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Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon, beginning his professional musical career after the age of 50, brought musical and performance traditions of the 19th-century South to the radio shows and the recording catalogues of the early country music industry. In 1925, he became one of two charter members of the Grand Ole Opry, then called the WSM Barn Dance. A consummate showman on the banjo and a one-man repository of countless old songs and comic routines, Macon remained a well-loved icon of country music until and beyond his death in 1952.

Born David Harrison Macon in Smartt Station in middle Tennessee's Warren County, he was the son of a Confederate officer who owned a large farm. Macon heard the folk music of the area when he was young, but he was also a product of the urban South: after the family moved to Nashville and began operating a hotel, Macon hobnobbed with traveling vaudeville musicians who performed there. After his father was stabbed near the hotel, Macon left Nashville with the rest of his family. He worked on a farm and later operated a wagon freight line, performing music only at local parties and dances.

Macon's turn toward a musical second career was due partly to the advent of motorized trucks, for his wagon line fell on hard times in the early '20s after a competitor invested in the horseless novelties. In 1923, he struck up a few tunes in a Nashville barbershop with fiddler Sid Harkreader, and an agent from the Loew's theater chain happened to stop in. Soon Macon and Harkreader were touring as far a field as New England, and when George D. Hay began bringing together performers two years later for what would become the Opry, Macon was a natural choice. The tour also brought Macon the first of his many recording dates, held in New York for the Vocalion label in 1924. Macon would record prolifically through the 1930s (and occasionally up to 1950) for various labels, accompanied at different times by Harkreader, the brother duo of Sam & Kirk McGee, the Delmore Brothers, the young Roy Acuff, and other string players including a then-unknown Bill Monroe. For secular material, his backing band took the name of the Fruit Jar Drinkers.

Macon's recordings are richly enjoyable in themselves and are priceless historical documents, both for the large variety of banjo styles they preserve and for the window they afford on American song of the late 19th century. Macon performed musical-comic routines such as the "Uncle Dave's Travels" series, topical songs, often of his own composition ("Governor Al Smith"), playful folk songs ("I'll Tickle Nancy"), gospel with his Dixie Sacred Singers, blackface minstrel songs, unique proto-blues pieces that Macon learned from African-American freight workers ("Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy"), and songs of other types. Yet "the Dixie Dewdrop" was loved most of all for his presence as a live musician, captured not only on the weekly Opry broadcasts (which were broadcast nationally for a time in the 1930s) but also in the 1940 film Grand Ole Opry. Macon delivered what an 1880s southern vaudeville audience would have demanded for its hard-earned dollar: showmanship (he handled the banjo with Harlem Globetrotters-like trick dexterity), humor, political commentary (often of the incorrect variety by modern standards), and unflagging energy.

Macon continued to appear on the Opry almost until his death, gradually taking on the status of a great-hearted living link to country music's origins. He became the tenth member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966, and the revival of old time music that flourished as part of the folk movement focused the attention of younger listeners on his music. Yet Macon remains less well understood, and less present in the musical minds of country listeners, than Jimmie Rodgers or the Carter Family, even though he was nearly as well-known in his own day. Perhaps that's because he represents an older layer of American music-making than almost any other performer known to country audiences: modern hearers can easily connect with Rodgers' blues or the Carters' homespun sentiment, but Macon may require greater effort. Such effort, in any case, is well repaid by an acquaintance with his musical legacy. ~ James Manheim
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

