Ernie Amabile got his first guitar for his birthday in 1970. A few years later, upon hearing Doc Watson flatpick Black Mountain Rag, he was moved by the raw energy embodied in a simple traditional fiddle tune. His love of fiddle music led him through Traditional Country and Bluegrass to the rich tones of Old Time Appalachian string band music. In addition to Doc Watson, he cites the music of the New Lost City Ramblers and Norman Blake as seminal influences in his approach to guitar. Along with Janet, Tim, Paul and Larry, he’s also a member of the Pine Hills String Band, a larger group of musicians that host Old Time jams at various venues in New York’s Capital Region.
Paul Draper, who grew up in Bethany, West Virginia, started playing guitar and banjo in the 70’s, and while in college played guitar in a bluegrass band. It was not until 2005 that he became serious about the banjo, and since then has devoted most of his time to it. He plays in the old-time “clawhammer” style as well as the related “stroke style” of the 19th century minstrel banjo players. In 2008 he was incorporated into the Pine Hills Stringband, and soon after that he joined forces with Janet, Ernie, Tim and Larry in the Loosely Wound Stringband. Some samples of his banjo playing can be heard here.
Janet Foster was exposed to Appalachian music in Kentucky, where she spent her early childhood. After living lots of places, appreciating a variety of music, and trying out various acoustic instruments, she returned to Albany and stumbled across the local Black Creek Fiddlers’ Reunion, an annual gathering of old time musicians. She never looked back. She now concentrates on old time fiddle and guitar, loving the rhythmic essence of the music and the experience of participating with other like-minded souls in shared music-making.
Tim Gage grew up in the northern most reaches of New York State. His first exposure to old time music was in the early 1960s learning to play guitar from Roger Goodson (son of Price Goodson who recorded with Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters), who at that time was an English Professor at St. Lawrence University. Later in the late 1960s and early 1970s Tim started playing clawhammer banjo with what meager information was then available to a northerner. After graduate school he gave up playing music for some 25 years only to return to the banjo in about 2000. He has been playing old time music in the Albany area with the Pine Hills and Loosely Wound String Bands ever since.
Larry Stallman grew up as a city boy in Queens, New York, listening to all kinds of music, getting little but sore fingers and frustration studying the Mel Bay guitar method, and finding solace on the local baseball fields. Larry continued to dabble in popular guitar folk music and blues and picked up the bass late in life. In addition to his interests in rock and jazz music, Larry discovered Old Time Appalachian string band music in lunchtime jam sessions with band mate, Janet Foster, when they worked together for the New York State Department of Mental Health. He was drawn to the infinite variety of engaging melodies provided by banjos and fiddles as they wove above the strong, rhythmic foundations laid down by guitar and bass. Larry also enjoys the sense of community shared with other like-minded, music-making souls.