The Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based band from the highest mountains of Virginia. Originally founded by Albert Hash, the band is carried on today by brother-in-law, Thornton Spencer (fiddle) and his wife, Emily Spencer (banjo, vocals). Their daughter, Martha Spencer (guitar, vocals, dance, fiddle) joins them as well as Ersel Fletcher (guitar, vocals) and Debbie Bramer (bass, dance). WTMB is one of the most popular dance bands in the Blue Ridge and have played numerous festivals and venues across the USA such as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, National Folk Festival, Merlefest, World's Fair, World Music Institute, and toured in the United Kingdom and Australia. The band has also won many competitions throughout the years, and been featured in countless books, news articles, and tv/radio documentaries on mountain music.
The Crooked Road Ramblers play traditional old-time dance music from Virginia and North Carolina. The members of the band are Kilby Spencer on fiddle, Peco Watson on banjo, John Perry on guitar, Donald Hill on guitar and vocals, Wayne Dye on mandolin and vocals, and Karen Carr on bass and vocals. Kilby grew up in a musical family. His parents are Thornton and Emily Spencer of the Whitetop Mountain Band. John Perry is well-known throughout our area for his guitar playing. With his incredibly individualistic slides and runs, he could even make a person with two left feet hit the dance floor. Lots of people remember John for playing in the awarding winning band, The New River Ramblers. Donald Hill has been playing music his entire life. His father, Leon Hill, was a musician and singer as well. Don has two sons who are also great pickers. Karen Carr is a dream come true for any old-time or bluegrass band. She loves to play music and sing, occasionally she and Don will also provide some comic relief for the group. Karen is deeply rooted in the musical heritage of the region with relatives who played including Fred Cockerham and Wilson Ramey.
Unique Sound of Mtns: Larry Sigmon & Martha Spencer
Old time banjo player and singer, Larry Sigmon of Callaway, VA, was half of the duo- Unique Sound of the Mountains with Barbara Poole for close to 20 years. They were one of the most popular groups in the Blue Ridge, touring all across the South with appearances at festivals and venues like the Carter Family Fold and Grand Ole Opry. After Barbara's passing in 2008, Larry had stopped performing. Albert Hash Festival will be his first official performance along with Martha Spencer accompanying him on bass and vocals.
Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys
Ralph Stanley II along with the Clinch Mountain Boys- Alex Leach (banjo, guitar, vocals), John Rigsby (fiddle, mando, vocals), Brad Beavers (bass), and Stanley Efaw (mandolin, vocals) are carrying on the Stanley brothers mountain music tradition in its finest form.
As one might expect for the son of a renowned banjo player, the first instrument Ralph II ever held was a banjo. At the ripe old age of three, Ralph (or simply "Two" as he is called by his family and friends), had his first lesson from the elder Stanley, learning a simple finger roll. It turned out, however, that he would not be following in his father’s footsteps, when it came to choice of instrument. He soon fell under the spell of the undisputed king of boyhood musical desires, the guitar. He spotted one under his sister’s bed, and according to Ralph, "I wanted to play it. When I was five years old, I started with the guitar and I've been playing it ever since".
But despite his interest in the guitar, and the fact that he was occasionally travelling with the Clinch Mountain Boys on the road, he had not yet developed an ambition to play professionally. It took until age twelve and an old 1977 video of the late Keith Whitley during his tenure as lead singer for the Clinch Mountain Boys, to inspire him to become a professional musician. After seeing Whitley with the elder Stanley, he was hooked and spent hours in the family basement honing his skills, and weathering the comparisons to his late Uncle Carter. His persistence paid off, and he took the stage as lead singer with Ralph Sr. and the Clinch Mountain Boys in June of 1995. Since then, he has earned the respect of Stanley fans everywhere, and has garnered praise as a strong new artist in his own right.
Ralph II has had 2 Grammy nominations on previous albums he recorded with Rebel Records. In 2002 he earned his first Grammy along with his father, Dr. Ralph Stanley for their collaboration with Jim Lauderdale on "Lost in the Lonesome Pines". Ralph II has proven to be an accomplished songwriter and has 6 solo albums under his belt, along with the newly released and highly acclaimed duet album with his father titled "Side by Side".
The Harris Brothers
Reggie and Ryan Harris are a real brother duo born and raised in Western North Carolina where they were exposed to a wide variety of music from an early age. The Harris Brothers started playing string instruments and singing as small children and are part of a musical family that still gets together to play. They have been playing professionally as a duo for more than twenty years, showcasing their unique style.
The intuitive nature of their interaction, in regard to both playing and singing, can only be achieved via the relationship between brothers. Reggie sings and plays guitar, banjo, and a kick-drum suitcase for percussion; Ryan sings and plays the bass.
The Harris Brothers are music lovers! Their infinite live repertoire consists of any number of genres including traditional roots music, rock & roll, jazz, blues, Appalachian mountain music, to vintage country and bluegrass. A typical live show effortlessly shifts from original tunes to their own arrangements of songs from all sides of the Americana musical spectrum.
The Georgia Crackers
Take a trip back in time to the early era of Country Music. Before Hank Williams or Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys, Georgia musicians such as Fiddlin’ John Carson, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, and many others pioneered the golden age of “Hillbilly Stingbands”. The Georgia Crackers faithfully re-create the vintage sound of the 1920’s & 30’s, while keeping alive the spirit of spontaneity and improvisation. Their irreverent stage banter is always a crowd pleaser and always full of surprises. The Crackers have won numerous awards at Fiddlers Convention around the South East. “The Georgia Crackers are one of the finest old-time string bands going! And they are certainly the very best re-creating the wonderful Georgia fiddle band style that was recorded in the 20s and 30s, the Golden Age of recorded old-timey music. The Georgia style had both wild exuberance and bluesy nuance, and accommodated comic songs, flat-out breakdowns, and raggy and blues-inflected numbers. The talents of Mick Kinney (fiddle, vocals), Chip Corbitt (banjo, vocals), Kenneth Johnson (guitar, vocals) and Dub Hudson (clarinet) handle all this with fine musicianship and showmanship--give them a listen!” - Art Rosenbaum The Crackers are dedicated to presenting and preserving a treasury of music by Georgia artist from the early days of recorded music, many of whom were pioneers in their respective genres. Although they strive for authenticity on many levels, their mission is always balanced between entertainment and education. The band’s live shows always keep alive the spirit of spontaneity and improvisation present in so much of the original source material.
Five Mile Mountain Road Band
Made up of Billy Hurt Jr. on fiddle/vocals, Brennen Ernst on banjo/guitar/vocals, Seth Boyd on banjo/guitar/vocals and Steven Dowdy on bass/vocals, Five Mile Mountain Road is a Franklin County, VA-based Old Time, Blue Grass, and classic Country band with an emphasis on music for dancing. They have performed at festivals and dances all across the country and won many awards at fiddlers' conventions.