Kirsten Griffiths


Kirsten Griffiths is a seasoned educator with a passion for community building and the traditions of our area. With a diverse background as an art teacher, Waldorf school educator, tutor, wilderness instructor, and farm-based educator, Kirsten has dedicated the majority of her adult life to working with young people. As a member of the regional JAM board and with experience in Floyd youth music since 2014, Kirsten brings a commitment to cultivating the next generations of musicians by celebrating the musical traditions of our region. She feels especially fortunate to have three children who all dance and play old-time music, most often at the Floyd Country Store jamboree.

Gina Dilg

Fiddle, Dance

Gina Dilg is a fiddler, singer, and flatfoot dancer who grew up in a family of old time musicians. Experienced in teaching students of all ages, she loves to inspire curiosity and engagement in traditional music and dance through playful exploration and learning by ear. You can find Gina performing with her husband Jason Dilg as The Lovely Mountaineers, and with her band the Mustard Cutters. Gina and Jason also host the old time jam each month at The Floyd Country Store.

Gina Dilg with Fiddle

Sophie Moeckel

Appalachian Arts, Dance, Fiddle

Sophie Moeckel grew up surrounded by music in the Blue Ridge mountains. She fell in love with the community aspect of old time music as a Floyd JAMs (Junior Appalachian Musicians) student and part of the Floyd community. She’s been a part of the Handmade Music School team since its beginning, serving in many roles throughout the years. She currently serves as Director of Operations for the organization and teaches fiddle, beginner guitar and banjo, and Appalachian Dance. Sophie has extensive experience teaching music and working with children both in classroom and after-school settings and you can usually find her playing music, crafting, or dancing with a gaggle of children! She is passionate about passing along Appalachian music and dance traditions and believes strongly in their power to build community. She loves sharing the joy of music by playing for and learning from dancers at the Friday Night Jamboree at The Floyd Country Store and local fiddlers conventions, jamming and dancing with friends, and creating opportunities for others to experience the power of the arts to bring us together.

Handmade Music School Teacher Sophie Moeckel

Sam & Melissa Leary

Guitar, Banjo

About Sam:

Sam Leary first picked up the banjo in 1985 when he got to spend a week in an Appalachian Heritage camp in Kentucky at the Hindman Settlement School. 5 strings just weren’t enough, and he has moved on to explore all of the old time and bluegrass instruments. Sam especially loves to be in the community of fellow musicians and is grateful for any opportunity to pass on the traditions and knowledge, to the next generation, that were so generously passed on to him.

About Melissa:

Melissa Leary has immersed herself in all things Appalachia since moving to the area in 1991. Whether playing a tune, building a barn, or crafting a bark basket, a meal, a tool, a toy, or a medicine, she has found the best way to get to the heart of a tradition is to humbly dive in and practice it with dedication. Melissa has a background in Appalachian Studies and Occupational Therapy, and finds that the occupations of everyday Appalachian traditions provide growth, skill development, and identity- all of which can serve to create connection and resilience throughout life’s ages and stages. A mother of seven, she is passionate about providing the next generation the opportunity to experience the joy that comes with being tradition holders of our regional lifeways.

Jason Dilg


Jason is a respected interpreter of Appalachian dance tunes and ballads. He played banjo in the winning band in the traditional band contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifttop W.V. in 2009; he took first in banjo and third in fiddle the Fiddles and Folklife Festival at Warren Wilson College in the spring of 2005; and played guitar behind fiddler David Bass in the first-place old time band at the Tazewell County Fiddlers Convention in the summer of 2006. He was a member of Colorado’s favorite old-time band High on the Hog, and served as an adjunct faculty banjo instructor for Naropa University. In 2023 he played bass in the 4th-place band at Clifftop, and mandolin in the 7th-place band at Galax. Jason also serves as the managing editor of the California Bluegrass Association’s monthly publication, the Bluegrass Breakdown.

Jason Dilg

Jamie Collins

Guitar, Bass

Born and raised encircled by the rich history of mountain music traditions of the Blue Ridge, Jamie Collins carries tradition forward with her own fresh take on bluegrass, old-time, country music, and dance.

“My teaching philosophy is centered around the student. I believe that we as teachers have a responsibility to teach students how to build their self esteem and feel ready to enjoy their learning process. Through teaching music, I have the gift of teaching self confidence, self expression, team building, perseverance, and appreciation for the arts and cultural diversity. Music is a universal language that bridges gaps of diversity.

Jamie teaches guitar, bass, and beginner to intermediate fiddle with The Handmade Music School and Junior Appalachian Musicians. She has worked with children of all ages since graduating from East Tennessee State University in 2012; receiving a Bachelors Degree in Education, and a minor from the Bluegrass Old Time and Country Music Studies.

“I grew up in a musical family and my early memories include spending time with my family and enjoying music. I still very much enjoy that same experience, and through teaching I experience that with other families. Our rich musical culture here in the Appalachian mountains builds community and it is something that I feel is worth celebrating and persevering for our future generations.”

