Five years ago, four students in the North Carolina Arts Council-sponsored Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program found themselves together in an advanced strings class with master fiddler Cecil Gurganus at the Jones House in Boone. Soon, Gurganus, Kathleen and Anissa Burnett, Willow Dillon, and Caleb Coatney were playing widely at festivals and dances across the region. According to Gurganus, “When they first started performing, there was not really any singing, and they took that name [Strictly Strings] because it was a fiddle band. But then I heard the Burnett sisters doing a little singing and it kind of got my ears perked up, and then it sort of morphed into a band that was not strictly strings.”
Rooted in old-time, bluegrass, Irish, and swing, the band values how traditions are passed from generation to generation, yet each also cherishes the freedom of pursuing their own musical inclinations and artistic tastes.
Gurganus has seen his students take great strides–so much so that they have become instructors themselves, with each member of Strictly Strings having taught their own classes in Boone’s JAM program.
High on a Mountain, the band’s first CD, is available for download on their website.