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George Pegram

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Album Review

The first solo album by bluegrass/old-time banjo picker George Pegram is historically important not only in the context of Pegram's work and the art of banjo playing in general, but because it was the first album ever released by the now-legendary folk label, Rounder Records. In fact, as the excellent CD reissue liner notes relate, the acquisition of the George Pegram tapes by Rounder founders Bill Nowlin and Ken Irwin played an important role in inspiring the two folk fans to establish the label. Musically, the album could not have been a better starting point for a company that would revolutionize the business of folk while maintaining a healthy respect for the music's traditions. George Pegram was as real and raw as they come. A grizzled, bowlegged, illiterate manual laborer with only one good eye, Pegram here plays with an intensity reminiscent of blues legends Robert Johnson and Howlin' Wolf. His voice on these recordings is horse and ragged, yet capable of a broad range of emotional inflection. Pegram was by all accounts a highly entertaining and comedic live performer as well, but little of little of his flair for goofy humor is readily apparent here. These recordings consist simply of excellent music played with purity and passion rarely heard in the modern age.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s

George Franklin Pegram was born and raised in Guilford County, a farming community that was rich in traditional music. Growing up as a teenager, the musician purchased his first Silvertone banjo for $15. He also met Zack Whitaker, a local promoter who organized fiddlers' conventions and showcases while Pegram was growing up. Also influenced by his uncle Clyde Pegram, George began perfecting the "double-thumbing" style of banjo playing, a three-finger movement that used single notes. At the age of...
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George Pegram, George Pegram
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