The Bobcats include Nancy Sluys on fiddle, Jacki Spector on fretless banjo, Allin Cottrell on guitar, and Bill Sluys on bass. Based in Surry County, North Carolina, the band has played for many regional and nationally known dance events, fiddlers conventions, festivals, and concerts. Some of these include Augusta Dance and Old Time Weeks, MerleFest, Feet Retreat, the Eno Festival, Autumn Leaves Festival, FootMad, the Hometown Opry, the LEAF Festival, Blue Ridge Music Center, Galax Leaf and Strings Festival, and various square and contra dances.
Frequenters of local fiddlers conventions, the Bobcats can usually be found jamming into the night in the campground. They have placed in the top five at Galax, Clifftop, Elk Creek, Fries, and other fiddlers conventions. 2004 was a good festival year for the Bobcats. They made their presence known by placing fourth at Sparta and third at both the Elk Creek and Galax Fiddler's Conventions. The Bobcats have produced two recordings, Lady of the Lake and Dance By the Light of the Moon, and are working on a third project that should be released soon. Both recordings are sure to make you dance!
Allin Cottrell was born and raised in Scotland, but moved to North Carolina in 1983. He teaches economics at Wake Forest University, but can often be found playing old-time backup guitar or blues guitar and, when the opportunity arises, Cajun accordion. Allin first heard and fell in love with old-time stringband music via County Records re-releases of classic '20s and '30s recordings when they became available in Scotland in the mid-1970s. Listening to them inspired him to learn guitar. After coming to North Carolina, he was played guitar for many years with the Piedmont Hepcats (Ted Ehrhart, fiddle; Joe Newberry, banjo; Susie Crate, bass), a band which won many prizes at the Fiddlers' Grove festival and elsewhere. Allin joined the Pilot Mountain Bobcats after moving to Winston-Salem in 1989. Allin and his fiddlin' wife, Nancy Crooks, have appeared at various events around the state (including WPAQ, Mount Airy) as the Camel City Sheiks (sometimes including banjo players extraordinaire Todd Woerner or Tom Mylet). The Sheiks play stringband rags, blues, and "obscure" music from Mississippi and Alabama.
Jackie Spector has been playing music since the age of three when she first sat down in front of a piano. At fourteen she took up the guitar, got her first banjo in 1972, and was hooked on old-time music from that point on. She has performed with various dance bands through the years and has played with the Pilot Mountain Bobcats since 1989. She particularly likes the role of old-time banjo in accompaniment of fiddle tunes and in the dance band. She has been teaching music in one form or the other for more than thirty years.
Nancy Sluys has been playing traditional music since 1973 when she acquired a mandolin and started attending bluegrass festivals. The next year she discovered the haunting sounds of old-time music at the Galax Fiddlers' Convention. Taking up the clawhammer banjo, she quickly mastered it and returned year after year to Galax, eventually winning first place in 1995, 2002, and 2004. She has also won prizes at most of the major fiddlers conventions in the south, including second place at Clifftop and first at Elk Creek and Mount Airy.
Nancy met her husband, Bill Sluys, while living in Florida. As founding members of Horsehair and Catgut String Band, the then only old-time band in south Florida, they played from 1979 to 1983. Nancy alternated on banjo and fiddle in the band, while Bill brought up the bottom end on the washtub bass. While traveling to Virginia in the early '80s, Bill whipped the bass competition at both the Mountain City and Independence fiddler's conventions - winning first place and beating out all the upright bass players with his washtub.
In 1983 Nancy and Bill were married and moved to Greenville, North Carolina, where they joined the Too Wet to Plow String Band with fiddler Earl White and guitarist Charlie Pickford. They played many concerts and dances in the eastern part of the state and were the house band for the Green Grass Cloggers. In 1985 Bill and Nancy moved to musically rich Mount Airy, and soon after formed the Pilot Mountain Bobcats. The Bobcats have become well known in the area for their hard driving traditional style and danceable rhythms. Bill operates the Minglewood Recording Studio and is currently working on a new Bobcats recording as well as recording for other bands.
At concert's end, we'll take a refreshment break before several jam sessions and a song circle get underway. Listeners are welcome! Call 704-563-7080 with questions. Visit their website for more details about the band.
Charlotte Folk Society Gatherings are made possible, in part, through a Cultural Project Grant from the Arts & Science Council and the Grassroots Program of the North Carolina Arts Council.