Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention
July 26-27, 2024

Ashe County Park: 527 Ashe Park Rd, Jefferson, NC 28640


Ashe County Arts Council is committed to preserving and honoring the musical heritage of our community, and what better way to do that than with a super weekend of music! Any proceeds from the Fiddlers Convention are used to support the Junior Appalachian Musicians Program or JAM.  JAM provides instruction at the Ashe Civic Center in fiddle, banjo and guitar for students in grades 3-8.

The 53rd annual Fiddlers Convention will be held at Ashe County Park July 26-27, rain or shine.  The weekend will be filled with individual instrumental and band competitions with $4350 in prize money for the winners, a Friday evening concert with The Whitetop Mountain Band and The Alum Ridge Boys with Ashlee, food, and good times for musicians and audience members alike.  

The Fiddlers Convention Kicks Off Friday Night with The Whitetop Mountain Band and The Alum Ridge Boys with Ashlee in Concert!

Enjoy an opening set with the Ashe County JAM students.

Friday Night Concert Schedule 

5:30 PM – Ashe County JAM Students
6:30 PM –The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee
7:30 PM– The Whitetop Mountain Band

The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee are torchbearers for dynamic, deeply grounded old time music. Their powerful harmony singing and energetic instrumentals have captivated audiences around the country and helped the band to win many awards including blue ribbons in the old time band contest at the 85th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, Virginia and the bluegrass band contest at the 51st Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention in North Carolina. Deep appreciation for traditional music enables the band to craft tasteful original songs and instrumentals that blend seamlessly alongside the classics. The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee cut no corners when it comes to real, hard hitting, old time country music – an approach that is gaining them loyal followers far beyond the reaches of their Virginia mountain home.

The Whitetop Mountain Band has entertained audiences for more than 40 years and originated with Albert Hash in the 1940s, a well-known and beloved fiddler and luthier. He was later joined by his brother-in-law, late master fiddler, Thornton Spencer, and Thornton’s wife, a singer, banjoist, and music instructor– Emily Spencer. Thornton and Emily’s children, Kilby and Martha Spencer, complete the band along with long time members Ersel Fletcher and Debbie Bramer.  Steeped in the mountain music traditions and a mainstay of the Appalachian dance scene, the band frequently plays venerable old time dance venues like the Carter Family Fold, the Floyd Country Store, the Fries Theater Square Dance, and others throughout Southwest Virginia. Over the years, the band has toured to festivals and performance venues across the United States, and has performed in premier festivals in Australia, Europe, and Canada. Their shows highlight a wide variety of mountain music traditions mixed with traditional country, originals, and high-energy flatfoot dancing.

About the Judges

Kyle Dean Smith is from Grayson Country, VA and has lived a life deeply entrenched in oldtime and bluegrass music.His father, Kyle “Snake” Smith, was a well-known and respected guitarist and banjoist in the region and played with many notable musicians such as George Pegram, Kyle Creed, Fred Cockerham, and Tommy Jarrell; this was Kyle Dean’s childhood. Kyle Dean is a multi-instrumentalist who was appeared on countless recordings with artists such as Martha Spencer and Kitty Amaral and performed with artists such as Kenny and Amanda Smith and John Hartford.

Kilby Spencer is an award winning fiddle player in both old-time and bluegrass styles as well as a sought after guitar player.  He has been playing old-time music for most of his life, learning from his parents, Thornton and Emily Spencer, who have been performing in the Whitetop Mountain Band for over 40 years. Kilby has also collected and digitized rare local recordings for many years and serves on the board of the Field Recorder’s Collective, who mission is to preserve and release rare field and home recordings. Kilby also formed his own award winning band over ten years ago, The Crooked Road Ramblers, who have played many prestigious venues such as The National Folk Festival, The Richmond Folk Festival, and Floydfest.

Having grown up in a musical family in New South Wales, Australia, Ashlee Watkins is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter whose powerfully unadorned vocals exhibit a refreshing directness of expression reminiscent of Maybelle Carter, Molly O’Day, and Hazel Dickens. She has been awarded a number of blue ribbons from fiddlers’ conventions around the Southeast for her folk singing and old-time banjo and guitar playing, and in 2021, her string band The Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee won first place at the 85th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, VA. In 2022, she completed a Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship with Floyd County master musician Mac Traynham. Ashlee has performed with Larry Sigmon and is a member of old time string bands The Mustard Cutters and The Crooked Road Ramblers.

About the Emcee

Dale Morris has had a long running history with old time and bluegrass music. He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and started playing music in 1974. After many years playing and then judging contests, Dale was asked to serve as an emcee at fiddlers’ conventions and bluegrass festivals. He emcees at most of the annual conventions held in SW Virginia and NW North Carolina nowadays, and he has been the master of ceremonies at the Ashe County Fiddlers since 2014.