June 21, 22 & 23, 2024 |

94 Natural Chimneys Ln, Mt Solon, VA 22843

June 23, 24 & 25, 2023

Red Wing Roots Music Festival - Great Music, Great Outdoors

Danny Knicely with Chao Tian

Saturday, 6/24 – 4pm at The Kinfolk Stage

CHAO TIAN is a Chinese dulcimer virtuoso, improviser, sound designer, and visual artist. Her dexterity has led to her breaking down barriers and working across creative genres. In her work, she explores the distinct sounds and techniques of the Chinese dulcimer in order to create a multidimensional sensation of improvisation. Her creative interest is mainly in intercultural improvisation study: applications of Chinese musical aesthetics and vocabulary, creative synthesis in cross-disciplinary improvisation: interactions among music, dance, and visual art, and improvisation in folk music. Her latest project “Unheard Sounds” is dedicated to better exploring the practice of the immigration arts: artistic language reshaped by immigrant artists in cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Chao’s musical adventure started at the age of five, and at the age of twelve, she was admitted to the China Conservatory of Music Affiliated Middle School, where she majored in Chinese dulcimer studies. She was afterward recommended for immediate admission to the China Conservatory of Music, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Chinese music performance (Yangqin) (2007) and a Master of Arts in Musicology (2010).

As the leader of the Always Folk ensemble, she characterized herself as an inheritor who is committed to preserving China’s musical heritage. Her band is actively participating in the Sizhu and Nanyin music research projects. Meanwhile, Chao had spent years working as an instructor and the director of the Arts Education Center at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). She is a founding member of BLCU Arts College’s music department and has been appointed as an officer of the International Culture Exchange Program in 2019.

Chao has performed in over 30 different countries and regions across the globe and collaborated with numerous talented musicians on many unprecedented projects. Her talents began to blossom in the United States in 2015 when she was accepted into the prestigious Artist in Residence program at the Strathmore Music Center, where she became fascinated by many cultures and expanded her creative imagination and uniqueness.

Chao has contributed to the local community with music at church, the youth arts program, the senior care center, and special projects for people with and without cognitive and other disabilities. In addition, she devotes herself to boosting the cultural exchange activities between the U.S. and China.

Chao is the NextLOOK Artist at the University of Maryland from 2021 to 2022, and she is studying American hammered dulcimer with Karen Ashbrook with the support of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program of the Maryland States Arts Council. Her other projects include Dong Xi (East & West), the winner of The Best World Music Artist/ Group of the WAMMIE Award 2019; Parallel Intersections with tropical steelpan musician Josanne Francis; From China to Appalachia – with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, the project is newly selected for International Folk Alliance Artist; Dots and Lines with British violinist Dave Kline. And she is a band member of the awarded world-folk fusion ensemble Project Locrea.


Multi-instrumentalist DANNY KNICELY draws from a wide range of influence including the Appalachian folk music of his youth and various types of world music he has encountered. Born into a musical family steeped in a mountain music tradition for generations, he first learned from his grandfather, who played dances and social events in the Shenandoah Valley as far back as the 1930’s. Danny has the uncanny ability to thrive in and elevate most any musical situation. He has shared his music and collaborated with musicians in over a dozen countries spanning four continents including US State Department tours in Russia, Tunisia, Morocco and Cabo Verde. Danny has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle and flat-foot dance expertise, such as first place in the mandolin contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. As an avid music educator, he has taught at some of the leading music camps in the U.S. including Augusta Heritage Center, Common Ground on the Hill, Louis J. Meyers Music Camp, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Millwood Blues Week. Danny has also been a mentor in Strathmore Music Center’s prestigious Young Artists in Residence Program and a Master Artist in Virginia Folklife Organization’s Apprenticeship Program. As a sought after session musician, producer and arranger, he participates in countless recordings and appears on record labels, namely Patuxent, Crossroads, Mapleshade and Smithsonian Folkways.