Cary Fridley is an Appalachian singer, bassist, and innovative educator. Her style is rooted in tradition, and has evolved to embrace all styles of traditional country, blues, folk, and jazz. She is a published songwriter, recording artist, and bandleader, singing and performing in western North Carolina for over 25 years.  She is currently a member of the Adjunct Fine Arts Faculty at AB-Tech in Asheville, NC, and teaches old-time music at three regional JAM (Junior Appalachian Musician) programs, Buncombe County, Haywood County, and Madison County, and Traditional Classes for Adults at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.

Cary Fridley Music Today ~ Active Bands in Western North Carolina

The Sweet Dreamers – Only the songs of Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, and Wanda Jackson.  Cary on bass and vocals, Dave Perkins on guitar, and Steve Trismen on violin.

The Haywood Ramblers ~ Traditional Appalachian Music from Western North Carolina

The Haywood Ramblers play regional songs and tunes of Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian mountains.  Cary Fridley and banjoist Travis Stuart collaborate with area regional musicians to create a performance of Appalachian fiddle tunes, Baptist spirituals, banjo tunes, square dance hoedowns, traditional ballads, Carter Family songs that capture the spirit of the mountains.

Cary and DavePhotet:  Cary Fridley and Dave Perkins ~ Modern Jazz in Asheville, NC

Jazz guitarist Dave Perkins performs his original modern jazz compositions with the Cary’s acoustic bass, in the spirit of Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane.  Cary sings modern interpretations of classic jazz favorites, with a country swing song or two upon request.

The Ghost Walks – Pre-War (WWII) Electric Blues

Featuring Cary Fridley on bass and vocals, Jason Krekel on electric guitar and fiddle, Scott Sharpe on electric guitar and lap steel, and Dave Perkins on snare. Creepy mountain blues mixed with rockabilly and surf punk.  Jason Krekel – electric guitar and vocals, Scott Sharpe – electric guitar, lap steel, and vocals, Cary Fridley – acoustic bass and vocals, Dave “Rattler” Perkins – snare.  For mature audiences only, influences include Memphis Minnie, Junior Kimbrough, Guitar Gabriel, Sleepy John Estes, Willie Dixon, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and more.

Early Musical Influences

Born and raised in the Virginia mountains, Cary grew up around a strong bluegrass tradition and a rich musical culture. She sang in the choir at church and played the banjo as a teenager, later switching to guitar. Her parents provided classical piano and flute lessons, which led to a college major in music, and later a Masters in Music Education from UNC-Greensboro.  In North Carolina, Cary found the Mount Airy old-time fiddling scene, and played in  Sissy “T” and the Grownups old-time band for several years.  In Mt. Airy, Cary met champion fiddler David Bass, and began subbing in his band The Freight Hoppers on guitar.  In 1994 Cary officially joined this powerful new old-time band, and was a strong creative force during their rise to folk festival fame, singing and playing on 2 CD’s for Rounder Records. Her powerful old-time guitar rhythm and strong mountain voice made her a favorite in bluegrass and old-time venues throughout the US, Canada, and abroad. Cary left the band and moved to Asheville, NC in 1999 to pursue a solo project, learn to play the bass, and become part of the budding new music scene there.

New Millennial Shift ~ Expanding Traditional Genres in Asheville

Moving into the new millennium marked the beginning of a new creative period for Cary Fridley, and Asheville, NC was a powerful conduit of creative energy at the time.   In Asheville Cary established herself as a solo performer and band leader, releasing 3 albums over the next 10 years.  The singing on Neighbor Girl (2001) was compared to that of Maybelle Carter and Doc Boggs, two famous depression-era singers from the south.  Drawing from her solo performances with the Freight Hoppers, Cary’s first CD is a favorite among old-time ballad singers and southern Appalachian music audiences. In 2005, Cary recorded Down South, a collaboration with regional artists that represents the wider scope of Cary’s influences, branching into blues, songwriting, and electric country.  Asheville bands on that CD were The Lowdown Travelers (blues), 7 Mile Ford (old-time), and an early incarnation of Down South, Cary’s country swing band.  Down South debuted Cary’s first original song, “Cheatin’,” which led to an EP of all originals in 2007, Fare You Well. Her latest CD, Rainbow Mist, is a return to her mountain roots, a collection of traditional mountain ballads drawing from the Madison County, NC ballad singers Dellie Norton and Dillard Chandler. She was joined by Travis Stuart on banjo, and Mary Ellen Davis and Laura Blackley on harmony vocals.  As always, Cary played bass and guitar with many bands in Asheville during this time, collaborating on albums with One Leg Up (gypsy jazz), The Swayback Sisters (folk), Peggy Seeger, Trevor and Travis Stuart, and others.


I am truly thankful to have enjoyed a rich musical life so far, and that I can enjoy sharing different instruments, singing styles, and styles of music.  Thank you for supporting live music and for visiting my website.  For bookings, please visit the contact page and be sure to describe what you are looking for.

~Cary Fridley

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