Ashe County borders the state of Virginia to the north and shares many of its deep musical roots in old time and bluegrass music. This area has one of the largest numbers of documented musicians, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century and spanning to current day players and singers. Many early string band and country musicians hail from Ashe County, such as Frank Blevins and his Tarheel Rattlers, the Carolina Night Hawks, Clarence “Tom” Ashley, and Ola Belle Reed. The dominant old time styles of these musicians have carried on through history, as most musicians in this area primarily play old time music.
Ola Belle Reed
Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley
The Ashe County JAM program is coordinated by the Ashe County Arts Council and is held Monday and Thursday afternoons at the Ashe County Civic Center. Ashe JAM was one of the first JAM programs to begin after the original program in neighboring Alleghany County. The JAM Club for dedicated students performs at nursing homes, Christmas in July Festival, Arts Council Connecting Crossroads concert, and other events in the community.
The Ashe JAM Band performs on behalf of the program at community events, festivals and concerts throughout the region. Three of the current members include Ashe JAM alumni Samuel Tsolis (fiddle), Brittany Osborne (banjo) and Emily Long (guitar). The group plays old time music from the Ashe County region, as well as roots Celtic music of the original settlers of the area.
Current JAM teachers for fiddle, banjo and guitar:
Martha Spencer – guitar and fiddle
Chris Testerman – fiddle and guitar
Amanda Wright – fiddle and guitar
Madison Shepherd – banjo
For more information, please contact:
Ashe Arts Council
303 School Avenue
West Jefferson, NC 28694