Performers at the 2016 Celebration of Traditional Music include:
- Amythyst Kiah
- Anndrena Belcher
- Berea College Student Music Ensembles (details to be announced)
- The Carolina Colonels
- Deborah Thompson
- Donna and Lewis Lamb
- Generation Gap
- The Local Honeys
- Mary McPartlan and Bertha Hope
- Susan Spalding
Amythyst Kiah is a Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter based out of Johnson City, Tennessee, which has been her permanent residence for nearly a decade. She has been performing in what is known as the Tri-Cities (Bristol, TN/VA, Johnson City, TN, Kingsport, TN) and in various parts of Southwest Virginia. Not only are her influences eclectic, but they span across decades. She draws heavily on Old Time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family) and is inspired by vocal stylings of R&B and Country music from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn). She also draws heavily from contemporary artists that have similar powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae, Thom Yorke, Tori Amos, Bonnie Raitt). Needless to say, Amythyst has got a lot of tools in her vocal tool box and is also well on her way to join the powerhouse vocalist pantheon. Her sound on her solo album, Dig, is raw and sparse, with heavy lyrical content regarding such themes as loss, betrayal, and murder. She has opened for such acts as Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, Megan Jean and the KFB, The Duhks, and has played the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2012 alongside the Ebony Hillbillies and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, and has performed on Music City Roots.
Anndrena Belcher is a singer, songwriter, storyteller, dance caller, visual artist, and champion of cultural studies originally from Pike County, Kentucky. Her work focuses on migration as a common denominator to all cultures, drawing on her experience growing up “in the crux of contradiction” between rural Eastern Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois. Belcher earned her Master of Arts in the Social Sciences from Northeastern Illinois University. A respected teaching artist and performer, Belcher has worked with groups of all ages at innumerable educational institutions throughout the eastern United States and as part of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Tour Directory for twenty-five years. Belcher has performed at prestigious festivals including the National Storytelling Festival, the Augusta Heritage Center, and Tale Tellin’ in Selma, just to name a few. She has created educational resources and programs for Kentucky Educational Television, and she is featured in the documentary film Long Journey Home, produced by Appalshop. Belcher has been described as “…a Minnie Pearl with track shoes,” because of her intense connection to her audience. Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel says, “Anndrena is one of our secret national treasures. More than ever is her gift as a storyteller needed today. We may have lost our tribal memory, at least for the moment. It is an artist like Anndrena Belcher who can help us recapture it.”
The Carolina Colonels are a North Carolina-based stringband combining the talents of Travis Stuart (banjo), Adrian Shepherd-Powell (fiddle), Jeff Keith (mandolin and guitar), and Kevin Kehrberg (bass and guitar).
Travis Stuart began playing the banjo as a young teen in Haywood County, North Carolina. He is a respected banjo player and multi-instrumentalist known for his rich style and solid accompaniment. Travis has toured the US and internationally with The Stuart Brothers, Dirk Powell Band, Riley Baugus, The Reeltime Travelers, Martha Scanlan and step dancer Ira Bernstein. Travis learned from old-time masters such Red Wilson, the Smathers Family, Snuffy Jenkins, and Byard Ray. He is dedicated to performing and teaching old-time music, leading the JAM Junior Appalachian Musicians program in Haywood County, NC, and teaching as part of the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University.
Adrian Shepherd-Powell, a native of Crimora, Virginia, has won contests at fiddler’s conventions all over the southeast. His fiddle style is straight forward with a hard drivin’ bow. Adrian has played with many old time bands including the Pea Ridge Ramblers, Matt Kinman’s Old Time Serenaders, and the Cabin Creek Boys. Adrian has taught as part of the faculty at Mountain Empire Community College and at numerous regional music camps.
Kevin Kehrberg teaches courses and ensembles in American music and world music and private lessons in double bass, electric bass, and guitar at Warren Wilson College. He received a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Kentucky, and he also studies and performs music from other cultures, particularly those of Indonesia, China, and Thailand. As a professional bassist in both jazz and traditional music, Kehrberg has toured the United States, Canada, and Japan, and his recordings and appearances include Jean Ritchie, Curly Seckler, Lee Sexton, Art Stamper, Slide Hampton, Roger Humphries, Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra, David Long, Rayna Gellert, the Red State Ramblers, Chris Sharp, and the Wildwood Valley Boys.
Jeff Keith was born in western Kentucky, the cultural crossroads of blues and country music that gave rise to bluegrass. Keith picked up a guitar at the age of thirteen, but he now plays a variety of instruments–including the mandolin and banjo. In 2001, he began performing with Kentucky Wild Horse, a multi-generational band that featured musicians from across the state and embraced a variety of rural musical styles. In 2004, Jeff became a founding member of the Red State Ramblers, a collection of young musicians dedicated to performing traditional fiddle tunes in a style reminiscent of their heyday during the early twentieth century. More recently, the group has toured internationally, sharing American music with audiences in Central Asia and South America. In addition to these projects, Keith has appeared on recordings by musicians and groups as varied as Rayna Gellert, Goldenrod, Ben Sollee, and Daniel Martin Moore.
