Gatherer and Fiddler: Alan Jabbour (1942–2017)
January 14, 2017 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Alan Jabbour, who died today, was best known (to those who know of him at all) as a fiddler and a gatherer of fiddle tunes. His name and influence permeate American traditional music. If you like Old Crow Medicine Show, the Avett Brothers, Chris Thile, Carolina Chocolate Drops, SteelDrivers, etc., you are enjoying the results of Jabbour's life work.

As a graduate student at Duke in the late '60s, he recalled in a 2007 article:

"One of my first classes was a seminar in the traditional ballad. We dragged out some Library of Congress field recordings and played them. They had an authenticity, a real power, which derived from hearing them played by people for whom that music was a way of life. I was smitten. Nothing would do but that I would go meet these musicians. And off I went."

His collection of tunes played by Appalachian fiddler Henry Reed became the basis of a collection at the Library of Congress: Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection, where you can listen to the recordings and see photos and other notes.

Many of the tunes he rediscovered are now commonly played by string bands and jams across the country, including: But Jabbour also breathed new life into the tunes. He taught them to some friends; together they formed the Hollow Rock String Band and released a highly influential album in 1968, the year Reed died.

Hollow Rock was one of the first bands in what became a vigorous revival of old-time and traditional American music that continues to this day, and Jabbour continued to play concerts until recently.

As a fitting farewell, here's a video of Jabbour playing "Henry Reed's Breakdown."
posted by underthehat (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my goodness! A person I have never heard of who has influenced my life greatly has passed.

I raise a glass to you, and will play some of my Americana and fiddle tracks tonight. I'm sorry I didn't know you in life, but I assure you, your life has left a mark on me.

posted by hippybear at 10:09 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by tully_monster at 5:19 AM on January 15, 2017

I had met him.

posted by spitbull at 5:34 AM on January 15, 2017


(Flop Eared Mule remains one of my fiddle tune favourites, especially the speed-fuelled version by the Holy Modal Rounders, recorded in New York just before Jabbour's recording of Reed.)
posted by scruss at 5:41 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by mixedmetaphors at 8:14 AM on January 15, 2017

posted by Silverstone at 9:29 AM on January 15, 2017

🎼🎻• A huge loss!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:31 AM on January 15, 2017

posted by librarylis at 7:38 AM on January 16, 2017

posted by brennen at 9:50 AM on January 16, 2017

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