Stringbean. And his banjo. And those pants.
October 17, 2007 3:53 AM   Subscribe

For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan!

Pssst... there are actually TWO Stringbean pages at MySpace, one of which I just discovered upon completion of this FPP. All the YouTube clips I've linked to are (I think) embedded here on this page! And there are record jackets and such here that I've seen nowhere else. However, the MySpace page that I first linked to in the main part of this FPP is the one with 4 songs, as opposed to only one on this page I've just discovered. Anyway, the more the merrier. Here's the other one!
posted by flapjax at midnite (14 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks so much. I love this stuff but didn't really know where to start.
posted by Mick at 4:11 AM on October 17, 2007

Great post. One of my great sources of misery is that we never got Hee Haw here in the UK.

Also, I'd kill for Porter Waggoner's suit in that first clip. One of Nudies, no doubt.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:26 AM on October 17, 2007

Another of Porter's suits by Nudie.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:28 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

thanks flapjax, I am now grinning from ear to ear as I head off to work!
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:55 AM on October 17, 2007


I love these posts, flap. Keep 'em comin'!
posted by Miko at 8:37 AM on October 17, 2007

The story of the murder of Stringbean and his wife (the "low-hanging pants" link) is strange, sad, and interesting, in case anyone missed it.

And man, could he play banjo.
posted by sleepy pete at 8:51 AM on October 17, 2007

I've really enjoyed your posts the last month or so flapjax.
posted by nola at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2007

About 25 years ago, I sat in Roscoe Holcomb's living room in the mountains near Galax, Virginia as he played for hours with my old friend Andy Cahan. Roscoe had some form of dementia by then, so he often said things over and over, even within a five-minute span. But the music flowed out of him for hours, completely unaffected by whatever had damaged his memory. He told me his father had built the banjo he was playing, out of a calf skin in the early part of the 20th century. At some point, a woman who I believe was Roscoe's sister took us into the kitchen to eat freshly baked banana pudding made with vanilla wafers. It was a beautiful afternoon. I heard he died shortly afterward. I am thankful.
posted by digaman at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hee! Awesome!
posted by BeerFilter at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2007

I meant, of course, thankful for the music, not that Roscoe died. [argh]
posted by digaman at 3:08 PM on October 17, 2007

Wow, digaman, you met Roscoe? Fantastic. You are very fortunate, as you know, to have had the chance to spend some time with him and hear him play for you in his living room! I'd have to say that Roscoe Holcomb is one of my alltime favorite musicians: such power and immediacy. And he wasn't even a pro. Amazing.

Oh, and the banana pudding with vanilla wafer crust takes me right back to my Alabama childhood. Standard dessert fare!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:01 PM on October 17, 2007

thanks for opening this topic. great to hear roscoe play again.
posted by digaman at 9:57 PM on October 17, 2007

heh "opening this topic" -- for a second I thought I was on the Well. "Making this FPP," dammit.
posted by digaman at 9:58 PM on October 17, 2007

Thanks from me too, flapjax! Man, it's great watching and reading about Stringbean, such a sad end to his story though.
posted by snsranch at 4:06 PM on October 19, 2007

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