Join us Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 7:30 pm for the last Floyd Radio Show of the season! Hosted by Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt with guests The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, Holy Sheboygan, and Trevor McKenzie.
The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers
The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers are one of America’s most authentic Old-Time String Bands, whose roots run deep in the rich music traditions of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Headed by Bill and Janice Birchfield, they live in the high reaches of Roan Mountain, Tenn., where the band started more than 30 years ago. Today, they continue to keep alive their musical heritage with tunes that date back to the early settlers of upper East Tennessee and western North Carolina.
Initially, the members of the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers were Bill’s father, Joe, an old-time fiddler, and Uncle Creede Birchfield, who played the old-time banjo, with a two-finger, up-style lick. Bill’s mother, Ethel, played the wash board, sang ballads and told stories. At that time, Bill played the guitar in his unique upside down and backward left-handed style, and his wife, Janice, on the homemade washtub bass, completed the group. After the death of Joe Birchfield in 2002, Bill assumed the role of the fiddler as well as playing the banjo and autoharp.
Strongly committed to the preservation and teaching of traditional Appalachian music, the Birchfields have taken their lively mountain sound to such prestigious events as the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend, Wash.; the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, Tenn.; Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.; the 1982 World’s Fair, Knoxville, Tenn.; Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Francisco, Calif.; MerleFest, Wilkesboro, N.C.; the Brandywine Arts Festival, Wilmington, Del.; and the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.
Additionally, the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers were part of the documentary Chase the Devil – Religious Music of the Southern Appalachians, by British filmmaker Jeremy Marre and Talking Feet, produced by the late Mike Seeger and Ruth Pershing, about Appalachian dancers. In 2009, they were presented with the Uncle Dave Macon Days Heritage Award for their lifetime commitment to preserving old-time music. They have been in Rolling Stone magazine and are part of the recently released book and CD, Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia by photographer, Tim Barnwell. Their work can be found in The Library of Congress, East Tennessee State University’s Center for Appalachian Studies — Archives of Appalachia and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
While they have a long collection of honors, the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers perhaps are best known and loved for the open jams they have held at fiddlers’ conventions – traditional music and dance contests scattered across the Southeast. For decades, the Birchfields’ welcoming attitude toward all musicians has taught and influenced countless young performers, resulting in a living legacy of talent that knows how to play music ragged . . . but right.
Holy Sheboygan! emerge from the dark woods naked, a wild tangle of hair and dirt. They open mouths filled with jagged teeth. A rough yowl echoes through the dusk.
Holy Sheboygan! is a band of scavengers. Creeping through the alleys of musical sound, they borrow melodies from a wide array of genres, tape-recorded noise from their everyday lives, and percussion from the abundant dumpsters of the Fox Valley. By their very nature, they can be described as nothing other than ‘garbage folk.’
Growing up just outside of Rural Retreat, Virginia, TREVOR MCKENZIE began studying traditional Appalachian Music at Lloyd’s Barbershop in 1998. Beginning with guitar at the age of nine he eventually became interested in picking up several other instruments associated with southern mountain music including clawhammer banjo and the musical saw. In recent years he has become noted for his singing abilities claiming prizes for folk singing at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention and various other regional music festivals. McKenzie has played with several regional string bands including the Round Peak Ramblers, a hard-driving square dance ensemble from Mt. Airy, North Carolina. He has also acted as chair of the Appalachian Heritage Council, a subsidiary of Appalachian State University’s Popular Programming Society in charge of promoting traditional mountain culture through dances, concerts, and films. As a member of the Skyliners, McKenzie adds his vocal talents as well as his skills on guitar, banjo, and mandolin into the musical mix.