The Crooked Road Ramblers play traditional old time dance music from the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Most members of the band are second and third-generation musicians who now play old time mountain music influenced by their families and communities. The Ramblers have played at Houstonfest, the Albert Hash Memorial Festival, the Wayne Henderson Festival, and of course at the Fold. They have won first plast in the old time band category at Ashe County, Alleghany County, Laurel Bloomery, Fries and the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention in addition to being named the old time instrumental group of the year at the 2014 Blue Ridge Acoustic Uprising.
Kilby grew up in a musical family. His parents are Emily Spencer and the late Thornton Spencer of the Whitetop Mountain Band – a band that has performed for over four decades. He’s been playing old time music most of his life, learning from his parents. Whitetop is one of two original bands who have played at the Carter Fold since shows began in the A.P. Carter Store in 1974. Kilby counts Johnny Miller, Dean Sturgill, Otis Burris, G. B. Grayson, and the recordings of Albert Hash as influencing his career. He has collected and digitized rare local recordings for many years and serves on the board of the Field Recorder’s Collective whose mission is to preserve and release rare field and home recordings. Kilby started the Ramblers in hopes of carrying on the driving southwest Virginia “big” band sound that makes everyone want to hit the dance floor. Seeing Kilby fiddle will bring back fond memories of Thorton’s fiddling. He’s every bit the strong, mountain fiddler his father was.
Kelley Breiding propels the band forward with her clawhammer banjo playing and high-powered vocals. Kelley has won many blue ribbons for her banjo playing and also leads her own traditional country music group, Kelley and the Cowboys.
John Perry plays guitar and sings. He grew up playing with his brothers Buck and Arnold in a band called the New River Ramblers – which also featured Thornton Spencer, Jerry Moretz, and James Burris. They were frequent prize winners and they were favorites of dancers throughout the region for most of the 1970s until they later disbanded in the late 1980s. John’s guitar style gives the band much of its’ unique, driving sound. “High Lonesome” describes John’s singing very well.
Donald Hill is one of the foremost rhythm guitar players in the Blue Ridge in addition to being a wonderful vocalist. Growing up in a musical family, his father was Leon Hill, a well-known guitar player who played with the Whitetop Mountain Band, Fred Cockerham, Glen Smith, and many others. Donald took up playing at an early age and has passed his talent on to his two sons. Donald’s rhythm is like a wall of sound, and he makes it easy to play for any musician he backs up.
Karen Carr plays bass and also sings for the band. She has won the Barbara Poole Memorial Bass award for best old time bass player at Galax twice and has rock solid rhythm in addition to wonderful runs. She comes from a musical family, being a descendant of old time fiddlers Fred Cockerham and Wilson Ramey, both legends from the Low Gap, North Carolina area. Karen is always in high demand to play bass with both old time and bluegrass musicians and makes any band sound better when she steps in with her strong rhythm.
Wayne Dye plays mandolin and sings for the Ramblers. Wayne can play pretty much anything with strings on it, and he sings many vocal parts. He also grew up in a musical family. His father, Scott Dye, was a well-known banjo player who could play both clawhammer and bluegrass style banjo. Wayne, his father, and Trigg Fields were members of the Russell County Boys, a very popular band at dances and at fiddlers’ conventions. The Russell County Boys played the Fold the first weekend in 2006 after Janette Carter’s death.
Don’t miss Kilby Spencer and the Crooked Road Ramblers at the Carter Family Fold. It will be an evening of down-home entertainment. Bring along your friends and your dancing shoes! Kilby literally grew up playing on the stage of the Carter Fold, and he knows exactly what Fold audiences expect. He delivers just that in the style his family always has. For more information on the Crooked Road Ramblers, go to their site at https://crookedroadramblers.com/
Carter Family Memorial Music Center is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic mountain music. The center is a family-friendly, drug and alcohol free venue. In addition to the performance area, they also maintain the Carter Family Museum and the A.P. Carter birthplace cabin. Both are historic landmarks and are open from 6-7:30 p.m. and later at performance intermission on Saturdays. For more information on the center, go to their site: www.carterfamilyfold.org/.
Partial program funding for shows at the Fold is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Virginia Tourism Corporation. To access recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. They can be found on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – @carterfoldinfo. To speak to a Fold volunteer staff member, call 276-594-0676. The Center is only open Saturday nights and other days on occasion for select, special concerts.