Jamie Collins with Guitar

Corbin Hayslett


“Traditional music has been the mainstay of my from my earliest memories. My Dad taught me to love and sing like The Stanley Brothers while I was in a car seat and my mom sat me on the front-row pew during choir rehearsals. The music of Virginia’s mountains has been passed down in my family for nine generations. I’ve had the honor of playing mountain music in three hemispheres and on stages ranging from the Floyd Country Store to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. It is my honor to share my love of our music through the Handmade Music School. Lessons offered in banjo (clawhammer, old-time finger styles, bluegrass), old-time fiddle, guitar (lead and rhythm), mandolin, voice, hambone, jaw harp, general shenanigans and tomfoolery.”

Corbin is also the general manager of County Sales in Floyd, VA, and a member of several esteemed dance bands!

Corbin Hayslett with Banjo

Raistlin Brabson


Raistlin Brabson is old time musician from Franklin County, Virginia. He began by playing percussion and guitar in local bands until picking up his great-great grandfather, Grey Craig’s fiddle 2 years ago. Inspired by local masters such as Chris Prillaman, and the likes of legendary fiddler Clark Kessinger, Raistlin has won numerous contests and is no stranger to fiddling for a dance!

Jared Boyd


Jared Boyd grew up in the small community of Laurel Fork in Carroll County, Virginia and spent the early years of his life surrounded by old-time music on both sides of his family. He learned clawhammer banjo from Ray Chatfield through the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program as well as from his grandfather Jimmy Boyd, co-founder of the Franklin County, VA old-time dance band, The Dry Hill Draggers. His playing has also been influenced by local players of past and present such as Kyle Creed, Tommy Jarrell, Brien Fain, Emily Spencer, and Eddie Bond to name a few.  Jared has won 1st place in clawhammer banjo competitions at all of the fiddlers conventions around the Galax and surrounding areas, including winning the blue ribbon four times at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention and Best All Around Performer at the 2022 and 2023 Galax conventions.  Jared currently plays with the Twin Creeks Stringband, 1st place winners of the Old-Time Band competition at the 2022 and 2023 Galax Old Fiddlers Convention.


Jared Boyd

Mac Traynham

Guest Mentor

Mac Traynham is an accomplished fiddler and banjo player as well as a fine guitar player and singer. Influenced by well known and obscure musicians of the past, Mac has developed a hard-driving style of playing which keeps the rhythm going strongly and delights dancers! He teaches at numerous music camps and has won many ribbons from various Fiddler’s Conventions. Mac is also a renowned luthier building sought-after banjos and guitars and a beloved teacher dedicated to sharing his extensive knowledge of Southwest Virginia musical traditions.

Handmade Music School Teacher Mac Traynham

Dylan Locke & Heather Krantz

Guest Mentors

Dylan and Heather are the co-owners of the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA. Together they both work tirelessly to promote and celebrate the traditional music, dance and lifestyle of the Blue Ridge Plateau region of Virginia. In addition, Dylan serves as executive director of The Handmade Music School and has taken over County Sales, the world’s largest selection of old time and bluegrass music in the world, a business that has served a large community of music lovers since 1965. Both the Floyd Country Store and County Sales are major venues on Virginia’s Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail (which Dylan is currently the board president).

Dylan and Heather are bringing all of their experiences as performers, performing arts administrators and community-building advocates to the small town of Floyd where they are building on the incredible foundation that existed at The Floyd Country Store, a place that has been the center of a small community for over 100 years and still provides a warm, inviting space to enjoy the better things in life. They are both multi-talented musicians and dedicated teachers who love sharing their passion for music with all ages.

George Slusher

Guest Mentor

“I was born and raised in Floyd County in a musical family. My parents played and sang traditional old-time and gospel music along with many relatives and friends. I was fortunate to have access from an early age to a variety of musical instruments, namely the harmonica, autoharp, ukulele, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. At the age of 11 I started playing trumpet in the school band which provided me with a foundation of music theory and taught me to read a musical chart. That same year I began learning the guitar, getting the chords from a Mel Bay instruction book and rhythm techniques from watching my parents and other guitarists during the frequent music gatherings. Over the years I have been fortunate to play in a number of bands in different music genres and develop some facility on guitar, mandolin, and banjo.”

Jesse Smathers

Guest Mentor

Currently performing on mandolin and singing lead and tenor vocals with the Lonesome River Band, Jesse Smathers is an accomplished mandolinist, guitarist, and singer from Eden, North Carolina. Heavily influenced by the music that runs in his family, Jesse has found inspiration and takes pride in his musical family lineage. His grandfather, Harold Smathers, and grand uncle, Luke Smathers, recorded for June Appal and were awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993 for their contributions to North Carolina Folk Music with the Luke Smathers String Band. In 2009, Jesse won the guitar championship of the Virginia Folk Music Association. He also has won at the Charlie Poole Festival and placed 3rd in guitar at The Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Galax. Jesse began his career as a touring musician with the James King Band in 2010, playing mandolin and singing tenor and high baritone, and later rejoined the band performing guitar and vocals. In 2013, High Voltage, featuring Jesse as guitarist and lead vocalist, won first place in the bluegrass band category at the Galax Old Time Fiddlerʼs Convention. Jesse joined Nothinʼ Fancy and was also inducted into the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha in 2014. The Lonesome River Band welcomed him to the group as a mandolin player and lead and tenor vocalist in 2015 and Jesse won the 2017 IBMA Momentum Award for Vocalist of the year. He now resides in Floyd, Virginia.

Handmade Music School Teacher Jesse Smathers