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Thursday, May 7, 2009

FIDDLIN ART WOOTEN LIVED HERE


The town of Sparta is laying pipe from the New River to Sparta alongside highway 21. They have put the pipe in the ground all the way to Twin Oaks. It looks like they will be crossing the highway there with the underground pipe and run it up Twin Oaks mountain on the mountain side of the highway.

They have prepared this lot pictured above for what looks like might be a pump station to give the water a pressure boost up the mountain. The lot is where Fiddlin Art Wooten's trailer stood in his last years when he came back to Alleghany to live out his days with his wife Minnie. He was born and grew up at the Nile, near the bend in the river close to the state line off hwy 21 just beyond Twin Oaks. He's buried in the Elk Creek Primitive Baptist cemetery on hwy 93 at Farmer's Fishcamp Road.

Art Wooten (1906-1986) will forever carry the name, 'The first fiddler of bluegrass.' Bill Monroe showed Art how he wanted bluegrass played on the fiddle, using his mandolin that tunes the same as a fiddle. Art was with the Bluegrass Boys their first time on the Grand Ole Opry. Muleskinner Blues was the first song they played that night. The recording made then has been released on a 4cd set called, THE MUSIC OF BILL MONROE from 1936 to 1954.

Art recorded 7 other songs with Monroe. All of them are on an RCA cd called COUNTRY LEGENDS - BILL MONROE. Art also recorded with the Stanley Brothers, I think 8 songs; and Flatt & Scruggs, I think 4 songs. A 4cd set, FLATT & SCRUGGS and THE STANLEY BROTHERS, 1947-1953, JSP Records, has everything Art recorded with both bands. It also lists which songs he's playing on. He recorded 4 songs with Carl Butler, country singer of Knoxville area. They're on Butler's cd A BLUE MILLION TEARS. He's known to have made music with Earl Taylor's band in Baltimore, 1953. I don't know about any recordings with Taylor.

Art made music with bands around here when he returned to Alleghany.
He played quite a lot with the Green Mountain Boys, the area's first bluegrass band with Whitehead's Jr Maxwell playing banjo. Art also played with LW Lambert's band, the Blue River Boys from the Statesville region of the state, and recorded two 33 lps, one of old-time and one of bluegrass with Blue River Boys backing him both sessions. He won Galax 7 times.

Fiddlin Art appeared at the end of a documentary film made of Low Gap fiddler Tommy Jarrell called SPROUT WINGS AND FLY, 1983. The camera crew is with Jarrell at the Galax fiddler's convention in the parking area where musicians jam. Jarrel found Art Wooten and introduced him to the camera crew, 'I said this is Bill Monroe's first fiddler, the famous Art Wooten. I know you folks heard of him. Aint that right, Art?' Art said, 'I used to pick once in awhile. I about quit though. My old ticker's gone bad on me.' Tommy asked him to play a tune for the camera people. Art tore up Sally Goodin sitting down. When he was done, Tommy slapped him on the knee and said, 'You aint near dead yet.'

5 comments:

  1. Art Wooten was my grandfather. My dad was his son. Gerald Wooten. Barbara

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    1. Minnie Arts wife was my great aunt... he was my great uncle Jim by marriage... my Grand parents was Hazel and Robert Thomson Jr... i remember goin to see Minnie and Jim wen i was a little boy. i still have a musical instrument,a tape of his one man band and some toys he made back in the early 80's . Jim was a good man and very talented man. I am a musician myself and wood crafter as all my family is and was. Im very Honored to have known Him while he was with us

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  2. Hello Barbara, Art was also my grandfather. My mother was Patricia (Patty) Wooten. We visited Art and Minnie when I was young. I was glad to find this page with some of his history listed.

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    1. Yes so that was my dad's sister. So we are cousins

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    2. Yes so that was my dad's sister. So we are cousins

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