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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Macon's recordings are richly enjoyable in themselves and are priceless historical documents, both for the large variety of banjo styles they preserve and for the window they afford on American song of the late 19th century.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

7. The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane

8. (She Was Always) Chewing Gum

9. Jonah And The Whale

10. I'm Going Away To Leave You, Love

11. Love Somebody

12. Soldier's Joy

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

26. The Girl I Left Behind Me

Disc 2

1. Muskrat Medley

2. Old Ship Of Zion

3. Down In Arkansas

4. Down By The Old Mill Stream

5. I Don't Reckon It'll Happen Again

6. Save My Mother's Picture From The Sale

7. Rise When The Rooster Crows

8. Way Down The Old Plank Road

9. The Bible's True

10. He Won The Heart Of My Sarah Jane

11. Late Last Night When My Willie Came Home

13. Death Of John Henry

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

17. Whoop' 'em Up Cindy

18. Only As Far As The Gate, Dear Ma

19. Just Tell Them That You Saw Me

20. Poor Sinners, Fare You Well

21. Old Ties

23. We Are Up Against It Now

24. Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo

25. The Old Man's Drunk Again

26. I Ain't Got Long To Stay

Disc 3

1. Ain't It A Shame To Keep Your Honey Out In The Rain

2. Stop That Knocking At My Door

3. Sassy Sam

4. Shout Mourner, You Shall Be Free

5. I Don't Care If I Never Wake Up

6. In The Good Old Summertime

7. Something's Always Sure To Tickle Me

8. Sourwood Mountain Medley

9. Deliverance Will Come

10. Wouldn't Give Me Sugar In My Coffee

11. Kissin' On The Sly

13. In The Good Old Days Of Long Ago

15. The Cross Eyed Butcher And The Cackling Hen

16. In The Old Carolina State (Where The Sweet Magnolias Bloom)

17. Never Make Love No More

18. Arcade Blues

19. Them Two Gals Of Mine

20. Diamond In The Rough

21. Tossing The Baby So High

22. Sho' Fly, Don't Bother Me

23. Uncle Ned

24. Braying Mule

25. Bake That Chicken Pie

Disc 4

1. Tell Her To Come Back Home

3. Carve That Possum

4. Hop High Ladies, The Cake's All Dough

5. Sail Away Ladies

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

7. Sleepy Lou

9. Walk, Tom Wilson, Walk

11. Take Me Home, Poor Julia

12. Go Along Mule

13. Tom And Jerry

14. Rabbit In The Pea Patch

15. Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel

17. Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb

18. The Maple On The Hill

19. Poor Old Dad

20. Walking In The Sunlight

22. The Mockingbird Song Medley

23. Shall We Gather At The River

24. In The Sweet Bye And Bye

25. In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree

Disc 5

4. Heartaching Blues

6. You've Been A Friend To Me

7. Backwater Blues

8. More Like Your Dad Every Day

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

10. Jesus, Lover Of My Soul

11. From Earth To Heaven

12. The Coon That Had The Razor

13. Buddy Won't You Roll Down The Line

14. Worthy Of Estimation

15. I'm The Child To Fight

16. Over The Road I'm Bound To Go

17. The New Ford Car

18. The Gal That Got Stuck On Everything She Said

19. Comin' Round The Mountain

20. Governor Al Smith

21. Darling Zelma Lee

22. Put Me In My Little Bed

23. Life And Death Of Jesse James

25. Tennessee Jubilee

26. New Coon In Town

Disc 6

2. We Need A Change In Business All Around

3. Susie Lee

4. Mister Johnson

5. Farm Relief

6. Uncle Dave's Travels, Part 3 (In And Around Nashville)

7. Since Baby's Learned To Talk

8. Uncle Dave's Travels, Part 4 (Visit At The Old Maid's)

9. Over The Mountain

10. Hush Little Baby Don't You Cry

11. Uncle Dave's Travels, Part 1 (Misery In Arkansas)

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

21. Was You There When They Took My Lord Away

22. Thank God For Everything

23. When The Train Comes Along

24. Tennessee Tornado

25. Don't Get Weary Children

