Avery County Traditional Artist Database

By Ana Jones,2014-09-25 03:43
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Avery County Traditional Artist DatabaseAver

    Avery County Traditional Artists


The Avery Arts Council would like to thank all of the listed artists for their participation in this project and

    for sharing their knowledge and crafts with the community. The database was compiled from 2006-2007,

    and some information may be subject to change.

Users of this Directory should be aware that the artists’ involvement with this project was voluntary. Many

    of the artists are elders and may not be actively practicing their craft. These we have included as a tribute

    and as resources for those interested in the history of folkways in the county. (See the “Artists

    Classification Codes” at the bottom of the page). Please be polite and respectful when contacting them.

    Additional information may be obtained through the Avery Arts Council at 828-898-4292 or by emailing us


Gil Adams Contact Avery Arts Council or visit

    Gil plays fiddle in the old time band The Corklickers.

    He also calls traditional Appalachian square and circle

    dances. P

    Bob Aldridge (828) 733 2004

    Bob is an award-winning traditional Appalachian

    flatfoot dancer. His father played dances in the P/R/I

    Crossnore community, where Bob learned his first

    steps. He has performed all over the region and made several television appearances, and stars in his own instructional video.

    Becky Alghary (828) 898 6754

    Becky has published several books profiling local 140 Robert Cook Lane Banner Elk NC 28604 elders including Mountain Magnolias, about the lives

    of Avery County women. Alghary’s books highlight S/R

    old time lifeways practiced in the early part of the

    century that have largely disappeared, while showcasing the unique personalities of her subjects.

    TV Barnett (423) 772 3512

    TV is an old time musician and craftsman in the Burbank community near Roan Mountain Tennessee.

    Barnett grew up in a musical family on the land that P/S/R

    eventually became the Roan Mountain State Park.

    He plays guitar, two finger and clawhammer banjo, fiddle, makes jewelry, wood crafts and is a resource for the stories and history of the border communities of Elk Park, Roan Mountain and Buck Mountain. TV recorded many musicians who have since passed away and performs with Rhody Jane Meadows in the old time band the Roan Mountain Moonshiners

    Bertie Burleson (828) 733 1407

    Bertie publishes and edits the county’s local Avery Post

    independent newspaper the Avery Post, which often 35 Pinola Street PO Box 1056

    contains stories regarding Avery Folklife. She has Newland NC 28657

    written profiles of some of the artists in this database.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource



    Jason Burleson learned bluegrass banjo and guitar from the earlier generation of Avery musicians,

    including Herb Greene and Herman Coffey, when he P/W/S

    was 12 years old. He currently plays banjo for the Grammy nominated band Blue Highway and lives in Newland when he isn’t on the road.

    Doris “Dot” Bliss (828) 963-9989

    Doris runs the Little Bear Rock Shop out of her PO Box 1166 Banner Elk NC 28604 home in the Matney community where she was

    raised. The shop sells both local and exotic minerals

    and gems, and jewelry that Doris, a self- taught

    goldsmith, makes by hand. She has also written

    books about her experiencing growing up in the Mattney/Beech Mountain area.

    Bluegrass Tradition is a traditional bluegrass band Contact Herman Coffey

    featuring close harmonies and classic instrumentals by permanent members Herb Greene and Herman


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    Thomas Burton Contact Steve Kruger

    is a folklorist and former professor at East Tennessee State University.who has been collecting songs, ballads and stories on and around Beech Mountain since the 1970s. He has written several books

    incuding Some Ballad Folks and Folksongs vol 1 and


    Herman Coffey (828) 733 4660

    Herman has played traditional bluegrass mandolin 3455 Miller’s Gap Highway and sung since he was a boy. He started playing with Newland NC 28657

    Bluegrass Tradition band mate Herb Greene in the

    1960s. P/S/R

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource

    3 Virginia Coffey (828) 733 4660

    Virginia is a contract weaver at the Crossnore 3455 Miller’s Gap Highway

    Weaving Room. She learned to weave with NC Newland NC 28657

    Heritage Award Winner Ossie Phillips and was

    employed by the Crossnore Weaving Room for

    18 years.

