The Artists, in order of Appearance: Born in a holler in Eastern Kentucky in one of the poorest counties in the country, John Wezley Haywood saw life differently than children who grew up in more economically developed areas. He lived in an isolated community called Risner that was named for his Mother's family. During this time both Haywood and his community were being changed by outside influences which came into the area by means of mass communication and corporate development. Many of the traditions that had been handed down in the Eastern Kentucky region were forgotten. For a kid, these influences came from the big city where hopes and dreams could come true. Chasing these dreams brought Haywood to the city where the culture shock instilled in him a new appreciation for his Appalachian heritage. Today, from his home in the southeast part of the state, he paints the real Kentucky. His artwork wallows in the stereotypes and pays tribute to lifestyles that make Kentucky and Appalachia one of the most unique and celebrated places in the entire world. The paintings tell stories of hell raising hillbillies, hardened mine workers, mountain musicians and more. Established galleries such as the Cinderblock and Swanson Reed Contemporary in Louisville, Kentucky have carried his artwork. He also sells work through the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. In June 2006 He received a professional development grant from the Kentucky Arts Council for a solo exhibition in Ashland, Kentucky. In 2007 he received a Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council and Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for his painting of Abraham Lincoln. He is also a juried member of the Kentucky Arts Council's Visual Art at the Market program. Haywood can also be found participating in various arts and music festivals across the region. His work is currently available at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, and his Knott County-studio. His work has been collected by a variety of folks in and out of state. Environmental biologists, college professors, famous banjo players, disc jockeys, and tattoo artists are all proud owners of Haywood's paintings. As the list grows, so does the demand for his artwork. "I think that with the way things are today, people are looking for work that will connect them to something or someplace. As our culture becomes more and more homogenized, we are loosing many of the characteristics that make us unique," he says. Roy Tackett is a Morehead State University graduate. He has learned traditional music from many of the master oldtime musicians of East Kentucky. Roy has played in The Trough Sloppers and Rich and the Poor Folks. Roy teaches guitar for the Pick and Bow program through Appalshop and has taught 6 years at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Every Monday from 11 - 1pm, Roy is a volunteer DJ for WMMT radio hosting 'Possum Opry.' Jesse Wells comes by it honest as he continues a legacy in his family of musicians, artists, and down right good people. Jesse has been attending fiddler's conventions and festivals since an early age and has been greatly influenced by his father Jaime Wells, who is an old time fiddler. Through his extensive work as an archivist and professor of traditional music, Jesse is becoming known as a fine fiddler in his own right and an all around good source for mountain music. He plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, banjo uke, mandolin and sings harmony vocals for the Clack Mountain String Band and does so with great intensity and a feel for how to drive a song into the next realm. He can also play soft fiddle tunes with a high degree of dignity and sweetness. Jesse was reared in Red Bush, KY and lives today in Morehead. Jesse has taught workshops at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA, The Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL, Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY and seven years at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, Letcher Co, KY. He has also appeared on PBS's Rhythm of My Soul, traditional music documentary and Kentucky Life on KET. Inspired by the people and places that surround them, The Clack Mountain String Band is connected by a common vein that injects a high level of energy into each song. "Folks often ask us to describe the kind of music we play and I guess from a commercial stand point you can call it 'old time' or 'string band' music, but to us it's just music," says Ratliff. Melody lines are played out on the fiddle with accompaniment from the "knock down" banjo and pushed by the vigorous rhythms of the guitar and doghouse, known as "Rowan County Rhythm." Their vocal harmonies are also very distinct and tend to blend seamlessly not only with each other but also with the music. The tunes come from oral transmission, intense listening (thanks to the archives at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music), hours upon hours of jamming with all of their old time peers, and original compositions. Clack Mountain String Band is vastly influenced by the mountains and rolling hills of East Kentucky and people like Lee Sexton, George Gibson, and their dear friend Art Stamper, whom we all miss very much. On the forefront of a diverse and blossoming music scene in