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OUR FUNDERS:  We greatly appreciate the generous support of Ed Littlefield, Jr.; Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), in partnership with the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation; the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission; the Alameda County Art Commission; Lagunitas Brewing Company; and the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation. 

 Thanks also to our nonprofit sponsors:  Freight & SalvageKPFA-FMAshkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, and the California Bluegrass Association

 

Extra-special thanks to our Valiant Volunteer Coordinator, Lael Sigal, and of course to all our volunteers – they make the BOTMC possible!

 

© 2019 Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

2019 performers 

Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur

with Suzy Thompson

 

In 1963, when both men were in their twenties, Jim Kweskin invited Geoff Muldaur to join his new jug band, which became hugely successful: 6 albums for Vanguard (including one with blues legends Otis Spann and Sippie Wallace) and major performances including Newport Folk Festival and the Johnny Carson Show.

 

The Kweskin Jug Band disbanded in the late 1960s and Jim went on to record several solo albums before retiring as a performer. Geoff recorded albums with his then-wife, Maria, with Paul Butterfield’s“Better Days, and with Amos Garrett. He, too, withdrew from performing for several years, to focus on composing for film, winning an Emmy for his television scores.

 

In 2009, Geoff put together the Texas Sheiks recording project around the dying Stephen Bruton, iconic Austin guitarist and longtime Bonnie Raitt sideman. Geoff invited fiddler Suzy Thompson to be in the band, and also brought his old pal Jim Kweskin in as a guest singer. Since then, Jim and Geoff have toured and recorded together as a duo. Jim has retired from his day job and also performs with Meredith Axelrod and with Samoa Wilson.  Geoff performs solo and works on his “serious music” compositions, mostly in Germany.

 

Suzy Thompson has been working with Geoff since the 1990s, and was part of the Texas Sheiks project, for which she not only played fiddle but also provided a lot of the material. Since then, she's also frequently performed with Jim Kweskin. Suzy has been active in the Bay Area acoustic music scene for over 40 years, as a member of such bands as Any Old Time and the California Cajun Orchestra, and as a teacher and arts activist. She is a former Artistic Director of Festival of American Fiddle Tunes (Port Townsend) and current Director of the BOTMC, which she founded in 2003. She feels very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform with two of her longtime musical heroes.

Jim, Geoff, and Suzy appear at the Freight on Fri. Sept. 20.  Geoff will give a guitar workshop on Thurs. Sept. 20, and Jim will give a workshop entitled "Songs & Sources" on Sat. Sept. 21.

 

Jerron Paxton is a time-traveling songster who plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, piano and other instruments; West Virginia fiddler Frank George considered him to be a “cohort”, or torchbearer, of old-time music. As a teenager in east East L.A., Jerron learned his first old-time songs from his grandmother (who was raised in Louisiana) and began delving deep into the heart of old -time music, including extensive explorations into the world of cylinder recordings and 78s. He brings music of an earlier era into the here and now, in styles including pre-World War I pop music and minstrelsy, old-time, country blues, and early jazz. In 2017, Jerron was named Artistic Director of Centrum’s Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival and Workshop.  He’s performed all over the world at festivals, was selected to channel Lead Belly at the Lead Belly Tribute at Carnegie Hall, and appears in the music documentary AMERICAN EPIC, produced by Robert Redford, Jack White and T-Bone Burnett.

Jerron Paxton

Jerron Paxton appears at the Freight on Thurs Sept. 19, and will give a banjo workshop on Sun. Sept. 22.

Thomas Maupin & Daniel Rothwell Band

 

Thomas Maupin, the most renowned Tennessee buck dancer of his generation, grew up on a farm in Eagleville, Tennessee, with nine brothers and sisters. All of them were self-taught buck dancers. His own dancing was most influenced by his older brother, Ollie, and his grandmother. Winner of state championships in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Indiana, and six-time winner of the National Old-Time Buck Dancing Championship, in 2017 Thomas Maupin received our nation’s highest honor for traditional music, the National Heritage Fellowship. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Thomas became a mainstay at music gatherings in the South. His precise musical timing and collaborative spirit made him favored among old-time string bands, who worked with him more in a symbiotic relationship than an accompanying one.

 

In the 2000s, Maupin began a musical partnership with his grandson Daniel Rothwell, an award-winning traditional banjo player who specializes in the style and spirit of Uncle Dave Macon. Playing fiddle will be Casy Meikle, who moved to Tennessee from his native California after finishing school and quickly immersed himself in the region’s rich string band tradition. He was a founding member of Hogslop String Band, with whom he performed from 2008-2016. Performances with Thomas and Daniel include Thomas’ 2017 acceptance of the NEA Heritage Fellowship Award at the Library of Congress. With them at the BOTMC will be guitarist Danny Rothwell (Thomas’ son-in-law and Daniel’s father), bassist Sharlene Hazelwood, and Kory Posey, winner of the 2012 National Old-Time Buck Dancing Championship.

