Meet the Band
The young acoustic string band, The Wildmans come from the hills of Floyd, Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachian mountain music tradition. From campsite jamming at festivals and fiddler's conventions and classical music education comes the foundation for musical exploration that sets this group apart, taking the audience on a musical journey that reflects the growth and passion of these talented young musicians.
The band features the talents of siblings Eli on mandolin and Aila on fiddle and vocals, family friend and award winning old time banjo player Victor Furtado, all backed up by bandmom Deb Wildman on bass. Highly skilled instrumentals and soulful vocals applied to traditional tunes with a smattering of old time, bluegrass, blues, and jazz combine to create a fresh new sound - old tunes fueled by young spirit.
Their set combines fiddle tunes, ballads and folk songs of the Appalachian tradition with twentieth century classics, as well as original instrumental compositions by band members Eli and Victor.
The group has appeared on stages large and small, performing in festivals such as Red Wing Roots, Chantilly Farm's Bluegrass and BBQ festival, RoosterWalk, Floyd Fest, and Floyd Yoga Jam. They also regularly represent young talent along the Crooked Road in regional fiddler’s conventions, and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax invited the group to open for the Steep Canyon Rangers in July 2017. Having shared the stage with talents such as Danny Knicely, Sammy Shelor, Sierra Hull, Billy Strings, Darol Anger and Joe K. Walsh, these young musicians are making their way in the American stringband scene.
"I first met the Wildmans near their home at a thing called Floydfest. They were strategically camped out beside the Virginia Folklife Stage, where they could experience the great concerts and workshops provided by The Virginia Folklife Program. Originally Inspired by traditional musicians at a local jam at the Floyd Country Store, Eli and Aila began studying with Mike Mitchell, a generous and well respected teacher in the area, and put forth effort to be where the music happens.
I got to jam with Eli and Aila between shows at Floydfest. I was very impressed with their skills and invited them to join my set later that day. We had a lot of fun then and the fun still continues. I've since had the privilege of presenting the Wildmans in numerous concerts. Their broad interests and adventurous spirit comes through in their playing styles. They'll try and succeed at anything set before them. It is a joy to play with such dedicated musicians. On top of keeping up with their studies in classical and other types of music, Eli and Aila attend traditional music festivals where they are frequently awarded for performances in their respective instrument contests.
The Wildmans have gained attention and support from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Music Festival, who is providing scholarships for some of the top music camps in the country. Eli and Aila are also participating in an apprenticeship with Master Artist Nate Leath that is sponsored by The Virginia Folklife Program and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
It's an honor to be part of this debut recording of the Wildmans which also includes young banjo phenomenon, Victor Furtado, and the incomparable Mark Schatz on bass. I look forward to hearing more great things from The Wildmans in the future!" - Danny Knicely, appearing on The Wildmans recent album, Wandering Thoughts
"Over the last few years I've had the privilege of booking The Wildmans for a number of events both large and small. Each of the band's members are incredibly talented in their own right and their professionalism on and off the stage is second to none. If you're looking for tight musicianship, haunting vocals, and a great stage presence, then this is a band you'll definitely want to check out!" -Jason Gallimore, Lead Promoter, Chantilly Farm
Eli Wildman, age 17- mandolin and vocals
Eli began playing guitar at age seven, switching to mandolin soon after attending his first Galax Fiddler's Convention. Seven years later, Eli won first place youth mandolin and eighth place in the adult mandolin competition at Galax (2015), first in Floyd County’s Bland Music Scholarship Competition in 2015, and first in Mandolin at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Youth Music Competition. Eli has performed extensively throughout the region and nationally at many public and private events, festivals, competitions and fund-raisers. Studying both classical and traditional music at Floyd Music School from the age of seven, Eli now studies jazz mandolin with David Oakes, in Floyd, VA. While keeping the roots feel in his music, Eli’s wide range of genres on the mandolin make him a very unique player in this region of Appalachian old time and bluegrass music.
Victor Furtado's absurdly precocious talent and understanding of Old Time music is at odds with his age. He's won first place in the adult claw-hammer banjo category at many contests including Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, Clifftop, Appalachian State University Fiddlers Convention, Maury River Fiddlers Convention, Elk Creek Fiddlers Convention, Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention & the Virginia State Fair. Victor is also the Delaware State Banjo Champion and placed second in the National Old Time Banjo Championship in Murfreesboro TN at age 15. Victor can be heard on his self titled album that's on the Patuxent Music label.
Aila Wildman, age 15 - lead vocals and fiddle
Aila's love of music is spread in equal measures over singing, violin, and fiddle in many genres spanning from Classical to Old Time and beyond. She began studying violin/fiddle with a Classical foundation at Floyd Music School at the age of five, performing bluegrass gigs at the age of seven, and joined the Roanoke Youth Symphony at 11, where she now plays in the first violin section. Teaching herself to sing with the inspiration of young bluegrass singers in the Galax youth competition, her vocal abilities have developed into a soulful and powerful stage presence, especially for one so young. Regularly placing and winning ribbons in competitions over the years, she was thrilled and honored to be awarded third place in the adult Bluegrass Fiddle competition at the historic Galax Old Fiddler’s convention 2016.
Deb Wildman, band mom and Bass
Deb is in charge of keeping it all together, both on and off stage - from scheduling gigs and getting us there to keeping the beat with the bass.