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Uncle Dave Macon

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ALL IN AND DOWN AND OUT BLUES
THE GAL THAT GOT STUCK


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Big Ballad Singer 27 Jul 11 - 01:50 PM
Dave Hanson 27 Jul 11 - 02:52 PM
olddude 27 Jul 11 - 02:56 PM
DonMeixner 27 Jul 11 - 03:17 PM
Ross Campbell 28 Jul 11 - 03:48 PM
Stewie 28 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM
Stringsinger 29 Jul 11 - 03:48 PM
Big Ballad Singer 29 Jul 11 - 10:11 PM
frogprince 29 Jul 11 - 10:51 PM
GUEST,Don Stevens 30 Jul 11 - 07:57 AM
GUEST 30 Jul 11 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,scorpio 31 Jul 11 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,*.* 31 Jul 11 - 09:38 PM
Big Ballad Singer 31 Jul 11 - 10:17 PM
Stewie 31 Jul 11 - 11:17 PM
Big Ballad Singer 31 Jul 11 - 11:59 PM
Stewie 01 Aug 11 - 12:40 AM
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Subject: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 01:50 PM

I've seen Uncle Dave referred to as the "Grandfather of Country Music", and I think I'd have to agree. His musical and lyrical choices appealed to the common, working-class folk and his performance style, general personal hubris and cleverly marketed personality made those same working-class folks feel like "one of their own" was not just a rube from the sticks, but a genuine entertainer they could be proud of.

What do you think? I've read that some people don't think much of Uncle Dave as a picker, but he's better than me on a five-string, anyway. ;)

The thing I appreciate about Uncle Dave is that he seems to be BOTH able to promote "Uncle Dave", the character AND still be real enough of a man to take the piss out of Earl Scruggs when they saw each other on the road or on the Opry.

I laugh like heck every time I read that Uncle Dave used to call Earl "Earnest" and tell him he couldn't play worth a damn. I'm guessing, since I read that Macon didn't like Earl's style of playing, that he dismissed much, if not all, of what made Earl great as mere fireworks and showing off.

Your thoughts? Resources for books about Uncle Dave? Music, I have... his entire discography, actually. Any reading or watching material would be most useful.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 02:52 PM

When Earl first appeared on The Opry, Uncle Dave commented ' he aint one damn bit funny '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: olddude
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 02:56 PM

uncle Dave

video of he and Dorris


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: DonMeixner
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 03:17 PM

Uncle Dave was more that a musician, he was an entertainer and a performer. As a shameless self promoter and emtertainer he brought to Radio Music and the Opry the style of the Medicine Show and The Minstrel Show. Up to that point stage shows for the Cultured white audiences were quite often formal and a bit stiff. Dave Macon fixed that...

http://www.starrgennett.org/stories/profiles/dave_macon.htm

Bill Knowlton is an acquaintance of mine and his study of Uncle Dave explains it all.

Don


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 03:48 PM

http://www.starrgennett.org/stories/profiles/dave_macon.htm

One of my favourite old-time artists. I picked up "Wait Till the Clouds Roll By, Jenny"" from one of his albums many years ago. Found it again a couple of years ago - this time in a National Library of Scotland on-line ballad collection "The Word On the Street" - they have a version published in Dumbartonshire, Scotland early 1900s which is close to Macon's version:-

http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/16339/transcript/1

At the time I found a link to a claim of authorship by a sometime music-hall singer of Irish origin based in London, can't find the details now.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 08:52 PM

Have a read of Mike Yates' excellent study of Uncle Dave's repertoire. It is on the Musical Traditions site.

HERE

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:48 PM

Mike Yates did a great study. One piece of information that is notably missing was the influence of the minstrel show. karen Lin describes the cross-over of the five-string banjo from early performances of Uncle Tom's Cabin to the Appalachians.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 10:11 PM

At least one of the articles I read mentioned that Uncle Dave played very, very little of what the author termed "Anglo-Saxon" music. I'm assuming he means the typical Scotch-Irish-influenced sound that's often associated with guys like Dock Boggs and Clarence Ashley. I like their music as well.

Uncle Dave, to me, just seems to embody much of what I like about the best of "popular" music. What I mean is that Uncle Dave took the people's music, style, slang, social attitudes and even religious persuasion and turned it into something that, as some theater people like to say, "played big". He took his personality, his playing ability, his musical and personal "quirks", so to speak, and sold them as a performing style.

Uncle Dave wasn't forced to get all homogenized and bland like even the best of today's so-called stars. They all wind up basically looking and sounding the same, genre by genre.

Uncle Dave Macon's music just reminds me of a time when the record men went out to find something that would sell (Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and so many others), rather than inventing acts that get rammed down the throats of the public with no mercy.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: frogprince
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 10:51 PM

I got first got unto Macon from hearing some of my favorite contemporary people cover songs they got from him. It took me a while to find a source of his own recordings. I throughly enjoy him, but some of what I have has the worst efforts at backup harmony I hve ever heard professionally recorded. My wife, who is no musical snob but has a much better "ear" for musical quality than me, really cringes when I put on some of that.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: GUEST,Don Stevens
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 07:57 AM

I can't add much to what these other Folks have said. I'm just an Old Music Collector. I believe that I have every Recording, and Video, of Uncle Dave's. I think he was a Great Entertainer. In my opinion - very few like him, today. Troy Lee Boswell (Leroy Troy) comes the closest to his 'style', today. I love them both - and the others of their 'style'. I'm so glad that I lived in their era.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 01:25 PM

I live in Chattanooga Tennessee. Right across the line in Georgia is an older man named Bill Lowery, who drove Dave around from show to show. Bill' still pickin', and he's a great musician.

