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Steve Ledford
Born:  June 2, 1906
Died:  September 19, 1980

About The Artist

Steve Ledford was an old-time fiddler from Bakersville, North Carolina who had off and on career as a professional musician. In the early thirties he played and recorded with a string band known as the Carolina Ramblers.

Some articles and ads described him as "champion ragtime and trick fiddler," or "The South's Champion Trick Fiddler," "and his Backing, Balking fiddle," "champion acrobatic fiddler of the south,"

Later in the decade he was associated on radio and disc with Wade Mainer and the Sons of the Mountaineers, the Happy-Go-Lucky Boys and under his own name. In his senior years he-with kin-led a fine old-time string band that recorded an album for Rounder Records in that label's early years.

Bert Vincent of a Knoxville newspaper wrote about how Wade came to call his group "Sons of the Mountaineers." It seems that it was popular for groups of the area to include some reference to 'mountains' in their names; e.g., Smoky Mountain Boys, The Jolly Mountaineers, etc. Wade got to thinking about it and finally came up with "Sons of Mountaineers." The group then included Wade Mainer, Steve Ledford, Jason Hughes and Wallace Hughes.

Promo Ad - Smoky Mountain Barn Dance - Big Burley Warehouse - Johnson City, TN - Steve Ledford - J. E. Mainer - Rufus Hall - May 1946
Promo Ad - Jackson Theater - Johnson City, TN - Steve Ledford - Buck and Betty - Texas Slim - Panhandle Pete - Blue Ridge Nighthawks - December 1951

Promo Ad - Panhandle Pete - Zeke Morris - Steve Ledford - Frank and Mack Show Tent - Kingsport, TN - September 1949 Having seen the commercial possibilities for rural music, Ledford put together a string band called the Carolina Ramblers and went to New York. They secured a radio program for six months, and recorded several numbers on the Banner label over several days in February 1932, eight of which were released. Band members included Steve on fiddle, his brother Taft on guitar, Dan Nicholson on banjo, Audie Rogers on guitar, and another brother George Ledford who helped on vocals. After the six months, they went back home.

In 1937, he again ventured from Bakersville to work with Wade Mainer. In addition to his work with Wade he also played fiddle with the Happy-Go-Lucky Boys and recorded with them in February 1940. The numbers credited to Steve Ledford were done in January 1938. Sometime after the 1940 session, he again returned home.

Ledford was probably always active in the local area around Bakersfield. In later years the Ledford Family String Band did an album for Rounder, The Ledford String Band (0008). In addition to Steve it included Wayne Ledford and James Gardner. He also had a short booklet about his life in music.

He died at age 74.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Old Fiddlers Contest Will Help Charity; January 12, 1932; Elizabethton Star; Elizabethton, TN
  • Carolina Ramblers Will Also Entertain, But Will Not Enter Contest; April 1, 1932; Erwin Record, Erwin, TN
  • Amateur Contest Set At Roan Mountain; July 24, 1940; Elizabethton Star; Elizabethton, TN
  • Strollin' - Son Of A Gun; Bert Vincent; June 6, 1947; Knoxville News-Sentinel; Knoxville, TN

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7626 A Bachelor Blues (w/The Mountaineers)
  7626 B Only a Broken Heart (w/The Mountaineers)
  7742 A Since I Met My Mother-in-Law (w/The Mountaineers)
  7742 B Happy or Lonesome (w/The Mountaineers)

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