The Highlander String Band is a collection of Rockingham County musicians playing traditional Appalachian Mountain music.  We play the Top Ten Tunes of the 50’s and 60’s – 1850 that is.  We play all types of music from instrumental dance tunes, such as jigs, reels, hornpipes and waltzes, to the slow, mournful and powerful tunes depicting the sorrow and tragedy of frontier mountain life.

We also include lots of songs that provide a vivid portrayal of the history of the early settlers throughout the Appalachian Mountains.   Members of the band have been collecting tunes for most of their lives and truly enjoy sharing their love of the music with you.

The band members include Jim Gaskins on fiddle and guitar, Phyllis Gaskins on Appalachian dulcimer, Brent Holl on guitar and Gene Bowlen playing clawhammer banjo, mandolin and octave mandolin.

HSB - Cover Photo - 960x717

Detailed Band Bios or – more than you ever want to know!!!
Phyllis and Jim Gaskins have been playing traditional music for over 35 years as a duo and in several bands.  In addition to performances at local folk music/craft venues, dances, and weddings, they have performed in concerts in North Carolina, Illinois, New York, Ireland, and Canada. They are featured performers on the concert CD Dulcimer Celebrations.

Phyllis Gaskins
  • Phyllis - 2014 - 2224x2848performer and instructor of the traditional Galax noter style of lap dulcimer playing style learned over 35 years ago from Galax dulcimer player and maker Raymond Melton
  • born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she learned the mountain style of singing from her grandmother and mother
  • numerous ribbons for award winning performances in dulcimer contests
  • three CDs: Traditional Dulcimer – Galax Style, Home Now, and Old Virginia
  • instructor at dulcimer workshops:  North Carolina; October Old Time Week, Davis and Elkins College, WVA;  New York; Illinois;  and Florida
  • co-director of the Ferrum College Crooked Road Dulcimer Festival, Ferrum College, VA
  • composer of songs and tunes with that “traditional” sound and educational children’s songs
  • Virginia Folklife Program Master Folk Artist 2010-2011 Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program
  • author of Galax Dulcimer: A Job of Journey Work which contains history of this old Virginia dulcimer style, basics of its construction, music notation/TAB for 40+ old Virginia fiddle tunes and an accompanying CD to aid in the learning of these tunes
  • soon to be released CD: Persimmon Frost

Jim Gaskins
  • Jim Gaskins - Fiddle - 2014 - 02- 2592x3888fiddle player and composer
  • other instruments include clawhammer banjo, bodhran, and mandolin
  • plays traditional Irish, Appalachian Old Time, and Scottish music
  • numerous ribbons from old time band competitions also include a 2nd place Old Time fiddle at Galax Fiddlers Convention 1980 and a  first place Scottish Fiddle at the Richmond Celtic Games 1995
  • learned from old time greats Luther Davis, Tommy Jarrel, and Albert Hash
  • studied in Ireland with John Kelly, Jr. and with Irish master of the fiddle Moira O’Keefe
  • studied with Cape Breton fiddle maestros John MacDougall and Buddy MacMaster
  • composes reels, jigs, hoe-downs, polkas, etc. with the traditional sounds of these genres
  • featured as accompanist on Phyllis’s 3 CDs playing fiddle, banjo, bodhran, and mandolin
  • 2013 recipient (Jim and Phyllis Gaskins) of the Highland County Fiddlers Convention “Recognition of Devotion to Old Time Music”  award

Brent Holl
Brent Holsinger - 3544x2835Brent is a professional folk singer, former member of the band Shen Fine, and now plays guitar and sings with the Highlander String Band. He and fellow band member, Phyllis Gaskins, collaborated on Phyllis’s wonderful dulcimer book, Galax Dulcimer – A Job of Journey Work, in 2012.  In the process, Phyllis discovered Brent’s interest in old time music and invited him to play with the Highlanders.
Brent also owns Beatin’ Path Publications LLC and Shen Fine Music, a publishing house dedicated to the development of high quality music resources for classroom music teachers in the design of Orff Schulwerk.  Shen Fine Music offers music to support Beatin’ Path Publications as well as recordings of fine folk music from the contemporary Irish band, Shen Fine; Phyllis Gaskins on Galax dulcimer; and the Highlander String Band.

Gene Bowlen

Gene Bolen - 2014 - 2592x3888Gene walked into a dance hall in Seattle over 35 years ago and was bitten by the “old-time” bug.  Ever since that night he has been chasing tunes and jams across the United States.  For the past 20+ years he has been playing clawhammer banjo in various bands in the Shenandoah Valley.  He was a member of the Port Road String Band, which included Jim and Phyllis, where he began adding mandolin tunes to his playlist.  Gene also holds down the sound duties for the band – we prefer to play sans electricity, but some venues require that added punch from amplification.  He provides both live sound reinforcement and studio recording capabilities when needed. See details on his sound equipment on the BeaRcade Music Production page.  Gene co-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered Phyllis’ latest CD – Old Virginia and the band’s recent cd release – Merriweather. Copies of the cds can be obtained directly from our Store.