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Uncle Lumpy

During the 1960s, authenticity-or what passed for authenticity by revivalist criteria-was something most musicians strove for as they sought to distance themselves from commercialized folk music. Some found authenticity in unaccompanied ballads and work songs, others in ragtime finger-style guitar or Scruggs-style banjo picking, and still others― like the three high-school boys who formed Uncle Lumpy in 1965―in the pre-bluegrass ensemble music traditions of the American South, an approach made famous by the New Lost City Ramblers, the urban revival band that played songs and instrumentals from hillbilly recordings of the 1920s.

The style, called old-time to distinguish it from other forms of Southern music, often had a fiddle and five-string banjo playing melody in unison, with a guitar adding the bass line. A 1964 New Lost City Ramblers concert in Salt Lake City inspired the formation of Uncle Lumpy. Hal Cannon, a founding member of the Stormy Mountain Boys, and Tom Carter, who was learning to play fiddle from Bruce Cummings, attended that concert and came away convinced that Salt Lake City needed an authentic old-time string band. Their friend Chris Montague was playing bluegrass banjo with the Wind River Boys, but Hal and Tom persuaded him to learn to frail the banjo instead and to join them in Uncle Lumpy. (The band's name derives from a series of period 78-rpm children's records that Hal had).

The band played church-group and folk-music club concerts as well as school assemblies and dances. Uncle Lumpy broke up when it was time to leave for college in 1967, but the three musicians found opportunities to play in their respective locations and continued making music-old-time, bluegrass, and Irish.

In Salt Lake City in 1972,Hal formed the Deseret String Band, playing with this group for thirty years (Tom joined it in 1980). In recent years Hal and Tom have played with the Secondhand Band, and Hal with Red Rock Rondo. For the past several decades Chris Montague and his wife Liz have been playing oldtime and Irish traditional instrumental music together.

 

 Last Modified 4/23/14