Round Peak Style: Old Time Music from Surry County, North Carolina


The Southern Appalachian Mountains are filled with a rich tradition of music that draws its roots from Anglo-Celtic fiddle and African banjo music. This genre of music is known to many as “old-time” or mountain string band music. One such variation of style within old time music is known as Round Peak. Originating from the rural area of Round Peak, North Carolina in Surry County, this type of old-time holds a certain distinct sound. Musicians such as Charlie Lowe, Tommy Jarrell, and Fred Cockerham made this music popular in the twentieth century. Differing from other types of old-time, the banjo, with its syncopated rhythms made by drop thumbs and the melodic nature of noting, sets this technique apart from the other old time styles. Today, Surry County is filled with musicians who play Round Peak style, and the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Conventions gives listeners a chance to hear the best. This document is intended to provide an overview of the many research materials available on Round Peak old time music located in the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University.

Introductory Text: 

Alden, Ray. “Music from the Round Peak.” Old Time Music . 19 (1975/1976): 8-16. ASU APP COLL OVSZ ML 1. O53

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Country Music--North Carolina--Surry County--1981
  • Fiddle Tunes--North Carolina
  • Folk Dance Music--Appalachian Region Southern
  • Folk Dance Music--North Carolina
  • Folk Music--North Carolina
  • Folk Songs--English--Surry County

Also Relevant:

  • Banjo Music
  • Country Music--Appalachian Region Southern
  • Dance Tunes
  • Fiddle Tunes
  • Folk Dance Music--Untied States
  • Folk Music--United States
  • Folk Songs--English--United States
  • Old Time Music
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Folk Music
  • Music-Appalachia
  • Musicians- Appalachia
  • Fiddler’s Conventions and Music Festivals
  • Music-Banjo
  • Music- Fiddle
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • M1629
  • ML 1
  • ML 102
  • ML 106
  • ML 3551
  • ML 3556

Alden, Ray. “Music from the Round Peak.” Old Time Music . 19 (1975/1976): 8-16. ASU APP COLL OVSZ ML 1. O53

Camp Creek Boys. Old-Time Sting Band . County CD 2719, 1997. ASU APP COLL CD CDisc 129

Ernest East . Videocassette. Johnson City, Tennessee: Broadside Press, 1974. ASU APP COLL VIDEO VC 407

Gates, David. “Pickin’ On Tommy’s Porch.” Newsweek . 17 September 1984, 78.

Jarrell, Tommy. Sail Away Ladies . County 756,1976. ASU APP COLL REC ML 3545. A317 Rec# 332.

Legends of Old Time Music . Videocassette. Cambridge, MA: Rounder and Vestapool, 1995. ASU APP COLL VIDEO VC 132

Music in the Old Time Way: Traditional Music and Musicians from the Southern Appalachians . Videocassette. Dir. Philip S. Morgan.1986. 60 minutes. ASU APP COLL VIDEO VC 142.

Neithammer, Nancy Dols. “Tommy Jarrell’s Family Stories 1830-1925, Part 1.” Old Time Herald . 3 (1991): 22-29. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. O35

Neithammer, Nancy Dols. “Tommy Jarrell’s Family Stories 1830-1925, Part 2.” Old Time Herald . 3 (1991). ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. O35

Sprout Wings and Fly . Videotape. Prod. Cece Conway. El Cerrito, CA: Flower Films, 1983. ASU APP COLL VC 83

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Carlin, Richard. The Big Book of Country Music: A Biographical Encyclopedia . New York: Penguin Books, 1995. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 102. C7 C28 1995

Fussel, Fred C. Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 15-29. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 3551. 7. 1358 F8 2003

McGee, Marty. Traditional Musicians of the Central Blue Ridge: Old Time, Early
Country, Folk and Bluegrass Label Recording Artists, with Discographies. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2000 . 50-53, 53-55, 56-57, 63-64, 65-66, 93, 93-97, 97-98, 99, 140-142, 169-171. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 106. U4 B66


Appalachian Bibliography . Morganton: West Virginia University Library, 1980. 695, 710. ASU APP COLL STACK Z 1251. A7 A6 1980

Archive of Folksong- Library of Congress: Bibliographies, Directories, and Other
Reference Aids . Section 48, pgs. 11-12, 19, 39, 40. ASU APP COLL STACK Z 6814. F7

Cohen, Norm. Traditional Anglo-American Folk Music: An Annotated Discography of Published Sound Recordings . New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. 25, 31-32, 36, 7-62, 93, 175-177, 206-208, 255. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 156. 4. F5 C64 1994

Gennett Record of Old Time Tunes . Los Angeles California, JEMF Univ. of California Press, 1970. 13. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 156. 4. F5 G46 1970

Meade, Guthrie T., Jr. Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. 122, 164,179, 189, 307, 329, 341, 380, 381, 396, 399, 466, 529, 634, 708, 734, 778, 780, 788, 824, 851, 853. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 156. 4. F5 M43 2002

Sandberg, Larry and Dick Weissman. The Folk Music Source Book . New York: Da Capo Press, 1989. 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 88, 89, 234, 235, 236. ASU APP COLL OVSZ ML 12. S26 1989

Tallmadge, William H. Selected and Annotated Discography of Southern Appalachian Mountain Music . Berea College Appalachian Center, 1986. 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 156. 4. F5 T35 1985

Abstracts and Indices: 

America: History and Life (ABC CLIO), online:

Biography and Genealogy Master Index , online:

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP), online:

RILM Abstracts of Musical Literature , online:


Banjo Newsletter . Monthly. Vol. 1, 1973-present. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. B35

Bluegrass Unlimited . Monthly. Vol. 2,1967- present. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. B68

Old-Time Herald . Monthly. Vol. 1,1987-present. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. 035

Old Time Music . Quarterly. Vol. 1,1971- Vol. 45,1989. ASU APP COLL STACK ML 1. 053

North Carolina Folklore Journal . Semiannual. Vol.1, 1948-v.20, 1972. ASU APP COLL STACK GR110.N8 N6

Sing Out! Monthly . Vol. 1, 1959-present. ASU APP COLL STACK M1629 .S595


The Old Time Music Webpage.

Folk Music Index.

Mount Airy, North Carolina Webpage.

Roots of American Fiddle Music.

Other Sources: 

Ray Alden
Riley Baugus
Bent Mountain Band
Paul Brown
Verlin Clifton
Boggy Cockerham
Fred Cockerham
Kyle Creed
Ernest East
Lee Dix Freeman
Benton Flippen
Camp Creek Boys
Houston Gaylean
Julie Jarrell
Tommy Jarrell
Frank Jenkins
Oscar Jenkins
Charlie Lowe
Eddie Lowe
Chester McMillan
Pilot Mountain Bobcats
Pine Ridge Boys
Red Fox Chasers
Smokey Valley Boys
Mac Snow
Surry County Boys
Kirk Sutphin
Paul Sutphin
Robert Sykes

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Julie Shepherd, 16 December 2003