by Richard Matteson (http://richardmattesonsblog.blogspot.com)
Lowe Stokes born May 28, 1898, was the sixth of seven children born to Jacob Stokes, who was a fiddler and farm laborer, born in 1848. The Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers’ conventions has been credited with launching his career when he defeated Fiddlin John Carson to win the coveted 1924 fiddle competition (see previous post.) To prove that was no fluke, Lowe won the next year.
Whne Stokes beat Carson in 1924 he won playing Carson’s tune “Hell Broke Loose in Georgia.” Many credit Lowe with inspiring the Charlie Daniels’ song “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” which is reportedly loosley based on the famous competition.
After poet Stephen Vincent Benet read a 1924 article in the Literary Digest describing Stokes victory, he penned his 1925 poem, “The Mountain Whippoorwill” (Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers’ Prize) which begins:
Up in the mountains, it’s lonesome all the time,
Sof’ win’ slewin’ thu’ the sweet-potato vine.
Up in the mountains, it’s lonesome for a child,
Whippoorwills a-callin’ when the sap runs wild.
Stokes learned the long bow style from Joe Lee then moved from Cartersville to Atlanta. He met T.M. “Bully” Brewer who invited Lowe to stay with him. Brewer, an accomplished guitarist and singer, wanted to learn the fiddle. “You can come on home with me,” said Brewer, “and teach me to play the fiddle and you can stay with me forever.”
Although Stokes lived with Brewer for three years, he began his recording career with fellow fiddle genius Clayton McMichen, who quickly became Lowe’s regular sidekick, his roommate for one year and protege. Lowe, who also hung around Mays Badgett’s fiddle repair shop, probably met Mac there. Mac began visiting the shop in 1916. (more…)