The News & Observer

“With sunshine and warm temps forecast for the weekend, the Grassroots Festival at Chatham County’s Shakori Hills promises fun for all who enjoy music ranging from old-time to bluegrass, country, folk and beyond. Friday’s offerings include Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Big Mean Sound Machine, Donna the Buffalo, a Cajun dance and hooping workshops. Saturday features all-world combo, the Punch Brothers, Music Maker Revue, The Freight Hoppers and more. Sunday’s Mother’s Day for Peace lineup presents The Bluegrass Experience, a songwriter’s circle and Zydeco dance with Preston Frank.”

Conversations With Old-Time Performers

“Here's 7 minutes from Frank Lee's program (from Volume 2). You may know him from his band, the Freight Hoppers. Frank's story of early family life and the lessons he learned watching his parents overcome challenging times clearly helped set his life's independent course… And then there's his incredible music.”


The Freight Hoppers are true-blue old time revivalists. No other group has amassed as much recognition, or stood the true test of ‘old’ time. While many others over the past 20 years have come and gone, The Freight Hoppers have managed to keep the spark alive (with some breaks here and there). Frank Lee and David Bass are treasures of knowledge with the old time banjo and fiddle that will be certain to bring down the Barn in a mass of flames.”

Bluegrass Today, by Jim Roe

The Freight Hoppers have such a good reputation on and off the stage. I can tell they really have made a lot of friends and fans over the years. I mention their name and people genuinely get very excited that they are together performing again.

You have to love their energy. Their old time sound is different from the other acts on my roster which will help me get into places I haven’t booked before and I believe I can help them get into festivals they didn’t get a chance to play the first time around.”

Bluegrass Today

“During the 1990s, The Freight Hoppers became the most popular modern day old time music string band in the world. The Freight Hoppers recorded two critically acclaimed albums that climbed into the Top 20 of Billboard’s Americana music charts: ‘Where’d You Come From, Where’d You Go?’ (released in 1996) and ‘Waiting on the Gravy Train’ (1998). They toured extensively in the U.S., Canada and Europe, appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and elevated the popularity of old time music all over the world. With performances at concerts and festivals and radio airplay, they shook up the music landscape and created a new audience of traditional music fans.”

The Aspen Times

“In the mid-‘90s, [Frank] Lee formed The Freight Hoppers, a four-piece old-time band that released three albums (including two on the major roots label Rounder). The band split when one member needed to get off the road to get a heart transplant. But Lee has the old-time music in his blood now and has made a solo career for himself. He performs solo or in various combinations; recently, he released “Artseen,” which features bass by Joey Damiano and harmony vocals by Jessica Johnson.”

Banjo Newsletter

Frank Lee plays banjo and sings with The Freight Hoppers, a hell-for-leather Southern string band that has been playing to packed houses and enthusiastic crowds from Oklahoma to London for several years. Audiences who had never heard of Gid Tanner and who would walk right past most old-time music find themselves giving spontaneous standing ovations to the Hoppers – audiences ranging from the IBMA to green haired punk rockers.” 

Dirty Linen

“The old timey string band sounds of the southern Appalachian region are a springboard for The Freight Hoppers. Although their repertoire includes pre-World War II songs by Uncle Dave Macon, The Carter Family, and Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, the Bryson City, North Carolina-based quartet captures the true spirit of their material. Instead of relying on note for note imitation, the band restores the excitement and wild passion of the past."

Homespun Music Instruction

Frank Lee, of the sensational old-time band The Freight Hoppers, has one of the strongest banjo sounds around. His clawhammer frailing style locks in tight with David Bass' fiddle, sometimes doubling the melody and other times providing an exciting counterpoint to it.”

Bluegrass Breakdown

“Chosen as the California Bluegrass Association’s Emerging Artist for 1998, [The Freight Hoppers’] 1997 Rounder Records release Where’d You Come From, Where’d You Go has received rave reviews in such diverse publications as Bluegrass Now, Moonshiner (Japan), Folk Roots, Banjo Newsletter, and The Old Time Herald.” 

Music Monitor

The Freight Hoppers rock harder than a locomotive furiously barreling down the train tracks. It’s old-time music because of Frank Lee’s clawhammer style, but it’s sped up a notch or two to match even the hardest driving bluegrass.”

Bluegrass Unlimited

“These musicians have learned their lessons well from their immediate elders in the tradition. In this case, local pickers in their community jam sessions and not-so-local pickers who have assumed teaching roles at various music camps and schools that have proliferated across the country have been their instructors.” 

“They kick Fred Cockerham’s ‘Logan County Blues’ into the next county with the surging power of a runaway coal truck negotiating the ‘S’ curves off of Clinch Mountain. The Freight Hoppers are a refreshing band that manages to bring a spontaneity to old-time music.” 

Out 'N About

The Freight Hoppers have caught a ride on a train full of traditional melodies, and to their credit they do their fair share to provide fresh labor to fuel the train. The way they play, this music doesn’t sound dated at all. They make it as fresh and invigorating as if they created it themselves, and that is no easy trick to accomplish.”