Birthdays of Famous Fiddlers

Joseph Allard (February 1, 1873 - November 14. 1947)

Born on February 1, 1873 in Woodland, Maine, Joseph Allard's parents returned to their native Quebec
where their talented son began playing the fiddle at the age of nine. At the age of 16,
Allard came back to the Northeastern US where he won many fiddle contests throughout the New England states.
He moved back to the area of Montreal in 1917 but often visited New England to compete in fiddle
contests. Allard began recording for Bluebird, a division of Victor Records in 1928.

According to discographer Gabriel Labbé, Allard's most popular records were Reel de l'Aveugle (Blind Man's Reel), Reel de Chateauguay,
Reel de Jacques Cartier, & Reel du voyageur (Traveler's Reel). Aside from the 75
Bluebird records he made under his own name, Allard also recorded six records
for Bluebird under the name of Maxime Toupin. Allard was a major influence
upon great Canadian fiddlers including Jean Carignan and Graham Townsend.
Despite his great reputation which earned him the name of "the prince of the fiddlers," Allard made his living as a fisherman during his later years and died
in obscurity in obscurity on November 14, 1947.

Blind Man's Reel (Reel de l'Aveugle)
Victor 263723, side B, Montreal, August 1930

Reel de Châteauguay
Victor 263578, side B, Montreal , March 1929,

Reel Jacques-Cartier (Jacques Cartier's Reel)
Victor 263675, Side A, Montreal, March 1930

Reel du voyageur (Traveller's Reel = Drummer's Reel)
Victor 263534, Side A, Montreal, September 1928

To read an excellent article about Joseph Allard in The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada,
go to:

To search the Virtual Gramophone collection for more recordings by
Joseph Allard and other great Canadian fiddlers, go to:

John L. "Uncle Bunt" Stephens (February 2, 1879 - July, 1951)

Kerry Blech has been keeping track of the birthdays of fiddlers for many years now and has accumulated an extensive and impressive
list of names of fiddlers past and present. He just posted his
list for February on FIDDLE-L.

Joseph Allard was the first great fiddler on Kerry's birthday list, born on the first of February.

The second fiddler on his list is also legendary, though he only made four records for Columbia in March of 1926 and spent most of his life farming and fiddling for dances in rural south middle Tennessee.

John L. Stephens, born February 2, 1879, was raised in the rural Flatcreek community in Bedford County in south middle Tennessee just to the south of Shelbyville. Uncle Dave Macon grew up in
the same general area of middle Tennessee, just east of Murfreesboro in Woodbury. Fiddlin' Arthur Smith came from Loretto, south of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee close to the Alabama state line.

Growing up in an area with a rich musical tradition, he learned to play harmonica at the age of six and then at the age of eleven he taught himself to play the fiddle, which became his main instrument.

It is not clear when or why he picked up the nickname "Uncle Bunt," though it might have had something to do with his short stature.
He moved to the neighborhood of Tullahoma not far to the east and played for dances in that area for forty years until he was invited to enter a fiddle contest sponsored by a local Ford dealership in nearby Lynchburg, Tennessee in early 1926.

Uncle Bunt then went on to win the Tennessee state championship at a fiddle contest sponsored by Henry Ford at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on January 19, 1926 in which he won third place. This qualified Uncle Bunt to compete in a regional contest in Louisville, Kentucky and then a national old time fiddle contest held in Detroit, Michigan in which he won first place. (There is some question whether this contest actually took place!) In any event, Uncle Bunt signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but soon thereafter he went back to farm work and part-time fiddling. He died late July of 1951 and was buried in a rural graveyard between Lynchburg and Tullahoma.

Uncle Bunt's classic 1926 recording of "Sail Away Ladies" was reissued on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music by Folkways Records in 1952 and is still available from Smithsonian Folkways.

"Louisburg Blues" (actually a misspelling of the name of Lewisburg,
a town just to the west of Uncle Bunt's homeplace) can be heard
on the Juneberry 78s website.

"Candy Girl" has been reissued by County Records.

"Lost In The Dark Blues" has not been reissued to my knowledge.
(I'd love to hear a copy of it if anyone in this group has access to it)

David Lynch has included Uncle Bunt Stephens in his Hall of Fame
of Old-Time Fiddlers, and rightly so. Even though he only recorded four tunes, they were all classics.

You can read a fascinating article about Uncle Bunt Stephens
and hear a recording of "Sail Away Ladies" by going to David
Lynch's excellent Old-Time Music website:

To hear Uncle Bunt's solo recording of "Louisburg (sic) Blues," Columbia 15071 D, recorded 3/29/26, New York City, go to:

I have put together a google map showing where Uncle Bunt Stephens grew up and learned his music:

Clarence "Tater" Tate (February 4, 1931 - October 17, 2007)

Clarence "Tater" Tate was born in Yuma, Scott County, VA on Feb 4, 1931.

One of nine children, he was only four years old when he began playing guitar . Art Wooten's fiddling inspired him to take up the fiddle in his teens. By 1950, he was playing on WNOX radio in Knoxville; local grocery store magnate Cas Walker gave young Clarence the nickname "Tater." A pioneer bluegrass musician, Tater played with East Tennessee groups such as the Sauceman Brothers and the Bailey Brothers.

After two years as a US Marine, Tater replaced Bobby Hicks on fiddle in the Bluegrass Boys, then went on to play with other bluegrass giants such as Jimmy Martin, Hylo Brown, Carl Story and Jim Eanes. Tater played with Red Smiley from 1965 until 1977, when he took over Paul Warren's place in Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. In 1979 he became Bill Monroe's bass player and became his fiddler when Kenny Baker left in 1984. After Monroe's death in 1996, Tater joined the faculty of East Tennessee State University's bluegrass program in 2005 and taught there until failing health caused him to retire. He died in Jonesborough, Tennessee on October 17, 2007.

A great musician with a modest, down-to-earth personality, Tater Tate was dearly loved by those who were lucky enough to get to know and work with him.

To read Tater Tate's obituary in Johnson City Press October 19 2007

To read about Tater Tate's career as one of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys,
go to:

To see a google map that shows important places in the life and career of
the pioneer bluegrass fiddler Clarence "Tater" Tate, go to:,-83.765259&spn=3.176298,7.141113&z=8>

To read an article about the WNOX Mid Day Merry Go Round in Knoxville,
go to:

To read a brief biography of Tater Tate, see:

To see Tater Tate fiddling "Old Daingerfield" with Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, go to:

To see Tater Tate fiddling "Frog On A Lily Pad" with Bill Monroe and The
Bluegrass Boys in 1988, go to:
    Norman Edmonds (February 9, 1889 - 1976)

Born on February 9, 1889 in rural Wythe County, Virginia near the towns of Galax and Hillsville, Norman S. Edmonds was only about five years old when he began to play the fiddle. When he was a grown man of 38 years old, Edmonds made what was then a long, hard journey down to Bristol, Tennessee with banjoist and singer
J.P. Nestor to record four tunes for Victor Records on August 1, 1927, the same day the Carter Family made their first historic recordings. Unlike the Carters, Nestor
made no more records. Edmonds spent the rest of his long life working and
playing in the area in which he had been born. From 1950 to 1970, he and his band The Old Timers, including a local banjo player and three of his sons on guitar, played regularly on a live local radio show in Galax. The Old Timers also competed in regional fiddle contests. Mike Seeger and John Cohen recorded them for Folkways at Galax in 1962 and at Union Grove, NC in 1964. In 1972, Steve Davis
produced an LP of Edmonds' music for his Davis Unlimited label. Edmonds died in 1976 at the age of 87.

To read more about Norman Edmonds in an article from the summer 1973 issue of Old Time Music magazine by Steven F. Davis and Robert E. Nobley posted on David Lynch's Old-Time Fiddlers' Hall of Fame on his beautiful Old-Time Music website, go to:

To hear two of the songs J. P. Nestor and Norman Edmonds recorded for
Victor Records' Ralph Peer in Bristol, Tennessee on the first of August, 1927,
go to:

J.P. Nestor, banjo and vocal, Norman Edmonds, fiddle
Black Eyed Susie, Victor 21070 ,Bristol, TN, 1 Aug 1927

J.P. Nestor, banjo and vocal, Norman Edmonds, fiddle
Train On The Island,Victor 21070, Bristol, TN, 1 Aug 1927

Train On The Island was issued on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music by Folkways Records in 1952, reissued on Smithsonian Folkways Records
in 1997

To hear samples of Norman Edmonds and The Old Times playing on live local radio in Galax, Virginia from 1958, go to:


Sweet Little Julie

For more information concerning these CDs and the Field Recorders' Cooperative, go to:

37th Old Time Fiddler's Convention at Union Grove North Carolina
released 1962
Track 103 "Instrumental" (very similar to "Brown's Dream")

Galax, Virginia Old Fiddler's Convention
released 1964 ,FW02435_106
Walk in the Parlor
The Old Timers

Classic Mountain Songs From Smithsonian Folkways
released 2002
212 Kingdom's Come (fiddle solo)
Norman Edmonds

For information concerning the CD reissue of the Davis Unlimited LP of Norman Edmonds, SFR-DU–33002

Train On The Island
Traditional Blue Ridge Mountain Fiddling
featuring Norman Edmonds on fiddle and Rufus Barnett on banjo,
go to:

To see a google map showing where Norman Edmonds was born, raised and played his music, go to:,-81.540527&spn=6.015348,14.282227&z=7

Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald (February 16, 1914 - September 2, 1987)

Born on February 16, 1914, Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, one of the greatest 20th century Cape Breton fiddlers, grew up in White Point, Victoria County, Nova Scotia. He began playing the fiddle at the age of eight and made his first public appearance at the age of twelve. In the 1930s he worked in Halifax shipyards and also played with Hank Snow for several years.

    After army service during Ww II, Fitzgerald resumed recording and performing with his own group, also with leading Canadian musicians including Cliff MacKay, Don Messer and John Allan Cameron. He worked at a variety of jobs and was never a full-time professional musician. He died in Sydney, NS on September 2, 1987.

