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Straight Outta Appalachia

Master mandolinist Jeff Midkiff and young bluegrass artist Ashley Lewis combine their unique and diverse styles to create an exhilarating brand of string music.

Moving from mandolin to fiddle to clarinet with ease, Midkiff adds his knowledge of classical, jazz and western swing to each instrument. Getting his first mandolin at age 7, Midkiff started winning mandolin competitions around his Appalachian hometown before reaching his teens. A few decades later – after adding his skills to bluegrass bands and getting his Master's Degree in clarinet – he's still churning out music from his Carpentersville home base.

Midkiff's bandmate and young protégé, mandolinist Ashley Lewis, shares the passion for Appalachia. Though she hails from Sandwich, Lewis holds close her family's Kentucky roots. Adding a modern zest to a traditional sound whenever she plays with her band, Ashton Gap, she's comfortable crooning the bluegrass standards as well as penning powerful original songs.

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Listen to Ashley Lewis sing "Sterret's Last Run," a song she wrote after witnessing a boat accident on the Ohio River. Lewis is backed up by teacher Jeff Midkiff on violin, Don Stiernberg on guitar and Jim Cox on bass.

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See Jeff Midkiff, Ashley Lewis and friends jam on "Old Joe Clark" during 2005's Arts Across Illinois: CenterStage .

 

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Lewis and Midkiff perform on Arts Across Illinois: CenterStage in 2005.

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The CenterStage band: Don Stiernberg, Jim Cox, Ashley Lewis and Jeff Midkiff.

 

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