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    Bill Constable (828) 765 5484

    Bill plays primarily bluegrass banjo and guitar.

    He is a member of the Wiseman family, learned P/W/I/S

    from many of his musical elders.and plays with the progressive Bluegrass band Sassagrass.

    The Corklickers

    The Corklickers have been playing old time P/S

    string band music since 1976 at venues such as

    the Carter Family Fold and Bristol Rhythm and

    Roots Festival. Members include Avery County residents Mark Adams and Gil Adams.

    Junior Dellinger Contact Avery Arts Council/See Riverside Music Park

    Junior is a bluegrass fiddler who lives in the Toe Entry

    River Valley. He began playing in the 1940s when bluegrass first began to take hold in the

    region. Junior has played with several groups and recently founded the Riverside Music Park.

    Dean Dellinger Contact Avery Arts Council/See Riverside Music Park

    Dean plays bass in the touring gospel bluegrass Entry

    band Pure Heart. When he isn’t on the road he

    helps his father Junior run the Riverside Music

    Park .

Floyd Gragg Stand located on US 221 north of the

    Floyd has run his craft and preserve stand on Grandfather Mountain main entrance. Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource

    4 Grandfather Mountain since 1957. He is also a fiddle, banjo and guitar player in both the bluegrass and old time styles. During the summer you can find him selling wood crafts, preserves, local molasses and honey. Floyd grew up in a log cabin on Grandfather, and is a resource for local music history and lifeways, such as apple butter making and hunting.

     Contact the Avery Arts Council


    Shirley Gragg (828) 733 4660

    Shirley is the master weaver at the Crossnore Crossnore Weavers PO Box 249 Weaving Room where she has worked since Crossnore NC 28616

    1977. She learned from North Carolina Heritage Award Winner Ossie Clark Phillips.


    Herb Greene Mr. Greene passed away in the Spring of 2008.

    Herb began playing guitar at dances with his We prefer to think of him as having been father, a banjo player, at a young age. In the promoted to glory.

    years that followed he perfected his singing voice

    and guitar playing with Herman Coffey in

    Bluegrass Tradition.

    Elizabeth Hardy (828) 765 7351 ext. 271

    Elizabeth learned to tell “Preacher” and family 336 Laurel Mountain Road tales from her grandfather and uncles in Newland NC 28657

    Kentucky. Today she teaches oral history at

    Mayland Community College and tries to keep P/W/I/S

    the tradition of Appalachian storytelling alive in the next generation

    Michael Hardy (828) 737 0305

    Michael is a local historian and author who has 336 Laurel Mountain Road written several books on Avery County including Newland NC 28657

    Remembering Avery County: Old Tales from North Carolina’s Youngest County. Michael is an R/S/D expert on local Civil War history. He does historical recreation and plays old time music specializing in murder ballads.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


    Ted and Rosa Hicks Contact the Avery Arts Council The wife and son of the late NEA Heritage Award or visit

    winner Ray Hicks still live in the family home on

    the back side of Beech Mountain. Rosa and Ted are a wealth of knowledge on the old time way of life and the history of folk arts in the region. Ted

    is a Jack Tale teller and both know many of the old songs and riddles. Rosa is a resource for traditional foodways, herbs and other wild plants,

    and traditional agriculture.

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    Naomi Huston (828) 733 1407

    Naomi is the cooking editor for the Avery Post,

    organzies the Sunday Dinners at the Cranberry R

    School, and is a contact for Avery County


    Allen Johnson (828) 898 5391

    Allen comes from a family of fiddle players.

    When he is not on the road with nationally known P/W/I/S

    bluegrass acts, he lives in Linville.

    Michael Joslin (828) 898 8721

    Michael has written several books and articles on

    traditional artists and craftspeople from Avery

    and Mitchell County including Highland R/S

    Handcrafters. He teaches English at Lees

    McCrae College in Banner Elk.

