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Surry Community to Hold Old Time Music Camp


Surry Community College is committed to preserving the area's rich heritage of old-time music. As part of that commitment, we are excited to offer the 5th Surry Old-Time Music Camp June 12-June 16, 2023 on our campus in Dobson, NC.

Join us for a week of music and fun led by the area's finest old-time and bluegrass musicians. This summer we are excited to bring back an excellent lineup of instructors, instrument classes, workshops, jams and the opportunity for students ages 10 to 110 to learn an instrument or sharpen their skills.

Students may choose a primary instrument and skill level to study for the week:
Beginner through advanced levels of:

  • Guitar
  • Banjo
  • Fiddle
  • Mandolin

Beginner students will participate in music fundamentals, singing, and dance workshops plus join in jam sessions.

Intermediate to advanced students will be given the choice to take the following classes:

  • Singing / Harmony Singing
  • Traditional Dance
  • Stand-Up Bass
  • Bluegrass Banjo
  • Round Peak Clawhammer Banjo
  • Bluegrass Jam
  • Old-Time Jam


The cost for the week is $100 for youth ages 10-17 and $150 for adults 18 and up. Additional children will receive a $25 discount off the ticket price.

Youth scholarships may be available, please inquire before your register.

A limited number of loaner instruments are available for students who do not have their own. Please indicate this on your registration.

Would you like to help a youth attend camp this summer? Click the button below to make your contribution online. Choose the donation option on the ticket to give any amount you choose. You may also call 336-386-3206 to make your payment over the phone. One hundred percent of your gift will fund youth scholarships for the Surry Old-Time Music Camp.

Surry Community College is proud to offer this camp sponsored by the Wright Traditional Music Fund and Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation.

Food & Lunch

Lunch will be provided each day in the Knight's Grill where students will be given the choice of some delicious lunch combos or a trip to the fresh salad bar.
Students are encouraged to bring their own snacks and/or money for the vending machines and additional items in the Knight's Grill.
On Friday we will have a pizza party with invited guests after the student concert.

Note: Students with certain food allergies and dietary restrictions may need to bring their own food. Please inquire about lunch options if more information is needed.


Marla Carroll

Caroline Beverley

Caroline Noel Beverley has been playing old time, Celtic and klezmer music since 2005. She teaches mandolin, singing, guitar and string band classes at Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) in Sparta, NC and at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC. She is the mandolin player for the award winning Virginia based old time band, the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters. Caroline also plays her original music with a number of North Carolina based bands.

Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis as an award winning guitar and banjo player from Todd, NC. He is one of the most respected acoustic musicians in the country. He is a national champion flat pick guitar player and a two-time national champion on the banjo.

Steve starting playing guitar at a very early age. By the time he was 7 years old he was spending most of his spare time picking the guitar and by the age of 10 he was playing the banjo. Steve spent much of his childhood playing for local festivals and restaurants. At the age of 12 he was playing for the Daniel Boone Cloggers and performing at the Opryland in Nashville.

Over the years he has played with many bands including: Vintage Blend, Ric-O-Chet, Last Run, and most recently, the Jeff Little Trio. He continues to travel throughout the country playing, competing, and winning at festivals and competitions.

Steve is in high demand as a teacher and has produced contest winners who have gone on to be successful professional musicians and recording artists.

Mecca Lowe

Mecca Lowe

Mecca grew up in rural northwest Georgia and first found North Carolina old time music as a student at Appalachian State University. She enrolled in a course at ASU that taught students introductory fiddle or banjo and is still taught today. After learning the basics of fiddle, and making a few friends who were also learning old time music, she began on a decade-long journey to learn the instrument and the music.

Mecca married her college sweetheart, Adam Lowe, a self-taught banjo, guitar, and fiddle player, and together they learned many tunes, played in a few bands, and currently play music together in their home and with friends. She favors the Surry County styles of Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham and loves a good fiddle-driven jam.

Mecca teaches a straight forward Surry County style of fiddle playing which students should soon learn comes from hearing the music, not seeing the music. Students will learn several common tunes and patterns of playing in the keys of A and D during the Surry Old-Time Music Camp.