    To read a brief biography of Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald in The Canadian Encyclopedia,
    go to:

    The Juneberry 78s websites has a lovely collection of records by
    Cape Breton fiddlers, including these selections by Winston
    "Scotty" Fitzgerald:

    M33021 Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald THE IRON MAN / RIDDRIE / MRS. DOUGLAS OF EDNAM strathspheys & reel

    M33021 Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald MEDLEY OF HIGHLAND JIGS

    M33021 Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald THE WONDER / NEWCASTLE clogs

    M33021 Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald TEVIOT BRIDGE / STOOL OF REPENTANCE

    M33021 Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald HIAWATHA / JIMMY LINN'S / THE COLLEGE clogs & hornpipe

    You can see a google map showing where Winston Fitzgerald was born and raised by going to:,+victoria+county,+nova+scotia&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.543597,72.158203&ie=UTF8&ll=47.428087,-59.150391&spn=10.004905,18.039551&t=p&z=6

    Manco Sneed (February 18, 1885 - 1975)

    Cherokee fiddler Manco Sneed was born on February 18, 1885 in Graham County, North Carolina in the very heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. As a young man, he came under the influence of the legendary fiddler Jared Dedrick Harris, who moved down from Flag Pond in Unicoi County, Tennessee and played with a number of Western North Carolina musicians including the Helton brothers, Bill Hensley, and Byard Ray.

    In his later years ,several folk music collectors including Glen Massey, Peter Hoover, Blanton Owen recorded Manco Sneed's fiddling at his home in Cherokee in Swain County.
    Thanks to their articles and recordings, Manco Sneed became widely known to old time fiddling enthusiasts around the world. He died at
    the age of 89 in 1975.

    To read more about the life of Manco Sneed in a tribute written by his daughter
    Dakota Brewer posted on the Field Recorders Collective website, go to:

    To hear Manco Sneed play "Georgia Belles," included on FRC505 – Byard Ray, Manco Sneed & Mike Rogers (From the collection of Peter Hoover)

    To see a google map showing where Manco Sneed was born and spent his life,
    go to:,-82.998962&spn=6.003913,9.019775&z=7

    To read Blanton Owen's notes to FRC505 – Byard Ray, Manco Sneed & Mike Rogers (From the collection of Peter Hoover) "Manco Sneed And The Indians"
    originally presented as a paper at the 1979 American Folklore Society meeting,
    go to:

    Peter Hoover recorded Manco Sneed's fiddling in 1964.
    To learn more about Peter Hoover's field recordings, go to:

    To learn more about the Field Recorders Cooperative, go to:

    Sid Harkreader (February 26. 1898 - March 19, 1988)

    Born February 26, 1898 in Gladeville on the outskirts of Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee,
    Sid Harkreader began fiddling for local square dances when
    he was still a young boy. When he was in his 20s, Sid teamed up with
    Uncle Dave Macon. The pair toured together briefly, played on the
    Grand Ole Opry and recorded a few records for Vocalion. Though
    fashions in country music changed, Sid was still a regular backstage visitor at the Opry and made guest appearances at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers
    Contest in Athens, Alabama. Professor Walter Haden edited his autobiography
    which was published by the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Press.

    He loved to play the fiddle practically to his dying day:

    "I love people, I love music, and God made me that way. How can I lose? I hope someday I can be crowned the greatest fiddler, if not in this world, then in the world to come." He died in Nashville on March 19, 1988.

    To read more about Sid Harkreader, go to:

    To hear Sid Harkreader play and sing, "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown, go to:

    Tommy Jarrell (March 1, 1901 - January 28, 1985)

    One of the most influential authentic old time fiddlers of the late 20th century, Thomas Jefferson "Tommy" Jarrell was born on March 1 1901 in the Round Peak section of Surry County, North Carolina. Tommy was only seven years when he took up the banjo and began fiddling at the age of 13. Growing up in a hardworking farming family, Tommy first began playing in local dances and parties after corn shuckings and other labor events. In 1924 he married Nina Lowe with whom he raised three children. In 1925 he began working for the NC Department of Transportation, retiring in 1966. First recorded by Charles Faurot & Richard Nevins in 1967, Tommy began a new career as a performing & recording artist, also appearing in several films. In 1982 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He died at his home in January 28, 1985.

    To learn more about Tommy Jarrell, hear a sound clip of "Devil In The Strawstack," and see a list of his audio recordings and videos on David Lynch's excellent Old-Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame web page, go to:

    To see more clips from Les Blank's "Sprout Wings And Fly," go to:

    Tommy Jarrell's father, fiddler Ben Jarrell, recorded with Dacosta Woltz's
    Southern Broadcasters for Gennett Records in May of 1927.Woltz played a two-finger style banjo, Frank Jenkins a syncopated clawhammer banjo style, Ben Jarrell (father of Tommy Jarrell) on fiddle, and twelve year-old Price Goodson on harmonica and ukulele.

    To hear their recordings of "Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb," "Merry Girl, and "Old Joe Clark," go to:

    To see where Tommy Jarrell was born and raised, go to:

    Betty Vornbrock, born March 3, 1954
      Originally from Iowa, Betty Vornbrock of Hillsville, Virginia was born on March 3, 1954. Betty moved to West Virginia in the early 70s. After a stay in Austin, Texas, she moved back to the Southern Appalachians again and immersed herself in the region's lively musical culture. A prize winner at major regional fiddle contests, Betty has recorded with some of Appalachia's most highly regarded older musicians, including fiddler J.P. Fraley and Western Swing guitarists Bill Necessary. She, her husband guitarist Billy Cornette, and banjoist Diane Jones have performed together as the Reed Island Rounders since 1993. They are stalwarts of the old time music scene in Southern Appalachia today.

      To learn more abourt Betty Vornbrock and The Round Island Rounders, go to:

      To hear sound clips of Betty Vornbrock's beautiful twin fiddling with
      J.P. Fraley, go to:

      To hear the Reed Island Rounders playing at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia, go to:

        Howard "Louie Bluie"  Armstrong (March 4, 1909 - July 30, 2003)

      Born on March 4, 1909 in Dayton, Rhea County, Tennessee and raised in Lafollette in Campbell County , William Howard Taft Armstrong was a multi-faceted genius who was not only a great fiddler and mandolinist but also played 20 other instruments, spoke seven languages, and was a talented, imaginative painter. He began playing fiddle & mandolin as a child. In 1930 he, guitarist Carl Martin, mandolinist Ted Bogan, & brother Roland Martin on bass recorded for Vocalion Records in Knoxville as The Tennessee Chocolate Drops. He worked as a sign painter and factory work from 1944 until 1971. Rediscovered in 1971, Martin, Bogan & Armstrong renewed their careers as recording and performing artists. Armstrong received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for The Arts in 1990. He was the subject of two PBS TV documentary programs, "Louie Bluie" (1985) and "Sweet Old Song" (2002). He died in Boston, MA at the age of 94 on July 30, 2003.

      To read Howard Armstrong's obituary in the New York Times, go to:

      To hear Howard Armstrong fiddling "Knox County Stomp" on a 1930
      Vocalion recording with The Tennessee Chocolate Drops, go to:

      To hear Howard Armstrong fiddling "Vine Street Rag" on a 1930 Vocalion
      recording with The Tennessee Chocolate Drops, go to:

      To hear all the recordings from the 1930 Vocalion Knoxville sessions, go to:

      To see a streaming video of the 2002 PBS TV documentary "Sweet Old Song,"
      go to:

      To see a video of Martin, Bogan and Armstrong from the late 70s playing
      "Marie," go to:

      To see a video of Martin, Bogan and Armstrong jamming the blues with mandolinist
      Jethro Burns, go to:,-84.221191&spn=3.067628,5.125122&z=8

       Bob Wills (March 6, 1905 - May 13, 1975)

      Born on March 6, 1905 in Kosse, TX in Limestone Co., SE of Waco, James Robert "Bob" Wills (1905-1975) was the best known exponent of what became known as Western Swing.The son and grandson of old time Texas fiddlers,during his 31 year long career as leader of the Texas Playboys, Wills recorded many hit songs and appeared in 19 films. He began fiddling in public at the age of 10 & made his first records in 1929. Divorced and remarried several times, Wills managed to keep his career going despite a serious drinking problem. He appeared on TV during the early 50s & kept on making public appearances with his band in 1967. In 1968 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He died on May 13, 1975 in Fort Worth,TX at the age of 70.

      To read more about the life and time of Bob Wills, go to:

      To see a wonderful website devoted to the life and career of Bob Wills
      including a detailed time line, recordings of interviews, photos, and much, much more, go to:

      To see a google map showing where Bob Wills was born and spent his brilliant, troubled life, go to:

      In this clip from from the 1940 film "Take Me Back To Oklahoma," Tex Ritter introduces Bob & his band who play a hot swing version of this tune, also known as "Stone's Rag."

      To hear one of the great string bands of the Grand Ole Opry, Paul Warmack and
      His Gully Jumpers, play "Stone's Rag" from 1929, go to:

      To see Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys performing "Goodbye Liza Jane" with Tommy Duncan singing the lead vocal from 1946, go to:

      To see a 1945 photo of the Texas Playboys on front of their bus with Bob Wills on his horse Clover in Fresno,CA, go to:

      To hear a sound clip of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys on KGO radio, San Francisco, CA in 1946, go to:

      To see a Snader Telescriptions clip of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys on TV in 1951-52 playing "The Jo-Bob Rag," following by "Wake Up Susan and "Liberty," go to:

      Slim Miller (March 8, 1898 - August 27, 1962)

      Born on March 8, 1898 in Lizton, Indiana west of Indianapolis, Homer "Slim"
      Miller was not only a great old time fiddler but also one of the great early
      country comedians. He began fiddling at the age of twelve and was a
      professional entertainer by his early 20s. In 1930 he joined Hugh Cross' Smoky Mountain Ramblers in Knoxville,
      then joined the Cumberland Ridge Runners on the WLS Barn Dance in Chicago in 1932,
      then became a regular on John Lair's Renfro Valley Barn Dance on WLW in Cincinnati.
      In 1933 Slim and the Ridge Runners recorded a version of the 1930 pop song "Goofus,"
       which became an early country hit. Miller was one of the favorite radio fiddlers in the Upper South and Lower Midwest
       until he retired from show business in 1955. He died in Lexington, Kentucky on August 27, 1962.