Morehead, Kentucky, CMSB consists of four core members; Karly Higgins, Jesse Wells, J.T. Cure and Brett Ratliff. Check out their CD, Live from the John Jacob Niles Center, and watch for a new release in late 2008. Growing up in Letcher County, Carla Gover has the Appalachians in her blood. This singer/songwriter/dancer has three albums, Pearl, Birds Fly South and Drop in the Bucket to her credit. She is the winner of the 2007 Kerrville New Folk Song Writing Contest and the 2001 Merlefest Chris Austin Song Writing Contest. She plays and teaches banjo and guitar. Brett Ratliff comes from a small coal mining community called Van Lear, KY. Along with banjo, Ratliff also sings, plays guitar, harmonica, "jews" harp, fiddle and bones with the group. He is a founding member of the Morehead Old Time Music Association with whom CMSB works alongside in helping give old time mountain music a presence in the Morehead community and beyond. As a banjo player, Ratliff is rapidly becoming seasoned as a student of life and mountain music, and along with the rest of the Clack Mountain String Band, hopes to put his own experiences and emotions into the music in order to relate with whoever is in earshot. In 2008 Brett released Cold Icy Mountain, his first solo CD. Jamie Wells, is a native and life-long resident of Eastern Kentucky hails from a musical family with roots deep in the culture and history of the region. Jamie played fiddle for two old-time string bands for nearly twenty years, the Bottom of the Barrel Bunch and The Troughsloppers, playing in such venues as The Carter Family Fold, the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music, the Kentucky Folk life Festival, Appalshop, and the Highlands Folk Festival and appearing in two KET productions and on ABC's Good Morning America. He has taught fiddle classes at the Cowan Creek Music School and Augusta Heritage Old-Time Week as well as workshops at Appalshop. His repertoire includes tunes from the entire Appalachian region, a few modern tunes, and a few compositions of his own. For the past decade, he has been concentrating on learning tunes and technique from recordings of the old masters of Eastern Kentucky fiddling, such as Buddy Thomas, John Salyers, Clyde Davenport, Snake Chapman, George Lee Hawkins, Luther Strong, Hiram Stamper, and J.P. Fraley. He recently retired after a twenty-nine year career as a high school English teacher. He lives with his wife, an artist, and daughter in rural Johnson County. Jamie also plays the banjo and mandolin. John Harrod, (guitar, lead vocals, tenor vocal with Kentucky Wild Horse) has documented, recorded, and performed traditional music for more than 35 years. In the 1970s and '80s, he played with a number of bands such as the Progress Red Hot String Band, the Bill Livers String Ensemble, and the Gray Eagle Band, that re-introduced old-time musicians such as Bill Livers and Lily May Ledford to Kentucky audiences. During this time he also worked for three years as a folk artist-in-residence in Kentucky schools. Along with Mark Wilson and Guthrie Meade, he has produced a series of field recordings of Kentucky fiddle and banjo players that is available on Rounder Records. John received the 2004 Folk Heritage Award of the Governor's Award in the Arts for his work in traditional music. Tim Gilliam is a musician with strong roots in bluegrass and country. As a child in a rural Morehead and Hayes Crossing, Tim was constantly steeped in mountain or folk music. This influence shaped a singing style which he carried into the genres of country-western, blues and even rock-n-roll. From childhood, stringed instruments were readily available for him to practice upon: guitar, fiddle, mandolin and bass. As an adult Tim has traveled the country playing music with performers like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Lost and Found, Lonesome River Band, Stealin\' Horses, Hi Falutin\' and others. Or as he likes to put it, \'I\'ve played two weeks with everybody.\' Karly Dawn Higgins, a Morehead native, plays guitar and sings for two oldtime bands, the Clack Mountain String Band and Ponty\'s Camper. A lover of country music, she credits mountain singers like Hazel Dickens and Loretta Lynn as her inspiration. Country music, in Karly's words, is a vessel for the \'sounds of the heart and mind.\' She is also learning and loving the old time banjo as well as enjoying sawing on the cello and writing original songs. Sasha Collette, a Carter County native, gathers her influence from such artists as Joni Mitchell, Nickel Creek, the everybodyfields and Lead Belly. Behind the guitar lies the purity of an East Kentucky voice rich in heritage, soul and emotion. Sasha is a MSPR, (90.3) DJ and an accomplished songwriter. Harvey Pennington, former county attorney of Rowan County, has several CDs to his credit, including The Traditional Side of Spit and Polish, with Leo Blair. Harvey, longtime co-host of WMKY's Friends and Folk, served as chair of the Rowan County Sesquicentennial Music Project, which produced five CDs. Now retired, he writes, plays and spends much of his time indulging in his two other passions, target shooting and cowboying. Dr. Wayne D. Andrews was unanimously selected as MSU\'s 13th President by the Board of Regents, effective Jan. 1, 2005. We appreciate him lending his voice to this project! From