Randy Wilson is a 5th generation eastern Kentuckian who has worked for the Hindman Settlement School since 1988, teaching Appalachian folk songs, dances, and stories for secondary students in the region. He also calls square dances from here to kingdom come. He is retired from the settlement school, yet continues to call dances, teach banjo or dulcimer, and perform in a wide variety of venues from festivals to house concerts.
Randy began his musical journey by searching some of the old time banjo pickers of eastern Kentucky such as Lee Boy Sexton, Coy Morton, Roscoe Holcomb, Austin Miller, and Marcus Howard in the late 1970s.
Randy continued as a multi instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, dulcimer, and concertina along with several rhythm instruments like the djemba drum, spoons, bones, and jaw harp. Most of his focus has been on the old time banjo, playing period banjos from West Africa to Appalachia. By invitation from the Smithsonian in Washington DC, he played on the national mall with musicians from Africa to Scotland to Appalachia illustrating the journey of folk music in the southern Appalachians. He has played in cultural exchanges: with Latino culture in San Antonio, native culture in Alaska, Puerto Rican culture in the Bronx, NY. Randy has also played for students at the University of Rome, Rome, Italy and the Celtic festival on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. Locally, he has performed at the Appalshop Seedtime on the Cumberlands, the Hindman Settlement School Family Folk Week, and the Great American Dulcimer Festival. Randy serves on the board of advisors for Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, a week long workshop that preserves tunes from eastern Kentucky. He taught banjo there for 14 years and now visits classes as a visiting artist with stories behind the music of the region.
Randy writes songs, many of which are influenced by the blues tradition. You may find his recordings online at Spotify, Tik Tok, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, or Google Play. Albums include Banjo Journey (banjo songs on ngoni, akonting, fruit cake tin banjo, 1880 fretless banjo) Get Up You Tugboat (Original children’s songs), Dirt Road, Dark Night (original mountain blues), and a Christmas collection of traditional and original songs.
On many performances across the country Randy is joined by his son, Gabriel Dansereau on fiddle and guitar. Gabriel is a trained jazz musician, but also learned old time fiddle at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music school.
We invite you to listen to some of the selections from his work on this website. You may also watch some video tutorials on the banjo and the dulcimer. Or better still, get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a performance in your community.