Historic Musicians of JAM Counties

JAM is a program model designed for areas of Appalachia with deep musical history and traditions. Ideally, children enrolled in JAM programs learn about the historical and legendary musicians from their region so they may embrace the particular styles of mountain music that are unique to each place.  This immersion into local musical history and culture is typically conducted during class time as well as during enrichment activities.  We hope that JAM programs find the following information useful as they look to introduce students to the wide world of traditional music – past and present.

Program instructors, directors and volunteers can find general information, audio, video, interviews, photographs and more by searching for known historical musicians within several comprehensive archives of Appalachian culture.   Below, we are providing a list of historical and legendary musicians and singers for each JAM county. Each of these historical persons or groups can be found in at least one of four archives (notated beside each name). Also listed is information about the contents of each archive, as well as directions on how to access.

Library of Congress (LOC) The Library of Congress includes the American Folklife Center which is a comprehensive archive of collections that feature both online and catalogued items. It was founded in 1928 and is the first national archive of traditional life in America. Many of the collections are based on field recordings made by collectors or ‘song catchers’.

Specific guides for instruments:

Banjo Guide
Fiddler Guide
Dulcimer Guide
Guitar – print version available by request
Harmonica – print version available by request

(For more information about how to request these guides, please visit Contact Information: American Folklife Center)

Other guides are available based on locality (search by state), folksong genre, specific collector, etc.

To search for a certain artist (subject), the process is simple. Go to the Library of Congress homepage and the search bar is at the top of the page. Researchers have the option of searching all formats or specific formats of archived materials. After your search results are returned, click in the first left hand box on ‘All Items’. If the option is left to the default of ‘Available Online’, catalogued results will not be displayed. This option must be selected with each new search.

Specific collections of interest related to traditional Appalachian music in North Carolina and Virginia:

Charles L. Perdue, Jr. – Archive of Folk Song, Virginia Folklore Index (complete listing of Virginia field recordings from 1932-1977)

Scott Odell Collection – Appalachian string band music (various); music from VA and NC

Ralph Rinzler Duplication Project – includes Doc Watson, Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley artifacts

Henry Glassie/Folk Music Recordings – includes Ola Belle Reed, Tab Ward, other Watauga County, NC musicians and singers, Madison County, NC musicians and singers, JE Cison of Transylvania County, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection – includes 467 reels of music, radio programs and interviews from musicians in and around Grayson County, Carroll County, Floyd County (VA) and Alleghany County (NC)

Philip S. Morgan – Music in the Old Time Way (video featuring music of Roundpeak, NC area and Southwest Virginia)

Mike Seeger Collection – large comprehensive collection featuring the Stanley Brothers, Reno & Smiley, Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley, Pop Stoneman and many others

Beverly Underwood/Bill Vernon – Mike Seeger Interview with information about Gaither Carlton, Stanley Brothers, Pop Stoneman, Wad Ward, others

Alan Lomax Collection (in full)

Bascom Lamar Lunsford Collection (in full)

Resettlement Administration Recording Collection – features many artists including Bascom Lamar Lunsford

Wade Mainer Recordings

Artus Moser Recordings – various musicians and singers from Western North Carolina

Margaret Mayo Collection – includes Swain County and Buncombe County (NC) musicians such as Marcus Martin

Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folk Songs

Bascom Lamar Lunsford Recordings

Anne & Frank Warner Collection – Watauga County, NC musicians and singers such as Frank Proffitt, Hicks Family

Bascom Lamar Lunsford Recording Project of 1949

Maud Karpeles Recording Project: includes ballad singers of Madison County, NC

Robert Winslow Gordon Cylinder Collection – includes Bascom Lamar Lusnford and others

John A. Lomax Southern States – includes the Whitetop Folk Festival of the 1930s and music from Watauga County, NC

John A. Lomax, Ruby T. Lomax, Bess Lomax: Galax Old Fiddlers Convention

Alan Lomax CBS Radio Series: includes the Original Ballards Branch Bogtrotters

Herbert Halpert 1939 Southern States Recording Expedition – includes music from Wise and Dickenson Counties, VA and Watauga County, NC

John and Ruby Lomax 1940 Southern States Recordings – music from Galax, VA area

Alan Lomax Recordings of Rehearsals for White House Program – includes Wade Mainer’s Mountaineers

Radio Research Project Recordings – folk festivals in Asheville, NC and Galax, VA

Alan and Elizabeth Lomax Collection of Virginia Recordings

Duncan Emrich Interview with Bascom Lamar Lunsford

Joseph C. Hickerson – Fields Ward Recording Project (includes Stella Holoway)

Alan Jabbour Duplication Project – music from Alleghany County, NC

Mike Seeger Recordings of Scott Boatwright (Coeburn, VA)

Jim Scancarelli Recordings of Fiddle and Banjo Music – includes music from Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Union Grove Old Time Fiddlers Convention, Wade Ward

Eric Olson Collection of Fiddle Tunes and Old Time Music – includes Bill Hensley

Charles Faurot Collection of an Interview with Galax Musicians – includes Kahle Brewer, Wade Ward, Fields Ward

