George Gibson 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 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.
Jesse Wells from Johnson County, Kentucky first learned fiddle from his father Jamie. He graduated with a degree in guitar performance from Morehead State University and now serves as education coordinator for MSU’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. Jesse is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who has played in a number of old time, bluegrass and rock bands; currently he plays bluegrass with the Wooks and tours with singer/songwriter Tyler Childers.
And Just a Few of the 2018 Workshop Leaders…
Brother James Caudill & Congregation (Singing at the Big Cowan Old Regular Baptist Church Tuesday 3:30) Each year we are welcomed by the moderators and congregation of the Big Cowan Old Regular Baptist Church to join in a very special singing. The Old Regular Baptist singing tradition is among the oldest in North America. It features “lined out” hymns sung a cappella for all to join in. Caudill and other Letcher Countians can be heard on a Smithsonian Folkways recording Songs of the Old Regular Baptists.
Not familiar with Old Regular Baptist Singing? Take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrDLj_dmugE
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: