Quick links to Performers


• Dry Branch Fire Squad - Festival hosts


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In thirty-plus years of music making, Rounder recording artists Dry Branch Fire Squad has become an institution in American acoustic music. Inspired by a fierce and uncompromising loyalty to the most traditional aspects of bluegrass, old time and southern gospel music, Dry Branch Fire Squad is fueled by the musical vision and cultural commentary of Ron Thomason. Unlike most bluegrass groups, Dry Branch Fire Squad sells neither itself, its members, nor even particular bluegrass songs. What it markets is the emotions that stimulated the creation of bluegrass and mountain music as well as a taste of the culture in which this music evolved. Two long-time members of DBFS, Brian Aldridge and Dan Russell, great friends and wonderful performers, retired at the end of 2015 after many years of yeoman service to the band and audiences. And so it is our honor to bring back into the band a former member, Adam McIntosh and someone new to DBFS, Jeff Byrd. We are happy to be presenting them in 2016; they have that familiar old-time spirit and gusto. And they're not yet eligible for Social Security.
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• The Sons and Brothers Band - Festival hosts


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The Sons and Brothers Band continues to captivate audiences around the country with their fusion of bluegrass, gospel, and western music inspired by the band’s founding father Frank Wolking, who lost his courageous battle with cancer in fall 2008. Rooted solidly in the Mountain West, the band describes its brand of music as “Westgrass,” songs with western and Gospel themes, built around the bluegrass lead instruments of mandolin, fiddle, dobro and banjo. A typical performance will feature a dynamic contrast of songs and sounds ranging from stirring ballads and powerful gospel numbers to fire breathing instrumentals to poignant stories of family life to classic waltzes and tales of broken hearts.
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• Kenny and Amanda Smith


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Winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s prestigious Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2003, the Kenny and Amanda Smith Band combines gutsy, heartfelt vocals, brilliant instrumental talents and a powerful, contemporary sense of song choice and arrangement into one of the most compelling new sounds in bluegrass today. Originally from Nine Mile, Indiana, Kenny is widely considered one of the most important and influential flatpicking-style guitarists of his generation. A two-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year award winner, his professional credits include six years with the popular Lonesome River Band and an exceptional solo CD, Studebaker, released on Sugar Hill Records in 1997. Born in the small town of Davisville, West Virginia, Amanda grew up singing in church choirs and participating in talent contests at local fairs. “I always sang, my mom and dad said, even before I can remember,” she says. She started playing guitar in high school to accompany herself, and soon discovered bluegrass music through female artists such as Rhonda Vincent and Alison Krauss. In September 2008, the band released Live and Learn, their fifth album, on Rebel Records. With dynamic vocals and inventive instrumentation, the exciting, diverse disc also features the pitch-perfect song choice that has marked every release of the Kenny and Amanda Smith Band. 2011 - Kenny released his second instrumental guitar project "Return" on Gat3 Records. 2012 - Kenny & Amanda released "Catch Me If I Try" which climbed up the charts to #1. The album also gave Amanda a spot in the Female Vocalist of the Year category for the IBMA in 2013.
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• Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mtn Boys


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Ralph Stanley II heard his father’s wishes and has proudly stepped up to the Clinch Mountain Boys title. At this past weekend’s Festival on Smith Ridge, Ralph II was brought on as “Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys.” A title that only he is worthy of carrying through the next generation. The band, as famous as its leader, will not die out. The Clinch Mountain sound is in great hands.
Through cracking voice and fighting back tears, Ralph II announced that he was taking over the Clinch Mountain Boys with honor and dignity. A bittersweet moment that was sad, yet amazing at the same time. The actual passing of the torch has taken place. He spoke of his dad and asked the crowd to pray for Daddy Ralph and himself as he continues the name and music his father placed in his care.
The Clinch Mountain Boys now consist of 2’s previous band, John Rigsby (former Clinch Mountain Boy) on fiddle and mandolin, Alex Leach on banjo, Brad Beavers on the upright, and Ralph II on the guitar in Uncle Carter’s spot. Just like it should be. -- Reprinted from Blugrass Today 6/2/2016 by CJ Lewandowsky
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• The Hot Flashes


