Members of the Green River Boys trace their musical and family roots back through many generations in the mountains of North Carolina. The band began in 1999, but the musicians knew each other earlier, having played together at church and community musical gatherings, such as weekly jam sessions at friends’ homes and the regular Thursday get-together at Helms’ Barbershop in Flat Rock. When Charles Jones, Fred Lyons, Ireland Brown, C. A. Morgan, Bruce Cole, and James “Coot” McDowell began to play every other weekend at the Saluda Family Restaurant (which is now Shaffer’s Grill) in Saluda, they named their band the Green River Boys.
Two members-Charles Jones and C. A. Morgan-have left the group, and their places were filled by James Metcalf and Rev. Walter Gordon. Bruce Cole, the one member of the band who actually lives in Green River, is a native of Asheville. Rev. Gordon, a banjo player since childhood when he was taught to play by his aunt, is the pastor of the Fork Creek Baptist Church, in his home town of Saluda. Fred Lyons (the nephew of fiddler Tommy Jarrell) is also part of the Mount Airy-area musical tradition. He and his son are church musicians at the Upward Worship Center in Henderson County. Coot McDowell, from Crab Creek in Henderson County, is descended from a line of McDowells in which the men are said locally to be “born with a guitar in one hand and a hunting rifle in the other.” Ireland Brown, an amateur pilot, is from Avery County, but is a long-time Henderson County resident. James Metcalf, whose family has been in Polk County for more than two hundred years, is the music director at Fork Creek Baptist Church, and a gospel music composer and DJ.
The Green River Boys have recorded four albums, and are regular performers at Saluda’s Coon Dog Day, the Green Creek Heritage Festival, and many other festivals throughout Western North Carolina and Upcountry South Carolina.
The Green River Boys are available to perform in concert, and at festivals and other venues.