Appalachian String Band Music Festival

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Appalachian String Band Music Festival
The main stage at the 2007 Appalachian String Band Music Festival
Genreold-time music
Datesfounded 1990
Location(s)New River Gorge in West Virginia
Years active1990-present
Founded byWill Carter and The WV Division of Culture & History
WebsiteOfficial site

The Appalachian String Band Music Festival (often referred to simply as "Clifftop") is a weeklong gathering of thousands of string band musicians and their friends from across the country and around the world, who each year since 1990 have assembled near the New River Gorge in West Virginia in late July/early August to celebrate the evolving tradition of old-time music and the community of people who keep it thriving by preserving and contributing to that tradition.[1][2]


Though the Festival offers contests (traditional band, neo-traditional band, fiddle, old-time banjo, and flatfoot dancing), square dancing, several concerts and workshops, and other organized activities such as yoga, basket making, and hymn singing, the heart and soul of the Festival is found in the campsites, where old time music provides a foundation for all kinds of straight-off-the-strings acoustic music (including Americana, cajun, Celtic, swing, bluegrass, Dawg, and even reggae), which in turn often spontaneously generate impromptu dancing and other festivities by the people gathered within earshot.

Though the Festival officially starts the Wednesday before the first full weekend in August, the grounds start filling up the weekend before with well-adorned campsites, many of which have music being played through the night. One of the Festival's unique features is the Neo-Traditional Band Contest on Friday, in which highest scores are given to bands that creatively extend the old time music tradition into other musical voices, instrumentation, and styles.

Over the years, the Festival has been frequented by accomplished Nashville musicians like John Hartford and Tim O'Brien and Leftover Salmon jam band leader Vince Hermann, legendary old time Appalachian musicians like Melvin Wine and Lester McCumbers, leading "second generation" old time musicians like Mike Seeger, Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Brad Leftwich, and Ira Bernstein, and the youngest generation of old time musicians like Jake Krack.

The Festival takes place each summer at Camp Washington-Carver, in Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia, United States and is sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Past winners[edit]

Open Fiddle Senior Fiddle Youth Fiddle Open Banjo Senior Banjo Youth Banjo Grand Champion Old-Time Flat-foot Dance Winner Old-Time Flat-foot Dance – 60 years and older Old-Time Flat-foot Dance – 41 years through 59 Old-Time Flat-foot Dance – 16 years through 40 Old-Time Flat-foot Dance – 15 years and under Neo-Traditional Band Youth Neo-Traditional Band Traditional Band Youth Traditional Band
2021 N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A)
2020 N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A) N/A (N/A)
2019[3] Nokosee Fields (Stillwater, OK) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Huck Tritsch (Milliheim, PA) Jake Blount (Washington, DC) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Nora Brown

(Brooklyn, NY)

Ruth Alpert (Santa Barbara, CA) Ruth Alpert (Santa Barbara, CA) Kathy Grabarczyk (Brooklyn, NY) Matthew Kupstas (Hickory, NC) Ola Moeckel (Floyd, VA) Ken and Brad Kolodner Quartet (Baltimore, MD) Ithassippi String Band (Ithaca, NY) The Ruglifters (Asheville, NC) The Rattlesnake Roasters (Frederick, MD)
2018 Henry Barnes (Washington Court House, OH) Betty Vornbrack (Hillsville, VA) Aila Wildman (Floyd, VA) Cathy Fink (Silver Springs, MD) Cathy Fink (Silver Springs, MD) Nora Brown

(Brooklyn, NY)

Gordy Hinners (Banner Elk, NC) Gordy Hinners (Banner Elk, NC) Ben Lieb (Concord, CA) Becky Hill (Ashland City, TN) Audrey Sementilli (Albany, OH) Take Two (Charlottesville, VA) Ithingtons (Ithaca, NY) Big Possum Stringband (St. Albans, WV) Joseph Riley (Hillsboro, WV)
2017 Rhys Jones (Warrenton, VA) Barb Kuhns (Medway, OH) Lillian Chase (Weaverville, NC) Micah Spence (Chattanooga, TN) Pete Peterson (Oxford, PA) Nora Brown

(Brooklyn, NY)

Hillary Klug

(Shelbyville, TN)