Thomas Maupin & Daniel Rothwell Band appear at the Freight on Thurs Sept. 19. Thomas Maupin and Ruth Alpert will lead a flatfooting workshop led by from 7:30 to 8:00 at Ashkenaz on Sat  Sept. 21.  Daniel Rothwell will give a banjo workshop and Casy Meikle will give a fiddle workshop, both on Fri. Sept. 20.

Donna Ray Norton

 

Donna Ray Norton is an eighth-generation ballad singer, kin to Dellie Norton, Byard Ray, Sheila Kay Adams and other distinguished Madison County musicians. She grew up hearing her family’s music and stories at home, but didn’t fully appreciate her heritage until a senior project in high school led her to research her family’s ballad tradition, which led to learning the songs themselves. Donna has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival, Mars Hill University Heritage Day, and has toured as a featured performer with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra.  In 2018, she received a Grammy nomination for her work on the “Big Bend Killing, The Appalachian Ballad Tradition”, a compilation which also included Sheila Kay Adams, Alice Gerrard, David Holt and Roseanne Cash. Donna made her first trip to the West Coast when she performed at the BOTMC in 2007; we are happy to welcome her back to Berkeley.

Donna Ray Norton appears at the Freight on Fri. Sept. 20. She will host a Song Circle in the back studio at Ashkenaz on Sat Sept 21, and she will give a ballad singing workshop on Sun. Sept 22. Donna also will participate in the panel discussion on Thurs. Sept. 19.

 

Modock Rounders

The Modock Rounders are a traditional stringband from West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley.

Kim Johnson was born in Clendenin, WV, and has been playing clawhammer banjo since the 1970s when she was first captivated by the fiddling of Wilson Douglas, who then took her under his wing and taught her everything he knew. She has since had the honor of playing with and knowing some of the most highly influential West Virginia fiddlers of the last 40 years. Kim is a true American treasure and the Modock Rounder’s connection to a past generation of musicians that live on through her storytelling and lively banjo playing.

Jesse Pearson is an award-winning fiddler from Point Pleasant, WV, who learned to play from visits with local masters Bobby Taylor, Franklin George, John Morris, and Terry Vaughn, while also pouring over classic 78 rpm recordings and albums by The New Lost City Ramblers. 

Cody Jordan, also an award-winning fiddler from Point Pleasant, WV, has been picking the guitar since before he and Jesse met in middle school and although neither of them grew up with old-time music, Cody now belts out traditional ballads and songs as if he’s known them his entire life. Being influenced by folks like Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz, Roscoe Holcomb, and Ralph Stanley.

The Modock Rounders will appear at the Freight on Fri Sept. 20, and will play for the square dance at Ashkenaz on Sat Sept. 21.  On Sun. Sept. 22, Cody will give a singing workshop, Kim will give a banjo workshop, and Jesse will give a fiddle workshop.  In addition, the Modock Rounders will take part in the panel discussion and jam session on Thurs. Sept. 19.

 

Crooked Jades

The Crooked Jades is a Bay Area string band that has created an innovative modern sound drawing from the roots of American traditional music. Founded in 1995 by Jeff Kazor (vocals, guitar, ukulele) and Lisa Berman (vocals, slide guitar, banjo, harmonium), the band also includes Erik Pearson (vocals, banjo, ukulele, harmonium, slide guitar), fiddler Emily Mann, and adjunct Jade Charlie Rose (not pictured), who plays bowed bass. The Crooked Jades have performed at rock clubs, festivals and concert halls across the United States and Europe. They have released eight albums, their most recent being 2019’s “Empathy Moves the Water,” and continue their collaboration with modern dance choreographer Kate Weare and ODC (“Bright Land” and “World’s On Fire”) recently presented at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The Crooked Jades appear at the Freight on Thurs Sept. 19.

 

Earl White Band

Earl White was among the first black Americans to delve into the old-time music that was once an important part of rural black communities in the South. He started playing fiddle in 1975, as a founding member of the Green Grass Cloggers, college students from North Carolina who revolutionized clogging by combining older flatfooting styles with more modern “precision” clogging routines. A syncopated dance step that Earl invented during that time came to be known as "the Earl" and is still taught at clogging workshops. During his time in North Carolina, Earl spent long periods collecting fiddle tunes in the mountains, mostly from white fiddlers who at times credited black sources for some tunes and stylistic elements. Earl moved to Santa Cruz in the early twenty-first century to work as a pulmonary therapist.  In 2016, Earl and his partner Adrienne (who plays guitar in the Earl White Band) moved to Floyd, Virginia where they have a bakery on a farm.

The Earl White Band will play at the Saturday night square dance at Ashkenaz.  Earl will teach a fiddle workshop on Sun. Sept. 22, and he will participate in the panel discussion on Thurs. Sept. 19.