He has some great Uncle Dave personal stories. I'm doing an interview for submission to Old Time Herald.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: GUEST,scorpio
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 12:27 PM

First heard of the guy in an Incredible String Band bio. Have still heard very little. Where can I hear some of his songs?


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: GUEST,*.*
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 09:38 PM

The poster, of course, is gargoyle
I read that Macon didn't like Earl's style of playing

If you "read" you are perhaps, literate?

PLEASE PROVIDE THE SOURCE ("read" =printed material, Date, Source, Author, Publisher, Title of Article or Book, page,

Sincerely,
*.*


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 10:17 PM

Bill C. Malone, Judith McCulloh, Stars of Country Music: Uncle Dave Macon to Johnny Rodriguez, University of Illinois Press, 1975

Page 49.

The Wikipedia article on Uncle Dave Macon cites the above book in support of the following statement:

"Although Macon toured with Bill Monroe in the late 1940s, he was neither impressed by the new bluegrass style nor by the banjo picking of Monroe's bandmate Earl Scruggs."

Now, what the hell is your problem? I didn't realize I was being graded on my posts like a damned college essay. I've read so many books about folk, country and old-time music that I've probably forgotten more than you've read.

Nice that a "GUEST" who doesn't even use a name, just some symbols, can come along and get so uppity.

I gave you your citation. Happy now?


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Stewie
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 11:17 PM

My apologies again, Joe, for not noticing, before making the previous post, that my Norton clean-up had swallowed my cookie.

--Stewie.
BBS, I am not the rude guest above, but I draw your attention to the actual references on pp49-50 of 'Stars of Country Music':

Re bluegrass & Monroe:


In the late 1940s, he traveled with Bill Monroe and seemed relatively unimpressed with the fact that Monroe was busy creating a revolutionary style in music, bluegrass. When the audience was good, Macon would tell Monroe, 'The old man can still draw 'em in'. If it was small, he would say, 'You can't pull 'em in like you used to, Mr Bill'.


Re Earl Scruggs:


Another story told of Uncle Dave describes him in the late 1940s watching Earl Scruggs stun a Grand Ole Opry with his then-revolutionary three-finger banjo-picking technique; Uncle Dave watched silently from the wings of the Ryman for a time, then finally turned away and said, 'He ain't one damned bit funny'.


From those, it is fair enough for the Wikipedia writer to draw the conclusion that Uncle Dave was unimpressed with bluegrass - he was probably implying that Bill did much better when he was strutting his stuff with brother Charlie. However, the second quote could be interpreted as the old man being impressed and jealous of Scruggs' picking and his impact on the audience - a case of sour grapes. The author of the Macon chapter in 'Stars of Country Music', Charles Wolfe, cites no specific sources for these anecdotes. He does indicate, however, that the information for his essay was drawn, inter alia, from interviews with Sam and Kirk McGee, Sid Harkreader and Macon's sons, Dorris and Archie.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 11:59 PM

Stewie, I just used that one reference to shut the other "guest" up.

I HAVE read, some years ago now, material that noted Macon's general (yet tolerant and easygoing) dislike of bluegrass and of Scruggs' playing style.

Uncle Dave was a solid musician, nothing fancy, but he seemed to always keep ENTERTAINMENT at the center of what he did. I don't believe, if I may project my opinions a little, that Uncle Dave saw great playing skill ALONE as all that entertaining.

Certainly, there have been people in my life who have LOVED Flatt & Scruggs who could not tell you whether Earl was a great player, or whether he played a banjo or a bike tire. They just know what they like.

Uncle Dave, to me, seemed to base his career on the idea that people know what they like - and that he was going to mine those laughs, smiles and rounds of applause for all they were worth.

I've read the stories of "Ernest" Scruggs not being "a damned bit funny" a million times. I KNOW Uncle Dave was just yanking Earl's chain. That being said, I believe there had to be SOME slight resentment in Macon's joking comments. After all, he was watching 'old-time' music and entertainment getting replaced, little by little, by slick, commercial acts that would change the Opry and the music business permanently.

To me, the "Dixie Dewdrop" represents the best of what regular folks could enjoy that fit in seamlessly with their lives. Later on, music stars became these unknowable, unreachable personalities that people could barely relate to.

We need more "regular folks" on the music scene today.


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Subject: RE: Uncle Dave Macon
From: Stewie
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 12:40 AM

BBS, fair enough. I agree thoroughly with your comment that there had to some resentment on Uncle Dave's part as he witnessed his beloved old-timey being replaced by slicker material and styles.

Uncle Dave was a wonderful artist and we owe a huge debt to him for the preservation of numerous songs that otherwise would have been lost. It seems to me that the lovely little word 'brio' fits him perfectly.

--Stewie.


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