Ralph McGee

Ralph McGee

Ralph McGee is a multi-instrumentalist from a long line of Stokes County old-time musicians including his grandfather, Ralph “The Old Timer” McGee, a renowned fiddle player from the area. He recalls his grandfather “used to carry us around to fiddler’s conventions and anywhere there was music being played when we were kids.”

Ralph has owned and operated the King Music Center in King, NC for the last 20 years. There he teaches students of all ages how to play a variety of instruments. Many of his students have gone on to place in fiddler’s conventions and play in bands. Ralph, himself, continues to compete and place at area fiddler’s conventions. He currently plays mandolin in the traditional bluegrass band, GoodFellers.

Chester McMillian

Chester McMillian

Chester McMillian was born in Carroll County, VA and his family eventually settled just across the border into Surry County, NC. He was fortunate to grow up in a musical family and has been playing music since he was a young boy. Chester plays mandolin, banjo, and a little fiddle but the guitar is his instrument of choice and one he has his own unique style of playing.

In 1962 Chester married Polly Freeman, the daughter of Dix Freeman, a local banjo player, and the two began playing and performing together. It was during these years that Chester was introduced to Tommy Jarrell, a renowned local fiddle player. Originally a fiddle player himself, Chester spent many afternoons on Tommy’s porch where he quickly found out a guitar player was in the most demand. He soon began accompanying Tommy backing up fiddle and banjo tunes on the guitar. Through the 70’s and 80’s Chester traveled with Tommy and accompanied him for performances and festivals around the country. He also played and appeared with him in the 1983 documentaries, Sprout Wings and Fly, Julie, and Tommy’s Fiddle.

In addition to his work with Tommy, Chester has recorded multiple albums and played with various musicians and bands over the years including: Benton Flippen, Fred Cockerham, Dix Freeman, Charley Lowe, the Shady Mountain Rambler with Whit Sizemore, and Back Step with Greg Hooven and Bill Mansfield, just to name a few.

Chester is a true legend, himself, and has a passion for keeping the tradition of the Round Peak style of old-time music alive. He has worked closely with the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History to build the museum’s old-time music collection. He has taught countless young musicians over the years who have gone on to be successful musicians. Chester continues to teach lessons to kids and students of all ages in his community. What he earns from lessons he gives right back to the children in his community by funding the backpack food program in the schools. Chester teaches music at the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax and is also in demand as an instructor for music camps and festivals across the country.

Emily Spencer

Emily Spencer

Emily Spencer has been playing music since her childhood in Arlington, VA, where she started out on fiddle, piano, uke and guitar, as well as singing and song writing. She came to southwestern Virginia in the early 70's as a college student at UVA-Wise (Clinch Valley College) in pursuit of traditional mountain music. She met Thornton Spencer in 1975 and began a new incarnation of the Whitetop Mountain Band, which continues to this day through many life changes.

She began teaching mountain music in 1980 in a community music program they formed in Whitetop, VA. From that, she started working along with the late Albert Hash and the late Thornton Spencer at Wilkes Community College teaching claw-hammer banjo in Jefferson, Sparta and Wilkesboro, NC.

In 1982, a traditional music program was started at Mt. Rogers School. She has been involved in teaching there since its inception. The program is now in Grayson County schools at Grayson Highlands and Grayson County High School. Eddie Bond and Martha Spencer are also current instructors.

She has taught fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer and bass in the school system and is a certified PK-12 instrumental music teacher. She has also been teaching for the past few years through Wytheville Community College at their Crossroads location in Galax, Virginia.

Martha Spencer

Martha Spencer

Martha grew up on Whitetop Mountain, Virginia, as part of a musical family. Her parents, Thornton Spencer and Emily Spencer, ascended to lead the Whitetop Mountain Band after Martha’s uncle Albert Hash, a legendary fiddler and fiddle maker, had formed the group years before.

Having learned to play and dance at very young age, Martha sings and plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, dulcimer, and bass. Martha has also been very active in passing on the music and dance traditions to youth in her local school and neighboring county schools.

Meredith Wilkerson

Coming soon.

Contact Sonnie Hardy at (336) 386-3229 or for more information.

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