RiddleFest 2017, featuring David Holt and Josh Goforth, will be the tenth anniversary of this annual concert event staged by the Traditional Voices Group to honor Yancey County native Lesley Riddle. This year’s RiddleFest will be held Friday, June 30, 7-9 PM at the Burnsville Town Center on South Main Street. Tickets are $20 each. Lesley Riddle, an African-American musician, greatly influenced early country music through his association with A.P. Carter, the principal of the Carter Family. In the late 1920s, Carter and Riddle traveled the southern mountains in search of traditional music that could be adapted for a popular American audience. Proceeds from RiddleFest benefit TVG’s project to collect oral history and local stories from mountain folk.
Four-time Grammy Award winner David Holt is well-known to local, regional and national audiences as a musician, storyteller, historian, television host and entertainer, dedicated to performing and preserving traditional American music and stories. Holt plays ten acoustic instruments and has released numerous award winning recordings of traditional mountain music and southern folktales. For over 30 years David has been host of the NC PBS series Folkways, a television series that takes the viewer through the Southern Mountains visiting traditional craftsmen and musicians. David also currently hosts the PBS series Great Scenic Railway Journeys and David Holt’s State of Music, which premieres in June on UNC-TV. He served as host of The Nashville Network’s Fire on the Mountain, Celebration Express and American Music Shop. He has been a frequent guest on Hee Haw, Nashville Now and The Grand Ole Opry. David can also be seen as a musician in the popular film, O Brother Where Art Thou.
In 1975, Holt founded and directed the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. It is the only program of its kind in which students study, collect and learn traditional music and dance. Since 1981, Holt has pursued a full-time career in entertainment. Today, he brings to the concert stage the fun and spirit of old-time music and storytelling. An evening with David Holt offers tales, ballads and tunes told, sung and played on the banjo, slide guitar, guitar, harmonica, bones, spoons and jaw harp. His audiences are constantly involved, learning to play the paper bag, applauding the vitality of his clog dancing, listening to the haunting sound of a 122 year old mountain banjo, or being spellbound by a ghost story. Read more about Holt at his website, www.DavidHolt.com.
Josh Goforth was musically inclined from birth—he was already playing piano in church at the age of four—but when he saw ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams perform at his middle school, he started thinking about the musical heritage of his native Madison County. He studied music with family and community musicians as a child and then attended East Tennessee State University to study music education, and to perform with ETSU’s famous Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Program. In 2000, he played fiddle for the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack. He has toured extensively with a variety of ensembles, including the ETSU bluegrass band, with David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and with several bluegrass bands including Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio, and Josh Goforth and the New Direction. In 2000, 2003, and 2005, he was named Fiddler of the Festival at Fiddler’s Grove and, after winning the third title, was designated “Master Fiddler” and retired from that competition.
On the same day as RiddleFest, June 30, Holt and Roy Andrade will hold a seminar that explores the traditional musician as historian. Sponsored in part by the North Carolina Humanities Council, the seminar will be held 2-3 PM at the Burnsville Town Center on South Main Street. Andrade is an East Tennessee State University professor and musician best known for his work with the string band Reeltime Travelers. In his post-touring life, he was been instrumental in growing the old-time music side of Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies at ETSU, where he teaches banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin and directs old-time string bands. He has recorded music for several documentary films and for the movie Cold Mountain. Since 2006 he has regularly produced recording projects for traditional artists, most notably the Doc Watson family Milestones box set. He continues to perform regularly and was recently featured on NPR’s Mountain Stage with the ETSU Old Time Pride Band.
In describing the seminar, David Holt noted that “For years, folklorists and historians were discouraged from learning and playing the music they study. In the 1960s this began to change, with musicians like Mike Seeger, Gus Meade, Alan Jabbour and others. We will explore what the musician brings to an understanding and preservation of traditional music.” The seminar will challenge the audience to reconsider how Appalachian music is preserved through generations and how music shapes our collective identity. The collections of stories through song is as timeless as the first peoples, but if these oral traditions are not questioned or discussed, new generations of musicians will lose the connections and the importance of the history of the people behind the music they perform.
Thanks to the NC Humanities Council, the afternoon Seminar is free and open to the public. Tickets to the evening concert are $20 and may be purchased at the door or through the Burnsville Town Center at 828-682-7209. For more information about these events contact the Traditional Voices Group at 828-682-9654 or check out their Facebook page and website: www.TraditionalVoicesGroup.com. The afternoon Seminar will be live-streamed to the TVG website with a link on the Facebook page.