Deborah Thompson combines her love of old time music and dance with her desire to share them with others, serving the college and community as coordinator of country dance programs at Berea College. She came to Berea College in 2006 on being awarded the first Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship, then coordinated the Celebration of Traditional Music and served as the Programming Director for the Appalachian Center until 2009. Deborah learned to play banjo, guitar, and dulcimer during the folk revival of the 1970s and has repertoire from living and playing in Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and New England. Since 1976, she has performed both solo and with various groups, currently with the old time and Americana band, Skipjack. She has been an avid folk dancer since her teenage years, as well as playing music for dances, moving into calling and organizing community dances in 1986. She has taught classes and workshops in Appalachian music and dance for all ages since 1984, including public school residencies and Elderhostels, Appalshop’s Banjo Day, Hindman Family Folk Week, Cowan Creek Music School, Augusta Heritage Center, and John C. Campbell Folk School. Her specialty is interpreting Appalachian music and dance, presenting programs that tie together the history of the Appalachian region, information about and demonstrations on various instruments, and a smattering of music theory.
Donna and Lewis Lamb come from Paint Lick in Garrard County, Kentucky. Lewis (fiddle) grew up in a family that played old time music and taught his daughter Donna (guitar and vocals) the music he loves. They have traveled many times overseas with the Berea College Country Dancers, performed at the 1982 World’s Fair, at Berea’s outdoor drama Wilderness Road and at many festivals and dances throughout the region. The Lambs were the 2006-2007 winners of the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts, and Donna is the 2013 winner of the Homer Ledford Award for her skills in luthiery (musical instrument building). The Lambs also host Jammin’ on the Porch on Thursday nights in Old Town Berea.
Generation Gap is a bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band based in Madison and Jackson County, Kentucky. The band is known locally for their fine singing and musicianship, performing at churches and festivals throughout Central Kentucky. The band members are James Shoopman (mandolin), Austin Perkins (banjo), Callie Northern (fiddle), Eric Shoopman (bass), and Mark Edmondson (guitar).
The Local Honeys are a charming duo, born and raised in Central and Eastern Kentucky. Montana Hobbs and Linda Jean Stokley are the first females to graduate with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Traditional Music from Morehead State University. Their sincere dedication to Kentucky music led them to spend many late evenings in the college’s traditional music archives where they listened in awe to the many regional fiddle and banjo players from which they have drawn much of their repertoire. These ladies have cultivated a distinguishing sound by utilizing their powerful voices, in both sweet and haunting, intricate harmony. They diversely incorporate entrancing balladry, pleasing lullabies, the blues, and driving fiddle and banjo tunes. The Local Honeys bring the home music of the mountains to listening audiences throughout the region and elsewhere. They have sung and played for audiences across the Appalachian region and internationally in Ireland, Jamaica, and Canada. They are so very proud of their culture and hope to instill a sense of curiosity in their audiences about their own heritage while strengthening the appreciation of the high lonesome sound some have forgotten.
Irish traditional singer Mary McPartlan and New York jazz pianist Bertha Hope present an innovative musical tribute to the Appalachian “Mother of Folk,” Jean Ritchie. Collaborating with a band of master musicians, McPartlan and Hope will appear with Seamie O’Dowd (guitar, fiddle), Shirazette Tinnin (percussion), and Kim Clarke (electric bass). This concert will celebrate the U.S. release of McPartlan’s recording, From Mountain to Mountain, which has been described by the U.S. Embassy in Ireland as “a journey from the hilltops of Ireland to the foothills of Eastern Kentucky . . . that speaks to the power of the mountains and the people who call them home.” On thursday evening, this event begins the 43rd annual Celebration of Traditional Music, sponsored by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center.
Susan Eike Spalding has been dancing in the Appalachian region for almost three decades and has served as a consultant for the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and the Kentucky Folklife Festival. Spalding is an emerita associate professor of physical education at Berea College. She co-edited the book Communities in Motion: Dance, Tradition and Community, edited the dance entries for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, and co-produced two Appalshop video documentaries on old-time dance. Her work has long focused on intercultural exchange and other societal factors that have helped to shape Appalachian dance. As symposium speaker for the 2016 Celebration of Traditional Music, Spalding will share an audio-visual presentation based on her most recent publication, Appalachian Dance: Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities. In this work, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2014, Spalding brings to bear twenty-five years’ worth of rich interviews with black and white Virginians, Tennesseans, and Kentuckians to explore the evolution and social uses of dance in each region. Appalachian Dance was was named a Weatherford Award winner for Nonfiction by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association.
The CTM is partially supported by the L. Allen Smith Memorial Fund