Tom Sauber

Banjo Workshop

Tom Sauber banjo

GONE TO THE WESTERN COUNTRY

Ed Lowe, born in the Round Peak area of Surry County, North Carolina in 1908, learned the clawhammer style of banjo playing from his uncle Charlie Lowe (b. 1878), who was generally regarded locally as the best banjo player of his era. Eddie began playing at age 9, but as a young man, left the mountains (and his banjo) behind and, after serving in army, settled on the West coast in San Pedro, making his career as a longshoreman.

Upon retiring, he picked up the banjo again and entered the Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest which was where I met him in 1972. For nearly 25 years, mostly playing fiddle with him, I had the opportunity to absorb the techniques and stylings, generally known as “Round Peak.”

In this workshop, I’ll demonstrate what I learned from Eddie, some of which is commonly used by ‘downstroke’ players most everywhere, some which is associated with fretless players of the Blue Ridge area, and one or two licks which seem to be unique to Eddie and his uncle Charlie.