Phil Jamison (Asheville, NC) Susan Chalker (Sparks, MD) Hillary Klug (Shelbyville, TN) Luke Snuffer (Beckley, WV) Che Apalache (Clemmons, NC) Selin Brothers (N/A) The Onlies (Seattle, WA) Mud Hole Out of Control (Marlinton, WV)
2016[4] Jason Cade (Athens, GA) Pete Vigour (Crozet, VA) Andrew Vogts (Chadds Ford, PA) Bob Smakula (Elkins, WV) Pete Peterson (Oxford, PA) Joey Webb (Frankfort, KY) Phil Jamison (Asheville, NC) Phil Jamison (Asheville, NC) Maureen Reed Burke (Tullahoma, TN) Becky Hill (Elkins, WV) Luke Snuffer (Beckley, WV) The Early Mays (Pittsburgh, PA) N/A (N/A) The Moose Whisperers (Oslo, Norway) The Onlies, (Seattle, WA)
2015[5] Jake Krack (Marlinton, WV) Rafaello Stefanini (Elkins Park, PA) Andrew Vogts (Chadds Ford, PA) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) Marvin Gaster (Sanford, NC) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) Suzanne Ambrose (Kendal, Cumbria, UK) Rosie Davis (Palmerstown, Dublin, Ireland) Suzanne Ambrose (Kendal, Cumbria, UK) Gyasi Heus (Hinton, WV) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) Roochie Toochie & the Ragtime Shepherd Kings (Nashville, TN) The Psycho Exploding Orangutans (Chadds Ford, PA) Buffalo Gap (Swoope, VA) The Onlies (Seattle, WA)
2014[6] Aaron Olwell (Nellysford, VA) Dan Gellert (Dayton, OH) William Brauneis (Washington, DC) Bob Smakula (Elkins, WV) Dan Gellert (Dayton, OH) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) Sam Timmreck (Minneapolis, MN) Steve Green (West Fork, AK) Bill McGuigan (Hellam, PA) Sam Timmreck (Minneapolis, MN) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) No. 46-1/2 (Beckley, WV) The Gypsy Hoppers (Urbana, Ill) Bucking Mules (Durham, NC) Lost Hat (Berkeley, CA)
2013 Clelia Stefanini (Elkins Park, PA) Pete Vigour (Crozet, VA) Leo Shannon (Seattle, WA) Tim Bing (Huntington, WV) John Morris (Ivydale, WV) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) N/A (N/A) Kim Forry (Annapolis, MD) Jay Bland (Kennesaw, GA) Josephine Stewart (Charlottesville, VA) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) No. 47 (Elkins, WV) The Mario Brothers Three (Fisherville, VA) We See It, We Take It (Montrose, WV) Elm Street Alley Cats (Elkins, WV)
2012 Emily Schaad (Poughkeepsie, NY) Paul Brown (Winston-Salem, NC) Nina DeVitry (Columbia, PA) Mac Traynham (Willis, VA) Mike Kropp (Wyoming, RI) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) N/A (N/A) Rodney Sutton

(Marshall, NC)

Jay Bland (Kennesaw, GA) Sarah Josephine Stewart (Charlottesville, VA) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) Drunken Catfish Ramblers (Fayetteville, AK) Davy Jones’ Evidence Locker (Elkins, WV) The Bucking Mules (Jonesborough, TN) Lyin’ Lizzy and the Psycho Exploding Orangutans (Front Royal, Va)
2011 John Showman (Toronto, Canada) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Andrew Vogts (Chadds Ford, PA) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Rick Good (Spring Valley, OH) Victor Furtado (Front Royal, VA) N/A (N/A) Marilyn Branch (Kalamazoo, MI) Jay Bland (Kennesaw, GA) Becky Hill (Elkins, WV) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) The Fish From Within (Lancaster, PA) Banana Express (Winchester, VA) Ratchet Mountain Rock Farmers (Athens, OH) Psycho Exploding Orangutans (Front Royal, VA)
2010 Joseph Decosimo (Durham, NC) Lester McCumbers (Nicut, WV) William Brauneis (Washington, DC) Paul Brown (Winston-Salem, NC) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Edward Bennett (Penzance, Cornwall, England) N/A (N/A) Tom Ogden (Pittsburgh, PA) Ira Bernstein (Asheville, NC) Becky Hill (Elkins, WV) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) Haggard Hopefuls (Ephrata, PA) David's Nasty Toenail (Front Royal, VA) Big Foot (Marshall, NC) Guide Chickens (Washington, DC)
2009 Tatiana Hargreaves (Corvallis, OR) Lester McCumbers (Nicut, WV) Tatiana Hargreaves (Corvallis, OR) Adam Hurt (Kernersville, NC) Walt Koken (Avondale, Pa) Jesse Reist (Lancaster, PA) N/A (N/A) Daniel Butner (Winston-Salem, NC) Ira Bernstein (Asheville, NC) Josephine Stewart (Charlottesville, VA) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) Nora Jane Struthers and Her Band (Nashville, TN) N/A (N/A) The Bailers (Greenville, WV) N/A (N/A)
2008 Erynn Marshall (Gibsons, British Columbia) Walt Koken (Avondale, PA) Isaac Akers (Chapel Hill, NC) Tim Bing (Huntington, WV) Jimmy McCown (Hardy, KY) Corbin Hayslett (Amherst, VA) N/A (N/A) Thomas Maupin (Murfreesboro, TN) Ira Bernstein (Asheville, NC) Becky Hill (Elkins, WV) Rebecca Molaro (Asheville, NC) Special Ed and the Short Bus (Richmond, VA) N/A (N/A) The New Mules (Bloomington, IN) N/A (N/A)
2007[7] Mike Bryant (Harriman, TN) Jim Cauthen (Birmingham, AL) Meade Rickter (Sugar Grove, NC) Adam Hurt (Winston-Salem, NC) Walt Koken (Avondale, Pa) Frank Evans (Toronto, Canada) N/A (N/A) Thomas Maupin (Murfreesboro, TN) N/A (N/A) Ira Bernstein, (Asheville, NC) Molly McGuigan (Hellam, PA) Old-Time Liberation Front (Lancaster, PA) N/A (N/A) New Dixie Entertainers (Harriman, TN) N/A (N/A)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official site
  2. ^ Sounds from Clifftop (National Public Radio, 2005)
  3. ^[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ culturewv (2016-08-10). "Appalachian String Band Music Festival Announces 2016 Contest Winners". West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  5. ^[bare URL PDF]
  6. ^[bare URL PDF]
  7. ^[bare URL PDF]

3. Notes from a first timer, 2011


External links[edit]


Coordinates: 38°0′36″N 80°58′14″W / 38.01000°N 80.97056°W / 38.01000; -80.97056