The Corn Likkers (2023 program)

old-time string band
Bandshell stage / 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm

The Corn Likkers are an old-fashioned family band with a modern sound. With Ray Chen on fiddle; Lauren Graves on upright bass; Eleanor Chen on banjo-uke, banjo, flat-footing and vocals; Elijah Chen on guitar; and family friend Lael Sigal on second fiddle and vocals, The Corn Likkers perform hard-driving old-time string band music and haunting songs rooted in the traditions of North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains.

In 2005, the Chens started a family tradition. Every summer, they travel to North Carolina to study old-time music and dance from master musicians and dancers at The Swannanoa Gathering’s Old-Time Week. Inspired by their immersion in old-time music, the children began lessons with Jack Tuttle at an early age and started taking classes at Swannanoa as soon as they could. At Swannanoa, Eleanor met her mentor Sheila Kay Adams, Elijah learned old-time guitar, Lauren learned to play bass, and Ray met John Engle (an expert in Tommy Jarrell’s style) who mentored him in over a decade of intensive study. Lael, a long-time violinist, began exploring old-time music after taking a class at the Freight and Salvage and met the Chen family at Swannanoa where she developed a passion for the chordal approach to second fiddling taught by Tricia Spencer.

The band formed in the summer of 2019, won second place in the BOTMC String Band Competition that September and played in the 2020 BOTMC Spring Situation at the Freight and Salvage. Pandemic put a pause on band activities but as pandemic eased in 2022, they won “Best Family Band” in the BOTMC String Band Competition and traveled to the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Festival where Lael placed 3rd in Old-Time Fiddle, Eleanor placed 1st in Old-Time Singing, and The Corn Likkers placed 1st in the Old-Time Band contest! They are now playing dances in the Bay Area and building a reputation as one of the area’s hottest old-time dance bands.

Take bow-rocking Tommy Jarrell style fiddling, chordal seconding on fiddle, Tony Rice inspired guitar, the rhythm of a banjo-uke or banjo, haunting vocals, percussive flat-footing, the steady thump of an upright bass, and you have the unique sound of The Corn Likkers. Equally comfortable playing for dances or on stage, The Corn Likkers are an old-fashioned string band in the Round Peak tradition with some modern twists.

The Corn Likkers are on Facebook and Instagram and can be reached at