Alan Jabbour and Tom Carter – Virginia Field Recording Project

Blanton Owen and TOm Carter – Appalachian Music and Interviews Collection – music from Alleghany County, NC

David Holt Recordings Collection 0 includes music from Madison County (Dellie Norton, Byard Ray, Smathers Brothers)

Pat Dunford Duplication Project Collection – Wade and Fields Ward

Joseph S. Hall Duplication Project – various ballads and instrumentals from musicians and singers in Madison, Swain, Jackson, Haywood Counties (NC)

George Foss Collection – includes Ernest Byrd of Jackson County, NC

Anne Romaine Collection of Folk Songs Sung by Nancy Arrrington (Swannanoa, NC)

Ola Belle Reed Duplication Project

Folk Legacy Records Duplication Project – ballads and songs from Watauga County, NC

Blanton Owen Fiddle Recordings – music from Swain and Jackson County, NC

Kenneth S. Goldstein Collection of NC and SC Recordings

Peter Hoover – Musicians from Swain, Jackson, Buncombe Counties, NC

E.M. Blevins Recording Project – from Ashe County, NC

D. Michael Battey – Frank Proffitt, Jr. Collection


Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s Traditional Artist Directory is a guide to many of the finest traditional craft artisans, musicians, dancers, and storytellers in the North Carolina mountains and foothills. The directory contains listings for more than 500 artists and groups, both historic and current.

To access this directory, click here On the drop down menu Find an Artist, select By Music to browse by instrument. Directly below this menu, select the option to include historic artists if that is your focus. Researchers may also search by name or keyword to the right of this menu. Keyword can include place or county name.

Click here to view all Historic Artists


Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) This database is an archival resource from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating vernacular music, art, and culture related to the American South. It is one of the nation’s foremost archival resources for the study of American folk music, and includes artifacts related to historical musicians and singers as well as current traditional artists of Appalachian music. Some artifacts in the Southern Folklife Collection are digital, while many are still catalogued. In order to gain access to the cataloged items, researchers may request copies by creating a user account under the ‘Request this Collection’ button. The other option is to visit Wilson Library at UNC Chapel Hill. For more information about requesting copies of catalogued items, go to the
Frequently Asked Questions

To access the Southern Folklife Collection, go directly to this link . There are 158 collections about traditional mountain music within the SFC. It is possible to search by artist name. Artifacts include subject files, song folios, radio and television files, posters, moving image materials, field notes, festival files, disographical files and artist name. Click here to search .


Digital Library of Appalachia (DLA)  This database provides all digital access to archival and historical materials related to the culture of the southern and central Appalachian region.  Contents are drawn from 28 special collections of the Appalachian College Association Member libraries:  Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Bethany College, Brevard College, Carson-Newman University, Emory & Henry College, Ferrum College, Johnson University, Kentucky Christian University, King University, Lee University, Lees-McRae College, Lincoln Memorial University, Lindsey Wilson College, Mars Hill University, Maryville College, Milligan College, Ohio Valley University, Sewanee University of the South, Tennessee Wesleyan College, Tusculum College, Union College, University of Charleston, University of Pikeville, University of the Cumberlands, Warren Wilson College, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Wheeling Jesuit University.

To access the DLA, visit dla.acaweb.org/

Within the Digital Library of Appalachia is audio of songs, tunes, interviews, storytelling, as well as photographs.  It is possible to search by artist name (subject) or to search by area (your county name).  The search box is located on the homepage of the archive.  Advanced search (click next to Search button) is also available.  In advanced search, the query can be specified to find by title, description, creator, publisher, contributor, date, type, format, source, etc.

Helpful note:  please click ‘New Search’ after finding results and searching again for a different subject.  Otherwise, the next search will only search within the results of the previous.


Musicians by County

Alleghany County, NC

Red Fox Chasers, string band – LOC, SFC, DLA

Bertie Dickens, banjo player – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Art Wooten, bluegrass fiddler – DLA, BRNHA, SF

Dave Sturgill, old time fiddler – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Del Reeves, country singer – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Stella Holoday, ballad singer – LOC

Joe Caudill, old time musician – LOC, DLA

Houston Caudill, old time musician – LOC

Clel Caudill, old time musician – LOC

Haywood Blevins, piano player in old time style – DLA, LOC

Howard Joines, old time musician – LOC

Kilby Reeves, old time musician – LOC


Ashe County, NC

North Carolina Ridge Runners, Old Belle Reed’s band – LOC, SFC

Ola Belle Reed, singer, banjo player – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Spencer Moore, singer and musician – DLA, LOC

Frank Blevins & His Tarheel Rattlers, early stringband music – LOC

Clarence “Tom” Ashley, old time musician, singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Jim Brooks, bluegrass musician – BRNHA

G.B. Grayson, old time fiddler/singer – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Audrey Hash Hamm, old time musician and luthier – BRNHA, SFC

Munsey Gaultney, old time musician – LOC

E.M. Blevins, old time banjo player – LOC


Buncombe County, NC

Osey & Ernest Helton, stringband musicians – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Wade Mainer, string band/early country music – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