      To read more about Slim Miller and see some great photos of him, go to:

      To view a google map showing where Slim Miller was born and spent his
      career, go to:,-80.244141&spn=12.083226,20.500488&z=6

      To read about the history of the WLS Barn Dance, go to:

      To read about the history of the Renfro Valley Barndance, go to:

      To see great photos and read brief biographies of the stars of
      the Renfro Valley Barn Dance during its heyday, go to:

      To read about the Cumberland Ridge Runners and see some wonderful
      photos of them, go to:

      To hear Slim Miller's fiddling on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1939, go to:,A,1,N;subjec,A,0,N;descri,K,0,N;0,A,0,N;0,A,0,N;10&CISOTHUMB=2,5&CISOTITLE=10&CISOMODE=bib

        Lily May Ledford

      Born in Pilot in the Red River Gorge section of Estill County, Kentucky and raised in nearby Powell Co, Lily May Ledford (March 17,1917-July 14,1985), her older sister Rosa Charlotte ("Rosie") (1915-1976), Esther "Violet" Koehler & Evelyn "Daisy" Lange joined John Lair's Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1937. The following year, the Coon Creek Girls recorded for Vocalion. In 1939 they played at the White House for an audience including King George VI & Queen Elizabeth of England. Though the personnel of the band changed over the years, Lily May, a gifted fiddler & banjoist, & Rosie, a solid guitarist, stayed with the group until it finally disbanded in 1957.

      In the 1960s Lily May & Rosie began playing the folk festival circuit. Folklorist Alan Lomax filmed the Ledford sisters at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival playing a lively version of this well known Southern hoedown. Dating back to the late 19th century, numerous old time musicians recorded "Cackling Hen" during the 20s and it is still widely played to this day: The Coon Creek Girls At Newport

      To hear the Coon Creek Girls perform their theme song, "Flowers Blooming In The
      Wildwood" on a 1938 Vocalion record, go to:

      To hear 78 rpm Vocalion records of the Coon Creek Girls performing "Jim Along Josie," "Poor Naomi Wise" and "Pretty Polly" from 1938, go to:

      To hear radio transcriptions of the Coon Creek Girls from the 1930s and 40s, go to and do a search on the Coon Creek Girls.

      To read a detailed article about the Coon Creek Girls by John Lilly, go to:

      To see a google map showing where Lily May Ledford was born and spent her career as a pioneer country musician, go to:,-85.638428&spn=6.109359,1

      To hear the Coon Creek Girls' 1938 Vocalion recording of their theme song, you need to go to:

      Fiddlin' Arthur Smith

      Born in Bold Springs in Humphreys County, in middle Tennessee on April 10, 1898, Arthur E. Smith began playing the fiddle at an early age. A brilliant, powerful
      champion contest fiddler, Smith began playing on the WSM Grand Ole Opry in 1927. He recorded with Alton and Rabon Delmore and Sam and Kirk McGee during the 1930s, recording a number of original songs and tunes. In the mid-40s, Smith fiddled in several Western films. Like so many other early country artists, the folk revival gave Smith a new audience and career during the 1960s. He and the McGee Brothers recorded several excellent albums for Folkways Records. Smith died on February 28, 1971 in McEwen, Tennessee at the age of 72.

      To see and hear Fiddlin' Arthur Smith play "Lost Train Blues" in a 1946 western film "Moon Over Montana: starring Jimmy Wakelely, go to:

      To hear Fiddlin' Arthur Smith and Alton and Rabon Delmore play
      "Dickson County Blues" and "Peacock Rag," go to:

      To see and hear Fiddlin' Arthur Smith's version of " Orange Blossom Special" in a Western film starring Jimmy Wakeley, "Lonesome Trail" (1945), go to:

      To hear Fiddlin' Arthur Smith accompanying Jimmy Wakeley singing
      "It's A Beautiful Day" in a 1948 Western film "Partners In The Sunset,"
      go to:

      To hear Fiddlin' Arthur Smith and Alton and Rabon Delmore play
      "Dickson County Blues" and "Peacock Rag," go to:

      To find Smithsonian Folkways albums featuring Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, go to:

      Look! Who's Here: Old Timers of the Grand Ole Opry
      The McGee Brothers and Arthur Smith was recorded in 1957 by Mike Seeger
      and released in 1964:

      Milk 'Em in the Evening Blues
      The McGee Brothers and "Fiddlin'" Arthur Smith was recorded and produced by Mike Seeger and released in 1968:

      To hear a clip of "Milk 'Em In The Evening Blues," go to:

      To see a google map showing where Fiddlin' Arthur Smith was born, lived and died in middle Tennessee, go to:,-86.396484&spn=3.079254,7.141113&z=8

      Glen W Smith
      Old Time Fiddler born Woodlawn, Carroll County, VA 11 Apr 1923, died Elizabeth, Wirt County, WV 05 Apr 2001.

      Born and raised in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains in the small Woodlawn community in Carroll County , only about 6 mi (10 km) northeast of Galax, Virginia Glen W. Smith spent the last thirty years of his life in Elizabeth, Wirt County, WV where he worked in the timber industry.

      A regular participant in fiddle contests including Galax, Va, Union Grove and Mount Airy, N.C and Glenville, WV, Glen Smith played old time tunes in a strong yet sweet understated style. Friendly and outgoing, he was always willing to play with and teach tunes to younger fiddlers. He recorded several times, including ASH 3C "Say Old Man" for Marimac Recordings with legendary West Virginia banjoist Dwight Diller in 1990 and also recorded for Blue Tick and kanawha Records in the 1970s with The Mountain State Pickers. Glen Smith was honored by the West Virginia
      Division of Culture and History in 1998. He died in Elizabeth, WV on April 5, 2001

      You can hear several solo fiddle tunes played by Glen Smith recorded in 1973
      by Kevin Delaney by going to the Digital Library of Appalachia collection:


      "Blackberry Blossom"

      "Cuckoo's Nest"

      "Durang's Hornipe"

      "Jenny Lynn"

      (one of the tunes Bill Monroe learned from his uncle Pendelton Vandiver)

      "Smith's Reel"

      "Texas Girls"

      (not the same as Charlie Bowman's "Texas Gals")


      To see a google map showing where old time fiddler Glen W. Smith was born and spent his life, go to:,-81.381226&spn=3.021745,7

      Joe Birchfield

      April 13, 1912 - June 19,2001

      A native of Roan Mountain in Carter County, Tennessee bordering North Carolina,
      Joe Birchfield grew up in a family of mountain musicians in an area with a rich, vital
      musical heritage. Joe's uncle John Birchfield was a major influence; young Joe played fiddle, banjo and guitar at local dances and work events like bean-stringings and corn-shuckings. Joe laid aside his fiddle for a number of years, but became active again in the mid-70s, when he and his brothers Ellick and Creede, who played 2-finger up-picking banjo, his son Bill, who played guitar in a unique
      left-handed style, his daughter-in-law Janice on washtub bass, and wife Ethel
      on washboard, formed the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers. Their authentic old time mountain band played at fiddle concerts and festivals including Brandywine and the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair and began making recordings. Since Joe's death
      in 2001, Bill and Janice Birchfield have kept the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers going,
      and are still performing and recording today.

      To read Frank Weston's 1982 interview with Joe Birchfield originally published
      in Tony Russell's Old Time Music magazine (spring 1989), reproduced on
      David Lynch's excellent Old-Time Fiddlers Hame of Fame web page, go to:

      This same interview is also available on the Field Recorder's Collective

      To see a video clip from the Field Workers Collective DVD
      FRC1002– Roan Mountain Hilltoppers –

      To hear a sound clip of the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers playing "Brown's Dream"
      from The Field Recorders' Collective CD FRC201 – Roan Mountain Hilltoppers In Concert

      go to:

      To hear sound clips of Joe Birchfield and the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers
      including brother Creede Birchfield (banjo), son Bill Birchfield (guitar) and daughter-in-law Janice Birchfield (washtub bass) from the Warren Wilson collection in the Digital Library of Appalachia:

      Soldier's Joy:

      Sugar Hill:

      To see a google map showing where Joe Birchfield lived, worked and played, go to:,-82.304077&spn=3.175794,7.141113&z=8&msid=108456232374072017347.000467619ad6debec44b1

      To see Bill and Janice Birchfield and their current version of the Roan Hilltoppers playing at the Laurel Bloomery Tennessee old time fiddle contest on August 22, 2008, go to:

      To see the Roan Mountain Hilltopper's Myspace page, see several of their videos and hear some of their tunes, go to:

      Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

      Born on April 18, 1924 in Vinton, Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana and raised in Orange, Orange County in southeast Texas , Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown started fiddling at the age of five. His brothers taught him to play guitar and drums. By 1943, Brown was a professional musician, playing country, Cajun, zydeco, and swing as well as the blues. He resented being labelled
      in any one category: "I'm an American musician." He started recording in the late
      40s, producing classics like "Okie Dokie Stomp" and "Just Before Dawn."

      Brown's career slumped in the 60s but revived in the 70s. He recorded with country artist Roy Clark,
      appeared at festivals in the US and France, and won a Grammy in 1982. His career boomed during the 90s and early 2000s.
      Brown toured widely and recorded extensively. but in 2004, he was diagnosed with cancer.
      His home in Slidell, LA was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Brown died on September 10,
      2005 in Orange, Texas. He was a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and
      8 time winner of the W.C.Handy Blues Award, and won a pioneer award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.

