Galax Old Fiddlers Convention – “Best All-Around Performers” Concert


Blue Ridge Music Center

700 Foothills Rd , Galax VA

Central ZONE
Crooked Road Concerts


7:00 PM

This concert is sponsored by Galax Moose Lodge #733. For more than 80 years each August, Galax Moose Lodge #733 has hosted many of the most talented old-time and bluegrass music performers to compete in the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention for prize money and the distinction of being judged by a panel of experts as the finest practitioner on particular instruments and styles. Of all the first-place winners on individual instruments, only one can claim the very highest honor each year – being named “Best All-Around Performer” of the Old Fiddlers Convention. For the first time ever, the Homecoming will bring these Best All-Around Performers together for a special concert at the Blue Ridge Music Center to celebrate the legacy of the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention. In addition to individual performances, this Who’s Who list of traditional artists will join together to perform as two stellar bands – one bluegrass and one old time. The all-star lineup of musicians includes Eddie Bond, Richard Bowman, Jake Krack, Nate Leath, and Ivy Phillips on fiddle; Victor Furtado and Ivan Overstreet on banjo; Scott Fore and Wayne Henderson on guitar; Aaron Williams on mandolin; John Hollandsworth on autoharp; Victor Dowdy and Martha Spencer on bass; and Leslie Dunbar on vocals.


Jake Krack – fiddle. A six-time Best All Around Performer at Galax (2003, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2015), Jake Krack is one of the most respected fiddlers in the U.S. As a child prodigy on the instrument, Krack, a native of Nicut, West Virginia, performed on two nationally broadcast radio shows, “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Mountain Stage,” and he subsequently won first-place in old-time fiddle at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention several times. In 1999 Krack was featured in The New York Times and in 2004 he appeared in the Public Broadcasting System documentary Soundmix: Five Young Musicians.

Eddie Bond – fiddle. Best All Around Performer at Galax in 2014, Eddie Bond is a soulful singer, a skilled fiddler, and a talented old-time banjo-player. A native of Grayson County, Virginia, Bond is a member of the legendary string band the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters, and his solo album Take Me Back was released by the Virginia Folklife Program.

Richard Bowman – fiddle. Richard Bowman, Best All Around Performer at Galax in 1993, is originally from Ararat, Virginia. Bowman has regularly performed with his family band the Slate Mountain Ramblers and solo at fiddler's conventions and dances in North Carolina and Southwest Virginia, and he has performed across the US as well as in England and Austria.

Victor Furtado – banjo. Victor Furtado grew up in a large musical family surrounded by classical, bluegrass, and old-time music. He started to learn the banjo at 9 years old, and shortly thereafter he had appeared on the "Woodsongs" radio show and on the Grand Ole Opry. Furtado has won numerous competitions, including the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival, the prestigious international Freshgrass competition, and 1st place clawhhamer banjo at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention in 2015 and 2016. He has developed a reputation for forging new territory with traditional banjo technique.

John Hollandsworth – Autoharp. A three-time Best All Around Performer at Galax (1992, 1993, and 1997), John Hollandsworth developed his own style of performing on the autoharp, utilizing chromatic and diatonic techniques. The inaugural winner of the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Competition, Hollandsworth was an inductee of the Autoharp Hall of Fame in recognition for contributions as an autoharp player, teacher, and builder. He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Martha Spencer – bass. Martha grew up on Whitetop Mountain, Virginia, as part of a musical family. Her parents, Thornton Spencer and Emily Spencer, ascended to lead the Whitetop Mountain Band after Martha’s uncle Albert Hash, a legendary fiddler and fiddle maker, had formed the group years before. Having learned to play and dance at very young age, Martha sings and plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, dulcimer, and bass. Martha has also been very active in passing on the music and dance traditions to youth in her local school and neighboring county schools.

Leslie Dunbar – vocals. From Eagle Rock, Virginia, Leslie Dunbar grew up singing original and traditional music at church, in school choirs, and with family and friends. Often singing to the accompaniment of her banjo-picking husband Lee Dunbar, Leslie enjoys singing Carter Family songs as well as songs with Irish origins. Leslie has been in the winner’s circle at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention in the folksong category every year since 1998, a remarkable feat.


Ivy Phillips - fiddle. Best All Around Performer at Galax in 2016, Ivy Phillips is a native of Chapmansboro, Tennessee. Having played fiddle since the age of three, Phillips has won several Tennessee state fiddle titles. She also plays the mandolin, guitar, bass, clawhammer banjo, Dobro, and ukelele, and is one of the top youth cloggers in Tennessee.

Nate Leath – fiddle. A native of North Carolina, Nate Leath at age 11 became the youngest winner of the adult bluegrass fiddle contest at the Galax Fiddlers Convention, and he was named Best All Around Performer at Galax in 1995. Studying jazz and composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Leath continues to play the fiddle in a broad range of styles and genres. He has served as a folk art master with The Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Ivan Overstreet – Banjo. Named Best All Around Performer in 1985, Ivan Overstreet plays numerous instruments including piano, organ, bluegrass banjo, Dobro, and fiddle. His first stage performance, at age 15, was with Bill Monroe when the regular guitar player with the Bluegrass Boys was unable to make the show. Ivan, 1st place banjo winner at the prestigious Union Grove Fiddlers Convention, has been an integral part of the Roanoke, Virginia bluegrass music community for many years including performing with B. G. Express, a band he helped form in the 1970s.

Wayne Henderson – Guitar. A lifelong resident of Grayson County, Virginia, Wayne Henderson is an acclaimed luthier and also a master finger-style guitarist. Twice named Best All Around Performer at Galax (1998 and 2000), Henderson has toured widely, including with several Masters of the Steel-String Guitar tours. He received the 1995 National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Initiated in his honor are the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition and the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts in Marion, Virginia.

Scott Fore – Guitar. Named Best All Around Performer at Galax in 2002, Scott Fore is an internationally recognized guitarist. In addition to being named Best All Around Performer at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, Fore has won the National Flatpicking Championship, the Doc Watson Guitar Championship, and the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Championship. The Folklife Program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities recognized Fore as a Virginia Master Folk Artist. He has published an instruction book and has released several albums featuring his skilled guitar playing.

Aaron Williams – Mandolin. Named Best All Around Performer at Galax in 2007, Blacksburg, Virginia-native Aaron Williams began playing the mandolin at the age of 9. By the age of 15 he began performing with the husband-wife bluegrass duo Kenny and Amanda Smith. Shortly afterward, the Smiths co-produced Williams’ first solo album Inside, which displayed his instrumental prowess on mandolin and guitar and featured his original compositions.

Victor Dowdy – Bass. Victor Dowdy, from Salem, Virginia, was a founding member of two bluegrass bands, The Bluegrass Playboys and The Bluegrass Brothers. The latter group in 2010 won the Best Instrumental Group of the Year Award from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America. With The Bluegrass Brothers, Dowdy recorded many albums, including Generations in 2014 and Lonesome Mountain Soul in 2016. Dowdy is an inductee into the Virginia Folk Music Association Hall of Fame.