compiled from My Ashe County Home column by Muncy Gaultney in Ashe County NC newspaper “The Plow” (1960s-1980s)
“I like to forgot I was supposed to talk about old time music and I guess Albert Hash and the Whitetop Mountain boys are next on the list. Albert is known far and wide for his woodworking and instrument making. He is a shy retiring kind of feller, but let the boys and girls get together and he ain’t a bit shy with a fiddle. He is known all over, so I’ll put him head of the class, even if he don’t’ play ‘The Walls of Jericho’ or ‘Granny, Will Your Dog bite?’
“I could talk about Albert for a week and not do him justice. We both come up the hard way. It was root hog or die. No jobs. So what you had was to make do or do without. He made his first fiddle with a pocket knife. He is a very adept wood carver.
“Well, I guess I also need to talk about the ones that help him make music—Thornton Spencer, a violinist and guitarist and a top musician; his wife, Emily, who is a number one guitarist; and Flurry Dowe, a clawhammer banjo player. Thornton is a very fine person and should be rated among the best of the old time fiddlers.
“I was at Thornton’s store the other Saturday and there was more fiddles, banjos and guitars than Carter had Liver Pills. There was a lot of good music. Albert Hash played “Pretty Patty,” which is one of my favorites. I tried to accompany him on the 5-string banjo but I guess I made a mess of it.
“Some of the old Brushy Mountain Boys came in the other day. We had a good time with Doc Watson and Charles Francis, two old clawhammer banjo players. Charlie is 80 years young but he can still play. His mother taught me what little I know about a banjo.
“The Helton Music Festival was finally pulled off. It was a grand event to me—meeting old friends and listening to the music. I love to try to play. I don’t want anything out of it, no money, no praise, just a feeling of peace, enjoyment and to be among friends. There is nothing more enjoyable than mountain music. Old Sage once said “Music soothes a savage beast.” He must have been an old time fiddler.
“It looks like Albert Hash is going to have to spur up as Ms. Emily Spencer is coming along on the Old Time fiddle. She is a wonderful person, and by gosh, I’m going to have to do sump’in cause my fiddling is gitten stale. I guess it’s because I’m gitten old maybe because I never could fiddle too well. I haven’t got it figgered out. Anyway, I think everyone that attended the convention had a good time. Helton is a wonderful little community. A good place to live.
“Now, you’uns be good and come see us when you can. Get all your roots and yarfs together, Granny, she’s a goin’ to be a cold ‘un this winter.”