"Round Peak music is alive and well as heard on this powerful CD assembled by banjo player and maker Kevin Fore. Kevin has assembled a stellar cast of musicians, both from the older and younger generation, playing both area classics as well as a newly composed Benton Flippen tune. This CD is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in one of the prime sources of old time music, a community which not only embraced the music, but enhanced it as well."
Ray Alden, Croton, New York, March 29, 2009
Prior to the advent of mass entertainment via radio and records, many rural musicians had their own individualistic styles of playing fiddles and banjos. Even though much of rural music has become standardized and homogenized through recordings and festivals, there are still pockets of the rural South that continue with their own highly individualized style of playing traditional music.
One such pocket is the northwest corner of Surry County, North Carolina. The section of Round Peak has produced such a distinctive form of old-time music that ardent fans of the genre instantly recognize "the Round Peak style". The area of Round Peak near Low Gap, North Carolina has produced true icons of old-time music such as Ben Jarrell, Charlie Lowe, Ernest East,
Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed and Fred Cockerham just to name a few. Even though all of these musicians have passed on, it is reassuring to fans that the traditional Round Peak style lives on in the music of one its native sons, Kevin Fore.
Though Kevin did not take up the banjo until 2000, he certainly had it in his genes long before that date. Both his great grandfather and great great grandfather played banjo in the Round Peak region. Kevin's roots go deep in the Round Peak section where his family still owns about half of Round Peak Mountain including the land where the legendary fiddler and Civil War veteran Preston "Pet" McKinney is buried. Kevin's appreciation of his native area's history and heritage give him a deep love and respect
for the music and musicians who created the Round Peak sound. Inspired by the older musicians, such as Kyle Creed and Fred Cockerham, as well as the younger ones, such as the highly-respected fiddler and banjoist Kirk Sutphin: Kevin carries on the music of Round Peak to yet another generation.
Not only has Kevin developed his banjo style in part based on the likes of Kyle Creed, but he has taken it a step further by building banjos in the tradition of Creed. After acquiring a banjo made by Creed, Kevin thought that since Kyle played the banjo and made highly prized banjos then perhaps he could learn the craft as well. Kevin had worked in his father's air-conditioning and heating business building duct work. Kevin considered that making a banjo would require the same skills. Making the parts fit
through precise measuring would be essential in both endeavors. Kevin is now making his 26th banjo for customers including
those in Japan, England and Canada. When Kevin isn't playing beautiful melody notes on the banjo he is out looking for a walnut tree to make his next banjo.
On this CD Kevin has assembled a stellar group of old-time musicians including 89 year old fiddler Benton Flippen. Flippen wrote a tune used on the recording which Kevin aptly named "Benton's Haystack Blues" since Benton lives on Haystack Road in Surry County. Musicians such as Kirk Sutphin, Verlen Clifton, Chester McMillian, Katie Golding and others on the CD are well-steeped in the Round Peak tradition . It is fortunate that Kevin Fore has taken up the traditional music of Round Peak and has assembled such a great cast to perform this style with the respect and love that it deserves. It is a joy to behold!
Kinney Rorrer, Danville, Virginia March 31, 2009