I first met the Wildmans near their home at a thing called Floydfest. They were strategically camped out beside the Virginia Folklife Stage, where they could experience the great concerts and workshops provided by The Virginia Folklife Program. Originally Inspired by traditional musicians at a local jam at the Floyd Country Store, Eli and Aila began studying with Mike Mitchell, a generous and well respected teacher in the area, and put forth effort to be where the music happens.
I got to jam with Eli and Aila between shows at Floydfest. I was very impressed with their skills and invited them to join my set later that day. We had a lot of fun then and the fun still continues. I've since had the privilege of presenting the Wildmans in numerous concerts. Their broad interests and adventurous spirit comes through in their playing styles. They'll try and succeed at anything set before them. It is a joy to play with such dedicated musicians. On top of keeping up with their studies in classical and other types of music, Eli and Aila attend traditional music festivals where they are frequently awarded for performances in their respective instrument contests.
The Wildmans have gained attention and support from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival, who is providing scholarships for some of the top music camps in the country. Eli and Aila are also participating in an apprenticeship with Master Artist Nate Leath that is sponsored by The Virginia Folklife Program and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
It's an honor to be part of this debut recording of the Wildmans which also includes young banjo phenomenon, Victor Furtado, and the incomparable Mark Schatz on bass. I look forward to hearing more great things from The Wildmans in the future!