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Old-Time String Band The Corklickers to Play at Special Reunion Event at Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant on June 6

The Corklickers in Todd, NC in June 2004

By Harley Nefe

The old-time string band The Corklickers will be making an appearance at Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant in Blowing Rock for a performance from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, June 6.

This performance is part of a special reunion event for former High Country resident Julian Monroe Fisher who will be returning from an exploration in Belize. 

Fisher is an explorer, Anthropologist, photographer and published author among many other accolades. His segue into his research and travels began in the High Country. 

The first time Fisher heard of the word Anthropology was during his junior year of college at Appalachian State University when his roommate, Mark Adams, was taking an Anthropology course and suggested the class to Fisher. 

Pictured left to right, Mack Vannoy, Gil Adams, Rick Palmer and Mark Adams

Mark Adams along with his brother, Gil Adams, are members of the band The Corklickers, who play old-time music from the 1920s-1930s. The band started in early 1976, and Fisher was an original member of the band. 

“We were The Corklickers, and now we’re meeting at Woodlands on June 6, and I hadn’t seen them in 40 years,” Fisher said. “It’s just crazy.”

Gil Adams has many fond memories of hanging out with Fisher back in the day, and it all started at the Beech Haus Restaurant, which Fisher’s parents developed and ran for 30 years at the foot of Beech Mountain.

“We would go there to eat, and we ended up meeting during those days,” Gil Adams said. “(Fisher), my brother and I then shared an apartment in Boone way back.”

Gil Adams continued to reminisce and talked about how Fisher received a dulcimer from Rick Stone, who lived in the Boone area and made them.

“(Fisher) would play with us, and he was part of the band,” Gil Adams said. We were the second band to ever play at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tennessee when it opened, and (Fisher) was with us at that time.”

The Corklickers have been playing music ever since. The band members, who are from east Tennessee and western North Carolina, are enjoying their 45th year performing. 

The original members of the band included: Gil Adams, Mark Adams, “Mike” Fisher, Clay Buckner, Ben Moore, Dick Tarrier and Rick Stone.

“The original name of the band was The Coffey Gap Corklickers because Ben Moore and Clay Buckner lived in the Coffey Gap area,” Gil Adams said. “And Corklickers was a term Ben Moore came up with.”

He further said Corklicker is a lifestyle or mindset.

Over the years, there has been an evolution with other members joining and some leaving.

Gil Adams gave honorable mentions to old members Rick Stone, Dick Tarrier and Mack Vannoy who all passed away.

The members of the band who will be at the special reunion event on June 6 include: Gil Adams (fiddle), Mark Adams (banjo), Ben Moore (guitar), Rick Moore (bass), Rick Palmer (fiddle) and David Burns (fiddle).

“It’ll be a good group,” Gil Adams said. “It will be fun, and I’m looking forward to it. The special thing will be to see ‘Mike’ Fisher, who I have not seen in years. In fact, my brother, Mark, and I went to the John Boy & Billy Big show years ago when (Fisher) was traveling and touring, and we played on that show as a tribute to him.”

Fisher also shared that he is really looking forward to the reunion at Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant.

“They haven’t done a gig in the High Country for just a beer and a little bit of barbeque in a long time,” Fisher said. “They are, I think, without a doubt the best old-time group of musicians that I know that are out there.”

After The Corklickers’s performance, many people will probably stay and hang out. It’s an opportunity to see some familiar faces and for everyone to tell tales.

“We’re looking forward to having Monroe and The Corklickers,” said Jim Houston, Owner of Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant. “And all those folks from that era can stop by and reminisce.”

Fisher said he has a feeling that it’s going to be a wonderful event with a great crowd, and Gil Adams agreed and said that there will be a lot of people attending that they know.

“We’re all excited about this gig,” Gil Adams said. 

The Corklickers are ready to play on Sunday, and then they have more gigs coming up this summer as well, including three performances at the Grandfather Vineyard & Winery.

Photos courtesy of The Corklickers

Gill Adams shared that The Corklickers got called to play at a festival in southwest Virginia, and it turned out to be a political event. It was also when Jimmy Carter was running for president. They met Billy Carter and had a Billy Beer with him, and Lorne Greene was there. He came up and said, “You boys play damn good music.” They talked with him, and Gil Adams let him pull the bow across his fiddle, and then some folks asked if they could get a picture of him with The Corklickers, which is where this photo came from. Gil Adams said, “That made our trip up there worthwhile!!”
Classic Recording Studios
The Corklickers at Rhythm and Roots in 2006
Gil Adams also shared memories about a man named Robert Dotson, who was a legendary flatfoot dancer. Robert Dotson had a place in Sugar Grove where he built a cabin to do parties and have music. The Corklickers were there numerous times. These are pictures of Monroe Fisher playing a dulcimer at Robert Dotson’s party cabin with The Corklickers.