Uncle Dave Macon (October 7 1870 - March 22 1952)—also known as "The Dixie Dewdrop"—was an American banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian known for his chin whiskers, plug hat, gold teeth, and gates-ajar collar.
David Harrison Macon
was born in Smartt Station, Tennessee
, a community 5 miles south of McMinnville, Tennessee
, as the son of Confederate Captain
John Macon and his wife Martha Ramsey. When Macon was fourteen years old his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee
, to run a hotel they had purchased. The Old Broadway Hotel became a center for Macon and his growing musical interests. He was influenced to start playing the banjo by a man called Joel Davidson. When he was 16 years old he persuaded his father to buy him a banjo. A tragedy struck the Macon family when his father was murdered in 1886 outside the hotel. The family quickly moved to Readyville, Tennessee
, and a stagecoach rest stop his mother ran. Macon began entertaining the passengers who arrived at the rest stop by playing the banjo from a home made stage. In 1899, Macon married Matilda Richardson and moved to a farm in Kittrell, Tennessee
, where they in time raised six sons. The next year, Macon opened a freight line between Murfreesboro
. It was called The Macon Midway Mule and Wagon Transportation Company. But the arrival of the automobile threatened his mule company, and he was forced to close the company in 1920.
Though he had performed as an amateur for years, and was well known for his showmanship, Macon's first professional performance came in 1918. At age 50 he joined a vaudeville
touring company, putting on a comedy show and playing old-time music accompanying himself on banjo. During a performance at a Nashville
barber shop, he was spotted by a talent scout from Loew's Vaudeville circuit. In 1923 he began a tour in the eastern United States
together with fiddler Sid Harkreader. His popularity increased and he made his first recordings for Vocalion
in July 1924
. Between 1924
he recorded more than 180 songs on different labels like Brunswick
and Gennett. He formed the Fruit Jar Drinkers and performed over the years with Sam McGee, Kirk McGee, Delmore Brothers
, Roy Acuff
and Bill Monroe
. He was often accompanied by his son Dorris who played the guitar. Macon began to appear on WSM
's Grand Ole Opry
in 1925. In 1940
Macon—together with George D. Hay
, Roy Acuff
, and Dorris Macon—received an invitation from Hollywood
to take part in a Republic Pictures
movie Grand Ole Opry
. Macon continued to perform until his death in 1952
at Rutherford County Hospital. He was inducted posthumously into the Country Music Hall of Fame
. A monument was erected near Woodbury, Tennessee
Every July the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, celebrates Uncle Dave Macon Days. This celebration hosts the national competitions for old time clogging, buckdancing, fiddling, and old time singing. In 2007 they will be celebrating their 30th year of the festival. It was named in honor of Uncle Dave Macon and his work to keep old-time music and dancing in front of the world.
- Wolfe, Charles. (1998). "Uncle Dave Macon". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 320-321.
- Stars of Country Music, (1975), University of Illinois Press.