Chosen the California Bluegrass Association's Emerging Artist for 1998, The Freight Hoppers may be new to you, but they are rapidly making themselves known to a wide audience of old-time music fans.
Like freight cars of an east coast train, the members of this talented musical group come from all over the central and eastern United States. The band consists of Frank Lee (banjo), David Bass (fiddle), Jim O'Keefe (acoustic bass) and Cary Fridley (guitar/vocals). Fridley is from Covington, KY; Bass is from Cleveland, OH; O'Keefe is from Norwich, NY and Lee is a native of Atlanta, GA
Lee got this whole thing started in the early 90's when he was playing for the Great Smokey Mountain Railway in Bryson City. He called long time fiddler friend, David Bass, who had been working the subways in NY during the holidays and then the streets of New Orleans for the spring. Lee convinced Bass to come to Bryson City and play at a stop that the excursion train made. So with banjo and fiddle they entertained the disembarking passengers. It so happened that the boss of the Great Smokey Mountain Railway was on the train the day Frank Lee and David Bass started playing together at the depot. He loved them and that's how it all started.
Cary Fridley, who was teaching school in Mocksville, NC, had met Frank Lee at a party at Peggy Seeger's house and when a guitarist/vocalist was needed, she got the call, gave up teaching and joined the group. This group met Jim O'Keefe at Merlefest and an acoustic bass player became a part of the group. So, The Freight Hoppers had a job in Bryson City from Memorial Day through October playing for the scenic railway. The rest is history. Next came tapes and then CDs and more performances all over the country. In March 1996, The Freight Hoppers performed live on Garrison Keillor's acclaimed radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," which is aired throughout the country and in Europe by Public Radio International. They performed there because they had entered Keillor's contest of Talent From Towns Under 2000, and was chosen from among 492 entrants. Since then they have been seen in California twice, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, New York, Canada and Kentucky.