The heart of Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes is its faculty. Each year, we scour the continent to bring you the best players, in the broadest array of styles, found anywhere. These are authentic bearers of North American fiddle traditions. Their knowledge, stories, musicianship, and commitment to the community are part of what makes this week such a special celebration of traditional music.
Artistic Director Dirk Powell learned traditional Appalachian music directly from his grandfather, yet grew up mostly away from the mountains in Ohio, giving him a unique combination of inside and outside perspectives. Powell has the ability to convey the essence of the tradition to people of all backgrounds, a quality which has led to work with artists such as T-Bone Burnett, Sting, Loretta Lynn, Jack White, and others.
A fiddler and guitarist, Kenny Applebee is adept at several guitar styles, including the traditional old-time Missouri backup that is preferred by many Missouri fiddlers.
Christine Balfa Powell is one of Cajun music’s most talented vocalists. She began playing as a teenager with her father, Dewey Balfa and has continued her family legacy.
For twelve years, Jean-Paul Beaulieu was the leader of Les Montagnard Laurentien. His clarinet and saxophone inspired many French Canadian folk musicians.
André Bouchard hails from Matane, on the Gaspé Peninsula, a region that has produced great accordion players. A virtuoso on the accordion, Bouchard also plays piano and bass.
Fiddler Liz Carroll has been amazing audiences around the world for many years. In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her the National Heritage Fellowship.
Fiddler Paul Dahlin plays Sweden’s most venerable and admired regional music—that of the province of Dalarna. Dahlin was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1994.
Guitarist John Doyle was playing professionally in Ireland by the age of sixteen. Recently, he has accompanied fiddler Liz Carroll in acclaimed recordings and tours.
Sean Doyle has played at numerous festivals around the world. He recently released his debut CD, The Light and the Half-Light.
As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, guitarist Dom Flemons uses his harmonicas for additional melody and his jug and guitar root the band in an infectious rhythm.
Banjo player Rhiannon Giddens is a famed contra dance caller. She worked extra jobs to buy her first banjo and fiddle, and hasn’t looked back since.
Accordion player Kristi Guillory is obsessed with sad, pitiful Cajun songs, raunchy drinking ones and the fantastical lyrics of old Cajun a capella ballads.
Jerry Holland is a fiddler strongly rooted in Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish dance music traditions. Many of his tunes have entered the traditional repertoire around the world. He’ll be joined by the irrepressible Daniel Lapp.
Yvette Landry is a sought-after bassist. She brings a regal air and poise to Bon Soir Catin and is often called the Queen of Cajun bass.
Fiddler Denis Maheux has shared the stage with such musicians as Sabin Jacques, Gaston Nolet, Jean-Yves Hamel, and others. He has toured for over thirty years.
Accordionist and pianist Jeremiah McLane’s solo recording, Smile When You’re Ready, was nominated by NPR as a “favorite pick.” His has played on nearly forty albums.
Guitar and mandolin ace Keith Murphy is a native of Newfoundland, a setting which has been the source for many of his songs over the years.
Justin Robinson is the fiddler for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. He studies with the legendary Joe Thompson and plays the music of the Carolina Piedmont.
Anya Schoenegge Burgess incorporates many styles into her fiddle playing, including old-time and country. She grew up in New England and began playing while young.
Adélard Thomassin plays the diatonic accordion. In Quebec, there is no dance hall that Thomassin has not seen. His compositions are played by many traditional musicians.
Fiddler Becky Tracy studied Irish fiddling styles and French Canadian fiddling. These elements combine to give Becky her distinctive clarity of tone.
Guitarist Jenny Traynham and her husband, Mac, have become a popular duo, known as the Southern Mountain Melody Makers. They have released two CDs.
Mac Traynham plays clawhammer banjo. He excels on a slew of instruments including banjo, fiddle and guitar, and he often performs in a band with his wife, Jenny.
Joe Thompson is a dynamic fiddler with a distinctive short bow action. For years, he has continued the tradition of African-American country fiddling.
Fiddler and step dancer April Verch’s repertoire ranges through material from Americana to simple country songs and rollicking tunes from her native Ottawa Valley. She has released several acclaimed CDs, and she will be accompanied at the Festival by percussionist Marc Bru and guitarist Isaac Callender.
John White’s fiddle style was developed while playing for square dances. He plays old-time tunes learned through contests and fiddler conventions.
Jesse Wells has been attending festivals since an early age. He is influenced by his father Jamie, an old-time fiddler. Jesse plays several instruments and sings harmony vocals.
Jamie Wells performed for fifteen years with the Bottom of the Barrel Bunch and later with the Trough Sloppers. His performances include playing at multiple festivals.
Randy Wilson plays the guitar, dulcimer, and autoharp. In Kentucky, he learned stories and tunes from Lee Boy Sextno, Marcus Howard, and Roscoe Halcomb, among others.