Mac Traynhamfiddle, clawhammer banjo, rhythm guitar
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.
Ashlee Watkins is a singer and multi-instrumentalist originally from New South Wales, Australia. Her powerfully unadorned vocals possess a timeless quality that evokes a rare emotional poignance. She has been awarded a number of blue ribbons from fiddlers’ conventions around the southeast for her folk singing and old-time banjo and guitar playing, and her band The New Macedon Rangers has been awarded blue ribbons in both old-time and bluegrass categories. In 2021, her string band The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee won first place Old Time Band at the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA. Ashlee’s music has also been featured on recordings, podcasts, and the PBS documentary film Rock Castle Home.
Andrew Smallfiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, dulcimer, vocals
Andrew Small is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and composer who holds a master’s degree in music performance from Yale University. He has performed around the world with artists including Mandolin Orange, Sierra Hull, Bill and the Belles, and the North Carolina Symphony. Andrew is a member of the house band for the PBS television show Farm and Fun Time and his original music has been featured in podcasts and a PBS documentary film, Rock Castle Home. In 2021, his string band The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee won first place at the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA. Andrew currently serves as the 2021-22 Artist-In-Residence for the Crooked Road – Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
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.
Andy has played clawhammer banjo and sung in church since childhood. He has performed and recorded with Mac and Jenny Traynham, the Reed Island Rounders, and the Wolfe Brothers, and has taught at numerous workshops. His music is rooted in the playing of Wade Ward, Abe Horton, and Harold Hausenfluck. Andy teaches both fretted and fretless banjo in traditional Blue Ridge clawhammer and thumb lead styles.
Jason Wheeler has been playing banjo and guitar for over 15 years. His traditional approach to the bluegrass banjo has allowed him to play professionally with Chosen Road, Avery County, and numerous other regional bands. Coming from a musical family, Jason has been surrounded by a variety of music his whole life and wishes to instill a love, as well as and understanding of music into his students. As a professional educator, Jason brings a variety of educational perspectives to teaching the banjo, in the hopes of allowing his students to discover their own style to the bluegrass banjo. Jason now works and resides in Floyd, VA with his wife and three kids.
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, where she later taught fiddle and dance and served as assistant director. She’s been a part of the Handmade Music School team since its beginning, serving in many roles throughout the years including Director of Operations and fiddle teacher and is passionate about passing along Appalachian music and dance traditions. She loves sharing the joy of music by playing for dancers at the Friday Night Jamboree at The Floyd Country Store, jamming and dancing with friends, and most of all teaching and inspiring young people. Sophie has extensive experience teaching music and working with children both in classroom and after-school settings. Sophie is currently pursuing studies in Environmental Education, Craft, and Traditional Music at Warren Wilson College and plays with the Southeastern Western North Carolina Ramblers.
Gina has been steeped in the traditions of the music from the Southwest to the Southern Appalachians since she was a young child. Raised in a family of musicians, she developed an affection for the bright, energetic music of these traditions.
Corbin Hayslettbanjo, old time fiddle, guitar, mandolin, voice
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.