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Tim Eriksen & Riley Baugus

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Riley Baugus and Tim Eriksen traveled very different routes to traditional American music.

Baugus (pictured) grew up in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by and breathing the old-time Appalachian music.

Eriksen came to the old-time tunes by way of punk rock.

Tim Eriksen plays banjo, guitar, and fiddle, and is known primarily for his powerful voice and abilities as an innovator and leader within American shape-note singing traditions.

He started out playing Indian music on the vina, a seven-stringed traditional instrument similar to the sitar. He later became lead vocalist for the punk rock band Cordelia’s Dad.

Improbably, the band also played northern Appalachian music, and in 1995 compiled an all-acoustic album. They began going to more fiddlers’ and old-time music conventions, which deepened their love for the traditional mountain music.

“I just got more and more drawn into this nineteenth-century stuff,” Eriksen says.

But he found that not very many people knew the old songs.

He had to seek them out in order to learn them and pass them along, pointing out that “me and Riley are probably the only people under seventy who sing some of them.”

Baugus grew up surrounded by traditional southern Appalachian music. The music was played, and continues to be played, at the autumn and coming-of-spring festivals.

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