      To read Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's obituary in a CBS News report, go to:

      To read a biography of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, go to:

      To hear Nick Spitzer's tribute to Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" from June 22, 2005,
      go to:

      To see and hear Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown play the blues with master fiddler
      Vassar Clements on youtube, go to:

      To see and hear Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown play guitar and sing "Caldonia" with his big band in 2000, go to:

      To see a google map showing where Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown spent his long, versatile musical life, go to:,-90.344696&spn=6.593359,14.282227&z=7

      Melvin Wine (April 20, 1909-March 10, 2003)

      Born in Burnsville in Braxton County, West Virginia on April 20, 1909, MelvinWine grew up listening to his father Robert Wine's old time fiddling and his
      mother Elizabeth Sandy Wine's traditional ballads and hymns. Melvin beganplaying the fiddle when he was nine years old, learning tunes from his father
      that had been passed down through the Wine family. After a few years of schooling, he began working in the timber industry, coal mining, and farming, but kept up his fiddling. Melvin learned from local fiddlers in the area; in 1930 he married Etta Singleton, a square dance caller who also played banjo andguitar. They spent most of their married life in Copen, WV, also in Braxton County.

      In his latter years, Melvin Wine's fiddling won him national attention from lovers of old time music. In 1982, he played at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Melvin Wine became a regular winner at the fiddle contest at the West VirginiaState Folk Festival in nearby Glenville. As his reputation grew, he played at other major folk festivals and fiddle contests in other parts of the country, including the Vandalia Folk Festival in Charleston, WV and the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Musicin 1889 and 1994. By that time, he had became a national celebrity; in 1991 the Folk Arts Division of the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Melvin Wine
      a National Heritage Fellowship. The subject of a major book and numerous articles, Melvin Wine died at the age of 93 in Gassaway in his native Braxton County on March 10, 2003..

      He is still a great influence on younger old time music lovers who
      have learned his tunes and remember him fondly.

      You can join a Facebook group celebrating Melvin Wine's 100th birthday by going to:

      To see a google map showing where Melvin Wine lived, worked and played old time fiddle music, go to:

      You can access a special web edition of the Old-Time Herald devoted to Melvin Wine's life and music by going to:

      You can see melvin wine's myspace page by going to:

      You can see videos of Melvin Wine informally playing some of his favorite tunes in jam sessions at the 1992 Old Time Fiddlers Contest at Mount Airy, North Carolina by going to:

      Melvin Wine - One Morning in May

      Melvin Wine- Twin Sisters

      Melvin Wine - Hey Aunt Katie There's a Bug on Me
      (same tune as "Old Richmond" or "Richmond Cotillion")

      Melvin Wine - Going Down to Georgia O
      (same tune as "Rabbit, Where's Your Mammy?"

      Melvin Wine - Cindy
      (his version of this old standard is very close to Tommy Jarrell's)

      Melvin Wine - Rachel

      To hear recordings of Melvin Wine's fiddling at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music from 1989 and 1994, including several versions of "All Young"
      and "Cindy," also "Battle Hymn of The Republic," "Bob Wine's Tune." "Chicken Reel," "Cold Frosty Morning," and a very unusual version of "Bonaparte's Retreat"
      in the Digital Library of Appalachia Collection, go to:

      Drew Beisswenger has written an excellent book, Fiddling Way Out Yonder: The Life And Music of Melvin Wine (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2002):

      For more information concerning Melvin Wine, see Gerald Milnes. Play of a fiddle: traditional music, dance, and folklore in West Virginia University Press of Kentucky, 1999

      Benny Thomasson (April 22, 1909- died 1983)

      Born on April 22, 1909 on a farm in Winters, Runnels County, Texas, about 41 miles (67 km.) south of Abilene, Benny Thomasson was one of eleven children of Lucas ("Red Luke") and Sarah Elizabeth Wright Thomasson. Little Benny picked up the fiddle when he was only three years old. Luke Thomasson was a gifted fiddler who composed the beautiful waltz "Midnight On The Water," possibly based on the old cowboy song "Old Paint." The Thomassons were a very musical family, and their home was the scene of many fiddling sessions. The legendary Texas fiddler Eck Robertson was a family friend.

      Benny entered his first fiddle contest when he was 14 years old.When he was 19, Benny competed in a major contest in Dallas. Though he did not win that contest, he was inspired to develop a smooth, powerful, elaborate style that would make him one of the most successful and influential fiddlers in the highly competitive Texas fiddle contest scene in later years.

      Benny married Beatrice Hollander in Taos, New Mexico in 1928. Benny and his brothers played on radio programs and even recorded for Okeh Records in 1929 but did not become full time country musicians Benny and Bea Hollander moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area where they raised their family of four children. Benny made his living doing automobile body work but kept up his fiddling, winning many major Texas fiddle contests during the 1950s and 60s.

      In 1965, Benny began to develop a reputation outside Texas when he appeared on a County album issued in 1965. When he retired, Benny and Bea Thomasson moved to the state of Washington in 1972 where their son Dale lived. Benny quickly became active in the thriving Northwest fiddling scene; he was a major influence on young Mark O'Connor, who went on to a brilliant career as a contest fiddler and composer. Benny began recording for Phil and Vivian William's Voyager Records and won the Senior Division at the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho in 1974. He died in 1983 at the age of 74.

      To read more about the life and music of Benny Thomasson, go to:

      To see a google map showing where Benny Thomasson was born, raised and spent his life as one of the most influential American fiddlers of the 20th century, go to:,-98.349609&spn=24.090258,57.128906&z=5

      You can hear a sound clip of Benny and his son Jerry on guitar playing
      "Don't Let The Deal Go Down" from their 1972 Voyager recording
      Benny and Jerry Thomasson, The Weiser Reunion. CD 309 by going to:

      To hear a sound clip of Benny Thomasson fiddling "Wild John" from his
      Voyager record Benny Thomasson : Say Old Man Can You Play The Fiddle CD 345 go to:

      You can hear Benny Thomasson's version of "Old Bell Cow" from the same
      Voyager CD by going to:

      To learn more about Voyager Records, go to:

      You can read an article about Benny Thomasson by Michael Mendelson,
      "Benny Thomasson and the Texas Fiddling Tradition." JEMF Quarterly. Vol. 10, Part 3, #35 (Autumn 1974) by going to:

      To read a 1973 interview with Benny Thomasson at the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho originally published in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Quarterly (JEMFQ) , Vol. 10, Part 3, No. 34 (Autumn 1974) go to:

      Sound Recordings and Video:

      * Texas Hoedown (County 703) - 1965
      * Country Fiddling From the Big State (County 724)~ 1970
      * Dudley Hill - Guitar: From a Northern Family (Voyager CD 317) early 1970s, re-released 2002
      * Oldtime Fiddling and Other Folk Music (Weiser, Idaho Chamber of Commerce) 1972
      * Oldtime Fiddling and Other Folk Music (Weiser, Idaho) 1973
      * A Jam Session With Benny and Jerry Thomasson (Voyager VRLP 309) ~1973
      * Texas Fiddle Legends Benny Thomasson and Dick Barrett (Yazoo 517, VHS video) recorded early 1970s, released late 1990s
      * Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle (Voyager VRCD 345) recorded informally on March 3, 1974, re-released 1999
      * Tenino Old Time Music Festival: 1970 - 1978 Fiddle Tunes and Other Instrumentals (Voyager CD 367) - 2005
      * Benny Thomasson Legendary Texas Fiddler County CO 2737 CD 2005 (originally released in 1966)

      Doc Roberts

      Dock Phillip "Doc" Roberts was born on a farm near Kirksville about 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Richmond in Madison County, Kentucky on April 26, 1897. He began playing the fiddle when he was only seven years old and also started playing the mandolin. An African American fiddler, Owen Walker, was an early important influence on Doc Roberts' fiddling style and repertory.

      Doc Roberts began his recording career in 1925, accompanied by Edgar Boaz, a local guitarist. In 1927, Roberts recorded with several different Madison County string bands for Paramount Records in Chicago and Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. He recorded with his son James Roberts (who married Martha Carson and adopted her family name as his stage name) and Asa Martin. Doc Roberts was a full-time professional musician from 1928 to 1935, playing on the WLS Barn Dance in Chicago and out in Council Bluffs, Iowa, but then decided to
      come home to Madison County and devote himself to farming.

      Doc still continued to play the fiddle and was still a great fiddler in his latter years. His fiddling was recorded in 1946 at the Redbud Folk Festival in Renfro Valley, KY and again in 1954 when his son James made some home disk recordings of his father which are now in the Berea College archives and are available online on the Digital Library of Appalachia website.

      Loyal Jones, director of Berea's Appalachian Studies program and its Celebration of Traditional Music convinced Doc Roberts to play in public one last time in 1974. He died in Richmond, Madison, KY at the age of 82 on August 4, 1978.

      To read an excellent brief biography of Doc Roberts on The Birthplace of Country Music website, go to:

      To read more about Doc Roberts and see a picture of his gravestone with the correct spelling of his given name, Dock, go to:

      Steve Davis reissued some of Doc Roberts' early recordings from 1927 to 1933 on his Davis Unlimited label. Spring Fed Records has reissued this and other wonderful albums of old time fiddling as CDs. For information concerning
      "Fiddling Doc Roberts - Classic Fiddle Tunes 1927-1933" SFR-DU 33015, go to:

      You can hear many of Doc Robert's early records on the Juneberry 78s an
      honkingduck. com websites:

      Doc Roberts (with Edgar Boaz, guitar)
      Martha Campbell (according to Charles Wolfe, this was Doc's very first recording)

      Doc Roberts
      And The Cat Came Back

      Doc Roberts
      New Money

      Doc Roberts Trio
      Coal Tipple Blues(including James Roberts and Asa Martin)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      Sally Ann (Conqueror 7766, 1931)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      Shortenin' Bread (Conqueror 7975, 1932)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      Ninety - Nine Years
      ( Conqueror 8078, 1932)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      : Little Mother Of The Hills
      (Conqueror 8234, 1933)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      Mother Queen Of My Heart
      (Conqueror 8234, 1933)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      In The Shadows Of The Pines
      (Conqueror 8566, 1935)

      Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio
      Ragtime Chicken Joe
      (Conqueror 8566, 1935)

      There are also non-commercial recordings of Doc Roberts online:

      This wonderful radio recording of Doc Roberts playing
      "Callahan" in April 1946 at the Renfro Valley Redbud Festival, Rockcastle County, Kentucky. is from the Berea Collection of the Digital Library of Appalachia.

