Ramona Church

Bluegrass musician

Purlear, NC (Wilkes County)

Ramona Church grew up in Wilkes County listening to her grandfather play banjo in an old two-finger style and hearing her mother's family sing gospel music. She has been playing banjo and performing since she was a young girl. She was raised largely by her maternal grandparents after her father's death. She had some musical uncles including Maynard Holbrook and fiddler Jim Shumate. It was her grandfather's banjo playing, however, that first intrigued her.

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Clear Creek

Bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band

Old Fort, NC (McDowell County)

Clear Creek is a popular bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band in McDowell County consisting of musicians who have lived and played in the area for a long time. All of the members have been very involved with the local traditional music around Old Fort and Marion, and they are staples on Friday nights at Young's Mountain Music in Old Fort.

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Verlen Clifton

Mandolin player

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient Verlen Clifton grew up in the Round Peak community of Surry County where musicians developed a powerful brand of stringband music based on the fiddle and banjo ensemble tradition. His playing has earned the admiration of local residents and attracted the attention of old-time music enthusiasts throughout the country. Verlen first played banjo and guitar, but he eventually settled on mandolin, which he plays more as a rhythm rather than a lead instrument.

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Herman Coffey

Mandolin player

Newland, NC (Avery County)

Herman Coffey was born and raised in Avery County where he played bluegrass music since he was a young boy. His two other brothers were also interested in music, and the three of them took up music on their own when they were young. Herman started on the fiddle and later he switched to mandolin. The brothers performed often in the area where they lived, particularly at fiddler's conventions. In his later years, Herman was the last of the three brothers to continue playing music.

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G. C. Collins


Webster, NC (Jackson County)

G. C. Collins grew up in Jackson County, near where he lives today. At the age of twelve, he took up playing the fiddle. His father was a fiddler whose playing inspired both G. C. and G. C.'s sister Darlene—now Darlene Hodges—to learn the instrument. He taught them many of the standard chestnuts of oldtime and bluegrass music, like "Down Yonder" and "Soldier's Joy." The three played as a family band, with Darlene then on guitar.

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Billy Constable

Bluegrass musician

Spruce Pine, NC (Avery County)

Billy Constable grew up in a very musical family in Avery County, and played music for most of his life.

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Oldtime band

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

Backstep performs old-time stringband music in the "Round Peak Style" native to Mount Airy, North Carolina. Known for its driving rhythms and prominent melodies, Round Peak music is just the thing to make you kick up your heels and dance. The band is excited to have just won first place old-time band at the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention in 2006. In 2004, Backstep won first prize at both the Fiddler's Grove fiddler's convention and the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention.

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Oldtime stringband

Watauga and Avery Counties, NC

The Corklickers have been playing oldtime music in western North Carolina and the surrounding region for thirty years. The group consists of guitar player Mack Vannoy from Boone, North Carolina, fiddler Gil Adams and banjo player Mark Adams from Kingsport, Tennessee, and fiddler Rick Palmer, who has played with the group since the late 1970s and has been a full-time member since the mid-1980s. Clay Buckner, who now plays with the Red Clay Ramblers, was also a founding member.

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David Bass


Bryson City, NC (Swain County)

David Bass is one of those rare musicians who can play the fiddle and do flatfoot dancing at the same time, and do both well. As a former member of the Freight Hoppers, and as a legend in his own right among today's young oldtime fiddlers, Bass has had a lot to do with oldtime music's steadily ascending popularity with young music listeners around the country.

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Cullen Galyean and The Bluegrassers

Bluegrass band

Low Gap, NC (Surry County)

Cullen Galyean and The Bluegrassers is a bluegrass band from Surry County that began when bluegrass veteran Cullen Galyean's son, Mickey Galyean, started playing mandolin. "I grew up going to fiddlers' conventions and festivals every weekend," says Mickey. Cullen reported that he loaned a mandolin to Mickey, and before long, Mickey had become fascinated with the mandolin and bluegrass music. "After just two weeks, he had figured out a couple tunes," said Cullen.

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