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Hobart Smith


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Hobart Smith (May 10, 1897—January 11, 1965) was an American old-time musician.
He was most notable for his appearance with his sister, Texas Gladden, on a series of Library of Congress recordings in the 1940s and his later appearances at various festivals during the folk music revival of the 1960s. Smith is often remembered for his virtuosic performances on the banjo, and had also mastered various other instruments, including the fiddle, guitar, piano, harmonica, accordion, and organ.

Hobart Smith was born near Saltville, Virginia in 1897, the oldest son of eight children born to Louvine and Alexander King Smith. Hobart believed the ballad-singing tradition in his family dated back at least seven generations to when the Smiths immigrated from England. Both of Hobart’s grandfathers were fiddle players, and his parents were banjo players. When Alan Lomax traveled to Saltville to record Hobart in 1942, he also recorded Hobart’s father playing a version of “Old Joe Clark”. Hobart recalled his family staying up late at night singing hymns and ballads around the fireplace in their home just outside of Saltville. Hobart’s parents bought him his first banjo when was seven, and he learned piano by playing at church revivals in the area.

In 1911, an African-American fiddle player named Jim Spencer began lodging at the Smith house, and taught Hobart how to play the fiddle.


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  • oldhomehaibane

    His singing is rather weak when compared to that of someone like Roscoe Holcomb, but he more than makes up for that with some of the finest banjo playing you're ever likely to hear.

    3 Jun 2012 Reply
  • insomniacme


    27 Feb 2011 Reply
  • imec

    Wow, I have never heard his version of Cuckoo before; his fingers are insane.

    21 Dec 2010 Reply
  • lethoso

    this shit is pretty awesome

    8 Jul 2010 Reply
  • dfkt

    Hobart Smith's "Cuckoo Bird" is all serious business and driven, where Clarence Ashley is rather moody and gloomy... both versions compliment each other quite nicely.

    15 Jun 2010 Reply
  • Maarten541

    Excellent man

    10 May 2010 Reply
  • clayfold

    Had this on vinyl back in the early 70's. So glad to find this CD in the library. Simple and heartfelt. Clear, like a drink from a mountain stream.

    12 Feb 2009 Reply
  • jethro1138

    Ah, /really/ Classic Rock.

    15 Feb 2008 Reply
  • Maaarrrk

    This is as close to the roots of modern rock, country and bluegrass as exists. Maybe even the blues.

    14 Dec 2007 Reply

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