Breakin’ Up Winter XXVI

March 2-5, 2023

Scheduled Presenters & Performers

Breakin' Up Winter XXVI is back on for 2023!!

We are excited to announce that Breakin' Up Winter will be held at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park on March 2-5, 2023.

We have wonderful performers in our lineup and are looking forward to seeing everyone again after having to cancel 2 years in a row. Please check out the bios below to our amazing performers that will be joining us in 2023.

We encourage everyone to register early so we can make this the best Breakin' Up Winter ever!


Joseph Decosimo, Luke and Lisa Richardson

Breakin’ Up Winter XXVI is bringing some members of the fabulous The Bucking Mules to our 2022 event to entertain, teach and inspire. Joseph Decosimo and Luke Richardson will both be with us, sharing authentic Southern Appalachian old-time tunes and techniques for fiddle, banjo, guitar, and harmonica.

The Bucking Mules bandmates are Joseph Decosimo: fiddle, banjo, vocals; Luke Richardson: banjo, harmonica; Karen Celia Heil: guitar, vocals; Joe Dejarnette: bass. The group has recorded two CDs:

Joseph Decosimo (accompanied by Reed Stutz)

Raised in the rich traditional music community around Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Joseph Decosimo is a leading performer of Old-Time fiddle and banjo music. Joseph is a traditional musician and folklorist with a deep respect and love for the older sounds of his home state, Appalachia, and the broader American South. His Old-Time fiddling and banjo playing have introduced listeners around the US, UK, Canada, and Australia to the richness and vibrancy of the region’s musical traditions. Based in Durham, North Carolina, performs Old-Time fiddle, banjo, and songs anywhere people are willing to listen.

A national Old-Time banjo champion and prize winning fiddler, Joseph 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. 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.

In addition to The Bucking Mules recordings, Joseph has recorded these CDs:

For more information on Joseph Decosimo, visit

Luke & Lisa Richardson

Luke’s music rolls with the arresting and subtle beauty of the hills around his farm in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. With an intuitive ability to match chops on the fiddle, banjo, and harmonica, Luke pushes the music along with grace, ease, and drive. A practitioner of multiple styles of old time banjo, Luke explores the potential of the banjo in a strikingly creative and regionally-informed way. His banjo playing has earned him two National Old Time Banjo Championships. His fiddling, ace harmonica playing, and singing bring texture and range into the Mules’ performances. A cosmopolitan old time musician who has been a key feature of old time scenes from Brooklyn to the UK, Luke is an in-demand performer and teacher.

Luke is hoping to bring his talented wife Lisa who is also highly skilled on old time fiddle, banjo and guitar, to assist with workshops and performances. Lisa adds the perfect touch to every tune she plays.

In addition to his recordings with The Bucking Mules, Luke appears on this CD with Jody Kruskal

For more information about Luke, visit his Facebook Page or Patreon Page.


Bob Townsend

On the map of territories harvested for American fiddle tunes, the Tennessee-Alabama border where the Cumberland Mountains cross the state line has barely registered. Lucky for us, Bob Townsend, an exceptional fiddler and a lifelong resident of the region, has been listening for the past 30 years, learning the tunes of his neighbors and their ancestors. From Coalmont, Tennessee, Bob’s well known for his steady hand, smooth delivery, and powerful repertoire. In 2019, the Grundy Area Arts Council named him Director of their Grundy JAM Kids, a program to introduce traditional music to local youth.

No stranger to Breakin’ Up Winter, Bob is considered one of Tennessee’s finest living fiddlers. He honed his knowledge of the regional repertoires and styles of the South Cumberland by sitting and watching fiddlers he traveled to meet, and from listening to recordings, both homemade tapes and commercial albums. As part of the Tennessee Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program this year, Bob is teaching students the tunes and techniques he has learned from local fiddlers in Marion, Grundy, and Franklin counties.

Bob has performed extensively with the Fiery Gizzard String Band and recorded one CD with bandmates Tim and Charles Higgins:

For more information about Bob Townsend, visit


Kelsey Wells

Kelsey Wells is an artist in every way. She’s uber-creative no matter what she attempts, whether it be a musical or design endeavor. Kelsey plays multiple instruments and is best known as half of the popular contra dance band Turnip the Beet. Kelsey is famous for creating and operating “crankies” which are scrolling illustrations moved by hand through a puppet theatre-sized box. They are often made to accompany stories or songs. Crankies date to the 1800s and were originally called “moving panoramas.”

The 2012 Uncle Dave Macon Days Traditional Fiddle champion, Kelsey plays fiddle, banjo, and other instruments, often accompanying her mother’s poetry performances with old-time and original tunes. Though rooted in the heritage of Appalachian music, Kelsey’s unique sound has been influenced by her interest in the fiddling styles of Western North Carolina, southern Sweden, and a few places in between. She has served as the assistant director of World Music Weekends and was the 2017 U.S. delegate to the world folk music project Ethno Flanders. She is currently the marketing and communications manager for the Country Dance & Song Society.

Kelsey has recorded a 6-tune album with Jeremy Lekich and Susan Kevra; and a CD with her mother, Kory Wells:

To learn more about Kelsey, visit:


Martin Fisher

Martin Fisher comes to every Breakin’ Up Winter (and other NOTSBA events) to share his passion and expertise in old-time recording technologies. His wax-cylinder recordings are as authentic as it can get, and he’ll show you how those are made and record you in true old-time style.

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