We are happy to have our friend Ella Thomas join us on occasion. Ella is a fantastic fiddler and singer.
Ellaís relationship with her violin began at the age of four when she enrolled in the University of South Carolinaís
Suzuki program and with a private teacher in 2007. She continues to thrive as a classical student in this program
and the local Philharmonic Youth Orchestra until the present day. In 2013, however, her musical approach began to
broaden when she attempted to learn an arrangement that employed fiddling technique, but she encountered some
difficulties in mastering such a diverse style of playing without proper instruction. Fortuitously, an article in
The State newspaper featured an award-winning fiddler, named Ashley Carder, who frequented Billís Pickiní Parlor.
At the next available opportunity, Ella visited the Pickiní Parlor and met a regular, Van Price, who taught her a
few bars of a popular fiddle tune. Since then, Ella was able to meet Ashley Carder and has benefited greatly from
his expertise and insight. She also takes weekly fiddle lessons with Kristen Harris, another state-champion and
old-time musician, and continues to add folk and traditional melodies to her repertoire. She still plays classically
but performs regularly at church, Billís Pickiní Parlor, nursing homes, libraries, festivals, restaurants, jams,
and anywhere else the door of opportunity opens.
She is part of her family band,
The Thomas Family, together with her parents
and her two brothers. You'll definitely be delighted if you get to catch a show where you can
hear Ella's fiddling and singing!
Pete LaBerge - Traditional Square Dance Caller
Pete began calling dances in 1975 around Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA.
During the previous several years, he danced to and was influenced by the
calling of Bill Hunn and Chris Sanderson, long-time callers from the Brandywine
Valley area. Soon after, Pete began to travel to dances and festivals in VA, WV, NC and TN
to learn local dance styles and share dances with other callers.
In addition to hosting barn dances at his farm, Pete organized a
monthly Community Center Square Dance in Chester County, PA, in 1980 that
ran for 20 years. Pete's calling style emphasizes easy-to-learn figures that
encompass traditional community dance styles from New England down through the South.
Calls are incorporated with lively old time fiddle music with a goal of the dancers
feeling and moving to the music. He will often add humorous and topical rhyming
patter to suit the occasion. An award-winning clogger, Pete will demonstrate and
teach this rhythmic dance style on request.
Pete has been invited to call dances at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival,
Brandywine Mountain Music Convention, and The Appalachian String Band Music Festival,
among others. He has enjoyed teaching many school residencies that have introduced
square dancing to a new generation. Since relocating to Aiken County, SC in 2008,
Pete continues to call traditional square dances whenever and wherever requested.
Sarah Land and Ryan Knott
We partner with award winning classical musicians, violinist Sarah Land and cellist Ryan Knott, to offer services for events such as weddings,
where you may want classical music for your wedding service but a bluegrass band for the reception.
For a truly unique experience, we offer traditionally classical pieces with a bluegrass twist.
Visit our Listen page to hear our "down-home" take on the timeless classic, Pachelbel's Canon in D.
Ryan and Sarah are both graduates of the University of South Carolina School of Music.
Dr. Larry Klein - Dobro
Larry joins us occasionally on dobro whenever his busy schedule allows. He has been playing bluegrass music for over 40 years, and has been
a fixture on the South Carolina bluegrass music scene since the 1980s. He was a long
time member of Bill Wells and the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass, and can be seen playing with many local groups around the Columbia, SC area.
Larry is known to many
as the host of SC ETV Radio's weekly show, "The Bluegrass Sound", a job that he has held
from the late 1980s to 2016. Known as "Dr. Dobro" in these parts, he has long been an advocate
for bluegrass music in the Carolinas, and received South Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage
Award for bluegrass advocacy in 2004. In addition to being a master of the dobro, Larry also is
quite adept on the banjo and the guitar.
Anna Davis has been playing bluegrass music since
2005, when she was 13 years old. In addition to her guitar work, Anna is also an accomplished
banjo player. In 2008, when she was 16, she won the banjo competition at the Congaree Bluegrass Festival.
She has written numerous songs and played for several years during her teens with her sister Shellie
and other Palmetto Blue band members Chris Boutwell and Ashley Carder
in the band "Anna and Shellie Davis and the Unnamed Bluegrass Band". Anna is married and is the mother
of a sweet little girl, Gracie. She was a member of Palmetto Blue for over a year, and still lends
us her nice harmonies when she can. She provided some fine harmony and guitar work on our CD,
"Friday at the Pickin' Parlor".