26. He's Up With The Angels Now

Disc 7

1. Over The Mountain

2. When The Harvest Days Are Over

3. One More River To Cross

4. Just One Way To The Pearly Gates

5. I'll Tickle Nancy

6. I'll Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

7. All In Down And Out Blues

9. Fame Apart From God's Approval

10. The Bum Hotel

12. Two-In-One Chewing Gum

13. Travelin' Down The Road

14. Country Ham And Red Gravy

15. Summertime On The Beeno Line

16. He Won The Heart Of Sarah Jane

17. Peek-A-Boo

18. Working For My Lord

19. She's Got The Money Too

20. Wait Till The Clouds Roll By

21. Things I Don't Like To See

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

1. Johnny Grey

2. The Gayest Old Dude That's Out

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

28. Something's Always Sure To Tickle Me

29. (She Was Always) Chewing Gum

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

7. (She Was Always) Chewing Gum

8. Kissin' On The Sly

11. Honest Confession Is Good For The Soul

14. Late Last Night When My Willie Came Home

15. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy

18. Peek-A-Boo

19. He Won The Heart Of My Sarah Jane

20. Cumberland Mountain Deer Race

21. I'm Going Away To Leave You, Love

22. Late Last Night When My Willie Came Home

25. Something's Always Sure To Tickle Me

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

4. The Gal That Got Stuck On Everything She Said

8. Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel

9. My Daughter Wished To Marry

10. The Old Man's Drunk Again

11. Over The Road I'm Bound To Go

12. Rise When The Rooster Crows

13. Tom And Jerry

14. Two-In-One Chewing Gum

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

6. The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane

7. (She Was Always) Chewing Gum

8. Jonah And The Whale

9. I'm Going Away To Leave You Love

10. Love Somebody

11. Soldier's Joy

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

18. The Girl I Left Behind Me

19. Muskrat Medley

20. Down In Arkansas

21. Down By The Old Mill Stream

22. I Don't Reckon It'll Happen Again

23. Save My Mother's Picture From The Sale

24. He Won The Heart Of My Sarah Jane

25. Just Tell Them That You Saw Me

Disc 2

1. I Ain't Got Long To Stay

2. Ain't It A Shame To Keep Your Honey Out In The Rain

3. Shout Mourner, You Shall Be Free

4. I Don't Care If I Never Wake Up

5. In The Good Old Summer Time

6. Something's Always Sure To Tickle Me

7. In The Good Old Days Of Long Ago

8. My Girl's A High Born Lady

9. In The Old Carolina State (Where The Sweet Magnolias Bloom)

10. Never Make Love No More

11. Them Two Gals Of Mine

12. Tossing The Baby So High

13. Uncle Ned

14. Braying Mule

15. Take Me Home Poor Julia

16. Lullaby Song

17. Poor Old Dad

18. Oh Bear Me Away On Your Snowy Wings

19. The Mockingbird Song Medley

20. In The Sweet Bye And Bye

21. In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree

22. Got No Silver Nor No Gold Blues

23. Heartaching Blues

24. Roe Rire Poor Girl

25. Backwater Blues

Disc 3

1. Jesus Lover Of My Soul

2. Had The Razor

3. Put Me In My Little Bed

4. New In Town

5. We Need A Change In Business All Around

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

11. Was You There When They Took My Lord Away

12. Thank God For Everything

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

21. Travelin' Down The Road

22. He Won The Heart Of Sarah Jane

23. Working For My Lord

24. She's Got The Money Too

25. Wait Till The Clouds Roll By

Disc 4

1. Things I Don't Like To See

2. They're After Me

3. Beautiful Love

4. Give Me Back My Five Dollars

5. Railroadin' And Gamblin'

6. Johnny Grey

Comments

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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!!
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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
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The real deal.

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