"Traditional music overflows with unsung heroes, the kind of player who supports the other musicians, allowing them to perform at their very best. Kim Johnson is just such a musician. She is a solid clawhammer banjo player who has played for many years with some of the very best West Virginia fiddlers. Keepers is her first recording under her own name, and save for one solo selection, she is backed by outstanding players and singers from the Mountain State....This is one of those instances in which I just don't have enough space to properly describe the beauty of this 19-track CD. On Keepers, the listener is treated to some of the finest West Virginia fiddlers and singers, along with one fine banjo player." (Tom Druckenmiller, Sing Out! magazine, March 2010)
This recording is casual and relaxed, with sprinkles of conversation throughout. Old-time fiddler Wilson Douglas, from Clay County, shares a short story about Tom Carpenter, father of renowned fiddler French Carpenter. Wilson's fiddle is heard on Yew Piney Mountain and Camp Chase, a couple of his most-requested tunes. Kim played banjo with Wilson Douglas for 20 years until he passed away in 1999. Calhoun County fiddler Lester McCumbers has four tunes, among them Cherry River Line, Walking in the Parlor, and his version of Yew Piney Mountain. In 2004, Lester won 1st place in the fiddle contest at Clifftop with his Yew Piney Mountain. He was 83 years old at the time, and there were about 95 fiddlers in the contest that year. Kanawha Valley fiddler Bobby Taylor plays Dunbar, an Ed Haley tune and also his version of Clark Kessinger's Sixteen Days in Georgia, while Tracy Schwarz shares his tune Boating Up Sandy, learned from the playing of Kentucky fiddler Snake Chapman.
Along with the fiddlers, Keepers also features some fine singers. Lester McCumbers' wife Linda was a life-long singer, but following heart surgery in 2003, she stopped singing in public. When she sang What A Friend We Have in Jesus at home one day in 2007, the old hymn became her last recorded song. Kentucky singers Rob McNurlin and Karen Byington are well-represented here, as well as John Lilly, with his version of Hank Williams' May You Never Be Alone."
"Kim has made West Virginia's best old-time fiddlers and musicians sound even better for nearly three decades. Anybody who knows old-time music will look at the musicians on this CD and know what a treasure it is." (Kate Long, 2009)