Private Lessons

Jim Vipperman

Bluegrass and old-time musician

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

Multi-instrumentalist and teacher Jim Vipperman grew up in a musically rich family and community in Surry County. "My dad played music, both of my grandfathers played, and my great-grandfather played. It is great to come from that family history, and I think it has helped me absorb the music." Jim plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass, and banjo.

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Adam Tanner

String band musician

Weaverville, NC (Buncombe County)

A resident of Buncombe County since 2000, Adam Tanner is a well known performer and recording artist in a variety of traditional acoustic styles. In his work with the Crooked Jades, the Hunger Mountain Boys, Frank Lee, the Twilite Broadcasters, and solo, Tanner's music spans the genres of traditional Appalachian and progressive string band music, early bluegrass, and pre-War blues.

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Josh Goforth

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Ben Seymour

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Arvil Freeman


Weaverville, NC (Buncombe County)

From the time of his first radio appearance, in 1950 at the age of fourteen, on Bristol's WCYB, Arvil Freeman has been a professional fiddler. He toured for a brief but prestigious stint with Reno and Smiley for six months in the 1960s, and since then has chosen to perform primarily in the Asheville area. Through his performing and teaching, he has made a significant contribution to the flourishing of traditional music in the North Carolina mountains.

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Brian Yerman

Oldtime guitar player

Boone, NC (Watauga County)

Brian Yerman grew up in upstate New York, but he has been living in southern Appalachia playing guitar with oldtime musicians since the mid-1970s. Since his move, Brian has sought out and hosted traditional mountain musicians in Wytheville, Virginia, and Watauga County, North Carolina, where his oldtime music parties have become legendary. He has also been singing gospel music since 1993 with Boone's Mennonite Brethren Church and with a group he performed with at MerleFest.

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Amanda Spencer

Oldtime musician and dancer

Crumpler, NC (Ashe County)

“I love dancing,” says Amanda Wright Spencer.  “That’s been my way to be involved with the music all through my life.”  Amanda learned about bluegrass, and then oldtime, music attending dances and jam sessions with her father, and she has learned to play fiddle, banjo, and guitar.  Today, Amanda attends regional jam sessions, fiddlers’ conventions, and dances, and she teaches with the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program in Ashe, Watauga, and Alleghany Counties.

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Carol Turner

Quilter and seamstress

Vilas, NC (Watauga County)

Carol Turner has a knack for working with needles and hooks. She grew up in the Shulls Mill community of Watauga County and spent time with her grandmother and great-aunt, both of whom quilted and embroidered. "She quilted all the time," Carol says of her grandmother. "When I was a little girl, I loved it." Carol's love for quilting, knitting, crocheting, and other crafts has carried into her adult life, and she continues to stay active with her crafts.

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Marsha Todd

Oldtime and bluegrass musician; dancer

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

Marsha Todd lives and breathes the old-time and bluegrass music of the Southwest Virginia-Northwest North Carolina region. "The music is what it's all about for me," she proclaims. All her life, Marsha has traveled with her family to dances, festivals, fiddlers' conventions, and music gatherings around the region, and she has been performing since she was nine years old. Today, she performs with her parents' band, the Slate Mountain Ramblers.

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Joe Thrift

Violin builder and oldtime musician

Dobson, NC (Surry County)

Joe Thrift is a violin maker and fiddler who has steeped himself in all aspects of the instrument. Born in Winston-Salem, Joe grew up in a family that was sympathetic to his musical interests. His father was a pipe organ builder, and his mother an organist and choir director. In the early 1970s, Joe became interested in building instruments and playing music.

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