Isonville, Ky., Don Rigsby has remained true to his mountain roots and made his own marks as a powerful tenor and distinctive mandolin player. In 2001, Don became the first full-time director of Morehead State University's Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, an innovative program designed to preserve and promote traditional music in all forms, including programs for schools and a minor in Traditional Music at MSU. He tours extensively with his band, the Midnight Call, and has three CDs, The Vision, Empty Old Mailbox and Hillbilly Heartache to his credit. Amanda Lynn Wells was born and raised in Pike Co, KY . She is an MSU graduate with a BM in Flute Performance and BM in Music Education (Vocal Emphasis), and teaches elementary music in the Rowan County school system. She is very active in musical theater appearing regularly in shows at Kincaid Theater in Falmouth, KY and Morehead Theater Guild shows where she serves on the Board of Directors. Amanda and Jesse Wells are married. J.T. Cure came to Morehead from Elkhorn City, KY along the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River. J.T. cut his teeth early on playing bass for a punk band in Elkhorn and this is evident in the energy he brings to any musical ensemble. He has displayed many faces which include jazz upright bassist, Indie rock, and Honky Tonker extraordinaire, all which contribute to his unflinching knowledge of music. But more than just knowledge, J.T. has the ability to feel a tune and can use that in the best interest of the music. J.T. is currently living and working as a studio musician in Nashville. Sarah Wood hails from Mason County. A talented singer and upcoming fiddle player, her style is fluent in the magic of roots music, old ballads and child songs; her music is a reflection of the landscape from which she hails: places, weathers, animals. Her fingers are always busy, either on the banjo or with the knitting needles. Among her influences she lists the Clack Mountain String Band, Buell Kazee, Luther Strong, Texas Gladden, Almeda Riddle, Lily May Ledford, Lee Sexton, George Gibson and Walter Williams. Ann and Phil Case have been singing and playing music together since 1990. They specialize in singing old-time Appalachian duets, old-fashioned parlor songs and Depression-era tunes as well as performing old-time instrumental duets. Ann sings with a rare natural sweetness and plays back-up guitar and fiddle. Phil plays guitar, clawhammer banjo, mandolin and harmonica, and provides harmony vocals. Their sound draws upon the influences of the Carter Family and their contemporaries, early country blues, ragtime, and traditional ballad singing. CDs include The Springtime of Life, released in 1996, Never Grow Old, released in 1999, Why Should We Be Lonely?, released in 2003, and The Old Step-Stone released in 2007. Speedy Tolliver was born in 1918 in Green Cove, Va. It was from his home community that he inherited a rich musical legacy rooted in the Anglo-Saxon and African ancestry of the region\'s early settlers. During his youth, social occasions provided time for musicians to get together to relearn tunes or to pass their particular renditions on to others. Thus melodies and songs were retained by the community as part of their cultural heritage. But Speedy was - and remains - no preservationist. During the late 1920s and into the 30s he was becoming well versed in popular music and culture. Commercial recordings and radio profoundly influenced his musical growth. He was 9 years old in 1927 when the pivotal Victor Talking Machine Company recording sessions were taking place in Bristol, just a few miles away. The Victor sessions jump-started the country music industry and launched the careers of such musical legends as the Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers. As Speedy listened he absorbed what he heard by playing along on his banjo. In 1939, Speedy migrated to the Washington, D.C. area. The country scene in Washington was beginning to blossom with music both by and for the white southerners who had come to the nation\'s capital looking for work. As a member of, at first, the Lee Highway Boys, Speedy quickly mastered the violin to be able to fill in for the band\'s fiddler who often went missing. Later, he was part of a succession of bands, and performed with Eddie Stoneman of the famous Stoneman family, as well as Hoss Clark and his young son, Roy. Speedy was a regular on WGAY radio\'s Rural Roundup, a weekly hillbilly music show. Speedy was one of country music promoter Connie B. Gay\'s stable of musicians, and played with a number of well know local bands. In 1950, he gave up his life as a professional musician for a regular job, and did not return to playing his own brand of country music till the late 1960s, and then, not as a profession. Nevertheless, Speedy\'s reputation among musicians remains sterling. Concentrating on the fiddle, Speedy worked regularly with area bands and traveled the globe for many years in this second phase of his career. He was 88 years young when Jesse, Brett and I journeyed to his home in Arlington, Virginia to record this in the autumn of 2006. He plays several times a week in jam sessions or as a member of various and sundry bands. In 2005 Speedy released a new CD, Now and Then.
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