      Doc's son James Roberts (Carson) made several instantaneous disk recordings of his father's fiddling in Richmond, KY on May 15, 1954, which he donated to Berea College.These recordings can be heard on the Digital Library of Appalachia website:

      Buck Creek Girls (same tune as "Stony Point" or "Wild Horse")

      Cripple Creek

      Martha Campbell (it's interesting to compare this with his 1925 recording; Doc Roberts was still a great fiddler nearly thirty years later)

      McMitchum's Reel (actually McMichen's Reel, composed by the great Georgia fiddler Clayton McMichen)

      Over The Waves (a beautiful version of this popular waltz composed by Juventino Rosas, a Mexican musician in 1884)

      For a complete list of Doc Roberts' commercially recorded tunes, go to:
      Also see:

      To see a google map showing where Doc Roberts was born, worked as a professional musician, and then spent most of his life as a farmer and extraordinary old time fiddler, go to:,-82.902832&spn=11.198957,28.564453&z=6

      You can read more about Doc Roberts in Charles K. Wolfe, Kentucky Country:
      Folk and Country Music of Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky,

      Also see, Jeff Todd Titon, Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.

      Henry Reed

      Born on April 28, 1884 in the tiny community of Peterstown, Monroe County, in southern West Virgina just about 5 miles (8 km) across the New River from Giles County, Virginia, James Henry Neel Reed spent most of his eighty-two years in the remote rural Appalachian area where he had been born and raised. Growing up in a large musical family, young Henry Reed played old time music with his older brother Josh and learned many old fiddle tunes dating back before the Civil War from Quince Dillon, a local fiddler born around 1826.

      Henry Reed married Nettie Ann Virginia Mullins on December 11, 1907. The newlyweds settled in Glen Lyn, Virginia in Giles County, a little more than four miles from his birthplace. Henry and Nettie Reed raised their family of twelve
      children here. Henry Reed worked at a nearby power plant and later took a job at a textile chemical factory not far from Glen Lyn. After fire destroyed their first home in 1939, the Reeds built a new house where they spent the rest of their lives.

      Never a professional musician, Henry Reed played old time fiddle, banjo and harmonica at local musical sessions and country dances. In the mid-1960s, fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour, then a graduate student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, attended a fiddle contest where the great West Virginia fiddler Franklin George, then living in Bluefield, West Virginia introduced him to Oscar Wright, an older fiddler from Princeton, West Virginia who had learned some beautiful old fiddle tunes from Henry Reed.

      Alan and his wife Karen Singer Jabbour first visited Henry Reed in 1966. Alan not only recorded Henry Reed's tunes but learned to play them and taught them to fellow members of the Hollow Rock String Band. Thanks to Alan Jabbour and the Hollow Rock String Band's first recording on Kanawha Records in 1968. The Hollow Rock String Band continued after Alan and banjoist Bertram Levy left the Chapel Hill-Durham area. They included a number of Henry Reed's tune learned from Alan Jabbour on their 1974 Rounder album. Henry Reed's fiddle tunes were quickly adopted byold time music enthusiasts, not only in the Southeast but elsewhere in the United States and eventually in other countries. Henry Reed died on February 8, 1968.

      After serving as the first director of the Folk Arts Division of the National Endowment for the Arts, Alan Jabbour went on to become the founding director of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress in 1976. When he retired from that position in 1999, Alan Jabbour set up the Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists.

      Part of the Library of Congress' American Memory Project, the website
      Alan Jabbour developed to honor his mentor and friend Henry Reed, Fiddle Tunes
      of The Old Frontier, is undoubtedly the most comprehensive online collection of fiddle tunes, tune transcriptions, photographs and essays devoted to a single fiddler. Though he was originally unknown outside of his immediate area, thanks to Alan Jabbour's efforts, Henry Reed's wonderful old tunes are now accessible to  fiddle music lovers around the world.

      To explore Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier, go to:

      You can read Alan Jabbour's essay about Henry Reed's life and music by
      going to:

      This wonderfully well organized online collection can be browsed by titles,
      musical genre and recording sessions.

      To search the titles of the 184 tunes in the Henry Reed Collection, go to:

      To search by musical genre, go to:

      To search by recording sessions, go to:

      You can read an excellent essay by Alan Jabbour discussing Henry Reed's life and music on The Fiddle Tunes of The Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection web page in the American Memory collection of The Library of Congress by going to:

      Since his retirement in 1999, Alan Jabbour has been playing, recording and performing old time fiddle music. You can view his personal website by going

      You can download music samples from Alan's website by going to:

      Alan Jabbour and old time banjoist Ken Perlman have been performing
      and recording beautiful fiddle and banjo duets, including several of Henry Reed's
      tunes,including "Henry Reed's Breakdown" from their recording "Southern Summits" which you can download from Alan's website.

      For more information concerning "Southern Summits," go to Ken Perlman's

      To see a google map showing where Henry Reed lived, worked, learned and played classic authentic old time Appalachian fiddle music, go to:,-80.83148&spn=1.531633,3.570557&z=9

      George Oscar "Uncle Bud" Landress was born on May 2, 1881 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the home county of another famous Georgia fiddler, Gid Tanner. In 1905 Landress moved from Gwinnett County just northeast of Atlanta to the mountains of  Gordon County. A versatile musician who played a variety of instruments including the fiddle and banjo, Landress played with various Gordon County musicians,

      By 1924, recording companies were seeking out old time country musicians.

      Bud Landress teamed up with Bill Chitwood, a local fiddler, and they travelled to New York City where they recorded several songs and tunes for the Brunswick label that were issued in 1925.

      That same year, Chitwood and Landress formed The Georgia Yellow Hammers with other Gordon County musicians including their band's manager Phil Reeve, Clyde Evans and Ernest Moody. The Georgia Yellow Hammers recorded several times for Victor Records during the heyday of the old time music boom in 1927, 1928, and 1929. They recorded with an African-American father and son duo, Andrew and Jim Baxter, also from Gordon County. The group also recorded  sacred songs as The Turkey Mountain Singers.

      Like so many performers of that era, The Georgia Yellow Hammers quit playing and recording during The Great Depression. Bud Landress, however, continued working with a new group, The Georgia Mountaineers. His friends said, "Bud had a hard time getting over show business. Landress died in May 14 1966 at the age of 84.

      To learn more about Bud Landress and The Georgia Yellow Hammers, go to:
      For information concerning Uncle Bud Landress and The Georgia Yellow Hammers, see :

      To see a google map showing where Uncle Bud Landress lived and played old time music in the state of Georgia, go to:,-84.451904&spn=1.598203,3.501892&z=9

      Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress
      Hen Cackle
      Brunswick 2811

      Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress
      : Furniture Man
      : Brunswick 2884

      Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress
      Jerusalem Mourn
      Brunswick 2809

      Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress
      Howdy, Bill
      Brunswick 2809

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      Johnson's Old Grey Mule
      Victor 20550
      Year: 1927

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      The Picture On The Wall
      Album: Victor 20943
      (This was the Georgia Yellow Hammers' biggest selling record)

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      I'm Saved
      Victor 21195

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      Black Annie
      Victor V - 40138

      : Georgia Yellow Hammers
      Sale Of Simon Slick Part 1
      Victor V - 40069

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      Sale Of Simon Slick Part 2
      Victor V - 40069

      Georgia Yellow Hammers

      Fourth of July At The County Fair
      Okeh 45100

      Georgia Yellow Hammers
      Kiss Me Quick
      Victor vi40091

      Georgia Hammers
      Song of The Doodle Bug
      Victor 21362

      Georgia Yellow Hammers with Jim Baxter

      G Rag
      Victor 21195

      Andrew and Jim Baxter (fiddle and banjo)
      Forty Drops
      Victor vi38002a
      Atlanta, 10/16/28

      If you want to learn more about The Georgia Yellow Hammers and old time music in Georgia, here are some selected readings:

      Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin' on Peachtree: A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 76-77.

      The Encyclopedia of Country Music, ed. Paul Kingsbury (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), s.v. "Georgia Yellow Hammers."

      Gene Wiggins and Tony Russell, "Hell Broke Loose in Gordon County, Georgia," Old Time Music 25 (summer 1977): 9-21.

      Charles K. Wolfe, "The Georgia Yellow Hammers," in Classic Country: Legends of Country Music (New York: Routledge, 2001).

      Gid Tanner

      James Gideon Tanner was born on June 6, 1885 in the Thompsons Mill community in rural Barrow County about 46 miles (73 km.) northeast of Atlanta. Tanner began playing the fiddle at the age of fourteen and took part in old time fiddlers contest held in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia in his youth. Tanner teamed up with the blind singer Riley Puckett with whom he recorded several records for Columbia in 1924. In 1926 Tanner formed a band called The Skillet Lickers and recorded numerous songs and tunes for Columbia and other labels. When the Skillet Lickers broke up in 1931, Tanner and Puckett reformed the group and performed toghether until 1934. Tanner quit playing professionally and spent the rest of his life as a chicken farmer in Dacula, Georgia in Gwinnett County just to the east of Atlanta. He died in Dacula on May 13, 1960.

      You can read more about Gid Tanner in The New Georgia Encyclopedia:

      You can see a Google timeline of Gid Tanner's life by going to:

      To see a google map showing where Gid Tanner spent his life as a legendary fiddler and a lifelong chicken farmer, go to:,-83.702087&spn=1.572156,3.403015&z=9

      You can see Gid Tanner's MySpace page by going to:

      Gid Tanner (fiddle) and Riley Puckett (guitar), "Dance All Night With A Bottle In My Hand/Alabama Gals"

      Gid Tanner (fiddle) and Riley Puckett (banjo), "Georgia Railroad"

      Gid Tanner Band, "I Shall Not Be Moved"

      Gid Tanner Band, "Work Don't Bother Me"

      Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers, "Old Hen Cackled And The Rooster Too"

      Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers, "Fiddlers Convention in Georgia Part 2"

      Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers, "I Don't Love Nobody"

      You can hear Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers with Riley Puckett on guitar
      performing "Bully Of The Town" by going to:

      You can hear more records by Gid Tanner and his various musical partners from the golden age of old time music in the 1929s on the website:

      Kenny Baker

      Located in the East Kentucky coalfields near Jenkins in Letcher County, the tiny community of Burdine was the birthplace of Kenneth Clayton Baker, one of the world's greatest living fiddlers. Born June 26, 1926 into a family whose fiddling tradition stretched back for many generations, Kenny Baker literally heard old time fiddle music in his cradle. He began playing guitar at local dances when he was only eight years old. Baker did not become seriously interested in fiddling until he served in the Pacific during World War II. After working in local coal mines for a few years, Baker began his illustrious career as a professional fiddler in 1953, substitituting for Marion Sumner in country singer Don Gibson's band on WNOX radio in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1953. In 1957, he joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys and would play for the Father of Bluegrass off and on over the next twenty-five years. He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993 and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame in 1999.