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The Hot Flashes—an exciting and eclectic group fronted by three female vocalists who have made a name for themselves on the New England music scene—have reunited after a 13 year hiatus to bring their tight vocal harmonies and jazzy acoustic stylings to a number of select venues in the area. The Flashes are Amy Gallatin, who with her expressive soulful singing has made a name for herself both in the US/Canada and overseas, award-winning singer-songwriter/guitarist Gail Wade, and multi-instrumentalist Peggy Harvey, founding member of the legendary bluegrass group Traver Hollow. Peggy was a guest fiddler in Amy’s band Stillwaters for many years, and Amy and Gail were drawn together by their mutual love of horses and the Western life. Together they have amassed a wealth of beautifully performed tunes drawn from the bluegrass, folk, swing, jazz, and blues genres, with a few cowgirl and traditional tunes thrown in for good measure.
Supporting cast includes renowned Dobroist Roger Williams and his son JD, mandolinist and a recent Berklee College of Music grad, from Gallatin’s Stillwaters group. Veteran bassist John Urbanik rounds out the sound with his solid bass underpinnings and provides a few bass vocals as well.
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• The Stray Birds


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The Stray Birds are Maya de Vitry (fiddle, guitar, banjo and vocals) , Oliver Craven (fiddle, guitar,mandolin and vocals) , & Charles Muench (banjo, bass and vocals) . They are out promoting their latest album Magic Fire. “This collection of songs honors what connects us as humans," Maya adds. "Being human can be a fast-paced, detached experience at times. I feel like part of what we do as musicians is rewire our connections to each other, and perhaps our connections to our collective memory or dream." For The Stray Birds, those connections come from filling hearts with love and joy and light each night onstage, setting a Magic Fire and watching it spread everywhere they go. The most exciting thing about an album of firsts ( their first with an outside producer, their first with venerable guest musicians, and their first truly collaborative songwriting effort). The most exciting thing about an album of firsts? It means The Stray Birds are just getting started.
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• Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys


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Jim Gaudet (lead vocals, guitar) from Albany, New York, is a folksinger known for his story songs. Gaudet's journey began as a flat picker, playing mandolin and guitar for the Lost Country Rounders. He is known for his witty, unassuming stage presence. Gaudet us joined by Bobby Ristau (vocals, bass) who began his 36 year professional music career with the Armed Forces working with the band Smoke and has worked with The Railroad Boys since the band's beginning in 2006. Sten Isachsen (mandolin, guitar, Dobro) has appeared as concerto soloist with the University at Albany Orchestra, the Ithaca College String Quartet and the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet. Mat Kane (fiddle) lived in Beijing, China for two years where he played electric violin with Chinese rock legends Shazi, Cui Jian and Tang Dynasty. Newest member is Scott Hopkins (banjo). Sara Milonovich is an award-winning singer, fiddler, songwriter/composer, and bandleader as well as a sought-after accompanist for a number of other artists in many musical genres.
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• The Reunion Band


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The Boston-based Reunion Band is renowned for its strong traditional bluegrass sound and tight vocal harmonies. Veteran musicians Richard (Richie) Brown (mandolin), Dave Dillon (rhythm guitar), and Margaret Gerteis (acoustic bass) played together in several bands over the years before launching the Reunion Band in 2002. Rising star Laura Orshaw (fiddle) joined the group in 2012, and BB Bowness (banjo) became its newest member in 2013. The band has performed at the ROMP bluegrass festival in Kentucky, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Massachusetts, and at festivals throughout New England. They can also be seen regularly in local and regional venues, including the Cantab Lounge, Johnny D’s Uptown Lounge, and Woods Hole Folk Music Society in Massachusetts, and the Firebox and Killingly Grange Hall in Connecticut.
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• Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootnanny


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Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny is a seven-piece, old-time string band from Rover, Tennessee with a mission to relieve stress, give off good vibes, and cause a general feeling of well-being in all people, while promoting the awesomeness of old-time music. They can be counted on to deliver a high-energy performance influenced by Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, the Carter Family, and other old-time greats.
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• Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome


