Frank Proffitt : Will the real Tom Dooley stand up?

Frank Noah Proffitt (June 1, 1913 – November 24, 1965) was an Appalachian old time banjoist who helped popularize the song “Tom Dooley” and was a key figure in inspiring musicians of the 1960s and 1970s to play the banjo. He was born in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee and was raised in the Reese area of Watauga County, North Carolina where he worked in a variety […]

The high lonesome sound of Roscoe Holcomb

Roscoe Holcomb, was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term “high, lonesome sound,” coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen. The “high lonesome sound” term is now used to describe bluegrass singing, although Holcomb was not, strictly speaking, a bluegrass performer. Bob Dylan once commented that Holcomb “… has […]

Charlie Parr : Extraordinary Performer

Charlie Parr is an American country blues musician from Minnesota. He was born in Austin, Minnesota and spent part of his childhood in Hollandale. He started his music career in Duluth, Minnesota. His influences include Charlie Patton, Bukka White, Reverend Gary Davis, Dave Van Ronk, and Mississippi John Hurt. He plays a custom made Mule […]

Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music

Sixty-five years ago this year an event occcured which changed the course of American music.  A unassuming man, unknown, with no professional expertise other than his devotion to old 78s of American vernacular music, released to the public the Anthology of American Folk Music. “Had he never done anything with his life but this Anthology, […]

Rayna Gellert : From Violin to Fiddle

Rayna Gellert is an American violinist and singer specializing in old-time music. She grew up in Elkhart, in northern Indiana. Her father is the traditional fiddler and banjo player Dan Gellert. Originally a classically trained violinist, she took up the old-time fiddle in 1994, when she moved to North Carolina to attend Warren Wilson College. […]

Eilen Jewell : Soulful, Understated Narratives

Eilen Jewell is an American singer-songwriter from Boise, Idaho. “I always felt like I wanted to leave,” Jewell says. “And I remember when I learned the word ‘wanderlust,’ I felt like I finally had a word to describe myself.” Jewell attended college in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she began busking on the streets of Sante […]