      He still lives in the Nashville metropolitan area today.

      To read a biography of Kenny Baker, go to:

      To see a google map showing where Kenny Baker was born and rose to fame as a professional country and bluegrass fiddler, go to:

      To see a Kenny Baker discography including sound clips from his albums from 1971 to 2004, go to:

      To hear Kenny Baker play "Spider Bit The Baby," go to:

      In 1985, Shetland fiddler Aly Bain narrated a BBC TV series on American fiddling including an interview with Bill Monroe filmed at Monroe's farm in Goodletsville, Tennessee. Kenny Baker played several of Monroe's
      original fiddle tunes including:

      "Jerusalem Ridge"

      and "Scotland"

      Though best known as a bluegrass fiddler, Kenny Baker admired various influential fiddlers including Marion Sumner from Eastern Kentucky, Fiddlin' Arthur Smith from Middle Tennessee, the great Texas fiddler Bob Wills who popularized the western swing style, and Stephane Grapelli, the world famous French jazz violinist:

      Marion Sumner and David Holt (1985)
      "Katy Hill"

      Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1945)
      "Orange Blossom Special"

      Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (1946)
      "Goodbye Liza Jane"

      Stephane Grapelli (1961)
      "Makin' Whoopee"

      Earnest East (July 8, 1916-January 8,2000) a great old time fiddler from the Round Peak Mountain section of Surry County, North Carolina was born in a region famous for its wealth of traditional music. Fiddlers Ben and Tommy Jarrell were
      neighbors, and as a young man, Earnest East absorbed the music of his neighborhood at informal music-making sessions, dances and fiddle contests.

      By the 1960s, Earnest East and his neighbors were discovered by old time music enthusiasts and started appearing on records on David Freeman's County label.
      Earnest East played for years with the Camp Creek Boys along with noted banjoist Kyle Creed, and went on to form his own string band, the Pine Ridge Boys in 1970. They played at the region's major fiddle contests at Mount Airy, North Carolina and Galax, Virginia. Earnest East died on January 8, 2000.

      Earnest East (fiddle), his son Scotty East (vocal and guitar), and Paul Brown
      (banjo) play "Let Me Fall" at the 1993 Mount Airy Fiddlers' Contest

      Earnest East (fiddle), his son Scotty East (vocal and guitar) and Paul Brown
      (banjo) play "John Hardy" at the 1993 Mount Airy Fiddlers Contest

      To see a google map showing where Earnest East was born and played his music, go to:,-80.673981&spn=0.389938,0.891953&z=11

      To see a picture of Earnest East's gravestone and those of other great Round Peak musicians, go to:

      "The Camp Creek Boys - Old Time String Band Music," first issued on LP in 1967 is still available on CD from County Sales in Floyd, Virginia:

      Fred Price, Shouns, Johnson County, Tennessee (July 16, 1915-September 13, 1987)

      Born on July 16, 1915 in the remote mountain community of Shouns in Johnson County, Tennessee, Fred Price heard his mother sing old time mountain songs and pick the banjo when he was a baby. When he was still a little boy, Fred's father encouraged him to take up the fiddle, which he carried in a sack when he visited his sisters on Sundays.When Fred joined the US Army during World War II, he was already a skilled fiddler who entertained his fellow soldiers with old time fiddle tunes.

      When he returned from the army, Fred married Mattie Howard, a first cousin of his friend and future playing partner Clint Howard in 1948. Their children, Lois and Kenneth, began playing music when they were still very young. Fred encouraged Clint to take up the guitar and sing. They began playing with other musicians in the area, including Arthel "Doc" Watson from Deep Gap, North Carolina.

      One of their neighbors in Shouns was Clarence "Tom" Ashley (1895-1967). who had recorded "The Cuckoo Bird" and other songs for Columbia Records in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1929. In 1952 Ashley's recordings of "The Cuckoo" and "The House Carpenter" was reissued on the Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music.In 1960, folk music researcher Ralph Rinzler met Ashley at the Union Grove North Carolina old time fiddlers contest and convinced him to play at folk festivals and concerts in the North.

      Ashley wanted a band, so he recruited his neighbors Fred Price and Clint Howard. They urged Ashley to add their friend Doc Watson to the group. This proved to be a very wise choice. Urban folk music fans immediately fell in love with the beautiful singing and virtuoso instrumental work of Ashley's band.

      A strong, clear singer as well as a smooth, subtle mountain fiddler, Fred Price made an important contribution to the unique sound of this group. They appeared at concerts and folk festivals across the United States and recorded several excellent albums for the Folkways and Vanguard labels.

      When Ashley teamed up with Tex Isley,one of his old playing partners, Clint, Fred and Doc continued to play together through the mid-60s. Doc and his son Merle began playing together, which prompted Fred and Clint to form a band with their sons. Clarence Howard on lead guitar and Kenneth Prince on 3-finger bluegrass banjo.

      Fred, Clint and their sons did not achieve the widespread fame of Doc and Merle Watson. Nonetheless, they recorded several fine albums for Rounder Records<br>and performed at major folk music events, including the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.

      Never a fulltime professional musician, Fred Price made his living by farming and driving a school bus. When Clint and Clarence Price formed their own band, Fred and Kenneth Price continued to play together on a semi-regular basis until Fred passed away on September 13, 1987. Always modest and softspoken, Fred Price nonetheless achieved an international reputation as a great soulful mountain fiddler.

      To see where Fred Price was born and spent his life as an East Tennessee mountain farme and a great old time fiddler, go to:,-81.123047&spn=3.114802,7

      Fred and Clint lived just down the road from Laurel Bloomery, home of
      the blind fiddler and singer G.B. Grayson, who recorded "Going Down The Lee Highway" (better known as "Lee Highway Blues") for Victor Records in 1929. Fred., Clint and Doc played a brilliant version of "Lee Highway Blues" on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest TV show:

      Fred, Clint and Doc also performed a rousing version of "Way
      Down Town" on that same TV program:

      Fred , Clint and Doc also sang a stirring unaccompanied hymn, "Daniel Prayed" ::

      To hear Fred Price, Clint Howard, Doc Watson and Jean Ritchie sing a beautifulunaccompanied version of "Amazing Grace," go to:

      Bruce Molsky, July 18, 1955, Bronx, New York

      Born in The Bronx on July 18, 1955, one of the five boroughs of New York City, Bruce Molsky has earned an international reputation as a truly great old time fiddler.

      Interest in old time fiddling in New York City goes back much further than many people might imagine. Allan Block, one of New York's first and finest old time
      fiddlers, began playing fiddle music in the late 40s and hosted informal old time jam sessions in his sandal shop on West 4th Street in New York's Greenwich Village that flourished during the 1960s.

      Talented young old time music enthusiasts from The Bronx including fiddler Kenny Kosek and his guitarist friend Andy May were active in the New York City traditional music scene. Banjoist Roger Sprung was one of the very first New Yorkers to take part in Southern fiddle contests like Galax and Mount Airy. By the early sixties, other New York bluegrass and old time musicians were following in Roger Sprung's large footsteps, making the pilgrimage to the South, meeting legendary old time musicians on their own turf.

      By the 1970s, the old time music revival was booming across the United States.
      Molsky started playing guitar while still living in New York City.
      While a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Bruce Molsky got to
      know members of The Highwoods String Band. His encounter
      with fiddler Walt Koken inspired Molsky to take up fiddling. Molsky began attending Southern fiddle contests and got to meet and play with great traditional musicians
      including the legendary fiddler and banjoist Tommy Jarrell, a native of the
      Round Peak section of Surry County, North Carolina. In 1976, Molsky moved to
      the South and quickly established his reputation as a formidable, dynamic
      fiddler and banjoist. From the 70s through the 1990s, Molsky played and recorded with several all-star old time bands, including Hesperus with his wife Audrey, The Correctone String Band, the L-7s and Big Hoedown. He made his first solo record '
      for Rounder Records in 1996 and became a fulltime professional musicians=
      shortly thereafter, having worked for years as a mechanical engineer.

      Bruce Molsky is now internationally recognized as one of the world's leading exponents of old time fiddling as a performer, recording artist and teacher.
      He and his wife Audrey live and work in Washington, D.C., which is also the
      home of another widely known old ti me fiddler and folklorist, Alan Jabbour,

      You can learn more about Bruce Molsky on his own website:

      To read a detailed biography of Bruce Molsky, go to:

      You can see videos of Bruce's exceptional old time fiddling on Facebook:

      You can hear Bruce's dynamic fiddling by going to his Myspace page:

      To see a google map showing where Bruce Molsky was born and has played old time music, go to:,-77.286072&spn=12.029278,25.048828&z=6

      J.E. Mainer July 20, 1898 -June 12, 1971

      Born in Weaverville , a small rural community north of Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina on July 20, 1898, Joseph Emmett Mainer heard old time mountain music while he was still a baby.

      His older brother Wade Mainer, still alive at the age of 102, had already mastered the two-finger banjo style found in Western North Carolina, East Tennessee and North Carolina. Though J.E. also played banjo as a young boy, he concentrated on his fiddling, playing at home gatherings and local dances.

      Raised on a small mountain farm, J.E. left home to find work in the textile industry,
      first to Knoxville, Tennessee and then in 1922 to Concord, North Carolina located in Cabarrus County in the central part of the state where he spent the rest of his life . Working in a textile mill by day, J.E. kept up his fiddling at nights and on weekends, playing with his brother Wade and various area musicians.