Disc 1

1. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

2. Hill Billie Blues

3. Old Maid's Last Hope (A Burglar Song)

4. All I've Got's Gone

5. The Fox Chase

6. Papa's Billie Goat

13. Bile Them Cabbage Down

14. Down By The River

15. Run, N**ger, Run

16. Old Dan Tucker

17. Station Will Be Changed After A While

18. Rooster Crow Medley

19. Going Across The Sea

20. Just From Tennessee

21. Watermelon Smilin' On The Vine

22. All-Go-Hungry Hash House

23. From Jerusalem To Jericho

24. I Tickled Nancy

Disc 2

1. Muskrat Medley

2. Old Ship Of Zion

3. Down In Arkansas

8. Way Down The Old Plank Road

9. The Bible's True

13. Death Of John Henry

14. On The Dixie Bee Line (In That Henry Ford Of Mine)

18. Only As Far As The Gate, Dear Ma

19. Just Tell Them That You Saw Me

21. Old Ties

23. We Are Up Against It Now

24. Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo

Disc 3

9. Deliverance Will Come

11. Kissin' On The Sly

15. The Cross Eyed Butcher And The Cackling Hen

17. Never Make Love No More

20. Diamond In The Rough

22. Sho' Fly, Don't Bother Me

24. Braying Mule

25. Bake That Chicken Pie

Disc 4

3. Carve That Possum

5. Sail Away Ladies

6. I'm A-Goin' Away In The Morn

12. Go Along Mule

13. Tom And Jerry

14. Rabbit In The Pea Patch

17. Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb

18. The Maple On The Hill

23. Shall We Gather At The River

Disc 5

4. Heartaching Blues

7. Backwater Blues

8. More Like Your Dad Every Day

9. I'll Never Go There Any More (The Bowery)

11. From Earth To Heaven

13. Buddy Won't You Roll Down The Line

14. Worthy Of Estimation

16. Over The Road I'm Bound To Go

17. The New Ford Car

20. Governor Al Smith

23. Life And Death Of Jesse James

Disc 6

3. Susie Lee

4. Mister Johnson

5. Farm Relief

7. Since Baby's Learned To Talk

9. Over The Mountain

10. Hush Little Baby Don't You Cry

13. Tennessee Red Fox Chase

14. The Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravy Train

15. Oh Baby, You Done Me Wrong

16. She's Got The Money Too

17. Oh Lovin' Babe

18. Mysteries Of The World

19. Come On Buddie, Don't You Want To Go

20. Go On, Nora Lee

23. When The Train Comes Along

24. Tennessee Tornado

25. Don't Get Weary Children

Disc 7

1. Over The Mountain

3. One More River To Cross

4. Just One Way To The Pearly Gates

7. All In Down And Out Blues

9. Fame Apart From God's Approval

19. She's Got The Money Too

22. They're After Me

23. My Daughter Wished To Marry

24. Beautiful Love

25. Give Me Back My Five Dollars

26. Railroadin' And Gamblin'

27. Cumberland Mountain Deer Race

Disc 8

10. Over The Mountain

12. Death Of John Henry (Steel Driving Man)

13. From Jerusalem To Jericho

16. Cumberland Mountain Deer Chase

17. Rabbit In The Pea Patch

18. Bully Of The Town

19. Mountain Dew

20. Old Maid's Love Song

21. Rock Of Ages

22. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

23. Death Of John Henry (Steel Driving Man)

24. That's Where My Money Goes

25. Long John Green

26. Lady In The Car

27. Cotton-Eyed-Joe

30. All In Down And Out Blues

31. All Go Hungry Hash House

32. Whoa Mule

33. No One To Welcome Me Home

34. (Banjo Solo)

35. Jenny Put The Kettle On

36. Kissin' On The Sly

Disc 9

4. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

8. Kissin' On The Sly

11. Honest Confession Is Good For The Soul

15. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

20. Cumberland Mountain Deer Race

28. From Jerusalem To Jericho

29. Old Dan Tucker

30. All Go Hungry Hash House

Disc 10
x

Track List: Go Long Mule

1. Over The Road I'm Bound To Go

2. I'm Goin' Away In The Morn

3. Go Long Mule

4. Oh Baby, You Done Me Wrong

5. Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel

6. Grey Cat On The Tennessee Farm

7. Over The Mountain

8. Hold The Woodpile Down

9. Backwater Blues

10. Don't Get Weary Children

11. She's Got The Money Too

12. Way Down The Old Plank Road

13. Carve That Possum

14. Old Ties

15. Tom & Jerry

16. Rock About My Sarah Jane

17. Rabbit In The Pea Patch

18. Sail Away Ladies

x

Track List: Uncle Dave Macon

1. Cumberland Mountain Deer Race

2. All In Down And Out Blues

3. From Earth To Heaven

9. My Daughter Wished To Marry

11. Over The Road I'm Bound To Go

13. Tom And Jerry

15. When The Train Comes Along

16. Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravy Train

x

Track List: Volume 3: Classic Cuts 1928-1938 Disc C

Disc 1

1. Hill Billie Blues

2. The Old Maid's Last Hope

3. All I've Got's Gone

4. The Fox Chase

5. Papa's Billie Goat

12. Bile Them Cabbage Down

13. Rooster Crow Medley

14. Just From Tennessee

15. From Jerusalem To Jericho

16. I Tickled Nancy

17. Arkansas Travelers

19. Muskrat Medley

20. Down In Arkansas

25. Just Tell Them That You Saw Me

Disc 2

8. My Girl's A High Born Lady

10. Never Make Love No More

14. Braying Mule

16. Lullaby Song

18. Oh Bear Me Away On Your Snowy Wings

22. Got No Silver Nor No Gold Blues

23. Heartaching Blues

25. Backwater Blues

Disc 3

2. Had The Razor

4. New In Town

6. Mister Johnson

7. Hush Little Baby Don't You Cry

8. Oh Lovin' Babe

9. Come On Buddie, Don't You Want To Go

10. Go On Nora Lee

13. When The Train Comes Along

14. Tennessee Tornado

15. Don't Get Weary Children

16. Over The Mountain

17. One More River To Cross

18. Just One Way To The Pearly Gates

19. Fame Apart From God's Approval

20. From Jerusalem To Jericho

24. She's Got The Money Too

Disc 4

2. They're After Me

3. Beautiful Love

4. Give Me Back My Five Dollars

5. Railroadin' And Gamblin'

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Can you imagine being the son of a Confederate Officer -the actual firsthand accounts, learned not from a book or a classroom :that includes the good & the tragic!
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rgaskins36
I used to work with a guy that owned one of the three banjos that Uncle Dave Macon used to play. He was related to Grandpa Jones. He used to live in Orlando, FL and now resides in Tennessee.
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without question uncle Dave is my all time fav- bar none!
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Love this artist
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twine2rhyme
Love it!!
Report as inappropriate
hab987
love uncle dave my grandfather was of the same cut
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Rough and ready
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slapshot1894
Thanks for your service Marion. I agree with your comments.
Report as inappropriate
Was an avid listener to the Opry during the 30's. Artists from that time will never be replaced. WSM came in loud and clear although there was nothing but AM at that time. Went on to serve during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Still listen to the Greatest artists with the rest of the greatest generation.

Marion Brazell
725 Martin Neese Road
Swansea, SC 29160
Report as inappropriate
The real deal.

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