“Traditional Country Roots Music” is what the band plays. “We play ‘The Wilkes County Sound’ as we like to call it,” states the band. “We like to play the songs that came out of Wilkes County. We are also interested in the music of Virginia, West Virginia and East Tennessee. We like to refer to these areas as ‘where the real music came from’ and our main goal is to keep this music alive for future generations to enjoy. Some of the songs we do date back to the early 1800s. Some are not near that old but date back to the 50s and 60s. We do old time, bluegrass, traditional, gospel and even a blues tune now and then. All these different kinds of music were played in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian regions of our country so we want to play some of all this music.”
Members of the Elkville String Band are Herb Key, Jeff Michael, Bill Williams, Jim Lloyd and Trevor McKenzie.
Herb Key grew up in a musical family in Wilkes County. He has played music for most of his life and has spent more than 30 years making, repairing, and restoring instruments. He has been interested in music all of his life, and he grew up listening to old Carter Family recordings, mesmerized with Mother Maybelle’s guitar playing. He also listened to radio programs and has fond memories of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. When he was sixteen, Herb’s parents bought him his own Silvertone guitar, an instrument he still owns.
Jeff Michael was born in Iredell County, but raised in Wilkes County surrounded by music. He has been playing, mostly professionally, since he was a young boy. Jeff grew up spending a lot of time in church where his parents and grandparents sang. “There was singing all the time,” Jeff says. “We were always in church singing.”
Bill Williams moved to Wilkes County from Florida in 1976, and immersed himself in the mountain music of the region. Bill’s music endeavors started when his wife bought him an old guitar shortly after they were married in 1983. He learned to play rhythm guitar and met guitarist Steve Kilby at American Drew where they both worked. Bill was a founding member of Steve Kilby’s “Sunday Night Band” along with John Akin and Jimmy Wyatt. While with Steve’s band he won numerous ribbons and trophies at fiddlers conventions throughout North Carolina and Virginia.
The band lost fiddler Drake Marsh last November who had played with them for 10 years. Jim Lloyd and Trevor McKenzie have agreed to pick with the band this year.