Bluegrass

Donald Clifton and The Country Boys

Bluegrass band

Mt. Airy, NC (Surry County)

Donald Clifton was born and raised in Surry County where he was exposed to traditional music and dance as a young boy. "I was drug to square dances as far back as I can remember," he says. Donald also listened to the Grand Ole Opry every chance he had. By the time he was eight or nine years old, Donald started playing guitar. "I had the desire to play ever since I was young," he says. Donald's aunt played the guitar, and she showed him some chords to help him get started. After that, Donald listened to records and learned to play by ear.

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Charlie Edwards

Bluegrass guitar player

Sparta, NC (Alleghany County)

Charlie Edwards was born and raised in Maryland, but his parents were from Alleghany County, and they made frequent trips back for family visits throughout his life. In Maryland, they lived in the midst of a number of other migrants from Alleghany County. He remembers hearing Ola Belle Reed and Alex Campbell and the New River Boys and Girls at Sunset Park, a popular music park that Ola Belle and Alex operated near where Charlie and his family lived. "I was up there a lot," remembers Charlie.

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Eric Ellis

Bluegrass banjo player

Wilkesboro, NC (Wilkes County)

Eric Ellis was born and raised in Wilkesboro in a musical family. He has become one of the premier bluegrass banjo players in western North Carolina. His grandfather played music with Dock Walsh, a Wilkes County recording artist in the 1920s, and his father maintained that interest in music and played guitar. Musicians on his mother's side of the family include his second cousin, David Johnson, a Wilkes County master musician and recording artist.

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R.G. Absher

Bluegrass and Oldtime Musician

Elkin, NC (Surry County)

R.G. Absher was born in West Jefferson, in Ashe County, and he has lived in western North Carolina most of his life. He first remembers paying attention to the sound of a banjo at nine years old when he heard the soundtrack for the movie Bonnie and Clyde. He got interested in playing music himself and started learning from friends and older musicians in the area. R.G. spent time with Al Wood, a banjo player from Alexander County, Fred Weaver, an oldtime two-finger banjo player from Alleghany County, and Bill Young, a finger-style guitar picker who also played rock-a-billy.

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