The 2017 Seedtime Festival theme is "Tools of Culture", which will spotlight handmade and historical instruments from gourd instruments created by Pete Ross to dulcimers made in Hindman, Ky at the Appalachian Luthiery Studio of the Appalachian Artisan Center.
Pete Ross has been playing and building gourd banjos since 1991. He apprenticed under Scott Didlake of Mississippi, a folk musician and craftsman whose instruments can be heard on Rounder Records “Minstrel Style Banjo” CD. Joe Ayers and Tony Trishka used Didlake’s banjos for that recording. Pete studied under Didlake until Didlake’s death in 1994.
Since that time, Pete has continued his historical research into the roots of the banjo, refining his designs and materials as he uncovers more information about these primal instruments. He has made instruments for many respected musicians, including Joe Ayers, Bob Carlin, and West African musician Cheick Hamala Diabate. His banjos are also used by Rex Ellis in historical interpretation performances at Colonial Williamsburg and are found in several museum exhibitions including the Blue Ridge Institute’s travelling exhibit, “The Banjo in Virginia,” The Museum of Musical Instruments banjo exhibit in Brussels, Belgium; and at Appomatox State Court House, Appomatox , Virginia, the site of the Joel Walker Sweeney Historical Marker. Pete was an advisor to the curators of the "Birth of the Banjo" exhibit appearing at the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York and at the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington D.C. A Jubilee gourd banjo is the only reproduction banjo appearing in that exhibit as well as in the exhibit's catalog. Pete is also an accomplished player and instructor on the popular steel stringed banjo, and can be seen playing on the “Banjos Ringing” videotape.