On Monday February 20th, Joe Thompson passed away at the age of 93. He was considered to be the last living traditionally schooled African-American fiddler.
On a beautiful day in early June of 2010 my band The Dust Busters paid a visit to the home of Joe and Polly Thompson. Joe Thompson lived outside of Mebane, NC. He started playing fiddle at 5 years old, way back in 1923. Joe was a World War II veteran and was long retired from his job at a furniture factory. He continued to play music until very recently at home and at gigs including taking his music to Carnegie Hall in New York City, the National Folk Festival and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the International Music Festival in Brisbane, Australia. In 2007 Joe Thompson was honored with the National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Carolina Chocolate Drops have spent a lot of time with Joe and have learned a lot from him. They continue to present many of his tunes in their performances. Joe Thompson was a wonderful man and a very fine musician and singer, the likes of whom we will not see again.
His recordings are available. Here are a few:
Here is a link to a nice obituary:
Joe Thompson, 1918-2012: County treasure, irreplaceable artist left lasting legacy
And clips from a film made about Joe: