The Judges

2017 Judges


Dale Morris


Dale Morris has been playing and judging at our region’s fiddlers conventions for almost forty years. He also has been serving as a festival emcee for over a dozen years, and his experience as a musician, convention judge, and music historian gives him a unique background as a Master of Ceremonies.

Herb Key


Herb has played music for most of his life and has spent more than thirty years making, repairing, and restoring instruments. Herb can be found playing music, too. He is bassist with the Elkville String Band playing regional old-time and bluegrass music. Herb also performs with Wayne Henderson. Herb has won several ribbons in folk singing competitions at regional festivals and was recently inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

Instrumental Specialty: guitar, bass, bluegrass, old time

Butch Barker


Butch Barker is a known primarily as a bluegrass musician; he plays guitar, bass, fiddle, and he sings lead and harmony. Butch spends much of his free time picking informally with friends, performing with bluegrass groups, sound engineering at fiddlers’ conventions, and promoting the music of northwest North Carolina. Butch was a member of Rock Bottom Bluegrass Band for fifteen years and he currently performs with Creek Junction Band.

Instrumental Specialty: guitar, fiddle, bass, bluegrass

Randy Sheets


Randy Sheets grew up in Grayson County, Virginia surrounded by a musical family and community, and he began playing banjo as a teenager, steeping himself in the traditional music of the region. Randy, wife Deborah Jean, and daughter Kelly Sheets Snider perform oldtime mountain music together as The Sheets Family Band. Randy is an award winning flat-foot dancer and a regular performer at local and regional music festivals, concerts, and events.

Instrumental Specialty: banjo, guitar, old time, dance

John Turner

Lead Dance Judge

John Turner is from Boone and has performed and participated in all levels of competition for over twenty years.  His specialty is a cross between flat foot dancing and buck dancing.  John is also a familiar caller of dances in the area.  You can find him at the Todd Mercantile for their community dances on the ‘teenth Friday of each month.  He conducts workshops and teaches freshmen classes in traditional dance at ASU.