Albert Hash built his first fiddle out of barn wood in Grayson County at the age of nine. Later in his life, his love of Appalachian music, his powerful fiddle playing and his extreme skill as a craftsman would take him to the Smithsonian, the World’s Fair, Wolf Trap and into the lives of countless lovers of old time music. Who could imagine that this humble young man who grew up in poverty in one of the most isolated areas of the Southern mountains would one day cause the Virginia House of Delegates to pause in his remembrance?
Laurel Fork author, Dr. Malcolm Smith, spent four years and conducted nearly 100 hours of interviews to chronicle the life and times of one of southwest Virginia’s larger-than-life mountain men.
According to legendary guitarist and guitar maker Wayne Henderson, “Albert Hash, was a real life folk hero, who gave many of us in the mountains our first true notion of what art was and could do for you.”
Henderson was a close friend of Hash’s and would not have built the first of his 850 guitars without having known him.
“My dad took me to me to Albert’s when the first guitar I ever built blew up on me,” said Henderson, “And he showed me the way and gave me the resources to become a guitar builder.”
Henderson wrote in the introduction to the book: Appalachian Fiddler Albert Hash: “Albert’s life in the mountains serves as a touchstone for what author Smith considers the real Appalachian values.”
“Albert lived his short life with great dignity, drawing in people from all walks of life through his music and his fiddle building. He had a generous spirit, and was a natural teacher,” said Smith, “He freely shared his knowledge of mountain music and his fiddle building techniques. He taught countless young musicians and launched hundreds of instrument builders by living in a way that was true to his Blue Ridge Heritage.”
Hash’s biography covers his life in Grayson County, Va., and Ashe County, in the shadow of his beloved Whitetop mountain and begins with his trek up the mountain to visit the 1934 Whitetop Folk Festival, which was a defining moment for many mountain musicians. It follows his incredible career which included not only building and playing fiddles but making detailed clocks, guns and machines.
Many of his inventions are still being used and his instruments are highly coveted by players and collectors alike.
“The book, ‘Appalachian Fiddler Albert Hash: The Last Leaf on the Tree,’ was released recently by McFarland Press and is a part of its Appalachian Studies Series. A signed copy of the book, and a special release of two volumes of Albert Hash’s fiddling are available at www.alberthash.com. View the book also at https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/appalachian-fiddler-albert-hash/.