Buck Mountain Band

Buck Mountain Band is an old-time string band based in Grayson County, Virginia. They are resident musicians at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA, playing every Monday in the summer season. They have produced three CDs of their music, including Bull at the Wagon, their latest in 2015.

Recorded in Bent Trees Hollow (a few miles north of Independence, Va., near Buck Mountain) on the week between the Galax and Fries fiddlers conventions in August 2006, this first CD by the Buck Mountain Band reflects both individual virtuosity and the ensemble feel born of the years the group has played together.   The band comfortably covers a range of old-time styles from Missouri waltzes, Grayson County standards like "Polecat Blues" and "Ragtime Annie,"  a Pennsylvania polka, Bob Wills's "Silver Bells," to Larry McPeak’s deeply moving original song "Dry Run Creek." 


Polecat Blues is a favorite in Grayson and Carroll Counties in Virginia and Surry County, NC.  Betty Vornbrock patiently helped Bob learn it during a late-night session at the Grayson County Fiddlers' Convention in Elk Creek, Virginia.

Moon behind the Hills comes from the great West Virginia fiddler Melvin Wine.

Ragtime Annie, one of the best dance tunes and found pretty much everywhere, was one of the first tunes Bob learned when, a lad of 29, he began to play the fiddle in Athens, Ohio, c. 1970.  It was recorded by the great Texas fiddler Eck Robertson in 1922 with three parts, but in the southern Appalachians the third part isn't played--indeed, some deny its very existence--and we play it here in that tradition.

Dry Run Creek meanders through Speedwell, Va., and inspired this beautiful and haunting song by Larry McPeak, who sings it here as it is supposed to be sung.  It isn't based on an actual Civil War battle,  though some historians, after hearing the song, have tried to locate the site.

Ozark Waltz, recorded in Memphis in 1930 by the Morrison Brothers Band, bears a resemblance to the “Gold Hill Waltz” played in Grayson County, Va.  It’s done here as a trio, with Bob, Dan, and Sue.

Pig Ankle Rag  Bob remembers hearing the Highwoods String Band do this one in the 70s and learning it shortly thereafter.  It was originally recorded in 1928 by Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, a Memphis jug band, and sometimes goes by the name "Pig Ankle Blues" or "Pig Ankle Strut."

Chinese Breakdown  Hats off to Lyman Enloe, the great Missouri fiddler.  Lots of fiddlers play it, but Enloe’s version, from the album wistfully entitled “Fiddle Tunes I Recall,” got Bob started on it.

High Yellow,  a Henry Reed tune, collected by Alan Jabbour in southwestern Virginia, is another great one to play for dances.

Black Velvet Waltz, of Canadian origin, is now identified with the Midwest, where it has been recorded by Vesta Johnson in Missouri and Chirps Smith in Illinois.  The trio of Dan, Sue, and Bob do this one.

Ebenezer comes mainly from the playing of the West Virginia fiddler Franklin George.  Uncle Charlie Higgins, from Galax, Virginia, called it “West Virginia Farewell.”  

Julianne Johnson was first recorded by Emmett Lundy of Galax, Va.

Walking in My Sleep  Both old-time and bluegrass bands play this lively one.  Our version comes mainly from the playing of J. P. Fraley, who attributed it to Arthur Smith.  The words come from our neighbor Dale Morris.

Snyder Waltz, another beautiful Missouri tune, from the playing of Vesta Johnson. 

Merry Maiden Polka  This tune comes from Harry D’Addario of New Berlin, Pa.  As far as we know, it has never been recorded before, unless by a polka band.

The Last Shot Got Him From John Holloway and The Mississippi Possum Hunters, recorded in May 1930.

Silver Bells  From Pennsylvania fiddler Harry D’Addario’s spirited version.  Bob Wills, who composed the tune, recorded a fancier version of it, of course.

My Own House Waltz,  another fine tune played by the Highwoods String Band in the otherwise dark days of the 1970s, is of Scottish origin.

Texas Quickstep or “Texas Gallop,” is close kin to “Rachel” and, somewhat more distantly, to Ed Haley’s “Cherokee Polka.” Recorded by Red Steeley in 1929, it’s transcribed in Marion Thede’s Fiddle Book.

Lorena, composed in 1857 by an Ohio minister grieving for the sweetheart who had jilted him, was popular during the civil war, especially among Confederate soldiers.  The tune had words, of course, many of them, the gist of which is that “stern duty” caused the lovers to part and they would be reunited in heaven, “heart to heart.”  Done here in trio fashion, with Bob, Dan, and Larry.