The three Terry brothers who form the core of the group live on adjoining parcels of land on South Lowell Road in Durham County (formerly Orange County) in a region settled by their forebears more than 200 years ago. Their great-grandfather, William S. Terry, farmed on the banks of the Little River after he and his five Terry brothers returned home from the Civil War.
Mekeel, the group's chief songwriter, noted that as a "Yankee" it's been a real treat to play with the Terry family. "I get a real sense of the music, community and traditions," he said. "No other bands I've been in had the sense of place that runs through the Doc Branch Band. This was particularly true when Uncle Edsel would play some fiddle with us and I also see the next generation of Terrys lining up tocarry on."
The Doc Branch Band
Before his passing on December 29th, 2011, Edsel Terry, 90, sat in occasionally with his nephews. A retired
farmer and logger, Edsel played with their father, John Roland Terry, an accordionist, at the Pick and Bow Club
on Guess Road for years. The Terry family built and operated the club from the early 50s until recently when it
was bought by the Sertoma Club. Another club, the Clover Hill Dance Club on North Roxboro Road, was run by
Terry family members from 1922 until the 50s.
Edsel Terry also has an important connection with the renowned folklorist/fiddler Alan Jabbour, who retired a few
years ago after 23 years as director of the Center for American Folklife at the Library of Congress. When
Jabbour was a young graduate student at Duke in 1965, he traveled to Bahama in northern Durham County to
record Edsel on banjo and fiddle. These tapes and interview notes are housed in the library's collection in
On what Jabbour called "a memorable evening," the two reunited on a farm in Hillsborough in 2004. They were
joined by the four Terry brothers and some of the area's finest old-time musicians, including Jim Watson, Joe
Newberry and Alice Gerrard. Jabbour said that Edsel "is as musical as he ever was -- a vigorous and
commanding performer on the fiddle."
Chapel Hill mandolinist Jim Watson said of the musical Terrys, "They continue an old tradition, that of a family
that has learned to play from an older family member and continues to play as a group the kind of music that they
learned from that member. This has become less common as the years go on. My hat goes off to them."
Phillip Walker, a founding member of the Caldwell Fire Department, said that, "The Pick and Bow was widely
known as the place where the Terry boys played. They played at dances to raise money for the newly organized
fire department. Their impact on this community would be hard to quantify, but I know it's huge."
For their contributions to the agricultural, civic and musical lives of their community, the Terry family was given
the Community Traditions Award by the North Carolina Folklore Society in 2005. At the recognition
ceremony, Edsel Terry played fiddle with the accompaniment of his four nephews.
The Doc Branch Band, which takes its name from a small creek that ultimately runs into the Little River plays
a comfortable schedule of showws and local events. Hillsborough audiences know the band from its appearances
at benefit concerts at Orange High for that school's FFA and agriculture programs. They are currently recording
their third CD.
Timeless Cruizers -- Friday May 10 (more details to follow)
Farm Fest -- Saturday June 1. We go on at 7:00
The Depot at Hillsborough Station -- Friday, June 28 at 8pm
The Rex Theater in Galax, VA. -- September 20