mill town of Fries. A tiny town of 600 residents, Fries has a strikingly rich musical tradition, producing such musical luminaries as Henry Whitter, Ernest Stoneman, among others. Fries is six miles from Galax, home of the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, the oldest and largest fiddlers’ convention in the country. 

Bond was taught by a maternal grandmother who played guitar and sang music handed down for generations through the Hill family, musicians well-documented in the Library of Congress’ archival field recordings.  His paternal grandparents played guitar and sang; his Grandmother Bond was from the same region of North Carolina as Doc Watson and taught Bond many of the old mountain ballads he sings today. Family friends included master performers such as Kilby Snow and Glen Smith. Bond first learned the guitar, then the banjo, autoharp, and his signature instrument, the fiddle. Since 2001, Bond has been the lead singer and fiddler for the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, among the most respected of Virginia’s old-time string bands. 

The Bogtrotters are staples at Galax-area community dances and gatherings and frequent first-place winners at the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, where Bond himself has won countless fiddle contests and twice been named Best All Around Performer—arguably the highest honor in old-time music. Bond has performed across the country and overseas, including the “Music From the Crooked Road” tours produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. He regularly performs at festivals from Australia to Ireland. 

2018 Guest Artist – Ben Townsend

As a member of The Fox Hunt, Old Sledge, the Iron Leg Boys, the Hackensaw Boys, and now as a solo artist, has traveled across the country and around the world spreading his take on West Virginia old-time music. He has shared the stage with acts varying from Ralph Stanley to the Henry Girls of County Donegal, Ireland to the Taiko drummers of Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. 

Ben has done his best to maintain the traditions of West Virginia and Kentucky as he learned them from the likes of Dave Bing, Gerry Milnes, John Harrod and John Morris just to name a few. While his playing is well rooted in tradition, he along with the different groups he performs in manage to give a new spin to the music that keeps it  refreshingly current while still honoring the past. 

When not on the road Ben is also an accomplished teacher with a real ability to break down the tunes into their raw mechanics and most simple melodic forms. He has taught at Allegheny  Echoes in Marlinton, WV on both banjo and fiddle over the years. The same goes for Common  Ground on the Hill at McDaniel college in Maryland and the Augusta heritage center in Elkins,  WV.

Most recently, Ben has been exploring avenues of connecting traditional music with modern, ambient and electronic music forms via digital modular synthesis and Ableton Live. He and brother Jimmy have been working on a project called Tabernacle in which they seek to combine Appalachian traditions with western classical traditions and modern technology to achieve something altogether new. 

2019 Guest Artist – Dave Bing

For over 30 years has been an instructor at the Augusta Heritage Center’s old-time music workshops that are held at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins. He has taught an annual week-long fiddle workshop at Cedar Lakes State Park near Ripley for over 20 years. Having also taught at workshops in such far flung places as England and Spain, Dave has taught thousands of people from all over the world traditional West Virginia fiddle tunes. 

Over the years, Dave has played in several notable bands including the Bing Brothers with his brothers Mike and Tim, Gandydancer, and currently with his trio, the High Ridge Ramblers. Dave has won numerous contests on both fiddle and banjo and is often asked to be a contest judge. 

He has played for hundreds and hundreds of square dances, concerts, and events  throughout the state and region. Dave has played fiddle for one of the square dances at the  annual West Virginia State Folk Festival at Glenville, the pinnacle of traditional West Virginia  square dancing, every year except one since 1979. 

2020 – Chance McCoy & Hog-Eyed Man (Jason Cade & Rob McMaken)

During the pandemic, FSFA held it’s convention online and offered a full weekend experience packed with online workshops, fantastic concerts, as well as live performances from members across the state. Each night, we featured live-streamed concerts from our guest artists.

2020 Guest Artist – Chance McCoy

Chance McCoy is a Grammy winning Indie Folk musician, music producer and film composer from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Chance grew up in a musical family, as a baby he spent hours strapped to his father’s back while his father recorded synth music in the family home studio. As a young man he took an unlikely musical direction, studying the obscure traditional folk music of Appalachia with old master musicians from West Virginia under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. After many years steeping himself in the lost traditions of American string band music he went on to win Fiddle, Banjo and Dulcimer championships as well as first place honors in the International String Band contest known as ‘Clifftop’. In 2008 he released ‘Chance McCoy and The Appalachian Stringband’ a collection of traditional music recorded live around one mic that slowly gained a cult following among Old Time Music enthusiasts. His commitment to folk music and deep love for the traditional ways of the mountaineer soon landed him in an unintentional situation though, abject poverty. Chance was living with his young son in a run-down cabin near Floyd, VA surviving on food stamps and scratching out a meager living teaching local fiddle lessons when a cold call from Old Crow Medicine Show landed him an invite to join the legendary Americana band of ‘Wagon Wheel’ fame. He moved to Nashville to join the band in 2012 and toured extensively with OCMS, recording multiple albums with the band before parting ways in 2019 to pursue new musical projects and return to his farm in WV.

