Tommy Thompson

New-Timey String Band Musician

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About the Book

Tommy Thompson arrived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1963, smitten by folk and traditional Appalachian music. In 1972, he teamed with Bill Hicks and Jim Watson to form the nontraditional string band the Red Clay Ramblers. Mike Craver joined in 1973, and Jack Herrick in 1976.  Over time, musicians including Clay Buckner, Bland Simpson and Chris Frank joined Tommy, who played with the band until 1994.
Drawing on interviews and correspondence, and the personal papers of Thompson, the author depicts a life that revolved around music and creativity. Appendices cover Thompson’s banjos, his discography and notes on his collaborative lyric writing.

About the Author(s)

Clawhammer banjo player Lewis M. Stern has written for The Banjoists Broadsheet, The Old Time Herald and Banjo Newsletter.

Bibliographic Details

Lewis M. Stern
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 247
Bibliographic Info: 70 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7508-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3554-5
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
ONE. Early Life 9
TWO. Studying Music 30
THREE. Playing Music 48
FOUR. Studying Musicians 65
FIVE. Studying Thinking 86
SIX. Red Clay Rambling 106
Conclusion: Writing, Theatricalizing, Teaching,
Thinking, Entertaining
139
Appendix I: Tommy’s Banjos 159
Appendix II: Discography 166
Appendix III: Notes on Tommy’s Collaborative
Lyric Writing
168
Chapter Notes 173
Bibliography 206
Interviewees 215
Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

“Looking at Tommy’s life through old-time back to the early 1960’s, of all the books I have read, this book is one of the most concise accounts of those days, and Tommy was at the center of it all! … In so many ways this book is as much a biography of the continuation, growth and transformation of the old-time fiddle tradition as it moved from the hands of one generation to another and has influenced several generations since. … Take time to read and savor this book, giving it the attention it deserves in both describing this wonderful musician and his life through old-time music and beyond.”—Banjo Newsletter