Centrum’s weeklong 2018 Fiddle Tunes Festival continues with a Friday evening set of musicians showcasing the mosaic of America’s musical heritage. The styles presented in this concert are audience favorites!
(Stéphanie Lépine & David Simard photo by Doug Plummer)
- Old Time from Virginia – Reed Island Rounders
Betty Vornbrock, Billy Cornette, Kirk Sutphin
- East Coast Irish
Winifred Horan and friends
- Wondrous Quebec
Stéphanie Lépine, David Simard
- Sunny California – Thompsonia
Suzy, Eric, and Allegra Thompson
Betty Vornbrock is an accomplished fiddler in several different traditional styles. Besides the music of the Appalachian Mountains (her first love), she has studied Shetland, Scottish & Irish fiddling, Western Swing and even Eastern European dance music. Her old-time influences include West Virginia fiddlers Wilson Douglas, Melvin Wine, John Johnson, Sarah Singleton, Clark Kessinger and Burl and Eden Hammons; Kentucky fiddlers JP Fraley, Ed Haley, W.M. Stepp, and Snake Chapman; and from the Blue Ridge, Ralph Blizard, Tommy Jarrell, and Henry Reed. Betty has co-produced a twin-fiddle album “Side by Side” with Kentucky fiddler J.P. Fraley, with whom she has won top twin-fiddle honors at Fiddler’s Grove Festival for their haunting and beautiful harmonies. She’s had much good luck at contests, as well. Among the many honors are First Place at Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention, Ed Haley Memorial OT Fiddle Contest, WV State Folk Festival in Glenville, and Fiddler’s Grove.
Billy Cornette was born in Kentucky to a family of fiddlers and musicians, where he was exposed to a variety of country musicians and early bluegrass greats. While attending the university in the early ’60’s, his interest in folk music led him to the guitar. After moving to Virginia in 1989, he began teaching himself fiddle and renewing his interest in guitar. He & Betty met in 1990 at a local jam session, and he’s concentrated on playing back-up guitar to her fiddling ever since. He & Betty married in 1995. They grow Christmas trees on their farm north of Hillsville, in Carroll County, Va., where Betty also runs her custom sewing business, “Autumn Wind”.
Kirk Sutphin was raised in the Piedmont of North Carolina, born into a rich heritage of old-time music. He studied fiddle at the knees of masters such as Tommy Jarrell and Lonnie Austin, mastering both the Round Peak and Piedmont styles of fiddling, as well as the lilting Virginia fiddle styles of Emmett Lundy and Taylor Kimble. Kirk’s banjo playing has been influenced by the clawhammer styles of Tommy Jarrell, Dix Freeman, Fred Cockerham, and Wade Ward, as well as the three-finger picking styles of Frank Jenkins and Charlie Poole. Kirk has toured both nationally and internationally, with performances at the Alaska Folk Festival, the National Folk Festival, the Chicago Folk Festival, and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. He was featured on the national tour of the Masters of the Banjo, and more recently, Music of the Crooked Road: Mountain Music of Virginia, both sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts.
Win was born in New York City to Irish parents, and studied piano and Irish fiddle playing at a young age. She graduated from the New England Conservatory, and played with multiple orchestras before joining the all-female Celtic music ensemble Cherish the Ladies. In 1996 she co-founded Solas, and 20 years and 11 albums after they burst onto the scene, they are still a beacon (Solas is Gaelic for “light”) – an incandescent ensemble that found contemporary relevance in timeless traditions.
Outside of her work with Solas, Horan was a member of and toured with The Sharon Shannon Band, and also performed with Irish singer-songwriter Pierce Turner. She is a nine-time champion Irish stepdancer and an All-Ireland fiddle champion, having won an All-Ireland Junior Championship at age eleven.
Stéphanie Lépine – fiddle
David Simard – fiddle and guitar
A skilled violinist for over 20 years, Stéphanie was born into a family of musicians. She is a founding member of the traditional music group La Galvaude, and subsequently helped to form the group Norouet. The second album of this quartet, entitled N2, was among the five best recordings in the world in 2009, according to the newspaper “Le Devoir.” Her fiddling, both energetic and sensitive, can be heard on numerous albums (De Temps Antan, Genticorum, etc.), and she’s been a finalist at the prestigious Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition.
In 2015 Stéphanie recorded her first solo album La Grande Ligne, featuring traditional tunes from her family repertoire and from the great fiddlers who have popularized Quebecois fiddle music in the twentieth century, including Isidore Soucy, Jos Bouchard, J. O. LaMadeleine, and Édouard Richard. This recording truly showcases her brilliant bow game. Eager to share her cultural heritage, she helped to found the Traditional Violin Camp Quebecker from Lanaudière, in 2008.
Some 40 years ago, Suzy Thompson inflicted on her mother and father just about every aspirational parent’s worst nightmare. Though she had been accepted to Yale, the folk-music-besotted teenager left her Connecticut home, boarded a Green Tortoise bus and headed to Berkeley, where she knew exactly one person. She not only ended up staying, she’s played a central role in turning the city into an extraordinarily vibrant nexus for an intersecting array of American roots music traditions. A powerful fiddler, skilled guitarist, and beguilingly blues-inflected vocalist, she’s an invaluable force as a player, bandleader, and inveterate organizer responsible for the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention. Suzy was the Artistic Director for Fiddle Tunes from 2011 through 2016.
Eric Thompson took up the guitar as a teenager in Palo Alto, California in the early 1960’s, at a time when very few folk guitarists were playing more than basic rhythm guitar. Among his earliest bands were the Black Mountain Boys (with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson) and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions. He soon became nationally known as an exceptional lead flatpicker, winning the World Championship Cup at Union Grove. Since that time he’s been in many bands – the Spare Change Boys, the Graineog Celidh Band, the Blue Flame Stringband, the Backwoods Band, Kleptograss, Guitars Without Borders – and recorded innumerable albums, both solo recordings and as a support player.