Archive for the ‘A.A. Gray’ Category

A.A. Gray (#2)

July 29, 2012

from the film-makers:

“Just a little video (above) that we put together that tells a bit about the life of famous old time fiddler from Tallapoosa, GA, Ahaz Augustus Gray. This is all footage that we have collected for the movie ‘Tallapoosa Bound,’ so it’s kind of a sneak peak of the film as well.”   (www.tallapoosabound.com)

Tallapoosa Bound: “Two filmmakers with old-time music in their blood scour the countryside for the sound of yesterday. Veteran and amateurs fiddlers contribute their talents alongside such historic greats as “Fiddlin’ John” Carson and Tallapoosa’s Ahaz Gray. Observations from historians, poets, philosphers, and fiddlers trace the Appalachian tradition back to the British Isles. Outstanding cinematography and unique emplotment carry the viewer into the past and bring the past into the present– watching, too, as this musical tradition passes to the future.”

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A.A. Gray

April 2, 2012

A.A. Gray

from http://www.oldtimemusic.com

Excerpt from “Pickin’ On Peachtree –
A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia”, by Wayne W. Daniel. Published by University of Illinois Press

Ahaz Augustus Gray was born on September 7, 1881 in Carroll County, Georgia. Although his parents, Matt and Eliza Gray, were not musicians, Ahaz, as he was known to his friends, had an older brother who played the fiddle, and it was he who taught the younger brother the rudiments of the instrument. In 1934, Ahaz described his musical instruction to Willard Neal of the “Journal”‘s Sunday Magazine: “I guess I’m different from most of the fiddlers. Nearly all the others learned to play naturally, but I had to be taught. When I was seven years old my big brother started me off. He had to poke my fingers down on the strings and hold them there while I sawed with the bow. He taught me part of a piece, and then got mad because I couldn’t learn any faster, and quit, but I kept trying ’till I picked out the whole tune. And I’ve been playing ever since.” Ahaz was apparently a faster learner than his brother had realized since, according to family tradition, he played for his first dance when he was between seven and eight years old.

At the age of twenty-five, Gray married Ida Clarinda Smith in a ceremony that took place in Buchanan, the seat of Haralson County. Sometime after their marriage, the Grays moved to a rural community near Tallapoosa, some eight miles southwest of Buchanan. They spent the remainder of their lives in and around Tallapoosa where Gray earned his and his family’s living by farming and fiddling. They had three children, two boys and a girl.

Gray was popular among Haralson County residents as a square-dance fiddler and as a performer with Gray’s String Band, composed of Gray; Charlie Thompson, who played guitar; banjoist Henry West; and another fiddler, Fred Hill. An undated handbill (probably printed around 1925) announcing one of the band’s forthcoming performances promised the audience good jokes, songs, buck-and-wing dancing, and “string music that will make you forget your troubles.” Gray was constantly filling requests to play at square dances in his own and surrounding communities. As one lady who grew up with Gray’s children once recalled, “The young people in the community kept an eye on where Mr. Gray went and followed him, because they knew wherever he went there’d be fun, music and dancing.” (more…)

Tallapoosa Bound

April 1, 2012

“Tallapoosa Bound” by John Dilleshaw (March 20, 1930, Atlanta, GA)

“Going back to Tallapoosie
Don’t like these flatwoods
I love the tall pines, the red hills
Boy, that’s a frolicking country
Have a breakdown every other night

I seem to hear something calling me now
Well, maybe I got me a gal up there, who knows
Those red hills, where the tall pines grow
That’s the place, the home of the yellow-legged chickens

Boy, I like my chicken brown
Hot biscuits, sugar in my coffee
Cracklin’ cornbread, baked potaters
Sausage, spare ribs, and backbone
Chittlins, oh boy, ain’t it alive

I think I’ll catch the next train back
If the train don’t run I’ll get me a mule
Yee hoo, such fiddlin!’”

A.A. Gray

OTM Biographical and Photo Sites

September 20, 2011

A.A. Gray

If you are interested in online biographical sketches of old time fiddlers and bands from the classic era, David Lynch’s oldtimemusic.com and Ahmet Baycu’s 1001tunes.com have pages dedicated to biographical info. These 2 links and the Dixie Archive blog also feature photos of the artists.

From oldtimemusic.com:

In a 1934 interview, fiddler A.A. Gray said, “Once I toured south Georgia with a big crowd, playing in a lot of conventions.” In the same interview, he also had something to say about his strategy for winning. “I find that the tune you play has a lot to do with winning prizes. A fellow just ahead of me [on the south Georgia tour] used ‘Bully of the Town’, and that’s a mighty good piece. He won four prizes in a row. Finally, I happened to think of ‘Bucking Mule’. It’s a hard piece, but it’s snappy, and you do a lot of fancy work behind the bridge that makes the fiddle bray like a mule. I won so many prizes [with that tune] that the other fellows got to calling me ‘Mule’ Gray.”