Instrument Making

Riley Baugus

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Fred Roupe

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Fred Roupe

Instrument maker

Alleghany County, NC

Fred Roupe was born about twelve miles outside of Sparta in Alleghany County, and he was exposed to traditional music at a young age. His father played oldtime banjo and fiddle, and Fred was interested enough to start playing clawhammer banjo at age six. He heard Garr Bowers playing a three-finger banjo style at a jam in the Traphill community of Wilkes County, and Fred was hooked. He started working out his own three-finger style immediately.

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Dave Sturgill

Musician and instrument builder

Alleghany County, NC

When Dave Sturgill was young, he would visit his grandfather's cousin, Fid Sturgill, a fiddler in his late sixties at the time. "He showed us some of our first tunes," Dave recalled in an interview with Paula Hathaway Anderson-Green. Later, when Fid, Dave, and most of the family were living in Maryland, Dave would visit Fid regularly. Dave also learned fiddle tunes from Fid's grandson Ivan.

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Frank Proffitt

Musician and craftsman

Watauga County, NC

Tom Dooley might never have become a household name outside of Northwest North Carolina had it not been for Frank Proffitt. A musician and songwriter from the Pick Britches community in western Watauga County, Proffitt made several contributions to American folk music through performances and recordings, most notably the version of "Tom Dooley" that inspired the Kingston Trio's popular recording in 1958.

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Edd Presnell

Woodworker, toy maker, dulcimer maker

Avery County, NC

Edd Presnell was raised in a musical family and community near Beech Mountain. The area was home to storytellers, ballad singers, banjo pickers, instrument builders, and toy makers. He was particularly interested in woodworking. He first heard a dulcimer when his future wife, Nettie Hicks, came by with an instrument her father, Ben, built. "I was 15 or 16," Presnell recalled, "and Nettie brought the dulcimer over and played it." With help from his future father-in-law, Presnell made his first dulcimer in 1936.

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Frank Proffitt

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Stanley Hicks

Instrument builder, woodworker, dancer, musician, storyteller

Watauga County, NC

Stanley Hicks was born in 1911 in Watauga County, and raised on Spice Creek along with his eight siblings. He and his cousin Ray Hicks, also a famed storyteller, shared the same great-grandparents. Life for the Hicks family was hard; there were few jobs in the mountains, and families struggled to get enough food. Growing up, Hicks took what jobs were available. During the Depression, he worked for the Works Progress Administration for 75 cents a day.

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Albert Hash

Fiddler and instrument maker

Ashe County, NC

Whitetop, Virginia native Albert Hash was a masterful mechanic who built fiddles and other instruments, played the fiddle with the Whitetop Mountain Band, and helped teach countless musicians and instrument builders.

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Leonard Glenn

Luthier

Watauga County, NC

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina have nurtured many great folk musicians over the years. Less well known are the folk craftsmen, who built the instruments used by many of the fine singers and players since the area was first settled. One of the region's most respected instrument makers was Leonard Lucky Glenn, a resident of Watauga County's Laurel Creek community, near Beech Mountain.

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