Allegheny Echoes

The 18th annual Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops take place June 22-27, 2014, in Marlinton, W.V. The cost remains reasonable at $400 for tuition and $165 for lodging at the Marlinton Motor Inn. As in years past, it pays to register early. Everyone signing up before June 1 can knock $50 off the tuition bill. Of course, those lucky enough to be West Virginia residents receive another $25 discount.

Once again an outstanding selection of musicians will offer personal instruction in traditional old-time and bluegrass music. Several newcomers will join the group of returning, ever-popular instructors. In addition Kirk Judd again will lead the creative writing class. The new instructors in old-time are Josh Ellis, intermediate/advanced old-time banjo; Eddie Bond, intermediate/advanced fiddle; and Dennis Hall, back-up guitar. New bluegrass teachers are Bobby Lundy, banjo, and Scott Holstein, guitar. In creative writing Meredith Sue Willis will be a first-timer in the afternoon masters’ program.


Josh Ellis’ started picking up an interest in music while spending summers with his grandparents in Duck, W.V., going to frequent singing events at church. Josh moved to Galax about twenty years ago and after being exposed to old-time music, he began a love affair with the banjo. He spent time with many local banjo players including Ray Chatfield, Kirk Sutphin, Peco Watson, and a not so local Bill Birchfield of the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers in Roan Mountain, TN. Josh has won several blue ribbons in various fiddlers’ conventions in the area and plays with the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters.

Eddie Bond hails from the small mountain community of Fries in southwest Virginia. Fries has a rich history of old time mountain music. Eddie’s great uncle Leon Hill played with the cotton mill band known as the ZD's and three of his four grandparents were musicians as well. His grandmother Widner taught him to play the guitar at age eight and to flatfoot and sing the old mountain songs. Eddie started to play the banjo at age thirteen and then fiddle at fourteen, learning from several local fiddlers but mostly self taught. Eddie was greatly influenced by the fiddling of Albert Hash, Whit Sizemore, Otis Burriss, Tommy Jarrell , Fred Cockerham, Bass Tate, Coolidge Winesett and Heath Higgins. He became the fiddler for the New Ballard's Branch Bogtrotters around 2001. Eddie is a consistent winner in multiple instruments at music festivals and has performed in many prestigious venues.

Dennis Hall is the leader and one of the original members of The New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters. The band came together in 1985 at a fiddlers’ convention in Fries, when a handful of musicians got together to play a little music and, before long, were playing competitively as a band. They chose their name partly in homage to The Bogtrotters, a well-known Galax-area band that played in the 1930s and partly from the creek that runs past Dennis’s front door. They have won many prestigious competitions over the years. Dennis’ playing is influenced by two greats; guitar player Gene Meade and fiddler Clark Kessinger.

Picker Bobby Lundy is a multi-talented, first-class picker who lives between Nashville and Delaware. He grew up in the famous Lundy musical family from the Galax area. His greatest influence, along with Earl Scruggs, was his dad Ted Lundy, who played banjo in the band Southern Grass, with guitar player Bob Paisley. In later years, Bobby would hook up with Bob's son Dan Paisley and continue the Southern Grass sound. This band produced an IBMA song of the year in the 2009 hit "Don't Throw Mama's Flowers Away.”

Scotty Holstein is from the southern coalfields of West Virginia. He is currently nominated for induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. His great grandfather was an old time contest fiddler and close friend of the famed Clark Kessinger. His mother and father both played Bluegrass Gospel music semi-professionally and encouraged his decision to make music a career choice. A veteran music professional, Holstein's first appearance on stage was with the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd at the age of five. His career in bluegrass music spans two decades playing and recording with the legends of the genre. He is a multi-instrumentalist bringing his vast knowledge of rhythm, cross-picking, flat-picking and finger-picking guitar styles to AE.

Meredith Sue Willis was born and raised in West Virginia. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Barnard (N.Y) College and received Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University. She has given workshops and keynote addresses to teachers and students across the country. Meredith Sue has won many prizes for her writing, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She received the Literary Award of the West Virginia Library Association.

Pat Shields, who returns for the second year as an old-time mandolin instructor, sent some additional information regarding his mandolin playing. Pat, known primarily as a top-flight back-up guitar player, thought a little explanation might be helpful.

Guitar jam “I picked up the mandolin in 1973. I found playing rhythm guitar with several bands daily was painful, at times. My hands were not happy. I began looking for another musical instrument that would give my paws a break. I tried claw hammer banjo. I gave mandolin a shot, and was discouraged by friends telling me my hands were too big. My mentor, Freddy Goodhart, gave me a junk shop Kay mandolin. He encouraged a “bear pawed, ham handed” novice to stick with it until it started making sense. He emphasized that mandolin is a fun instrument; easy to play in the car, good company, and girls liked them. He did not tell me how hard it was to tune, and harder to string. I learned all that and more, and met lots of good folks on the way.

“I teach the basics through simple tunes that allow my students to jump right in. No music theory, just tunes. You’ll pick up that stuff as you go. I call it the Bear Paw Method. I also teach stretching hand exercises and other techniques to keep hands happy for a lifetime of music. Mandolins, they’s good company. “

Charlie Loudermilk Prior to last summer’s workshops, Allegheny Echoes lost two dear members of its family, Charlie Loudermilk and Allen Duchess. Scholarships were established in their memory. Stephen Casto received the first Charlie Loudermilk scholarship. A scholarship to Claire Mosseso also was given to honor fiddler Junior Spencer, Charlie’s band partner of more than 50 years. Receiving scholarships in memory of Allen Duchess were Victory Mayne, J.J. Riley and Lila Smith.

Don’t delay and miss out of the $50 cost break. Send your registration in today so you can participate in the music and festivities. Allegheny Echoes is ultimately about making long-lasting friends. Come and join our family.