performer, teacher, and researcher
Fiddler and banjo player Joseph Decosimo makes Old-Time music—the diverse set of repertoires and stylings made for dance and listening that coalesced in the Appalachian South and broader American South. Joseph presents this beautiful music in compelling ways, inviting listeners to encounter its creative power and unexpected complexities.
Rooted in the the banjo and fiddle traditions of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Joseph has shared his music with audiences around the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. A national Old-Time banjo champion and prize winning fiddler, he is regarded as a deeply knowledgable and powerful performer of this music. He currently performs in the Old-Time string bands the Bucking Mules and the Blue Ridge Broadcasters and in a trio with Cleek Schrey and Luke Richardson. Based in Durham, North Carolina, Joseph performs and teaches traditional music on the fiddle and banjo wherever folks are willing to listen and learn. Besides the many workshops at home and abroad, Joseph served on the faculty of East Tennessee State’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music program.
Beyond performance and teaching, Joseph has researched and written extensively about the music and the people who make it. He holds a PhD in American Studies and in MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation “Capturing the ‘Wild’ Note: Listening, Learning, and Connoisseurship in Old-Time Music” offers an ethnographic and historical exploration of Old-Time music making—listening, learning, recording, jamming—in East Tennessee and beyond, paying close attention to the role of sound technologies in this music.