His first album with Old Crow, where he debuted his talents as song writer, singer and instrumentalist, earned the band a Grammy for best folk album in 2014. Chance has worked with artists such as Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, Willie Nelson, Sturgil Simpson, Margo Price, Yelawolf, Kesha and many others. During Chance’s time in Nashville he built up a reputation as a session player and music producer. In 2018 Chance began developing his rural farm in an idyllic valley in Appalachia into a destination recording studio experience while focusing his creative talents on producing new artists, scoring for films and releasing singles as an independent artist. His first projects from the rural studio were writing music for the film ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ starring Shia Labeouf and The showtime series ‘The Good Lord Bird’ starring Ethan Hawke.

2020 Guest Artists – Jason Cade & Rob McMaken

As a youngster, Jason Cade began learning rare tunes and an older style of playing from master fiddler and tune-catcher Bruce Greene, his neighbor growing up in the South Toe Valley of Yancey County, NC. Jason’s oldtime music is also heavily influenced by his mother’s fiddle teacher, the late Byard Ray of Madison County, NC, and the field recordings of the tremendous musicians who once lived in the Blue Ridge Mountain region of western NC, eastern TN, and north Georgia. In 2016, Jason won the prestigious fiddle contest at the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. He has also placed first in fiddle contests in Georgia and Florida.

North Georgia native Rob McMaken has developed a tasteful and exciting accompaniment style on lap dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, and banjo-uke, effortlessly shifting between note-for-note melody, harmonic counterpoint, and rhythmic drones harkening back to the Old World. Before immersing himself in oldtime music, Rob traversed musical traditions from all over the world in the folk duo Dromedary and the jazz collective Kenosha Kid.

2021 Guest Artist – Adam Hurt

Deemed a “banjo virtuoso” by the Washington Post, has fused several traditional old-time idioms to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo style, having been introduced to the instrument at age eleven in his native Minnesota. A respected performer and teacher of traditional music, Adam has played at the Kennedy Center, conducted banjo and fiddle workshops at many venues around the country and abroad, and been featured on the cover of Banjo Newsletter. Since moving south in 2002, Adam has placed in or won most of the major old-time banjo competitions, including three first-place finishes at Clifftop, and he has claimed several state banjo and fiddle championships. 

2022 Guest Artist – Emily Schaad

Old-time musician Emily Schaad plays strong and rhythmic fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and solid back-up guitar, and she has spent a significant amount of time with musicians from western North Carolina in Surry, Watauga, and Buncombe counties in particular.
Emily came to the music of the southern Appalachians as a classical violist and public school string teacher. She studied viola performance at Curtis Institute and Juilliard, and has taught elementary, middle, and high school orchestra in her native New York State. Emily was director and founder of Stringendo, Inc., an award-winning community orchestra school in Poughkeepsie, NY. Emily is currently serving as Director of Orchestra at Clemson University

2022 Guest Artist – Sonya Badigian

Sonya Badigian grew up in New England and learned fiddle amidst a small but fierce old time scene centered around deep, thoughtful listening to 78-era recordings and sources from Kentucky and Missouri. In the ensuing years she turned her ear particularly to traditional players like Snake Chapman, Buddy Thomas, and Gene Goforth who pushed themselves to experiment with more modern styles and repertoires. She also picked up guitar along the way. In her early twenties Sonya moved to North Carolina, where she currently resides. Her approach to old time is to closely investigate and work at channeling the sincere, playful energy that permeates old recordings, and to incorporate that sense of movement into a natural sound that feels informed. She is fascinated with the accumulation of peculiar details that amount to an individual’s musical fingerprint. In teaching she aims not just to guide students toward a playing style that is tonally and rhythmically intact, but also to teach a listening style that inspires a sense of wonder and develops their musical imaginations.

Florida State Fiddlers Association – Promoting traditional fiddle music in Florida and beyond.

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