While a number of music departments with ethnomusicology programs now feature old-time string bands, Brown's was the first. Founded and led by Jeff Todd Titon, whose book Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes (University Press of Kentucky, 2001) is a valuable resource for players and scholars alike, the old-time string band celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006-07.
Guest teachers such as Mike Seeger, Bruce Greene, Bruce Molsky, Bob Carlin, Andy Woolf, Alan Jabbour, and Clyde Davenport have sat in with the string band as artists-in-residence over the years.
Several student members have honed their skills here and gone on to become respected musicians in the old-time music community across North America.
Rather than rehearse towards a performance, the old-time string band takes the jam session as its model, with the goal of learning tunes, getting better at playing them, and simply enjoying each other's music and company. In good weather the band occasionally plays in public where people may stop to overhear the music.