2017 Visiting Masters

bruce-greeneMaster-in-Residence Bruce Greene from Burnsville, North Carolina is a gifted fiddler who is known for his vast repertoire of Kentucky tunes. Beginning in the early 1970’s Bruce traveled across the state recording and learning from the oldest generation of fiddlers, who included Hiram Stamper, Manon Campbell, the John M. Salyer family, and the Helton family. His large and influential body of field recordings are now housed at the Berea College Archives. Bruce’s recordings include, most recently River in Time, and Five Miles of Ellum Wood, Rare Old Chestnuts with dulcimer player Don Pedi, and Come Near My Love with his partner Loy McWhirter.



Lee Sexton  is known for his powerful clawhammer and two finger banjo picking. Lee ‘Boy’ came up on Line Fork in Letcher County, a richly musical community which included Manon Campbell, Dandy Lusk and his uncle Morgan Sexton, who taught him banjo at an early age. Later he learned fiddle from his musical partner of over 50 years, Marion Sumner. Lee performed at many regional festivals, the Kentucky Folklife Festival and in 2003 the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  His contribution to Kentucky’s musical heritage was recognized in 1999 with a Governor’s Award in the Arts. His most recent JuneAppal CD is Whoa Mule a lively retrospective of stage, studio and home recordings.


bbnorway25x772opBetty Vornbrock   from Hillsville, Virginia is a versatile fiddler who counts among her influences Kentucky fiddlers J.P. Fraley, Ed Haley and Snake Chapman. Betty performs with her husband, guitarist Billy Cornette, and banjo player Kirk Sutphin as the Reed Island Rounders.  They have performed widely at regional festivals and in England and Ireland, and have taken honors at the Appalachian Stringband Festival (Cliftop), the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Fiddler’s Grove and Galax. The Rounders’ latest is recording is Wild Goose Chase.  Betty’s special gift for twin fiddling shines in a 2000 recording with J.P. Fraley Side By Side.   


And Just a Few of the 2017 Workshop Leaders…

George GibsonGeorge Gibson (Knott County Banjo: Stories & Songs, Thursday 3:30 pm) grew up on Burgey’s Creek in Knott County, Kentucky, a community with a rich musical heritage. He learned banjo from listening to his father, uncle and many neighbors. George’s playing uses a driving and complex drop-thumb style strum, two- and three-finger picking and a wide variety of tunings. He has performed widely at regional festivals including the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Florida Old Time Music Championships, Augusta, and Home Craft Days. His 2000 June Appal release Last Possum Up the Tree reflects the unique repertoire of Knott County.




Randy Wilson (Kids Radio, Tuesday 3:30 pm, Play Party Games, Friday 3:30 pm) from Leslie County, Kentucky, is a talented multi-instrumentalist, dance caller and story teller.  He is a director of folk arts programs at the Hindman Settlement School and teaches at its Family Folk Week.  Randy also produces “Kids Radio” a weekly program on WMMT 88.7 FM.  Randy performed and recorded Heritage on June Appal Records with the late poet James Still.  In 2003 he appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. and in 2007 at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes.


meghan-bryantMeghan Bryant (Fiddle from Scratch, Monday 3:30) from Floyd County began learning fiddle from Jamie Wells when she was seven.  That summer, she attended her first Cowan Creek Mountain Music School and continued each year until she became a teaching assistant three years ago. She was awarded the first Charlie Whitaker Memorial Apprenticeship in 2014 and worked with Jesse Wells on the repertoire of Buddy Thomas and other fiddlers in the archive of Morehead State University’s Center for Traditional Music.  Currently, Meghan teaches private fiddle lessons and performs with the Kentucky Opry.


Ben Fink (Shape Note Singing, Thursday, 3:30 pm) has sung with professional and amateur vocal ensembles for more than 20 years.  Since discovering shape note singing in 2012, he has sung with groups across the eastern United States.  Ben co-founded the Whitesburg shape note singing and will chair the first-annual East Kentucky All-Day Singing on August 12, 2017.  Originally from Connecticut, Ben holds a PhD in cultural studies from the University of Minnesota. He now makes his home on Little Cowan and works at Appalshop, where he directs community economic development projects such as the Letcher County Culture Hub.

Not familiar with shape note?  Take a listen:


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