New look for Allegheny Drifters

Allegheny DriftersWhen Western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Drifters take the stage in 2017. Banjo player Jim Scott has left the group, and they’ve made a two-for-one swap, bringing in the husband/wife team of Michele Kirkby-Vance on fiddle and Radford Vance on banjo to fill his spot.

The Drifters have long wanted to add a fiddle to the band, and in Michelle they have a five-time state fiddle champ and a former member of the New Coon Creek Girls. She also fiddled on the first Daughters of Bluegrass album and, with Radford, performed for two decades with Northwest Territory in Ohio. Radford started young with the banjo, touring with both Carl Story and Hylo Brown as a teen, before launching his own group, Tradin’ Post.

The Vances join other Allegheny Drifters Bernie Cunningham on guitar and lead vocals, Bob Artis on mandolin, and Karen Artis on bass. Serious bluegrass fans may recall Mike’s name as the author of the first published history of our music, called simply, Bluegrass, in 1977.

Bob welcomed the two newest members enthusiastically.

Bob Artis“We’re really excited to have Radford and Michele with us.

Not only are they great instrumentalists, they’re also fine singers who will expand our vocal possibilities and add fresh original material. They will be a great addition to our show.”

Like many part-time professional bluegrass bands, the Drifters work primarily in regions close to their home in Pittsburg, PA. You’ll find them appearing regularly in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and northern West Virginia and Maryland. They’ve been together for 14 years and have a loyal following at festivals in those areas.

They will unveil the new band on January 14, 2017 at the 20th Annual January Ice Jam, a free indoor event in Butler, PA that benefits the Bluegrass Relief Fund. The Fund offers financial assistance to bluegrass musicians and their families in need and entertainers at the Ice Jam donate their time for the cause.

You can find out more about the Allegheny Drifters online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.