Elkville String Band liner notes
From Wilkes County, North Carolina, the Elkville String Band plays genuine American rural music. They go back to a day when musicians didn’t care whether what they were playing was called old-time, bluegrass, gospel, or country; it was just music. The members of the Elkville String Band powerfully convey the pure joy of playing music together.
Located adjacent to Mt. Airy, Galax, and the “Lost Provinces” of Ashe & Alleghany, Wilkes County has not received the attention in old-time and bluegrass music it deserves. Yet the home of Tom Dula, Otto Wood (whose story is told in track #2 from the Carolina Buddies), and the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame has produced a lot more than subjects of iconic songs. Native son Jim Shumate did not just play fiddle with both the Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys during the 1940s. He introduced Scruggs to Monroe and helped Lester and Earl get their band started. Wilkes County’s Drusilla Adams was bluegrass music’s first female recording executive at the helm of Blue Ridge Records, one of the first indie labels for the music. Dock Walsh formed a third of the Carolina Tar Heels, whose circa 1930 recordings gained lasting fame and influence when included in Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.
Walsh’s son Drake Walsh continues the tradition playing mandolin and fiddle with Wilkes’ best early 21st Century such outfit, the Elkville String Band. Besides original tunes like “Drake’s Waltz,” he added a verse to his dad’s “Bring Me a Leaf from the Sea.” The quartet also includes Herb Key, well known for playing bass with National Heritage Award laureate Wayne Henderson, who joins the Elkville String Band on four cuts. As a member of Elkville, Key shines as a six-string stylist and vocalist in his own right. On banjo [INSERT NAME HERE] demonstrates a wonderful facility with both rolls and old-time styles. Veteran Bill Williams anchors the ensemble on stand up bass.
The Elkville String Band immediately announces that they are by no means confined to old-time music with a cover of Elton Britt’s World War II classic, “There’s A Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere.” Songs and tunes range from the familiar (“Cindy,” “Jesse James”) to the classic (Riley Puckett’s “Freight Wreck at Altoona”) to the obscure (“Suicide Blues,” “Where the Roses Never Fade”) to the CD’s four original tunes – “Drake’s Waltz,” “Elkville Shuffle,” “Indian Princess,” and “Cat Call Waltz.”
Rooted and original, joyous, creative, and down to earth, the Elkville String Band’s album is not just enjoyable and but quite important. They represent one of a very few living, authentic representatives of a significant slice of southern American musical heritage best known for Roy Acuff, Hall, and Snuffy Jenkins. Put this in your compact disk player and experience the pure truth of real folks playing real American music.