One of the most fascinating of all the two finger pickers is a gentleman by the name of Walter Davis. Residing in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Walter, in his 75 years, has come to know most of the western Carolina banjo players such as Samantha Bumgarner, Mack Crow, Clarence Ashley and Dock Walsh. He was also acquainted with Jimmy Rodgers, who once lived in Old Fort, North Carolina, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, who played on the streets of nearby Johnson City, Tennessee. He also knew Jimmy Davis, who came to visit his mother in a hospital in Morganton, North Carolina,
By Wayne Erbsen
Published in Bluegrass Unlimited in March 1982
They call him “The Old Man of the Mountains.” At the spry age of 42, that makes Raymond Fairchild a rather youthful “old man.” No matter. The mountains can age you before your time, and Raymond has lived far enough back in the Smoky Mountains to be several generations old by now. This man, who many consider to be the fastest and the best banjo player alive, lays a genuine claim to playing mountain music. He’s lived it.
Born near Cherokee, North Carolina, to a Cherokee Indian mother and a
By Wayne Erbsen
I get asked this question now and then, so I thought a little discussion of this vital topic wouldn’t hurt. Used to be, when trying to explain clawhammer banjo, I’d refer to Grandpa Jones, once a star of the TV show Hee Haw. Now that Grandpa Jones has passed on to the barn dance in the sky and Hee Haw is long off the air, it’s hard to think of a national star who plays in this style. But although clawhammer banjo pickers are not found on the front cover of Time or Rolling Stone (not