Elkville String Band on Mountain Roads

Elkville String Band - Bill Williams, Drake Walsh, Jeff Michael, Herb KeyMountain Roads Recordings of Bristol, TN, has announced the signing of the Elkville String Band from North Wilkesboro, NC.

The band consists of Herb Key, Jeff Michael, Drake Walsh and Bill Williams, and was formed in 2001 to perform the music for the play Tom Dooley, A Wilkes County Legend, which is an annual event, held in July, and put on by the Wilkes Playmakers. The group, which claims to have over a hundred years experience between them, has a unique old-time sound.

Elkville String Band focuses on keeping the old songs and ballads of the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia alive. Some of their crowd favorites date back to the early 1800s.

As well as playing guitar and doing most of the singing for Elkville String Band, Herb Key picks and works with Wayne Henderson of Rugby, VA. Key is a fine luthier in his own right and an excellent instrument repair specialist. Jeff Michael is a master of all stringed instruments and a fine old time singer who will remind you of Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe. He has played on the Grand Ole Opry with Charlie Louvin, Bill Monroe and is a full time member of Big Country Bluegrass. Drake Walsh plays fiddle and mandolin and is the son of Dock Walsh, who picked with the original Carolina Tar Heels and Gid Tanner. Bill Williams, acoustic bass and harmony vocals, has picked with several groups and was a founding member of Steve Kilby’s Sunday Night Band, later known as Kingsberry Run.

Bill Williams has this to say about how the signing came about ……..

“We met Karl and Gail Cooler through our association with Jeff Michael, who is also a member of Big Country Bluegrass. Jeff took some of our material to Karl so he could listen to it and Karl liked what he heard. He asked us if we would be interested in recording for Mountain Roads Recording and that is how it all came about. We are very pleased to be associated with the Coolers and are very glad to have the opportunity to record some of the music from the North Carolina and Virginia area.

Some of this music dates back to the 1800’s and we have always been interested in preserving a lot of this music. Now, Karl and Gail Cooler have given us the means to do this. We are also very exited about recording for the same label as Big Country Bluegrass. We have known all the members of this fantastic Bluegrass band for many years. Big Country Bluegrass was the first band signed by the Coolers and now we are the second. We are very proud to be associated with Mountain Roads Recordings and are looking forward to our first release late this year.”

Mountain Roads Recordings was formed by Karl and Gail Cooler to focus on unique sounds that originate in the mountains and the Elkville String Band fits perfectly with this vision. The members assembled are some of the finest musicians performing old time music and we are excited to be associated with this group.

The group’s first release with Mountain Roads Recordings is scheduled for late 2008.

Audio clips can be found at the band’s MySpace page.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I’m On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.