STEPHEN BLAND – Stephen Bland was trained as a classical guitarist, singer and dancer at the Barley School of Music in Rochester, NY. After retiring from a career in dance, he was exposed to the music of the southern Appalachians while conducting graduate research in North Carolina. He began studying “banjar” with Dwight Diller in Brown’s Creek, West Virginia and is the only student known to have survived an entire week one-on-one with the old master! After returning to Rochester, he soon connected with Kathy Vandemortel and the two began playing and traveling to festivals together.
KATHY VANDEMORTEL – Look in her music room and you will see the walls lined with a variety of guitars, banjos in every form, mandolins, a piano, a bass, a multitude of pennywhistles, recorders, a harmonica and even a Middle Eastern dumbek. It was in 1989 when Kathy first heard a live string band playing Appalachian old-time tunes that she was infected with fiddle fever. In those early days she began spending most of her free time at fiddle camps, workshops, festivals and jams learning tunes and picking up tips from others. Over the many years since then she has performed and played for dances across all of New York State, and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Kathy has taught fiddle and old-time workshops for music clubs and music festivals, as well as private fiddle lessons. She has been hosting a twice-monthly old-time jam session in her home since 1992 and gave the old-time community in Rochester, NY its birth.