Squirrelly Stringband

 

The Squirrelly Stringband’s first performance was at the BOTMC Stringband Contest in 2003; they won first place that year and the next. Since then they’ve performed at festivals, square dances, concerts, parties, corn shuckin’s and barn raisin’s. They are the house band for North Oakland’s First Friday square dance. The band is led by fiddler David Murray. Debbie Berne plays old-time clawhammer banjo and is known for her inimitable rhythmic style. Allegra Yellin is the guitarist of choice for any fiddler in the area that needs back-up for a square dance. Rachel Kraai plays a washtub bass of her own design with a “take no prisoners” attitude and a fistful of duct tape.

The Squirrelly Stringband will play at the Saturday night square dance at Ashkenaz.

 

Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain includes fiddlers Kyle McNally and Jonathan Shifflett, Peter Linden on banjo, with Kelly Marie Martin and Ben Kramer trading off on bass and guitar. Individually, their musical journeys have spanned punk rock and jazz in places from Southern California to Alaska; along the way, each found their own inroad to traditional string band music. Echo Mountain plays for square dances in their home region of Los Angeles, and at festivals including the Grass Valley Fathers Day Festival, the LA Old Time Social, the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention and the Carlsbad Music Festival. This band formed organically out of a love of the conviviality of jamming, so the easiest way to find them is to look for the big humming tune session! 

Echo Mountain will play for the Friday early evening square dance at the downtown Berkeley BART plaza and lead a jam in the back studio at Ashkenaz on Saturday night.

 

Sydney Roberts

Sydney Roberts started playing violin at the age of 3, studying with Bobbi Nikles.  More recently, she’s studied with Karen Celia Heil, who will be part of the band that will be featured at the BOTMC Family Dance, along with banjo player Soheil Soliman. Sydney has gone to many music camps including Fiddle Tunes, Centralia, and FiddleKids, and loves to go to jams around San Francisco. She will begin her junior year of high school this September. Last year she started an old time music club at her school in an effort to bring fiddle music into that community; she also runs cross-country and track, and participates in the debate team and the feminism club. Sydney has been a long-time participant in the BOTMC string band contest and we are very pleased to be able to include her in this year’s BOTMC lineup!

Sydney Roberts and friends will play at the family dance at Ashkenaz on Sunday afternoon Sept. 22.

Morgan Cochneuer

 

Morgan Cochneuer is a performer/music teacher and the author of a new children's book titled "The ABC's of Jug Band Music" He has worked with such greats as Kenny Hall, Jim Kweskin,  Dan Hicks and Maria Mulduar.   Morgan has taught countless private students, has worked with a number of school programs, and is a registered Music Together teacher. He performs in his home area of Sonoma County) and loves to entertain kids and to share the joy of acoustic folk music.

Morgan Cochneuer will play a free concert for kids and parents at the Berkeley Public Library on Saturday morning.

 

Sue Hulsether

This year's guest dance caller, Sue Hulsether, is equally at home calling dances in a dance hall, school, barn, or camp. Her dance repertoire, gathered from callers across the country, includes squares, contras, circles, longways sets, contras, play parties, and singing games. Following a career in music education, she has been working as a full-time caller since 2003 and is nationally known for her clear teaching, welcoming manner on the mic, and engaging humor. She shares her beautiful farm in the hills of southwestern Wisconsin with her husband Steve and a crew of friendly barn cats, traveling far and wide to call and dance, while still finding time for the local community square dance, hosting house parties and raising enough food to eat, give away and preserve for winter. 

Sue Hulsether will call the Saturday night dance and the Sunday afternoon family dance, both at Ashkenaz. She will also lead a free callers workshop at Ashkenaz on Saturday at 5pm, and call a free square dance in the downtown Berkeley BART plaza on Friday 5pm-7pm.

 

Robin Fischer

Robin Fischer is a square dance caller, fiddler and music teacher who has called at the LA Old-time Social, Parkfield Bluegrass Festival, the Oakland Museum of California, and parties, family dances, weddings, music camps/festivals, and community dances up and down the West Coast. She is a regular caller at the twice monthly North Oakland Square Dance, which she helps organize. Robin plays fiddle in the Bearcat Stringband and teaches fiddle at Manning Music in Berkeley.

Robin Fischer will call the Saturday night dance at Ashkenaz.

Candy Goldman

Candy Goldman has taught Seattle’s Old Time String Band Class with Greg and Jere Canote since 1980. Her newest band is Roscoe’s Gone, with Hank Bradley and Bill Meyer; she has also worked with fiddlers Jimmy Triplett and Erynn Marshall. Candy has taught at many camps including Fiddle Tunes, Walker Creek, and American Banjo Camp.

Candy will teach a banjo workshop, and she and Karen Celia Heil will host a jam at the string band contest.