Last week, All Things Considered on NPR carried a feature on County Records’ 3 CD reissues containing field recordings of clawhammer banjo music. Originally released on vinyl in the mid-60s, these recordings were heralded by folklorists, and celebrated by fans of old time music for bringing Kyle Creed and Fred Cockerham, largely unknown at the time, into the limelight.
The recordings were made by Charles Faurot, who foraged through the mountain communities of Southwestern Virginia seeking authentic practitioners of traditional banjo music. Over the course of three albums, the recordings highlighted such old time notables as Wade Ward, Tommy Jarrell, George Stoneman and several others.
The NPR piece included some audio snippets from the recordings, and a discussion between Faurot and NPR reporter, Paul Brown, who had been inspired by the LPs when they were first released – and he was a young student of clawhammer banjo. Brown demonstrates the style to some degree, and describes how these County albums changed the way he perceived the banjo, and set him on a mission to find some of these players on his own.
You can hear the entire segment on the All Things Considered web site, which also features an image gallery with photos of these players.