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.
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.
In the words of Bluegrass Today, Victor Furtado is “a young man with an absurdly precocious talent, and a depth of understanding of old time music that is at odds with his age.” As the youngest of nine siblings, Victor has been immersed in bluegrass, old time, and classical music his entire life. He is known for his uniquely innovative and diverse banjo style, his role as banjo player with The Wildmans, and most recently his collaborations with Dori Freeman, and The Earl White Stringband. Victor has performed all around the east coast from fiddlers’ conventions large and small to the Grand Ole Opry, Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, the Prism, and others. He has released three solo albums and has played as a guest musicians on numerous other recordings. A winner of the prestigious Steve Martin Award For Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, Victor has also won top prizes in other contests including Galax, the Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop), Freshgrass, Maury River, and the Virginia State Fair.
Allen Surface plays dobro, mandolin, guitar, bass, and banjo. He started playing guitar around 10 years old and has played in various bands throughout the New River Valley area. Allen started playing dobro around 6 years ago and it is now his favorite instrument. “I have played music most of my life, but my approach to music changed within the past 10 years when I started searching for ways to improve my playing. This led me to learning more about music theory, numbering system, singing, and listening more intently. I hope to share this approach with others that want to learn more about music.”
Elizabeth LaPrellesinging (online instruction only)
Elizabeth LaPrelle has been performing and studying Appalachian ballads and old-time songs since she was eleven. Raised in Rural Retreat, Virginia, Elizabeth attended old time fiddlers’ conventions and sang harmonies with her family, who encouraged her to sing their own favorite American folk music. As a teen Elizabeth learned the ‘mountain’ style of singing from mentors Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, which led her to explore archives and field recordings for ancient and little-known songs. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary with a major in Southern Appalachian Traditional Performance, and in 2011 formed performance duo “Anna & Elizabeth” with Anna Roberts-Gevalt. She now tours the US regularly both performing and teaching.
Ashlee Watkinsguitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals
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.
Kris Truelsenold time guitar, country and blues fingerstyle guitar (online instruction only)
Kris Truelsen is the leader of Bill and the Belles, a cutting-edge string band based in Johnson City, TN. Over the years, Kris has developed a unique approach to singing, songwriting, and guitar playing that is influenced by country music sounds of the past yet remains fresh and original. As the first student to graduate with a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies from East Tennessee State University, he continues to expand and share his knowledge of traditional American music and his enthusiasm surrounding early country music touches audiences internationally. Kris is the Producer of Radio Bristol and reviver and host of the historic radio program “Farm and Fun Time.”
Aidan VanSuetendael plays bluegrass banjo, oldtime banjo, ukulele, and guitar. She began playing banjo as a teenager, attending local jams and camps like Suwannee Banjo Camp in her home state of Florida. She later attended college at Denison University, where she studied bluegrass music and poetry, and then moved to Nashville to continue her music career. She is a member of the band Bill and the Belles, playing banjo and ukulele and singing harmony.
Nicholas Falkdrums, music theory, digital recording
Nicholas Falk is a drummer, composer, educator and freelance musician living in Galax, VA. In the recent years he has performed with Dori Freeman, Molly Tuttle, Phoebe Hunt, Oliver Wood, Carsie Blanton, The Wood Brothers, Ric Robertson.
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.
Kalia Yeagle (kuh-LEE-uh YAY-gull) is among the faculty of East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies program. She is a fiddler and vocalist with Bill and the Belles, who’s accomplishments include tours across Europe, critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, garnering blue ribbons at fiddlers conventions, participating in the first Appalachia-Michoacán cultural exchange with indigenous Purépecha musicians, and serving as the house band for PBS special and historic radio show Farm and Fun Time. Before joining the faculty at ETSU, Kalia ran a private studio and led classes and workshops throughout the United States and Canada. Kalia grew up in Alaska, where long winters and strong, diverse communities have produced a music scene unlike any other.
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 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. She’s been a part of the Handmade Music School team since it’s beginning and is passionate about passing along Appalachian music and dance traditions.
David Cannadaybluegrass banjo, bluegrass guitar, mandolin
David started teaching at 15 years old. He has worked in music stores and teaching studios ever since. David is currently teaching on Thursdays and accepting students for bluegrass banjo, guitar, mandolin, lap dulcimer & autoharp.
Andy Buckmanclawhammer banjo
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.