On the Trail of Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon Historical MarkerAndrew, Claire, and I spent much of today in Readyville, Tennessee, with my brother Joe, sister-in-law Kerry, and their family (more on our visit in a later post).  Joe is an ornamental blacksmith and fellow lover of bluegrass and old-time music.  So it seemed fitting – after a day of playing Old Joe Clark and other tunes with Joe and his son Joseph – that I take Andrew & Claire on an educational trip by hallowed ground:  the burial place of Uncle Dave Macon.

Affectionately known as the “Dixie Dew Drop,” Uncle Dave was a vaudeville performer and one of the first stars of the Grand Ole Opry.  He came out of a 19th century performing sensibility, but also was one of the first country musicians to take advantage of the new technology of radio.

Uncle Dave Macon TombstoneAfter his death in 1952, Macon was buried between Murfreesboro and Readyville in the Coleman Cemetery.  A new road to Cannon County now bypasses the cemetery, but I turned off the four lane and went over to the Old Woodbury Road to stop by Uncle Dave’s burial place.  The state erected a historical marker (see photo above) to help mark the spot.

Uncle Dave’s legacy continues with the annual Uncle Dave Macon Days celebration in Murfreesboro each summer, with the crowning of the Old Time Banjo championship.  This year’s celebration takes place on July 10th – 12th.

One of the best books on Uncle Dave and the early days of the Grand Ole Opry is entitled A Good Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry. It was written by my college professor, world-renown old-time music expert Dr. Charles K. Wolfe, and is both an insightful and fun read.  For those coming to Nashville for the fall’s National Preservation Conference, there’s no better work to introduce you to the birth of the commercial country music industry in the city.

There are a few videos taken late in Uncle Dave’s career.  My favorite is the following clip from the Grand Ole Opry Movie, with Uncle Dave and his son Dorris playing Take Me Back to My Old Carolina Home. Enjoy.

More to come…

DJB

2 Responses

  1. I am a traditional cajun musicain who has learned from many generations of my family. I also play and enjoy other old traditional styles of music. I recently purchased a cd of Uncle Dave’s recordings and enjoy his recordings so much that I searched for information on him. Great to see this! I really enjoy seeing his style of music preserved.

  2. Historic restoration project on the Uncle Dave Macon Home/farm.

    We have purchased the old Uncle Dave Macon’s historic farm/homestead. If anyone has any history or pictures of this famous farm we would really appreciate a copy of the pics or information. We are working on restoring the home and would like to put it back as much as possible to the time of Uncle Dave, when he and his family lived in the home. The original part was built in 1843, and built onto in 1900. Email me if you have any info or if you would like to donate something to this project. We can use old wood, new wood, any type, barn wood, building materials, antiques for display in the home or farm stuff for the barns.
    Email: historic1843farm@ yahoo.com

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