Allan Jabbour and
A century ago, Edden Hammons was known as one of the strongest and most distinctive fiddlers in the music-rich territory of Central West Virginia. Edden was also known for his individualistic lifestyle, always seeking out the remote fringes of his rugged home terrritory. As an old man, in 1942, Edden played his music into the homemade disc-recording machine of a visiting WVU folklore professor, and the result was magic. Old Edden's skills were still strong, and his reclusive existence had isolated him from the inroads of radios, recordings, and music festivals. When you listen to the fiddling of Edden Hammons, you look straight back into 19th-century West Virginia. West Virginia University Press released 15 of these legendary tunes on CD in 1999, remastered to modern audio standards and packaged with extensive notes, photos, and information. With the release in 2000 of 35 more tunes on the two-CD second volume, practically every existing recording by this legendary master is now available. Musicians, musicologists, and proud West Virginians have unanimously praised these recordings, and we at West Virginia University Press can think of no more fitting way to lauch our Sound Archive series than with The Edden Hammons Collection, Volumes One and Two.
Allan Jabbour taught English, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at UCLA before moving to Washington, D.C., where he worked with federal cultural agencies for over thirty years. Since his retirement, he has turned enthusiastically to a life of writing, consulting, lecturing, and playing the fiddle.
John A. Cuthbert is Curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection and Director of the West Virginia Historical Art Collection at the West Virginia University Libraries.
"...a priceless historical record."
"His lonesome fiddling and trademark drones recall bagpipes and the old world traditions which fiddle music draws upon. . . A must for fans of West Virginia traditional music."
"Hammons had tunes that are unlike anything else in the tradition, and his versions of standards are often surprising. But it's not just the unusual tunes or the feeling that you've been transported to the musical heart of Appalachia that makes his music so beautiful. It's the depth - Hammons could cut to an emotional level that only the greatest artists of any style ever reach. . . there are enough spooky, wonderful things here to make this an easy choice as the best old-time record of the year."