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Ryan Nickerson - biography


Ryan Nickerson is a multi-instrumentalist from Chesapeake Virginia.  Ryan was introduced to music at a young age, taking piano lessons for many years along with his three siblings, then teaching himself guitar in high school.  He discovered folk music while playing with the Folk Music Ensemble at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  Ryan returned to the ensemble each semester, often with a new instrument to work on; first mandolin, then banjo.  Through school funding, Ryan was given the opportunity to travel to Ashokan Fiddle Camp in upstate New York for a transformative week of intense instruction in traditional Southern music from some of the genre’s best players.  Afterward, old-time music became Ryan’s focus and fiddle became his obsession.  Ryan went on to play with BYU’s touring band Mountain Strings, accompanying the university’s internationally renowned Folk Dance Ensemble on tours throughout Colorado and Illinois. 

Ryan Nickerson

A year later, he discovered that a new degree program in Bluegrass, Old-time, and Country Music was being offered at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee and enrolled the following semester.  At ETSU, Ryan honed his skills on old-time fiddle and banjo, becoming a regular at local jams and dances across the region.  Ryan also gained a strong appreciation for the historical significance of Southern Appalachian music, and amassed a large library of early recordings which continue to serve as the basis of his musical study.  In the summer of 2013, Ryan was among the four musicians, along with Empty Bottle’s Kristal Harman, to accompany the Bailey Mountain Cloggers at the 49th annual International Folk Dance Festival in Billingham England.  It was an unforgettable experience.  Ryan has been playing with the Empty Bottle String Band for over a year and loves the group’s dynamic and its approach to traditional music.  His goals are to continue performing traditional music and increase his knowledge of and appreciation for its rich history, as well as seek out opportunities to travel and teach others about traditional Southern Appalachian music.