John "Uncle" Homer Walker (February 15, 1898 or c. 1904 – January 4, 1980)was an American Appalachian banjo player who was popular during the folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s. Prior to his death, he was one of the last musicians to practice the old-time Appalachian style.
Walker was born in Mercer County, West Virginia into a musical family: his father, a sharecropper, was a banjo player, two sisters learned the mandolin and guitar, and Walker's two brothers played guitar.His grandfather, himself a former slave, taught Walker the clawhammer banjo playing style, once a fairly common pre-blues component found in the Appalachian Mountains region. In the 1920s, Walker began performing, sometimes accompanied by a mandolin or fiddle player, at square dances, presenting a repertoire of old-time black spirituals and folk tunes passed along to him from his grandfather like "Steal Away", "Cripple Creek", "John Henry", and "Old Joe Clark". He lived most of his adult life in Glen Lyn working as a laborer and farmhand.
During the folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s, Walker appeared at numerous folk festivals such as John Henry Folk Festival, the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife.Only during his appearances at these festivals, Walker claimed, did he first start incorporating the blues into his repertoire. In 1977, Walker was the subject of the documentary film Banjo Man, narrated by bluesman Taj Mahal.
He died in Princeton, West Virginia. Walker's recordings are featured on the compilation albums Virginia Traditions - Non-Blues Secular Black Music and Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia.
A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of conventional and homemade instruments. These homemade instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, bones, stovepipe, jew's harp, and comb and tissue paper. The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate homemade instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands, or juke bands because they do not include a jug player.
William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who created the bluegrass music genre. Because of this, he is often called the "Father of Bluegrass".
Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Unlike mainstream country music, bluegrass is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English, Scottish and Irish ballads and dance tunes, and in traditional African-American blues and jazz. Bluegrass was further developed by musicians who played with Monroe, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."
Béla Anton Leoš Fleck is an American banjo player. An acclaimed virtuoso, he is an innovative and technically proficient pioneer and ambassador of the banjo, bringing the instrument from its bluegrass roots to jazz, classical, rock and various world music genres. He is best known for his work with the bands New Grass Revival and Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. Fleck has won 14 Grammy Awards and been nominated 33 times.
Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music. It developed along with various North American folk dances, such as square dancing, clogging, and buck dancing. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments, most often the banjo, guitar, and mandolin.
Charles Samuel Bush is an American mandolinist who is considered an originator of progressive bluegrass music. In 2020, he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame as a member of New Grass Revival.
Old Crow Medicine Show is an Americana string band based in Nashville, Tennessee, that has been recording since 1998. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on September 17, 2013. Their ninth album, Remedy, released in 2014, won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. The group's music has been called old-time, folk, and alternative country. Along with original songs, the band performs many pre-World War II blues and folk songs.
Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a lawyer, folklorist, and performer of traditional music from western North Carolina. He was often known by the nickname "Minstrel of the Appalachians."
Appalachian music is the music of the region of Appalachia in the Eastern United States. It is derived from various European and African influences, including English ballads, Irish and Scottish traditional music, hymns, and African-American blues. First recorded in the 1920s, Appalachian musicians were a key influence on the early development of Old-time music, country music, and bluegrass, and were an important part of the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Instruments typically used to perform Appalachian music include the banjo, American fiddle, fretted dulcimer, and guitar.
Clarence "Tom" Ashley was an American musician and singer, who played the clawhammer banjo and the guitar. He began performing at medicine shows in the Southern Appalachian region as early as 1911, and gained initial fame during the late 1920s as both a solo recording artist and as a member of various string bands. After his "rediscovery" during the folk revival of the 1960s, Ashley spent the last years of his life playing at folk music concerts, including appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.
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.
Gary Ruley and Mule Train is an acoustic bluegrass band based in Lexington, Virginia who also play New Grass and Jazz music.
The Kentucky Colonels were a bluegrass band that was popular during the American folk music revival of the early 1960s. Formed in Burbank, California in 1954, the group released two albums, The New Sound of Bluegrass America (1963) and Appalachian Swing! (1964). The band featured the influential bluegrass guitarist Clarence White, who was largely responsible for making the acoustic guitar a lead instrument within bluegrass, and who later went on to join the Los Angeles rock band the Byrds. The Kentucky Colonels disbanded in late 1965, with two short-lived reunions taking place in 1966 and 1973.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina. Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, and was number 9 in fRoots magazine's top 10 albums of 2010.
James Benton Flippen was an old-time fiddler from Mount Airy, North Carolina. He was one of the last surviving members of a generation of performers born in the early 20th century playing in the Round Peak style centering on Surry County, North Carolina. His contemporaries included Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed, and Earnest East.
Walker's Run is an acoustic bluegrass band based out of Lexington, Virginia who also play New Grass and Jazz music.
Joseph Aquiler Thompson was an American old-time fiddle player, and one of the last musicians to carry on the black string band tradition. Accompanied by his cousin Odell, Thompson was recognized with several honors for performances of the old-time style, particularly when the genre was repopularized in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, he recorded his first studio albums, consisting of a repertoire rooted in the authentic string band approach.
Lightnin' Wells is an American Piedmont blues multi-instrumentalist and singer. He is a proficient musician and regularly plays various instruments in concert including the guitar, mandolin, harmonica, ukulele and banjo. At times he has performed as a one-man band. His style encompasses elements of the blues, country, gospel, old-time, bluegrass and folk. Mark Coltrain stated in Living Blues that, "You won't find a more versatile musician around – able to move deftly between country blues, old-time banjo, and novelty tunes with a single pluck. Lightnin' Wells changes the past..."
Danny Knicely is an American country and bluegrass musician. In addition to singing, he plays guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. His album releases include: The Evenin' News, Chop, Shred & Split, Waltz for Aimee, The Melody Lingers, Roots and Branches, and Murders, Drownings and Lost Loves (2006) — which he recorded with Will Lee.
Dominique Flemons is an American old-time music, Piedmont blues, and neotraditional country multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. He is a proficient player of the banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, percussion, quills, and rhythm bones. He is known as "The American Songster" as his repertoire of music spans nearly a century of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. He has performed with Mike Seeger, Joe Thompson, Martin Simpson, Boo Hanks, Taj Mahal, Old Crow Medicine Show, Guy Davis, and The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.