Randy Wilson and Gabriel (Gabe) Dansereau are a father and son duo.
Appalachia is an area much-studied by musicologists, starting, perhaps, with Cecil Sharp in the years following World War I, and more recently a documentary was made with Davy Knowles visiting musicians in the area. Traditional Appalachian music is derived from the English and Scottish ballad tradition and Irish and Scottish fiddle music, but has developed as these met other musical traditions, including African-American blues, and the introduction of five-stringed banjo — one of the region’s iconic symbols — in the late 18th century.
Randy Wilson is a songwriter, performer, storyteller, and dance caller from Kentucky in the Appalachians. He served as folk arts director for 25 years at the Hindman Settlement School, an institution that has served mountain youth since 1902. He plays several different stringed instruments — guitar, autoharp, Celtic drum, and tells stories of his people in the mountains, but he specializes in banjo and banjo history, particularly banjo styles and tunes from Knott County. His repertoire includes original tunes, blues, children’s songs, gospels and spirituals and has recorded several CDs. He has represented the region at the Smithsonian festival and joined other mountain musicians in cultural exchanges with other communities.
Gabriel Dansereau is a fiddler and jazz guitar player who is a graduate from the University of North Carolina Greensboro School of Jazz. Whilst he is a composer, arranger and educator in a jazz context, Gabriel grew up in the rich old-time/folk music tradition of the Appalachian Mountains where he learned to play the fiddle at the age of 8. Using these skills, he began studying jazz at the age of 15. As a folk musician, Gabriel has performed at many events/camps in Kentucky. He has also performed for lecture classes with a focus in Appalachian Studies at the University of Kentucky, Davidson College and Centre College.
As well as leading this year’s lecture on the Music of the Appalachian Banjo, Randy and Gabriel will be performing at various events during the festival, including schools outreach workshops and they’ll be calling square dances at the Friday night ceili!