Richard “Chip” Chipman is no stranger to folks in the world of bluegrass music. Since 1987, Chipman has owned and operated Low Country Music in Moncks Corner. The store has become a place for musicians of all ages and skill levels to come together, play, and learn from each other.
Chipman’s exposure to bluegrass and country music goes back to his childhood. Growing up in Kentucky, he learned to play from his brothers and would tag along when his siblings played for folks. Everywhere he traveled his mandolin would be by his side. Chipman learned all of the traditional tunes by listening to his brothers, watching them play, and observing their various styles. Fifty years later, he continues to pass these traditions on to a new generation of musicians, some as young as five or six years old.
He teaches between fifty and sixty students a week at his store in Moncks Corner and many of the locals have affectionately coined the store the “Low Country Bluegrass Academy.” He works with all ages, but prefers to teach children sixteen and younger. In 2007, one of his fiddle students traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina and placed first in the National Youth Competition. Another student recently earned a music scholarship to attend the College of Charleston. Chipman frequently visits Berkeley County schools and demonstrates the techniques and instrumentation of bluegrass music and has been recognized by the Berkeley County Board of Education for working in partnership with Berkeley Elementary School to improve opportunities for its students.
Chipman is the organizer and presenter of the annual “Pickin’ in the Park” music festival at Old Santee Canal Park. This day-long program of bluegrass music features bands from all across the region and each year he features his music students live on stage. In 2005, Chipman received the “Lifetime Commitment Award” from Bluegrass on the Waccamaw, a non-profit organization that presents the annual “Bluegrass on the Waccamaw” music festival in Conway, South Carolina. About the music he loves, Chipman says, “bluegrass music is an addiction, and when it bites you, it may get away from you for ten years, but it sneaks right back up on you. You’ve got to do it.” Chipman received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2008.