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Ashley & Foster

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Ashley & Foster are Clarence Ashley on banjo and guitar and Gwen Foster on harmonica

“Tom” Clarence Ashley (September 29, 1895 – June 2, 1967) was an American clawhammer banjo player, guitarist and singer. He began performing at medicine shows in the Southern Appalachian region as early as 1911, and gained initial fame during the late 1920s as both a solo recording artist and as a member of various string bands. After his “rediscovery” during the folk revival of the 1960s, Ashley spent the last years of his life playing at folk music concerts, including appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

Gwen (or “Gwyn” or “Gwin”) Foster is a harmonica player, recording quite prolifically during the 1920s and 1930s as a member of the Carolina Tar Heels, The Carolina Twins, The Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers, with Clarence “Tom” Ashley, with David Fletcher and as a solo artist, playing both harmonica and guitar. Born in Edgemont, North Carolina on Christmas Day 1903, he was originally inspired to take up the harmonica by an uncle who player, later learning from a neighbouring musician by the name of Marshall Revels, going on to develop one of the most distinctive harmonica styles in the entire history of the instrument. Foster generally played the harmonica in a rack, whilst also playing the guitar.

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