Music

Elkville String Band

Oldtime band

North Wilkesboro, NC (Wilkes County)

The Elkville String Band, from Wilkes County, performs old-time mountain music, playing mostly older music, but also some newer compositions from past band members Drake Walsh and Jeff Michael. Band members are all very interested in keeping the old traditional music from Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia preserved for future generations.

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Christian Harmony singers of Etowah

Shape-Note Singers

Henderson County, NC

The group that gathers twice a year to sing is made up of regular, long-time attendees and newcomers who are encouraged to visit and join in their first shape-note singing. The shape-note system, which was popular in congregations throughout the South in the nineteenth century—and to a declining, though still significant, degree in the twentieth century—was devised to simplify the reading of written music.

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Eric Ellis

Bluegrass banjo player

Wilkesboro, NC (Wilkes County)

Eric Ellis was born and raised in Wilkesboro in a musical family. He has become one of the premier bluegrass banjo players in western North Carolina. His grandfather played music with Dock Walsh, a Wilkes County recording artist in the 1920s, and his father maintained that interest in music and played guitar.

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Ramona Church

Bluegrass musician

Purlear, NC (Wilkes County)

Ramona Church grew up in Wilkes County listening to her grandfather play banjo in an old two-finger style and hearing her mother's family sing gospel music. She has been playing banjo and performing since she was a young girl. She was raised largely by her maternal grandparents after her father's death. She had some musical uncles including Maynard Holbrook and fiddler Jim Shumate. It was her grandfather's banjo playing, however, that first intrigued her.

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Clear Creek

Bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band

Old Fort, NC (McDowell County)

Clear Creek is a popular bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band in McDowell County consisting of musicians who have lived and played in the area for a long time. All of the members have been very involved with the local traditional music around Old Fort and Marion, and they are staples on Friday nights at Young's Mountain Music in Old Fort.

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Verlen Clifton

Mandolin player

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient Verlen Clifton grew up in the Round Peak community of Surry County where musicians developed a powerful brand of stringband music based on the fiddle and banjo ensemble tradition. His playing has earned the admiration of local residents and attracted the attention of old-time music enthusiasts throughout the country. Verlen first played banjo and guitar, but he eventually settled on mandolin, which he plays more as a rhythm rather than a lead instrument.

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Herman Coffey

Mandolin player

Newland, NC (Avery County)

Herman Coffey was born and raised in Avery County where he has played bluegrass music since he was a young boy. His two other brothers were also interested in music, and the three of them took up music on their own when they were young. Herman started on the fiddle and later he switched to mandolin. The brothers performed often in the area where they lived, particularly at fiddler's conventions. Herman is the last of the three brothers who is still playing music.

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G. C. Collins

Fiddler

Webster, NC (Jackson County)

G. C. Collins grew up in Jackson County, near where he lives today. At the age of twelve, he took up playing the fiddle. His father was a fiddler whose playing inspired both G. C. and G. C.'s sister Darlene—now Darlene Hodges—to learn the instrument. He taught them many of the standard chestnuts of oldtime and bluegrass music, like "Down Yonder" and "Soldier's Joy." The three played as a family band, with Darlene then on guitar.

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Billy Constable

Bluegrass musician

Spruce Pine, NC (Avery County)

Billy Constable grew up in a very musical family in Avery County, and he has been playing music for most of his life.

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Backstep

Oldtime band

Mount Airy, NC (Surry County)

Backstep performs old-time stringband music in the "Round Peak Style" native to Mount Airy, North Carolina. Known for its driving rhythms and prominent melodies, Round Peak music is just the thing to make you kick up your heels and dance. The band is excited to have just won first place old-time band at the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention in 2006. In 2004, Backstep won first prize at both the Fiddler's Grove fiddler's convention and the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention.

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