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The Lincoln County Outlaw goes bluegrass

The banjo strumming Lincoln County Outlaw has friends in high places.
Butch Jenkins, a local musician, regularly shares the stage with his idol – Raymond Fairchild, a bluegrass legend.
“I didn’t think I would ever get to see Raymond play in person, and here I am picking with him on stage,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins now has his first compact disc out featuring Fairchild, Wayne Crowe and Terrie Barnes.
“It was a big honor to have Raymond play on the CD,” said Tina Jenkins, his wife. “He has backed it 100 percent.”
Jenkins first met his idol at Fairchild’s Maggie Valley Opry House.
“I went there two or three times, and I finally caught him,” he said.
The two made fast friends after Fairchild heard a song Jenkin’s wrote titled “Raymond’s Opry House.”
“He said ‘I like that. It’s about me. Anything about me – that’s good,” said Jenkins.
The two played music on Fairchild’s porch for an hour and a half, and Fairchild told Jenkins he recognized star quality.
“He knew I wasn’t a run of the mill boy,” said Jenkins. “He said ‘He’s got it.’”
Soon after, Fairchild invited Jenkins to share the stage with him. Jenkins now picks with Fairchild every weekend the opry house is open.
“Raymond got me back on stage and back in overdrive again,” said Jenkins.
Before playing with Fairchild, Jenkins had a spent a long time simply playing at home with friends.
In his youth, he had fronted country music bands. As early as 15, he was playing at strip clubs and bars.
“They slipped me into some places I wasn’t supposed to be,” Jenkins said of his old band.
As an adult, Jenkins has worked driving a mixer truck. Since he picked up the banjo, he’s made a point of playing it in his sleeper.
Despite the judgments of some country loving friends, Jenkins is committed to his bluegrass transition.
“I reckon I had played country music so long, I juste wanted to switch over,” he said. “I liked the ring of that banjo.”
Although his new CD is a bluegrass album, it includes songs like “You’re Cheating Heart” by country legend Hank Williams. It also has the song he wrote about Fairchild.
Fairchild’s first impression of Jenkins has its mark on the CD as well.
“When we walked in, he took a look at Butch, and he just told him he looked like an outlaw,” said his wife.
Jenkins has since been known as “The Lincoln County Outlaw,” and his album uses that name.
The title of the CD is “In the Hills of North Carolina,” and it has already become a big hit in Lincolnton.
“He’s selling them like crazy” said his wife.
His famous friend is proud of Jenkins’ efforts. The two men talk often, and when Fairchild calls he always asks “Is the outlaw home?”
“Me and Raymond have come to be real good friends,” said Jenkins. “He calls me everyday, or I call him, and we shoot the breeze.”
by Sarah Grano

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