      In 1933, J.E. and Wade Mainer and guitarist Zeke Morris began performing on radio station WBT in Charlotte as The Crazy Mountaineers, sponsored by Crazy Crystals, a Charlotte patent medicine company who claimed miraculous healing properties for their product. This group played on regional radio stations and made their first Bluebird recordings as J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers in 1935. Their first and biggest hit was "Maple On The Hill."

      The original Crazy Mountaineers split up in 1936, when Zeke Morrris and his brother Wile formed a duet and J.E. put together a group including 3-finger banjoist Snuffy Jenkins in Buncombe County, North Carolinawhile Wade Mainer became the leader of The Sons of The Mountaineers, which disbanded at the outbreak of the Second World War.

      After World War II, J.E. Mainer began recording for King Records in Cincinnatti, Ohio. He and his sons played together as a group, and when he moved back  to Concord, North Carolina, he kept on performing regulariy at area events.

      A new chapter in J.E. Mainer's musical career began when Chris Strachwitz
      of Arhoolie Records rediscovered and recorded him in 1962, just as the American
      folk music revival was booming. Mainer recorded several more Arhoolie albums,
      King reissued his older material, and Mainer kept on performing on radio and at festival nearly until the time of his death He died in Concord, North Carolina on June 12, 1971.

      To read a brief life history and see a complete discography of J.E. Mainer's early
      recordings, go to:

      To read a more detailed account of J.E. Mainer's career, go to:

      You can down a torrent of great string bands of the 1930s including early
      Bluebird recordings by J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers" including "Maple On
      The Hill," "Seven And A Half" and "Johnson's Old Gray Mule" by going to:

      Several of J.E. Mainer's records have been posted with interesting historical
      photographs on Youtube. They include:

      "Ramshackle Shack"


      "Coal Miner's Grave"

      "Mother's Only Sleeping"

      "Workin' On A Buildin'"

      You can downloads MP3 recordings of J.E. Mainer's original King 78 rpm
      records which King reissued on an LP in the 1960s by going to:

      J.E. Mainer's older brother Wade and his wife Julia kept on performing until very recently. To see Wade and Julia singing and playing on David Holt's excellent
      TV program "Fire On The Mountain" in the mid-1980s, go to:

      To see a google map showing where J.E. Mainer was born and where he lived and worked as one of the leading early country fiddlers until his death on June 12, 1971, go to:,-80.804443&spn=5.68816,11.931152&z=7

      Clark Kessinger 27 July 1896 - 4 June 1975

      Born on July 27, 1896 in South Hills, Kanawha County, West Virgingia,
      Clark Kessinger began playing the banjo at the age of five but soon
      switched to fiddle. Legendary fiddler Ed Haley was a formative influence
      on young Kessinger, who also took classical violin lessons in his youth.

      Combining the drive of an old time dance fiddler with the smooth, rich tone of a classical violinist, Kessinger became a formidable contest fiddler. Clark and his nephew Luches (1906-1944) won prizes at area fiddle contests. In 1927, they began playing on radio station WOBU in Charleston, W. Va, and started
      recording for Brunswick as The Kessinger Brothers in 1928. They recorded
      for other labels under different names; they produced several classic records
      for the Sears Conqueror label as The Birmingham Entertainers.

      Versatile and creative, Kessinger was not only a hot breakdown fiddler but
      also played sweet, haunting waltzes. Far more than a run of the mill country
      fiddler, Kessinger met and discussed playing techiques with Fritz Kreisler,
      one of the leading violinists of that era..

      When the music business collapsed during the Great Depression,
      Kessinger began painting houses for a living, which became his trade for
      the next thirty years. Luches died in 1944, but Clark kept on playing at
      local dances and regional fiddle contests.

      During the American folk music revival of the early 1960s, Kessinger retired
      from house painting and began winning fiddle contests in the Southeast and out
      in Weiser, Idaho where he won first place at the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest. Backed by Gene Meade's superb rhythm guitar and Wayne Hauser's subtle bluegrass banjo, Kessinger's dynamic playing wowed audiences at major folk festivals including Newport, RI; he also made a guest appearance on the  Grand Ole Opry.

      Switching from Ken Davidson's Kanawha label to Rounder, Kessinger recorded four brilliant albums that have been reissued on CD. Tragically, Kessinger suffered a stroke during a recording session for Rounder in 1971. He suffered another stroke four years later and died on June 4, 1975.

      Like Jean Carignan, who drove a taxi in Montreal for most of his life, Clark Kessinger was one of the greatest North American fiddlers of the 20th century, whose drive and polish won him the admiration of master classical violinists.

      Like everything else, tastes in old time fiddle music have changed, and not necessarily for the better. Largely overlooked today, Clark Kessinger's brilliant, creative fiddling richly deserves to be better known and appreciated.

      Kessinger Brothers (Clark Kessinger, fiddle and Luches Kessinger, guitar)
      Dill Pickle Rag

      Kessinger Brothers
      Garfield March

      Kessinger Brothers
      Chicken In The Barnyard
      Brunswick 256

      Kessinger Brothers
      Salt River

      # Artist: Kessinger Brothers
      # Title: Boarding House Bells Are Ringing Waltz
      # Album: Brunswick 352
      # Year: 1929

      Clark and Luches Kessinger also recorded as The Birmingham Entertainers

      Birmingham Entertainers
      Hell Among The Yearlings
      Supertone (Sears) 52090

      Kessinger Brothers
      Goodnight Waltz
      Brunswick 220

      Kessinger Brothers
      Sixteen Days In Georgia
      Brunswick 267

      Birmingham Entertainers
      Johnny Bring The Jug Around The Hill
      Supertone (Sears) 52090

      Kessinger Brothers
      The Girl I Left Behind Me
      Brunswick 267

      To see Clark Kessinger play "Sally Ann Johnson" at the Newport Folk Festival when he was 71 years old, go to:

      Kessinger had just won first place in the Senior Division of the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho.

      Charlie Bowman

      Charles Thomas Bowman was born in Gray Station, Washington County, Tennessee on July 30, 1889.
      Playing old time music was a major form of home entertainment for country people throughout the United States and Canada in those days.

      Like Clark Kessinger, little Charlie Bowman started out on banjo but soon switched to fiddle. His first fiddle cost $4.5O; fifty cents was a full days wages for a farmhand at that time.

      All but one of the nine Bowman children played music; Charlie and his brothers would later record together as The Bowman Brothers. Charlie made his first recording in 1908 --- on an Edison cylinder phonograph owned by a neighbor! The Bowman Brothers started playing at local dances and other events. They soon began to get paid for playing music; each of them got seventy-five cents,an impressive amount of money back then.

      In 1920 Charlie entered a fiddle contest in nearby Johnson City. First place went to Clayton McMichen, a great North Georgia fiddler who later went on to record with Gid Tanner and Riley Puckett, among others. Charlie took second place, winning thirty dollars! He then entered and won so many fiddle contests in East Tennessee and the surrounding region that other fiddlers started to complain about him!

      A revival of interest in old time fiddling was growing all across the United States by that time. In 1923 Victor Records offered Charlie Bowman a recording contract, which he turned down. Al Hopkins was so impressed when he heard Charlie play at a Johnson City fiddle contest that he invited Bowman to join the Original Hillbillies, who were already recording for Okeh. Bowman turned down his offer.

      But in 1925, Hopkins and Bowman met again at a now historic fiddle contest in Mountain City in remote Johnson County, the easternmost county in the state.
      Getting to Mountain City is still not an easy task today, and one can only imagine what it was like to travel there in old fashioned automobiles over narrow primitive roads back in 1925, Nonetheless a number of major figures in early country music managed to get there, including Fiddlin John Carson, who came up all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. East Tennessee fiddlers swept the contest. Dudley Vance from
      Chinquapin Grove near Bluff City in Sullivan County took first prize; Charlie Bowman from Gray Station in Washington County took second place, and the very first Tennessee fiddler to make commercial recordings, Uncle Am Stuart from Morristown in Hamblen County, came in third.

      Al Hopkins and the Origina Hillbillies were also there. Hopkins invited Bowman to join the Hillbillies again, and this time Bowman accepted. Country music was taking off, and The Hillbillies were very popular. Charlie and The Hillbillies cut several records for Vocalion in New York City, where they also played on local radio and made lucrative appearances at vaudeville theaters.At the height of their popularity, The Hillbillies played for President Calvin Coolidge and also appeared in a short film.

      By 1928, though, Charlie Bowman went back home to East Tennessee. That same year Frank Walker of Columbia Records set up a makeshift studio in Johnson City
      and advertised for local talent in area newspapers. Charlie and his brothers auditioned for Walker and recorded a number of classic old time songs and tunes for Columbia.

      When Frank Walker returned to Johnson City in 1929, the Bowman Brothers made more records for Columbia; that same year Charlie and his daughters Pauline and Jennie traveled up to New York City and cut several records for Vocalion. Unlike many early old time performers, Charlie continued to work as a professional country entertainer through the Great Depression and the austerity years of World War II,
      Charlie Bowman finally retired from show business in 1957, He died on May 8, 1972.

      To read an excellent detailed biography of Charlie Bowman, go to:

      To hear a very entertaining and well written biography, FIDDLIN CHARLIE BOWMAN
      by Bob L. Cox, see:

      To see a photograph of the contestants in the famous 1925 fiddlers contest in Mountain City, Tennessee, go to:
      (Charlie Bowman is kneeling in the first row, second from left)

      To hear Charlie Bowman fiddle his most famous tune EAST TENNESSEE BLUES
      with the Hillbillies on Vocalion in 1926, go to:

      To hear Charlie Bowman fiddle MOUNTAINEERS LOVE SONG with The Hillbillies on Vocalion in 1926, go to:
      (commonly known as LIZA JANE)

      To hear Charlie Bowman fiddle BABY YOUR TIME AINT LONG on Vocalion
      with The Hillbillies in 1927, go to:

      To hear Charlie Bowman fiddle CRIPPLE CREEK with Al Hopkins and The
      Hillbillies, go to:

      To hear Charlie Bowman fiddle SALLY ANN with The Hillbillies, go to:
      (Charlie won 2nd place at the 1925 Mountain City fiddle contest with this tune)

      To hear Charlie Bowman and His Brothers play THE MOONSHINER AND HIS MONEY, go to:

      To hear Charlie Bowman and His Brothers play FORKY DEER, recorded for
      Columbia in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1929, go to;

      Earl Johnson (August 24, 1886-May 31, 1965)

      Born in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Gid Tanner's home county, on August 24, 1886, Earl Johnson was perhaps the rowdiest of all the great North Georgia
      fiddlers who recorded during the 1920s and early 30s. Like so many other old time musicians, Earl Johnson began playing at home while still a youngster; he first entered the famous Atlanta Old Time Fiddlers Contest in 1920.

