In 1971 Jerry Correll and I met either at Sunset Park, West Grove, PA or at a jam in Wilmington, DE. Jerry, back from Vietnam, was recuperating from a wound that almost took his hand off. He could no longer play the guitar but realized he could use a fiddle bow. Fiddling became his physical therapy. He took lessons from Emmitt Lundy’s grandson Jerry Lundy and Sonny Miller, also rooted in the Blue Ridge. After graduation from college, Jerry took his fiddle, a VW van, $100 and moved to Grayson County, VA.
Shortly afterward, Jerry invited me down. We went to Grayson Highlands Park, where we ran into fiddler Albert Hash. Albert, as nice a person as you’ll meet, asked us to “have a tune.” I thought anytime you stopped you’d meet a fiddler so I moved down, too. Jerry and I each bought places in Elk Creek; I got to play with Kyle Creed and others. A recording of Kyle’s instructions to me was eventually released as “Banjo Lessons on Kyle’s Porch” (Old Blue CD-502).
Almost 40 years later, Jerry’s repertory stretches from the Blue Ridge to the Ozarks. I’ve come and gone from Elk Creek, but Jerry stayed and has been the fiddler in the Wolfe Bros. String Band for the last 20+ years. We’ve continued to play and often threatened to record. A few years ago, Jerry also started playing with Kyle Dean Smith. While Jerry and I were cutting our teeth up North, Kyle Dean was tagging along with his father Snake Smith. Snake played with Fred Cockerham, George Peagram and Haywood Blevins. It evidently had an impact on Kyle Dean. While Kyle Dean can play banjo like Earl, Bela and everyone in between, his approach is always innovative but respectful. When the three of us got together, it felt “right.” It was finally time to record.
To round out the project, we called on family members: Kyle Dean, his father Snake – banjo and guitar; Jerry, his wife Donna – bass; and my daughter Chloe – bowed bass. While we play here as a band, we are foremost friends & family.