Albert Hash

Beloved fiddler and Luthier, Albert Hash was born in Grayson County, Virginia in 1917. Albert’s uncles played the fiddle, so he was poised to carry the torch forward. An early, highly influential fiddler for Hash was Corbitt Stamper, accredited for inspiring the construction of Albert’s first fiddle at age 10!

The local Fiddlers’ Convention exposed Hash to many fiddlers in the community. One favorite was the legendary G.B. Grayson (whom after his death, Albert played with his musical partner Henry Whittier). Learning from such mentors as Corbit Stamper, Jim Reedy, his own uncle George Finley, and the aforementioned Grayson and Whittier, he went on to play in a host of bands. These included the Spice Bottom Boys, Carolina Troubadours and one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains, Whitetop Mountain Band, which he helped form with brother-in-law, Thornton Spencer and his wife, Emily Spencer. The three also started an old-time music program at Mt. Rogers School in Whitetop.

Albert enrolled in the U.S. Navy and learned to be a machinist, which would become an integral part of his later fiddle making. In 1944 Hash married Ethel Ruth Spencer, and they had two daughters. In 1967 he and his wife moved back to Whitetop, Virginia.

During the folklife revival of the 60’s and 70’s, many musicians sought his expertise, historical knowledge, impromptu jam sessions, his handcrafted instruments, and advice on instrument crafting. had a tremendous impact on the old time and bluegrass scene. The tune, “Hangman’s Reel” that Albert recorded is the version played by so many old time musicians today. He also taught such luthiers as Wayne Henderson, Audrey Ham, and many others to build instruments.

After his death in 1983, the Commonwealth of Virginia presented Ethel with a framed copy of House Resolution 18, proclaiming a moment of silence in his honor. Albert also helped start the old time music program at Mt. Rogers Combined School in Whitetop, VA. Albert, his daughter Audrey, Thornton Spencer and Emily Spencer started volunteering at the local fire department teaching old time music lessons to the community. Later, he began giving lessons at Mt. Rogers School to the students there. After he passed away, Audrey carried on the music program until she moved to Lansing, NC. Emily Spencer now carries on the old time music program and it has become an everyday class that students get credit for. It also has been featured on television, newspapers, radio and got nominated for a Grammy for schools. The school band is named the Albert Hash Memorial String Band.

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