Point of contact: Dr. George Ellis
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.
Deales Mace, the banjo player, grew up on Cox’s Creek in McDowell County. His father picked a little oldtime banjo and his brother Roy plays music. Deales was intrigued with three-finger banjo. Kent Wiseman, from Mitchell County, helped him some, but Deales is largely self-taught. “My style is mixed up with Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, and J.D. Crowe,” says Deales.
Dr. George Ellis was born in Whitley County, Kentucky, but he moved to Old Fort in 1965. He had a patient who played music and invited Dr. Ellis to join in at a jam at Max Woody‘s Chair Shop. “The only thing I could do at the time is sing,” remembers George. He continued working on the guitar until he could sing and play at the same time, learning by sitting in the corner of the room during jams.
Jim Duckworth, the bass player, grew up in Burke County. His grandfather played some clawhammer banjo. “I got interested in it that way,” says Jim. He started playing at age twelve and has played with a number of groups. Jim remembers the meeting other members of Clear Creek at a jam on Friday nights at a gas station. “It all started there at the service station,” he says.
Mandolin player, Howard Bivins was born in Hickory, but he moved to McDowell County at age nine. He had a number of relatives who played oldtime music. “My uncles got me started in it,” he remembers. Howard started on mandolin at age eleven, and he soon learned guitar as well. He spent sixteen years running a campground in Cherokee where he did a lot of “campground pickin.”
Clear Creek group performs in area churches and other venues in the area.