If you want to hear a living master of the different styles of clawhammer banjo that emerged from the Round Peak community, listen to Kevin Fore.

 
But Kevin doesn’t just play banjos: he makes them. Many people have said that he picked up where Kyle Creed left off. See his work here: www.roundpeakbanjos.com
 
Kevin was inspired to get into music by his local hero, Benton Flippen. The two played together frequently over the last years of Benton’s life.
Kevin Fore and Benton Flippen at the 2009 Galax Fiddlers Convention.
Photo by Mark V. Sanderford

Kevin currently plays banjo with The New Smokey Valley Boys, so don’t miss a chance to see them if you are so lucky.

The following short bio is taken from: www.blueridgeheritage.com/traditional-artist-directory/kevin-fore  

Kevin Fore grew up in the Beulah/Lowgap area of Surry County. He plays Round Peak style clawhammer banjo and is one of the youngest native tradition bearers of the style. Kevin took an interest in the traditional music of his community after he graduated high school and a doctor advised him against his hobby of racing cars on a dirt track. “I’m allergic to dust,” explains Kevin, “so I started going to square dances where Benton Flippen was playing.”  

He wanted to play the banjo, and he sought out traditional musicians in his community as teachers. He visited his cousin Verlen Clifton of the Camp Creek Boys fame to learn banjo tunes and made trips to fiddler Benton Flippen’s house to hear him play. When he met Kirk Sutphin at a dance where he was playing with Benton, he discovered family ties. “He’s my double cousin,” says Kevin. Kirk gave Kevin copies of home recordings of Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed, and other local traditional musicians. Soon, Kevin was playing banjo behind Kirk’s fiddle. “That’s how I’ve learned the biggest part of my music,” Kevin says, “off home recordings and going to Kirk’s.” (…)

Kevin has won numerous awards for his banjo playing through the years and since 2007 he started building banjos in the style of Kyle Creed’s banjos. Some folks have told Kevin he has picked up where Kyle left off.   Kevin and his wife Trish Fore, also an award winning clawhammer banjo player, recently moved from Lowgap, NC just over the mountain to Galax, VA near the Blue Ridge Music Center and Kyle Creed’s old home. (…) [End of excerpt]

Old Lawson family picture received from Kevin Fore. This picture dates from 1918. Kevin is a descendant of the musical Lawson family of Round Peak. “This photo is of most my 3rd great grandpa Riley and grandma Judith Lawson’s family along with Paul Sutphin’s sister on far right, top. Uncle Alvis Lawson fiddle and Uncle Hass Lawson banjo and a young, Uncle Cyrus Lawson in the center was also a fine banjo man.”

Discography:

– Round Peak, The Tradition Continues ‎(2008, Heritage Records HRC-CD-147)

– Frolic In Round Peak (2009, Round Peak Banjos 884501200745)

– Benton Flippen & The Smokey Valley Boys, “270 Haystack Rd.” (Music Maker Relief Foundation ‎– MMCD 111)  [Kevin plays banjo on this record.]

Appearances in compilations (selection):

– In The Field Behind The Stage – Recordings From Galax Old Fiddlers Conventions – 1967 & 2010 (2011, OB-708)

– Banjo Classics From The Vaults Of County Records & Old Blue Records ‎(2012, OB-710)

Videos

Watch Kevin play a full-length concert with Kirk Sutphin and Andy Edmonds. This is some of the best old-time music on YouTube.

Here is a short intro to Kevin the banjo maker by Craig frailin’ Evans.

Kevin and his wife, Trish Fore, maintain a website dedicated to “Kyle Creed & his banjo”: www.kylecreedbanjos.com

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