From www. CMT.com
Even though he spent much of his life farming and performed mainly on weekends, Kentucky long bow legend Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts was a well-known and influential musician who, during the years 1925-1934, cut 70 sides under his own name, most of which were reissued by Document at the close of the 20th century. Rightly identified with Clayton McMichen and Clark Bessinger, Roberts’ technique also places him in alignment with Daniel Huggins Williams of the East Texas Serenaders. Roberts’ impact upon rural North American music is still being felt. His latter-day followers include Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders.
Roberts was born near Richmond, KY, southeast of Lexington, on April 26, 1897 and named Dock Phil Roberts in honor of a certain Doc Phillips who assisted at the birthing. Little Dock appears to have learned to fiddle on his own by emulating his big brother Liebert. His first public role model was a fiddling African-American bandleader named Owen Walker who worked out of Richmond. Later in life, Roberts made a point of expressing his gratitude by saying that Walker “helped me every way in the world.” Roberts also acknowledged the influence of fiddlers Dave and Uncle Dude Freeman from Beattieville and Elzie Stone, who hailed from Mount Sterling.
While participating in a fiddling tournament in Winchester, Roberts hooked up with guitarist and fiddler Edgar Boaz of Paris, KY. The duo took to performing at schools and theaters, and in early 1925, traveled north 80 miles to Cincinnati to audition for a Gennett field recording unit which was stationed there at that time. After playing “My Baby Loves Shortenin’ Bread” they were invited to visit Gennett’s main facility in Richmond, IN and did so in October and November of 1925 and again in October of 1926. During these excursions, the duo provided accompaniments for vocalist Welby Toomey, a barber who lived near Lancaster, KY. In 1927, after Boaz decided to relocate, Roberts teamed up with mandolinist Ted Chesnut and guitarist Dick Parman to make records for Paramount as the Kentucky Thorobreds. (more…)