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Jeff Brown and Still Lonesome consists of Jeff Brown, Austin Brown, Kyle Murphy, Nick Goad and Mitch Walker.
Jeff Brown is a name that is very well known to musicians on today's bluegrass circuit, and has been steadily gaining in popularity with fans, DJ'S and promoters alike. He began playing at the very young age of nine, and hasn't slowed down since. He and his brother formed the Richlands Bluegrass Boys, where he played alongside Blue Highway's Wayne Taylor. In 1993, Jeff went to work for the legendary Larry Sparks as bass player and tenor singer, where he was a Lonesome Rambler from 1993 to 1996. Jeff has performed on many famous stages such as: the Grand Ole Opry at the world famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee.
Austin Brown now 17 years old has been playing guitar and bass since the age 3. He is a sophomore. In addition to music, he loves football and fishing. Austin’s music influences are Ralph Stanley, Tony Rice, Wyatt Rice, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Blue Highway, Larry Sparks, Barry Bales, D. Sparks, and many others. Kyle Murphy is very talented fiddle player, mandolin player and song writer originally from Culver City, California. He grew up around bluegrass music, playing with his dad and sister in The Murphy Family Band from a very young age. Nick Goad is a native of Stuart Virginia and is presently studying business administration. He began playing guitar at the age of 9 and mandolin at 12. During which time he has been recognized as Best All Around Performer and 1st Place Mandolin at Galax Old Time Fiddler's Convention in Galax VA. Mitch Walker from Raleigh, North Carolina is currently a student at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. He is presently working on two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in Bluegrass and the other in Economics. Mitch has been playing banjo since he was 13. He grew up in a musical family with both his grandfather and uncle both playing bluegrass music.
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• The Vintage Ramblers


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The Vintage Ramblers are Charlie Hoskins, (Guitar and Vocals), Brian Aldtridge (Mandolin and Vocals) and Johnny Wax (Banjo and Vocals). In addition to playing the guitar and singing all the parts, Charlie handles the majority of our MC work. He brings a passion for bluegrass music culminating from a lifetime of playing. Brian is an artist at enunciating exciting expressive harmony lines that give expression to the soulfulness and meaning of bluegrass and old-time music. He also has a knack for finding just the right sympathetic runs and fills that give body to the band’s songs by supporting the lyrics of songs rather than drawing attention from them, whether on guitar or mandolin feature in their performances—that is the old “chestnuts” from the true vine with the tawny bark of time left unremoved. Growing up and living in the Dayton, OH area, Johnny was surrounded and influenced by the area’s Bluegrass music scene. He began playing the banjo in the early 80’s after the passing of his father and grandfather who were also huge fans of Bluegrass music. Johnny’s hard driving, traditional playing style has been greatly influenced by banjo masters Mike Lilly, J.D. Crowe and Earl Scruggs, just to name a few!
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• Kaia Kater


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Few are more conscious in their journey through Appalachian histories and the Canadian musical landscape than Kaia. Born in Montreal, Kaia has lived Winnipeg, Wakefield and, most recently, West Virginia, she now resides in Toronto. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone, CBC Music and The Roots Music Report. Often praised for her capacity to sound new and old at once, Kaia anchors her music the space where tradition and innovation intersect.
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• Glade City Rounders


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The Glade City Rounders are a Middle Tennessee-based string band specializing in string band and jug-blues tunes. They are known for their high-energy live shows and musical virtuosity. All the members are multi-instrumentalists known in the region for their intrinsic old-time styles.
Josh Smith Josh is an accomplished guitar, claw-hammer banjo, and jug player. He has played alongside and recorded with many of the traditional musicians in the area.
William See William was born into the Middle Tennessee old-time music tradition. Mostly known for fiddle, guitar, and banjo playing William has performed and presented old-time music around the world.
Squirrel McLain Squirrel is a banjoist and songster who revels in the spirit of Uncle Dave Macon and other regional banjo entertainers. Squirrel is known for his regional banjo style and vaudeville-esque singing.
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• Chris Brashear and Peter McLaughlin


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Peter McLaughlin is an acclaimed acoustic guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, performer, recording artist and music instructor located in Tucson, AZ. He plays many genres and styles, and specializes in acoustic flatpicking and fingerpicking techniques. He was born in Washington DC, and his family's roots are in Scotland and England by way of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Early on, his parents, Bill and Nancy McLaughlin, brought music into the lives of Peter and his brother David. They were introduced to all types of music, had a family band, and were surrounded with love and encouragement. Peter started playing the guitar at the age of eight and was very soon jamming at bluegrass festivals and fiddle conventions. In 2011 Peter's current band, The Sonoran Dogs, was formed out of a tour with the late Japanese guitarist, Maro Kawabata. The "Dogs" continue to perform regularly at various festivals and concert venues. Their first CD was released in 2014 on Dog Boy Records.
Chris Brashear is a talented vocalist, songwriter, and a dynamic fiddler and guitarist with a penchant for writing memorable songs on subjects seldom touched on in today's realms of songwriting. He has made multiple showcase appearances at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), first with Kentucky Rose in 1992, with Peter in Frog Mountain in 1994, and with Perfect Strangers in 2000. Chris performed for two years in Italy as violinist with the Maurizio Geri Swingtet. He has also toured for many years with Robin & Linda Williams and Jim Watson, and more recently with the Piedmont Melody Makers, which includes Alice Gerrard, Cliff Hale and Jim Watson.
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• High Plains Tradition


