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The title of Kevin Fore’s new cd is “Round Peak The Tradition Continues” and never has an album title been more accurate. Kevin is a native of Lowgap, and is related to some of the best known Round Peak musicians. Although he is still a young man he has devoted the last decade or so of his life to playing the banjo in the tradition of Charlie Lowe, Tommy Jarrell, Dix Freeman, Fred Cockerham, and most importantly Kyle Creed.
Kevin has of course integrated the playing of these and other Round Peak masters into his own style which is quick, solid and clean. His banjo dances around the fiddle line as sure as any mountain goat. I’m not the only one who has noticed the quality of Kevin’s playing. He has taken home a bunch of prizes at banjo and old time band contests. In fact, although I have known him on line for quite a while my first in-person meeting with him was at the 2008 Hoppin' John Fiddlers Convention in Shakori Hills, where Kevin took first prize in the Old Time Banjo contest. Here is a youtube video of his band playing Old Bunch Of Keys at that convention:
These are just some of his other awards
2005-2007 1st place banjo Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention
6 year 1st place Laurel Bloomery Tenn. Fiddlers Convention
1st place 2008 Blue Ridge Banjo Shoot Out Galax, Va.
1st place 2007 Old Time Band Galax Old fiddlers convention
1st place 2008 Old Time Band Laurel Bloomery Tenn. Fiddlers Convention
1st place 2008 Old Time Band Sparta Fiddlers Convention with Benton Flippen's Smokey Valley Boys
Of course prizes aren’t important when it comes to listening and Kevin has put out a solidly entertaining album. He knows that an hour of straight instrumentals can end up sounding a bit monochromatic and has added enough vocals into the mix to keep up audience interest. Kevin sing, like he plays - completely in the tradition but also his own man.
Each track on the album has also been carefully notated giving his original sources (like Creed, Freeman, and Jarrell) and noting the many Round Peak musicians who participated in making this cd. Benton Flippin, Mac Snow, Bobby Patterson, Verlin Clifton, Chester McMillian and Kirk Sutphin are names familiar to most of us who collect old time music, but there are also many younger generation players like James and Joey Burris, grandsons of Otis Burris, William Flippen, grandson of Benton. The cd is a snapshot of Round Peak today.
Many of the tunes are well known and loved Round Peak favourites like “Sally Anne” and “Rockingham Cindy” but there are a few surprises like “Head Over Heels” a Fred Cockerham song, unavailable on any commercial recordings and the lesser known “Otis Burris’s Fortune” (sometimes called Up The Mountain Fortune). Kevin acknowledges his spiritual mentor Kyle Creed with “Roustabout” and even has Bobby Patterson, a frequent Creed sideman, do the guitar accompaniment.
If you have any interest in the Round Peak Style this is an album you need to own. Even if your interest in RP is only marginal, this is a solid set of 19 great tunes and songs played by inspired musicians – it could change you mind and your playing. I don’t review everything, preferring to save my efforts for exceptional recordings – and this is one of those exceptional recordings you need to hear.
Kevin also builds banjos – in the style of Kyle Creed, of course. He informs me that on his website he is slowly adding pictures and stories about the Round Peakers who have now passed on. Visit his website at:
Overall Rating: 9
'spikes' 10 min
'My new baby banjo' 2 hrs