“Benton Flippen is a one-time phenomenon. Ambling quietly forth from a musical family, he has taken the traditions around him and molded them into something unique to suite himself. Along the way, he’s astonished and delighted others.”- Paul Brown, Westfield, NC
How We Helped:
Music Maker Relief Foundation provided Benton Flippen with a monthly stipend for prescription medicine, recorded two of his records, and assisted him with touring, radio servicing and gigs throughout North Carolina.
Benton was born in 1920, the seventh of eight children. Benton recounts that he started playing the banjo in his early teens, and picked up the fiddle when he was about eighteen. He also played guitar from time to time, and his wife Lois recalls that he even sang the occasional song when they were courting.
Benton Flippen was a one-time phenomenon. Ambling quietly forth from a musical family, he took the traditions around him and molded them into something unique to suite himself. Along the way, he often astonished and delighted others.
Being born and raised in Surry County, North Carolina didn’t hurt. In this country, the home of celebrated old time musicians Fred Cockerham, Tommy Jarrell, Earnest East and Kyle Creed, musical signatures are very strong. Benton’s is as strong as any in a place where individuality is taken for granted, even nurtured and approved, and powerful personalities abound. Old time fiddlers’ conventions remain part of community life. Here, with very little listening experience, you can tell who’s about to fiddle a tune as soon as a bow is drawn across the strings.
Benton educated himself, in music as in most other things. He listened to a fiddling uncle who would come to visit from Thomasville, NC. He seemed to have listened intently to the late Esker Hutchins, a highly respected local fiddler and banjo picker with whom he played for several years on a radio and at fiddlers’ conventions.
Benton continued to play square dances and parties with the Dryhill Draggers, and he get together with friends at home for tunes up until his recent passing. “I guess I’ll keep draggin’ the bow until I just can’t do it anymore,” he said one day, sitting in his den with a wall of filddling trophies behind him and that he did.
– Taken from Paul Brown, Westfield, NC (edited 2011)