About Us

Back Step Cindy is a powerful, experienced old-time string band playing square and contra dances in the Baltimore/Washington DC area.  The band consists of four old-time musicians: Sandy Hofferth (fiddle), Howard Zane (banjo), Joe Langley (guitar), and Art Abrams (bass).

Sandy was influenced by North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia fiddling, with some New England and Cape Breton fiddling thrown in.   She has won ribbons at numerous fiddle conventions over the years, including the Carroll County, MD, Farm Museum, the Friendsville, MD, Fiddlers contest, and the Appalachian String Band music festival in Clifftop, WV.  She has performed at such diverse locations as the Carter Fold in Hiltons, VA, and RFK stadium.  In 2006 she taught beginning fiddle at the Augusta Heritage October Old-time Week.

Howard plays thumb-lead style, clawhammer, and regular “knock down” style banjo, the way he learned from “Uncle Bob,” whose father had been a regimental banjoist for a unit from Alabama during the Civil War.  Since then he’s been influenced by Dwight Diller, Neal Walters, Bob Flesher, Reed Martin, and Gerry Milnes, all great banjo players.  He and Sandy also led the New Southern Cowtippers.

Joe is a dance band’s ideal guitar player, with a strong, steady, and powerful rhythm.  He dances regularly in the DC/Baltimore area, has played for many dances, and is a regular in old time jams throughout the area.  Most recently he played with the AP and the Banty Roosters.

Art has been active in old-time music for more than 25 years.  He played bass with the Ralph Case Dancers, a traditional clogging group in the DC area originally from Asheville, NC.  Art also played bass with AP and the Banty Roosters.

Musical Mentors

Back Step Cindy wants to acknowledge the generation of musicians and dancers from whom we learned.   We especially note fiddler Speedy Tolliver, originally from Green Cove, VA, who settled in Arlington, VA, and was a friend until his death in 2017 at age 99 (see Old Time Herald, v. 10, #11, 2007: 18-24); Blackie Morgan, MD, who played fiddle for the Ralph Case Dancers and from whom Sandy and Art learned about playing for dancers; and Ralph “Joe” Meadows, originally from WV, who had played with the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and Jim and Jesse and resided in the DC area.  L. Ralph Case, born in Candler, NC, brought the old time square dance tradition to the Washington DC area, dancing until his death at 91 in 2000.  Our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Gerry Milnes for his musical and cultural leadership and to the WV musicians we met at the August Heritage Center in the 1980s and 1990s.