Benton Flippen (b.1920) stems from an extremely influential generation of old-time musicians, a group of men from Surry County, North Carolina by the names of Fred Cockeram, Tommy Jarrel, Earnest East and Kyle Creed whose music inspired generations of old-time music enthusiasts. The Fiddlers Conventions at which these men performed in total obscurity in their youths flourish in modern times. This group of music makers each forged their own strongly unique styles in the 30s and 40s. Only Benton still performs for square dances every weekend and in 2006 at the internationally celebrated Mt. Airy Fiddler Convention stood the sole survivor of this fraternity. Benton still competing, leads his band the Smokey Valley Boys which he formed in the 60s, disbanded in 85, and reformed at the turn of the century, strong with the help of his young apprentice Andy Edmonds. Andy (b. 1986) reflects, "I've been playing with Benton since the spring of 2001 after filling in with him at a square dance in Ararat, Virginia. I've been with him ever since. I've picked up 75% of my music from Benton. I took up his style of using intricate double slides instead of noting each individual note. Most of the tunes I play are ones I've picked up from him." Musical tradition is passed on from master to pupil within the community as Andy tells, "My family has been in Surry County since before my great-great-great grandfather McGowan Edmonds fought with the rebels in the Civil War." Benton is 86, yet his music is spirited as a young child. He is held in such high regard that many famous pickers offered their strings to this session. Yet Benton insisted on musicians from his neck of the woods, the men that play with him each weekend. Here are 24 tunes, one of them his, all of which bear the stamp of a valiant individual artist. Benton like most legendary musicians remains unwilling to retire or veer from his course to the next show.
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