    Linville Ridge Contact Mike Ramsey

     Linville Ridge is a bluegrass band based out of (828) 438 9470

    Burke and Avery County and includes members or visit of the Wiseman Family. P/S

    Steve Kruger (828) 719 9477

    Steve helped the Avery Arts Council create the Traditional Artist Database. He is a resource for P/I/D/R/W folklore in Avery County and plays old time and bluegrass fiddle, banjo and guitar.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


    Rhody Jane Meadows Rhody lived in Avery County and taught Appalachian cultural programs in the schools before she moved to Tennessee where she P/W/I/S currently resides. She is a storyteller, singer and plays the guitar, clawhammer banjo and autoharp with the Roan Mountain


    Alfred and Amy Michels (336) 385 6995

    The Michels live on a traditional working farm in

    Ashe County. Alfred makes and repairs fiddles W/P/S/R

    and farms and cuts timber with horses. Amy spent part of her childhood on Beech Mountain where she learned the traditional music and lifeways of the community. The Michels make molasses and cider, grow heirloom vegetables and are old time musicians.

    Teresa Shadoin Continuing a long standing Avery County (828) 733 4911 ext. 231

    tradition Teresa Shadoin, coaches award Newland Elementary School winning square dance and clogging teams for the 750 Linville Street Newland NC 28657 middle and high schools and at Newland

    Elementary where she is an administrator.

    Teresa learned Appalachian dance while a student of local legend Kay Wilkins. She can

    call square dances as well, and her team, recently awarded a National Championship, is available for performances.

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    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


Rebecca Trivette (828) 733 9430

    Rebecca is a former president of the Riverwalk 840 Little Plumtree Creek

    Quilt Guild and a contact for other quilters in the Newland NC 28657



    Leniavill Trivette (828) 297 5613

    Leniavill grew up in the Beech Creek Community 185 Silverstone Road

    of Avery County and currently resides in Zionville NC 28698

    Zionville. She is a weaver, quilter and rug R/D

    hooker. She learned from her mother, NC Heritage Award winner Ossie Clark Phillips.

    Jim and Jennie Vance (828) 733 2807

    Jim and Jennie grew up in large musical families 636 Smoky Bear Road

    near Crossnore. Jennie and her siblings saved Crossnore NC 28616

    money picking chesnuts and bought a Stella guitar which they all shared. Jim started out on a cigar box banjo and fiddle and began touring around the region with local musicians and as a sideman for bluegrass greats such as Mac Wiseman in the 1930s and 1940s. He met Jennie at the fountain in Crossnore where she was singing with her sisters. They were married and began a life on the road playing Bluegrass at concert and dance halls, rodeos, and once on a USO tour of Vietnam. In the 1970s they moved

    back to the mountains, and with the help of the community built the Music Barn and

    campground, which until 2006 was a regular music venue every Friday and Saturday during

     the summer and fall. The Barn is available for lease and will be open for special events. The P/R/S Vances are also enthusiastic bear and hog hunters as are their children and grandchildren.

    Lonnie Ward (828) 297 3184

    Lonnie started playing banjo around the age of 1761 Old Watauga River Road 10 in a downstroking/two finger pattern he heard Sugar Grove NC 28679

    his mother play in the 1930s. He later picked up

    the dulcimer, mandolin and guitar and most P/S/R

    recently the fiddle. Lonnie played with many local musicians of note including Buna Hicks, Ora Watson and Tab Ward. He is one of the last

    of the elder generation of Beech Mountain old time musicians.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


Rick Ward Contact the Avery Arts Council

    Rick is the grandson of the prolific old time banjo

    player Tab Ward and son of the instrument P/W/I/S/R

    maker N.T. Ward. He plays a unique style of

    clawhammer banjo he calls the “double-knock”

    that he learned from his grandfather. Rick makes and plays the old mountain-style wood

    rimmed banjo widely used by musicians

    throughout the mountain south before the

    widespread introduction of factory banjos. Rick also makes dulcimers, sings ballads, is an aboriginal skills specialist, herbalist, historian and historical re-creator (Long Hunting and


Kay Wilkins Contact the Avery Arts Council

    The “grand old dame” of Precision Clogging and R/I/D/P

    Appalachian Smooth and Square Dancing’s introduction to Appalachian traditional dance was watching her father play clawhammer banjo and call dances in the living room of their home in

    Plumtree. Kay studied dance as a student at Appalachian Teachers College (Now ASU) and would later combine her early memories of dance with Cherokee buck dancing to create her precision clogging. After a brief stay in New York City, Wilkins came back to Avery and taught

    physical fitness at the old Cranberry School. There she formed her first dance team in 1948 to compete at Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s

