Aug. 15, 2014 – Cheatham Hall’s favorite musician, Kathie Hollandsworth, support technician for the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and her band recently helped kick off the Crooked Road Festival celebrating mountain music in a sold-out performance at the Moss Arts Center’s new 1,260-seat auditorium.
Hollandsworth, who sings and plays bass and hammered dulcimer with the band Mountain Fling, has been performing at festivals, conferences, and even cruises with her husband, John, for over 30 years. The couple also performs with Katie and the Bubbatones, an old-time dance band.
A college employee for the past three decades, Hollandsworth has performed old-time, Appalachian, and Celtic music at numerous college conferences and gatherings, including the annual spring graduate student picnic, with both Mountain Fling and Katie and the Bubbatones. Surprisingly, she didn’t have mountain music in mind when she earned an undergraduate music degree and a master’s in piano performance at Radford University in the 1970s.
“I ended up teaching piano privately to as many as 30 students,” she says. “I still direct the handbell and youth choirs at Christiansburg Presbyterian Church. I became interested in the hammered dulcimer in the mid-1970s. John and I began performing folk music together publicly when he was invited to play autoharp at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville.”
Since then Kathie has won ribbons at the Galax Fiddlers Convention and been named “Best All-Around Old-Time Performer” at the Maury River Fiddler’s Convention. She teaches hammered dulcimer workshops at regional festivals, while John, an acclaimed musician who both plays and builds autoharps, gives workshops on his instrument.
The two have performed before thousands at festivals across the country as well as for student groups and private parties for caravans of Hokie fans. On stage they’ve suffered bee stings, skunk stench, and an unwelcome appearance by a copperhead snake. They’ve played in England, California, and Oregon, and spend many weekends on the road, but their longest running gig is at Roanoke Mountain Campground, 20 miles from home.
“The college has been so flexible and understanding of my travel schedule,” Kathie said. “I really lucked out when I got a job here.” For performance schedules, photos, and CD ordering information, visit www.blueridgeautoharps.com/Performers.html.