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It all started in 1987 when Kenny Pabst and Doug Elrick had just come off of a 1 year hiatus from playing music with a band named "A GRAIN OF SALT". They were talking about getting back to playing the music they loved, Bluegrass, and playing in front of the best fans out there. That is when Kenny and Doug got a hold of Steve Youngblood, a fabulous left handed guitar picker and singer, and Bob Grosser, a fabulous banjo player. Thus was the start of High Plains Tradition. Through several member changes and 26 years later, High Plains tradition has become a highly sought after band at festivals and concerts alike.
They have played in venues all across the West from California to Kentucky. They have also played festivals in Canada as well as 2 tours in Ireland. Their music is rooted in the "Traditional" with a flair of their own.
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• Kantankerous


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Members: Joel Denman Doug Elrick Eric Grace Marte Meyer Ken Pabst The members of Kantankerous have been playing together for almost fifteen years. Their love of the genre and appreciation for history of bluegrass show in their selection of material and its performance. All five of the boys sing lead vocals and multiple harmony parts creating great variety and great vocal blends. All are veterans of multiple bands and bring that experience to Kantankerous.
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• Steel Pennies


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Steel Pennies play a mix of traditional bluegrass and original tunes, with a sprinkling of not-so-traditional songs that keep the music fresh and exciting. The high-energy, high-lonesome sound of the Steel Pennies harkens back to the heyday of bluegrass music. Even the band’s numerous original songs have a timeless feel. The collaboration of many musicians has taken the music in subtly different directions on many occasions; the result, however, is always true to our convic-tions: hard driving, honest, well played, and thoroughly enjoyable. Steel Pennies is Kathy Foster-Patton on bass, Kerry Claxton on mandolin, Kevin Slick on guitar, Keith Murdock on resophonic guitar, and David Patton on banjo. Kathy founded the band with several friends in 2007 as an excuse to play more bluegrass! David, a veteran of Coal Creek Bluegrass Band, joined the band in 2008. Kevin met David and Kathy at local jams, and brought his tremendous talent and experience to the band in late 2012. Fresh from several years with Giddyup Kitty Kerry, another Coal Creek Bluegrass Band veteran, joined the band in January 2017. Keith, a long-time professional musician who only recently discovered bluegrass music, joined the band in April 2017. Steel Pennies takes its name from the 1943 steel penny, produced by the U.S. Mint to save copper during the Second World War.
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• Gary Bowman


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Gary is a zookeeper, teacher, musician and songwriter. He resides with his family in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. Gary also spends a fair amount of time in the recording studio. His current musical excursion, “Song of the Rivers,” is his seventh CD release in the past seven years. In addition to writing and arranging, Gary plays acoustic and electric guitars, 5-string banjo, mandolin, ukulele, dobro, bass and harmonica on this project. Gary considers it an honor to be a part of the ‘High Mountain Hay Seeds'.
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• Heidi Clare

One of our most prolific, most loyal and most entertaining members of our High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass family, you’ll see Heidi in various venues over the weekend. Heidi, a seriously talented professional fiddler and amazing clogger, will help out Gary Bowman with the kids’ workshops and performance and may very well show up on the stage guesting with Dry Branch Fire Squad or with Dry Branch leader, Ron Thomason.
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• Todd Belveal, Emcee

Having survived in great fashion his initial stint as the emcee for High Mountain Hay Fever’s main stage in 2013, Todd will be back at it for the 2017 festival. Todd lives in Austin, Texas which is of course well-known as a music mecca. And he's an entrepreneur, being a founder and owner of Silvercar, a unique airport rental car company employing up-to-date technology to make the rental process smooth as silk. Todd has been a regular HMHF attendee for many years and loves the whole festival experience. He may have even learned a thing or two from his dad, Don Belveal, who was a long-time emcee for High Mountain Hay Fever.
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