    Appalachian Music Festival. Over the next three and a half decades her dance teams won more state and national championships than any other and performed in Europe, California, and for president Gerald Ford. She was inducted into the Clogging Hall of Fame in 1994. It is almost single handedly due to Wilkins that square dancing was kept alive in the younger generations. She still dances today and coaches an adult team the Katydids.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


    The Wiseman Family Contact Lois Wiseman (828) 765 5484 The Wiseman Family is a collection of musicians P

    from that musical family of southern Avery

    County descended from Scotty and Lulu Belle. The lineup depends on who is in the area, but usually includes database members Lawerence,

    Lois, Bill Constable, and Larry Wiseman

    Lawrence’s son, who lives off the mountain.

    Jimmie Wiseman Contact Avery Arts Council or Lois Wiseman Jimmie Wiseman has lived a long and colorful R

    life. As a young man he was part of the first generation of Avery bluegrass musicians who left the area to make a living on the road. During his travels all over the country he homesteaded in

    Alaska, shared the stage with Bob Wills and picked up countless stories along the way.

    Lawrence Wiseman (828) 765 5803

    Lawrence remembers his father playing old time

    fiddle by the light of an oil lamp on their farm in P/S/R

    the Toe River Valley. Lawrence took up the fiddle

    himself at an early age and, inspired by early recording artists such as Fiddling Arthur Smith, combined the older local tunes he learned with blues, popular music, swing, jazz, and country. During the Depression he left the county to play on the radio in Asheville and was immersed in the larger hillbilly music scene that would eventually become Country and Bluegrass music. There he met the Rouse Brothers and recorded one of the first versions of their

    composition, The Orange Blossom Special, in 1938. Like many in his generation and his family Lawrence spent much of his life playing in bluegrass and country bands around the East Coast before settling for a time in Virginia. He moved back after his retirement to be around the land and people he loved. He can be heard playing and singing at Jim and Jennie’s Music

    Barn, The Riverside Music Park and Young’s

    Mountain Music in Spruce Pine.

    Deborah Young plays the guitar and sings (828) 733 7607

    bluegrass, gospel, country and folk music. She 172 Middle Street Crossnore NC 28616 learned from many local elders and is a resource

    for the history of music in the county particularly P/W/S/R

    around Crossnore. She runs the Crossnore Jam

    on the first and third Friday of the month and

    plays with the Hit or Miss Band.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource


    Avery County Heritage Events & Organzations

Avery Arts Council (828) 898 4292

    The Avery Arts Council is a non profit PO Box 2505 Banner Elk NC 28604 organization with the mission of promoting the arts in Avery County. The Arts Council organizes community events, sponsors arts education programs in the local schools, and serves as a resource for the community.

The Avery Quilt Trail Contact Avery Arts Council

     The Quilt Trail is a community art project where quilt patterns are painted onto signboard and then mounted onto barns and buildings around

    the county. A series of driving trail maps will be developed to direct people to the sites. Originally made possible by a grant from

    Handmade in America and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Quilt Trail project is currently sponsored in part by funds from the QuickTime?and aTIFF (Uncompressed) decompressorBanner Elk Tourism Development Authority and are needed to see this from interested individuals.

Avery County Agricultural Extension Office (828) 733-8270

    The Ag Center is the source for information 805 Cranberry Street

    about local agriculture. The office conducts a Newland, NC 28657

    Farmer’s Market starting in June at Cannon

    Memorial Hospital in Linville. Their Avery

    Heritage Apple Project is part of a statewide

    push to preserve and propagate local heirloom

    apple varieties such as the Limbertwig, Banana and Virginia Beauty.

    The Avery Heritage Festival Location Varies

    Organized by the Avery Historical Society, the First Weekend in June

    See Avery Historical Society festival is hosted by a different Avery County community each year. It features local music,

    craft vendors, genealogical services, historical recreation and lectures.

    Artist Classification Codes: P=Performances; W=Workshops; D=Demonstrations; I=Instruction; S=Sells crafts or recordings; R=Resource

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