Who Is This John Schwab Fella??

       John's been playing old-time backup guitar for over four decades.  He’s played with loads of different fiddlers and banjo players, at fiddlers’ conventions and music camps, concerts and community dances, and in kitchens and living rooms.  

     Over the last couple of decades, John has anchored the rhythm sections of the Mostly Mountain Boys (who took 1st place in 2013 and 2nd place in 2014 at the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention) and the Hoover Uprights (two-time winners of the Traditional Band contest at Clifftop, in 2001 and 2003).  More recently, John teamed up with Virginia multi-instrumentalists Mac Traynham and Mark Campbell, performing as the Sunny Mountain Serenaders.  The Serenaders perform traditional old-time songs and tunes from all over the southeastern US, on fiddle, banjo, guitar, and harmonica.  

     Here are some of the festivals and music camps, from all over the US and in Europe, where John has performed and/or taught ...

•     Cowan Creek (KY) Mountain Music School

•     Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp

•     Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week (Mars Hill, NC)

•     Festival of American Fiddle Tunes

•     CROMA Festival (Berthoud, CO)

•     Handmade Music School (Floyd, VA)

•     Chestnut Creek School of the Arts (Galax, VA)

•     The Bluff Country Gathering

•     MBOTMA Winter Bluegrass Weekend 

•     Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center

•     Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

•     Gainsborough (UK) Old Time Festival

•     Santa Fe Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival

•     Dancing Bears Dance Camp (Wasilla, AK)

•     Chesapeake Dance Weekend

•     CDSS Pinewoods Camp (Plymouth, MA)

•     Merlefest

•     Austin String Band Festival

•     East Tennessee State University

     John's approach to teaching backup guitar has evolved over the years, but it’s always been rooted in his reverence for the master backup guitar players of the 1920s and ‘30s, the 78 rpm recording era.  In 2012, John published Old-Time Backup Guitar: Learn from the Masters, a book that reflects the way he teaches workshops and classes.  The response to this book has been overwhelmingly positive, with over 2300 copies sold (!) and enthusiastic reviews by critics and readers, alike.  


•     Into Thin Hair (The Sunny Mountain Serenaders)

          L-Century CD-1002 (CD; 2015)

•     The Spotted Pony (Spencer & Rains)

          Old Time Tiki Parlour 007 (DVD & CD; 2016)

•     The Mostly Mountain Boys

          L-Century CD-1001 (CD; 2013)

•     Red Clay Country (Paul Brown)

          5-String Productions 5SP-CD06002 (CD; 2006)

•     Known for Their Reputation (The Hoover Uprights)

          5-String Productions 5SP-CD05002 (CD; 2006)

•     Jeff Goehring With Friends & Family

          Field Recorders Collective FRC601 (CD; 2007)

•     Alive and Well and Fiddling (Allan Block)

          Living Folk LFR 104 (LP; 1977)

Photo by Jackie Burgess