January 01, 1980 News & Features » Cover Story


If You Think Electric Is Blasphemy 

Many people believe that 1965 was a dark year indeed, when Bob Dylan betrayed his folk ancestry by using electrified equipment. Whatever the case, folk has marched on with its arcane practices, yielding performers like these, who continue to live without electricity and, perhaps, toasters.

Scott Fore


Sounds like: Someone who's been flat-picking in Doc Watson's company his whole life.

Why you should see him: The self-taught guitarist worked previously as a sound engineer for the festival and has racked up numerous awards for his autodidactic finger skills, including the 2002 National Flatpicking Championship, the 2002 Doc Watson Guitar Championship and, for a number of years, the Old Fiddler's Convention guitar contest.

When: Sunday 2:15 p.m. during "Guitar Traditions"

Hazel Dickens

Montcalm, W.Va.

Sounds like: Woody Guthrie meets the Coal Miner's Daughter.

Why you should see her: Born into a coal-mining family in West Virginia, Dickens has evolved a folk sound that incorporates the harmonizing of old-time and bluegrass with a protest songwriter's intolerance of sexism and unfair working conditions.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

Elizabeth LaPrelle

Smyth County

Sounds like: The best singing you'll hear on "A Prairie Home Companion."

Why you should see her: The 19-year-old sings unaccompanied (can't get less electric than that) Appalachian ballads, capturing the rhythm and emotion of mountain music as much as its history.

When: Sunday, noon, during "Mountain Voices: From Appalachia to Altai," and 5 p.m., "Ballads and Songs From the Blue Ridge to the Coal Fields."

Brien Fain


Sounds like: The kind of person you want to share a back porch with on a Sunday.

Why you should see him: Fain plays most things with strings, seems like, but the claw-hammer-style banjo keeps him busy, playing bluegrass ballads, gospel songs and high-speed mountain songs.

When: Saturday, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.

(See also The Quebe Sisters Band under "If You Wanna Dance.")

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