J.E. Mainer, string band/early country music – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

J.D. or Dedrick Harris, old time fiddler – BRNHA, SFC

Marcus Martin, old time fiddler – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Tommy Magness, old time fiddler- LOC, DLA, SFC

Nancy Arrington, ballad singer- LOC


Caldwell County, NC

Etta Baker, blues guitar and singer – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Clarence Greene, bluegrass musician – LOC, SFC

Carl Story, bluegrass musician/singer – LOC, DLA, BRNHA

Roland Cauley, old time fiddler – LOC

Charlie Knight, old time fiddler – SFC


Haywood County, NC

Carroll Best, 3-finger banjo player – DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Don Reno, bluegrass musician – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Luke & Harold Smathers (Smathers Brothers), mountain swing – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Quay Smathers, shape note singer – DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Bill Hensley, old time fiddler – LOC, BRNHA


Jackson County, NC

Ernest Byrd, old time musician – LOC

Manco Sneed, old time fiddler – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Samantha Bumgarner, old time banjo player – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Mary Jane Queen, LOC, BRNHA, SFC


Madison County, NC

Byard Ray, old time fiddler and banjo player – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Bascom Lamar Lunsford, old time musician and ballad singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Callahan Brothers, early country music – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Dillard Chandler, ballad singer – LOC, DLA, SFC

Tommy Hunter, old time fiddler – LOC, DLA, BRNHA

Lee Wallin, Berzilla Wallin, ballad singers – LOC, BRNHA

Dellie Norton, ballad singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Doug Wallin, ballad singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Red Smiley, bluegrass musician – DLA, LOC, SFC

Lizzie Roberts, ballad singer – LOC

Maud Gentry Long, ballad singer – LOC


Watauga County, NC

Doc Watson, old time, blues, bluegrass guitar/banjo player and singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Merle Watson, old time, blues, bluegrass guitar/banjo player and singer – SFC, DLA, LOC

Gaither Carlton, old time fiddler and banjo player – LOC, SFC

Marion Reece, old time fiddler – LOC

Chris Austin, bluegrass/country singer/songwriter – BRNHA, LOC

Stanley Hicks, old time banjo and singer – DLA, LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Lulu Belle & Scotty Wiseman, old time country and bluegrass – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Willard Watson, old time banjo – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Ora Watson, ballad singer and old time musician – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Frank Proffitt, ballad singer and old time musician – LOC, DLA, BRNHA, SFC

Jane Hicks Gentry, ballad singer – LOC, BRNHA

Council Harmon, old time musician – LOC, BRNHA, SFC

Tab Ward, old time musician – LOC


Swain County, NC

Mike Rogers, old time musician – LOC

Ed Orr, old time musician – LOC

Robert Rich, old time musician – LOC

Blaine Goss, old time musician – LOC

Hardy Crisp, old time fiddler – LOC


Transylvania County, NC

J.E. Cison, old time musician – LOC


Dickenson County, VA

Stanley Brothers (Ralph and Carter Stanley), early bluegrass/old time music – DLA, SFC, LOC

Earl Gilmore, gospel – DLA


Floyd County, VA

Floyd County Ramblers (Sam McNeil, Walter Boone, Banks McNeil, John Boone), string band – DLA, LOC

Dent Wimmer, banjo player – LOC


Franklin County, VA

Howard Maxey, old time fiddler – LOC, DLA

Charlie LaPrade, old time fiddler, formed the Blue Ridge Highballers – DLA

N.H. Mills, old time fiddler – LOC, SFC

Posey Rorer, old time fiddler, played with Charlie Poole – LOC, DLA, SFC

Sherman Wimmer, old time fiddler – LOC

John W. Tinsley, blues – DLA

JP Young, blues – DLA

Leonard Bowles, banjo – DLA

J.W. & Peg Hatcher, old time musicians – DLA

Zeh Dot, old time piano – DLA
Original Orchard Grass Band, string band – DLA

Dry Hill Draggers, string band – DLA

Ted Boyd, old time musician – DLA


Galax City, VA

Tony Alderman, old time fiddler, played with the Hillbillies – SFC, DLA

Ballards Branch Bogtrotters (Crockett Ward, Eck Dunford, Wade Ward, Fields Ward), string band – LOC, DLA, SFC

Kahle Brewer, old time fiddler, played with Ernest ‘Pop’ Stoneman – LOC, SFC

Otis Burris, old time fiddler – LOC, SFC

Charlie Higgins, old time fiddler – LOC, DLA, SFC

Roscoe Parrish, old time fiddler – SFC

John Rector, old time fiddler – LOC, DLA, SFC

Ernest ‘Pop’ Stoneman, old time musician and singer – LOC, DLA

Stoneman Family, old time musicians and singers – LOC, DLA


Wise County, VA

Bull Mountain Moonshiners, string band (Charles McReynolds, William McReynolds, Howard Greene, Charlie Greer, Bill Deane) – LOC

Dock Boggs, banjo player, ballad singer – SFC, LOC

Scott Boatwright, old time musician and singer – LOC, DLA