Thursday, November 27, 2008

According to Archie Green:

"Uncle Am" Stuart (was) a 73-year-old safe and vault salesman, champion fiddler, and raconteur from Morristown, Tennessee. In the first week of June (1924) he was in Manhattan recording "Cumberland Gap/Grey Eagle" (14839). While in the Aeolian Hall studio, he favored New York's WJZ radio audience with a program – perhaps the first Tennessee mountain music to be broadcast in the metropolis."

Other than this reference, there has been scant information through the years about this Tennessee fiddler who recorded sixteen sides for Vocalion records in 1924, twelve of which are featured here. He is often seen in pictures of old Tennessee fiddler's conventions, but I don't believe there was ever an LP on County, Old Homestead or Rounder featuring his playing. This album was put together by the late Graham Townsend and issued privately by him. My copy is on cassette, there may have been LPs of this as well but very few if any.
These were exceedingly raw transfers, they sounded very noisy. I have done as much as possible to clean them up without impairing the original performances. I constantly referred to the raw transfers while performing the process. Considering that the source was at least third generation recordings of less than perfect originals, I feel the result is a great improvement.
I hope you enjoy one that never made it to the County 500 series!

A couple of pages from a descendant of Uncle Am Stuart:

Uncle Am

Full Circle


1. Old Liza Jane
2. Cumberland Gap
3. Grey Eagle
4. Forki Deer (River)
5. Sourwood Mountain
6. Wagonner
7. George Boker
8. Leather Breeches
9. Dixie (with variations)
10. Old Granny Rattletrap
11. Rye Straw Or Unfortunate Pup
12. Sally Gooden

*download here*


Jackie Fitzgerald said...

This is fantastic, Lefty. Thanks for making this available to us!

Glenn said...

Does anyone know who the tenor banjo player is? He is out of this world.

Richard Blaustein said...

The banjo player was Gene Austin, who went on to a successful career as a popular singer. Austin's banjo playing is out of the world --- in the sense of coming from some other planet! He didn't know the tunes Uncle Am was playing but nonetheless saw fit to play free-form improvisations that had nothing to do with what Uncle Am was doing. Vocalion Records did old time music lovers a terrible disservice when they let Austin play on these records, rather than letting Uncle Am play alone.