What began as friends playing music together in the mountains of West Virginia quickly developed into one of Appalachia’s hottest Old-Time Stringbands. Officially forming in the Winter of 2017, Big Possum Stringband was first comprised of Tessa Dillon, Henry Barnes and Evan Collins, with the addition of Seth Swingle in early Summer 2018. With all members being well-known award-winning individual musicians, the music that Big Possum makes as a group shouldn’t be missed! Being firmly rooted in old-time music, The Possum’s repertoire ranges from both driving and traditional fiddle tunes, to early bluegrass and country numbers that’ll have you up and dancing.
Our latest achievements: Big Possum Stringband won 1st place in the 2018 old-time stringband contest at Clifftop! In addition to the band contest, Henry and Tessa both placed in the 2018 Clifftop fiddle contest. Tessa won 3rd, while Henry won the big first place prize! After Clifftop, we headed to the Galax fiddlers convention where Big Possum won 5th place in the old-time band contest.
The Band Members
Evan McBrayer Collins - Newark, OH
The guitar player for Big Possum, multi-instrumentalist Evan Collins, is from Iron River, Michigan. Now living in Newark, Ohio, Evan is a luthier making fiddles and repairing instruments. In addition to playing guitar, Evan is also a force to be reckoned with in the banjo world. Drawing inspiration in everything from Roscoe Holcomb, Lee Sexton and John Salyer to Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Evan is the glue keeping Big Possum’s sound solid and tight.
Seth Swingle - Charlottesville, VA
The newest Possum to join the passel is multi-instrumentalist Seth Swingle. He has been a finalist in the in the renowned Appalachian Stringband Music Festival (aka Clifftop) for the past four years, and is a 2-time Virginia State Banjo Champion. He plays a variety of archaic regional banjo styles (clawhammer, index- and thumb-lead 2-finger, up-picking and 3-finger) on everything from mandoline-banjo to 6-string banjo, and every banjo in between! He has also spent several years in West Africa studying the kora, a 21-string harp. As one of the few Westerners to have learned the kora in a years-long apprenticeship, Seth is uniquely situated as an ambassador between musical cultures.
Tessa Dillon - Charelston, WV
Hailing from an area with a strong tradition in fiddling is Tessa Dillon, from Saint Albans, WV. She’s been playing fiddle in West Virginia since she was 5 years old. Her driving style has helped her win 1st place at the Vandalia Gathering, Ed Haley Memorial Contest, Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and Elmer Rich Memorial contest, as well as placing 3rd at Clifftop, the Galax Fiddlers Convention and the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship in Nashville, TN. She released her first solo album, titled It’s Hard to Love, in Summer 2018 with Kim Johnson on banjo and Jesse Milnes on guitar. It’s currently available on CD Baby. She is happy to be keeping the West Virginia fiddling tradition alive and strong.
Henry Barnes - Washington Court House, OH
Henry, from Washington Courthouse, Ohio, was actually first pushed towards being a country musician. He fell in love with old-time music after meeting prominent West Virginia fiddler Bobby Taylor. He has been fiddling for over 20 years and has won contests in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, most recently winning the 2018 Clifftop fiddle contest, the West Virginia State Folk Festival and the Henry Reed Memorial Contest. He has also placed 2nd in the Traditional Division at the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship, and placed in the top 5 at the Galax Fiddlers convention.