No matter if it is a Gospel standard such as “Sweet Bye and Bye” or a novelty song, Chip Cardwell makes it his own. Chip grew up in Reidsville, NC, singing with his family group consisting of he, his mother, dad, and sister. They entertained regularly for civic groups and churches throughout the local area. With performing and music in his blood, Chip adds enthusiasm and freshness to every performance. Audiences are in for a rare treat when Chip steps up to the microphone. He can be heard on Campus Tradition’s CD, Homemade, singing Whoa Mule, Back Home Again, Sweet Bye and Bye, The Rooster Song, I’m Going Back To The Old Home and Where the Roses Never Fade. He is featured on our newest CD project, Back To Our Roots, singing Try A Little Kindness, Foggy Mountain Top, Ol' Becky, and Drifting Too Far From the Shore. His rich baritone voice anchors the group’s harmony numbers.
Dale O'Bryant, banjo player and tenor for Campus Tradition, recalls that in the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s there was no television at home and entertainment was pretty much homemade. He grew up with music all around: His dad played guitar and mandolin and often he would find himself in the company of other family members and friends that were home-grown musicians. In his younger years, he would listen to Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Allen Shelton, and Ralph Stanley at every opportunity. His two brothers learned to play guitar and mandolin and they performed at local talent shows and family gatherings. Over the years he has performed with a number of local groups in the Piedmont Triad and South Central Virginia. A 1996 move back to Rockingham County finds him performing with “Campus Tradition”. His banjo styling is the mainstay of the group's sound. Dale has written several songs for the group including "Ol' Becky," which you can hear on this website.
David Smathers, lead singer and guitarist for Campus Tradition, hails from Canton, NC and comes from a long line of musicians. His dad, Harold Smathers, and uncle, Luke Smathers both were recipients of North Carolina's highest honor for music, the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. An article about his musical family is featured in the book, May We All Remember Well, Volume II, edited by Robert S. Brunk. Over the years, he has played with his family band and has appeared with a number of artists. He really enjoys putting his touch on a good country song. He is also an accomplished songwriter. His song, Back In My Old Home, is included on Campus Tradition's project, Homemade and Still In The Hole is featured on the band's newest project Back To Our Roots.
Lee Dodson, Campus Tradition's bass player and singer, grew up in a family of traditional musicians. His father played the mandolin and guitar by ear. Lee remembers that after supper, he'd get out his mandolin and play "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad," "Under the Double Eagle," "Down Yonder," or "Skip to My Lou." His mother played popular songs and church hymns on the piano. As soon as he could, he climbed on the piano bench and began trying to play. he also tortured the mandolin (without knowing chords or melodies). Lee is a great songwriter. Homemade, the title cut of Campus Tradition’s CD project, Homemade, was written by Lee, as was Looking For Someone To Blame on their most recent project. His sound effects in The Rooster Song are always entertaining.