Henry Reed: His Life, Influence, and Art

  • Early Life Josh and Henry Reed, ca. 1903. Henry Reed, age 19, plays banjo and his older brother Josh plays fiddle. Photograph from the collection of James Reed, reproduced with permission. James Henry Neel Reed, known as Henry Reed, was born on April 28, 1884, in Monroe County, West Virginia, a rural county lying along the Virginia border in the Appalachian Mountains of southeastern West Virginia....
  • Midlife Trials Appalachian Power plant, Glen Lyn, Virginia, September 2, 1996. Photograph by Karen Singer Jabbour, reproduced with permission. Two midlife events disturbed this lively serenity. The first occurred at the power plant. A move had developed to organize workers at Appalachian Power, and management had responded by requiring workers to attest that they had not been involved in private discussions about forming a union. Henry...
  • From Generation to Generation Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band playing on guitar and talking with her daughter, Jessica, with Henry Reed looking on. Narrows (Virginia) Fiddlers Contest, summer 1967. Photograph by Kit Olson, reproduced with permission. Henry Reed had retired from his second career at Celanese and was living at home in Glen Lyn when I visited him with my wife, Karen, in 1966. We...
  • Radiating Influence Henry Reed playing the fiddle, accompanied by Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band on guitar, at the Narrows (Virginia) Fiddlers Contest, summer 1967. Photograph by Kit Olson, reproduced with permission. Other bands developed in the Durham/Chapel Hill area after 1968, notably the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, the New Deal String Band, and the Red Clay Ramblers. Though each had its own style...
  • Understanding Henry Reed's Art Alan Jabbour interviewing Henry Reed's son Neal at his home in Glen Lyn, Virginia, November 29, 1975. Photograph by Carl Fleischhauer, reproduced with permission. When I began recording Henry Reed, I was immediately struck by both the size and the unusual qualities of his repertory of traditional tunes. Most fiddlers know dozens of tunes, and some know a hundred or more. But when one...
  • Cultural Threads in Henry Reed's Fiddling Style Henry Reed playing the fiddle, accompanied by Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band on guitar, at the Narrows (Virginia) Fiddlers Contest, summer 1967. Photograph by Kit Olson, from the collection of Jessica Thompson Eustice. Reproduced with permission. Gripping the bow at the frog facilitates the use of long bowstrokes and "slurs" (as concert violinists call them)--bowstrokes that incorporate more than one musical...
  • Tradition and Individual Talent in Henry Reed's Art Henry Reed with Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band playing guitar, Narrows (Virginia) Fiddlers Contest, summer 1967. Photograph by Kit Olson, from the collection of Jessica Thompson Eustice. Reproduced with permission. Henry Reed's tunes are the product of an aural tradition, but he also had some interaction with the world of printed music. He visited a music store in Red Sulphur Springs,...