Appalshop News

Seedtime 2020 will be socially distanced & one-of-a-kind

3 years ago

What if we told you that you could attend a music festival this summer headlined by Ralph Stanley? 

It’s true that Ralph Stanley passed away in 2016 after earning a reputation as one of the finest bluegrass musicians in the world. But it’s also true that Ralph Stanley will headline our annual music festival, Seedtime on the Cumberland, on June 6.

How? This year, we’re bringing you a Seedtime on the Cumberland lineup of Appalshop Archive exclusive performances.

Seedtime on the Cumberland has been a staple for old-time and bluegrass music since our festival started in 1986.

But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes gathering in-person this year simply impossible. 

So we’re doing things differently. This year, we are very proud to bring you a first-of-its-kind Seedtime, with recordings from the Appalshop Archive collection of tradition bearers like Ralph Stanley who have passed on as well as legends who are still working today, plus performances streamed in to you live. 

The result — a totally unprecedented, socially-distanced, and one-of-a-kind archival music festival.

Seedtime 2020 lineup



We proudly present our lineup in order of appearance on Saturday June 6 —

1 pm — Lee Sexton (still performing today), bluegrass music

with Phil Sexton (d. 2000) and Marion Sumner (1920 - 1997), bluegrass music

1:15 pm — Ethel Caffie Austin (still performing today), gospel music

with Hollis Watkins (still performing today), folk music

1:40 pm — Randy Wilson (still performing today), bluegrass

2:20 pm — Hazel Dickens (1925 - 2011), bluegrass music

with Gary Stewart (1944 - 2003), honkytonk music

and Clyde Davenport (1921 - 2020), old-time music

3:00 pm — Ralph Stanley (1927 - 2016), bluegrass music

4:00 pm — Walker Calhoun (1918 - 2012), Cherokee dance music

4:35 pm — Etta Baker (1913 - 2006)

with John Jackson (1924 - 2002), Piedmont blues music

5:30 pm — Amythyst Kiah (still performing today), roots

To say it's a star-studded lineup would be an understatement: Ralph Stanley, Hazel Dickens, Etta Baker, John Jackson, and Walker Calhoun all were named National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows, an award which recognizes artistic excellence as well as contributions to our nation's cultural heritage. 

And with the exception of Grammy-nominee Amythyst Kiah and bluegrass virtuoso Randy Wilson, all performances are exclusive to the Appalshop Archive collection, which contains thousands of hours of audio recordings and enough film to stretch from our building in Whitesburg, Kentucky all the way to Nashville, Tennessee — and still have some left over.



For the first time ever, Seedtime will be a virtual festival. There are lots of ways you can attend! The festival will broadcast here:

Seedtime on the Cumberland 2020 from Appalshop Archive on Vimeo.

 You can watch Seedtime2020 directly on Vimeo, or stream it on our Facebook page or our YouTube.

You can also listen to the festival live on our radio station, WMMT 88.7 FM, either through your radio or via their digital stream here.

Seedtime on the Cumberland on June 6  is and always will be free and open to the public. Since we started our annual music festival in 1986, Seedtime on the Cumberland has aimed to be a mirror for the vibrancy of mountain people’s contemporary and traditional arts and culture.

Thanks to our archivists, we're proud to present a Seedtime lineup made up of carefully preserved and curated performances by award-winning musicians: in this time of social distancing, we are very grateful to be able to bring people together virtually.

And at a moment of uncertainty about the future, we’re leaning on art and media to remind us of where our community has been, and where we can go — together.

Stay safe, stay well, and we’ll see you at Seedtime!

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