      In 1923, Johnson became a member of pioneer North Georgia recording and radio star Fiddlin' John Carson's band, The Virginia Reelers. In 1925, Johnson recorded with The Dixie String Band and Arthur Tanner. The following year Johnson won first prize at the Georgia Old Time Fiddlers Contest. In 1927, Earl Johnson's Clodhoppers including guitarist Byrd Moore and banjoist Emmett Bankston made their first records for the Okeh label.

      Like so many other old time musicians, Johnson's recording career came to an abrupt end in the Great Depression. Nonetheless, he continued playing on radio and at regional contests shortly before his death on May 31, 1965.

      To see a complete discography of recordings by Earl Johnson and The Dixie Entertainers and Earl Johnson's Clodhoppers, see:

      You can see a complete list of reissues of Earl Johnson's recordings
      on www.1001tunes. com:

      Earl Johnson & His Clodhoppers
      "Johnnie Get Your Gun"
      Okeh 45171

      Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers
      I Don't Love Nobody
      :Okeh 45101

      Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers
      Ain't Nobody's Business
      Okeh 45092

      Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers
      I'm Satisfied
      Okeh 45129

      Earl Johnson & His Clod Hoppers
      Red Hot Breakdown
      Okeh 45209

      Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers
      Fiddlin' Rufus
      Victor V - 40212

      Earl Johnson Dixie Entertainrs
      Buy A Half Pint And Stay In The Wagon Yard
      Okeh 45528

      You can download the County LP 543 "Earl Johnson Red Hot Breakdown" by going to Lonesome Lefty's Scratchy Attic:

      Allen Sisson August 31, 1873-September 22, 1951
      (Allen Sisson was 22 years old when this photograph was taken in 1895)

      Robert Allen Sisson was born in the Boardtown community near Elijay in Gilmer Couny in the mountains of North Georgia on August 31, 1873. When he was still a toddler, Sisson began playing the fiddle. His uncle Ira Arnold Sisson , a former Confederate sergeant, was an excellent fiddler himself. By the time young Sisson was twelve years old, he had already won a reputation as one of the finest fiddlers in North Georgia.

      While still a young man, Sisson moved up north to southeast Tennessee where he found work on the railroad serving the copper mines in the neighborhood of Copperhill and Ducktown east of Chattanooga. Sisson kept up his fiddling, though, and in 1921 he won first place in a Tennessee State Old Time Fiddlers Contest.

      The post World War I old time music revival gained momentum in the next few years. In 1925, Sisson traveled up to Thomas Alva Edison's recording studio in  East Orange, New Jersey where he recorded ten tunes, including some of his own original compositions. These were the only commercial recordings Sisson ever made.

      Sisson's grandson James Carson Sisson notes that his grandfather brought back a radio set when he returned from New Jersey, and that he would invite the neighbors in to listen to music. The recording and broadcasting of old time music continued to blossom until the Great Depression commenced following the stock market crash of 1929.

      Allen Sisson and his wife Annie Payne Sisson continued to live in the Copperhill area . Annie died in April of 1951 and Allen died a few months later on September 22 , 1951 in Copperhill, Tennessee. Both of them were laid to rest in a cemetery in Fannin County, Georgia, where she was born and raised.

      You can read James Carson Sisson's account of his grandfather's life and hear
      "Rocky Road To Dublin," one of the traditional tunes Allen Sisson recorded for
      Edison in 1925 by going to David Lynch's lovely Old-Time Fiddlers' Hall of Fame:

      To see a google map showing where Allen Sisson was raised and spent most of his life, go to:,-84.256897&spn=1.544804,2.826233&z=9

      You can read more about Allen Sisson and other early Edison recording
      artists on the American Sound Archives website:

      Interested in Allen Sisson's geneaology? Go to:

      You can see pictures of Allen Sisson in a scrapbook on the same site:

      Allen Sisson (fiddle) with piano accompaniment
      "Rhymer's Favorite"
      Edison, 1925

      Allen Sisson (fiddle) with piano accompaniment
      "Grey Eagle" (key of C)
      Edison 1925

      Allen Sisson, fiddle with piano accompaniment
      "Katy Hill" (key of G)
      Edison 1925

      Allen Sisson, fiddle with piano accompaniment
      "Walking Water Reel" (very similar to "Cumberland Gap) (Key of G)
      Edison, 1925

      Allen Sisson, fiddle and piano accompaniment
      "Kentucky Wagoner" (key of C) (also known as "Wagoner," "Tennessee Wagoner," and "Wild Wagoner"
      Edison, 1925

      You can hear Allen Sisson's unissued recordings of "Kaiser's Defeat Jig" and "Sally Brown Jig" on the Document Records CD COUNTRY MUSIC PIONEERS ON EDISON:

      Ahaz Augustus Gray (September 7, 1881-  June 21, 1939)

      Born in Carroll County, Georgia on September 7, 1881, Ahaz Augustus Gray began playing the fiddle at the age of seven and started fiddling at local dances soon thereafter.

      A.A. Gray married Ida Clarinda Smith in Buchanan, Georgia, the county seat of Haralson County in 1906. The couple moved to Tallapoosa, about eight miles southwest of Buchanan, where they spent the rest of their lives farming for a living and playing music for fun.

      A.A. Gray and a string band made up of neighbors played at area square dances; the Grays also hosted old-fashioned Saturday night musical gatherings in their home.  Ida Gray sang and played guitar, their son Earl also played guitar, and their daughter Gladys played the organ.

      A.A. Gray also competed in fiddle contests in various sections of Georgia and was first-place winner of contests sponsored by the Georgia Old Time Fiddlers' Conventions, taking home the honors in 1918, 1921, 1922, and 1929. In 1924 A.A. Gray and John Dilleshaw ("Seven Foot Dilly") recorded several tunes and skits for the Okeh company.

      A staunch Methodist and a lifelong teetotaler, A.A. Gray was held in high esteem by his friends and neighbors. He died in Tallapoosa on June 21, 1939.

      You can read about A.A. Gray in an excerpt from Wayne W. Daniel, "Pickin' On Peachtree - A History Of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia" on David Lynch's excellent Old-Time Music Home Page:

      You can see where A. A. Gray lived and played his music by going to:,-85.185928&spn=3.139076,5.652466&z=8

      A.A. Gray (fiddle solo)
      "Bonaparte's Retreat
      Okeh 40110
      Issued May 1924

      A.A. Gray and Seven Foot Dilly,
      "Tallapoosa Bound" (1930)

      A.A. Gray & Seven Foot Dilly
      "Streak Of Lean, Streak of Fat," (1930)
      released 7/1/30
       Date Recorded: 03/20/30
      Recording Label:Vocalion
      Catalog Number: 5430

      A.A. Gray & Seven Foot Dilly
      "The Old Ark's A'Moving"
       Date Recorded: 3/?/30
      Recording Label:Vocalion
      Catalog Number: 5458

      Red Steeley (September 10 - 1893 - December 16, 1969)

      Born in Scottsboro in the hill country of Jackson County in northeastern Alabama on September 10, 1893, Albert Lee Steeley began playing the fiddle at the age of five; he learned to play on a homemade instrument made by his seven-year-old brother. The Steeleys moved out to Texas around the turn of the twentieth century.

      Steeley spent most of his life as a farmer near Arlington, Texas. He kept fiddling,
      though, and became known as one of the finest hoedown fiddlers in the Dallas-
      Fort Worth area.  Steeley and a fellow Alabaman, J.W. Graham began playing together in 1909. They played together on WBAP radio in Fort Worth  and  in 1928 and 1929, Steeley and Graham recorded for Brunswick Records in Dallas as the Red Headed Fiddlers. Graham's old time five string banjo accompaniment was not common in Texas at that time.

      Steeley's daughter Mildred  became an excellent rhythm guitarist. The Steeleys played in many Texas fiddle contests and got to know some of the top Texas fiddlers including Major Franklin, Benny Thomasson and Norman Solomon, just to name a few. Steeley became known in Texas as an excellent fiddle maker.  He died on December 16, 1969. Steeley was inducted into the Fiddlers' Frolics Hall of Fame in Hallettsville, Texas in 1982.

      You can read more about Red Steeley and other great Texas fiddlers in the
      Fiddlers' Frolic Hall of Fame by going to:

      Also see:

      You can see a google map showing where Red Steeley was born and spent most of his life as a farmer, fiddler and fiddle maker by going to:,-91.582031&spn=12.358332,22.609863&z=6

      The Red Head Fiddlers,
      A.L. Steeley (fiddle), J.W. Graham (banjo)
      "Texas Quickstep" (commonly known as "Rachel")
      Brunswick 285 Recorded October 1, 1928 in Dallas

      The Red Headed Fiddlers
      A.L. Steeley (fiddle) and L.W. Graham (banjo)
      Far In The Mountains ("Fire On The Mountain")
      Brunswick  470
      October 27, 1929, Dallas

      The Red Headed Fiddlers
      "Fatal Wedding"
      A.L. Steeley (fiddle), L.W. Graham (mandolin), Mildred Steeley (guitar)
      Brunswick 460,  rec.October 27, 1929, Dallas

      The Red Head Fiddlers
      "Paddy On The Handcar" (commonly known as "Paddy On The Turnpike" (1929)
      A.L. Steeley (fiddle), L.W. Grahama  (guitar)
      Brunswick  526