On my frequent trips to Meadows of Dan a few years ago, I would often see Sammy Shelor around. It is a very small town after all, and Sammy and his family have lived there for a very long time. I always admired his humble nature and how he never hesitated to stop and chat with folks who wanted to say hello to him. He seemed to be a shy person though and I got the feeling that he was not the kind of person to waste a lot of words.
With that in mind, I approached him in January 2014 and asked if I could interview him as part of a collection of living history type films I wanted to make that would help to educate and entertain people about Appalachia and the rich music and culture we have here. Much to my surprise, after I explained my idea and why I wanted to do it, instead of stalling me or saying he would get back to me, he immediately pulled out his calendar and told me when he was available and we set it all up right then and there.
So in February 2014, John Hildreth, Tom Snediker and I interviewed and filmed Sammy Shelor in a lovely house in Floyd Virginia. The interview was relaxed and candid and Sammy talked about his various banjos, his family’s musical history, his thoughts on the future of the banjo, winning the Steve Martin Award, the Lonesome River Band, and many other things. His unique perspective on the music, the music industry and growing up in the mountains of Virginia is a real joy to listen to.
Part 1– In the first half of the interview, among other things, Sammy talks about his family’s rich musical history, how he started playing banjo, his Huber banjo, Sammy Shelor fingerpicks and the Lonesome River Band and he treats us to a little bit of live playing.
Part 2– In the second half of the interview, he speaks more about Lonesome River Band, his thoughts about the future of the banjo, the Steve Martin Award and many other things including another taste of live banjo playing.