Alan Jabbour’s Legacy Celebrated at the Library of Congress
The life and musical legacy of renowned Appalachian-style fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour (1942-2017) was celebrated at the Library of Congress on Thursday, January 18, 2018. The event featured a reception, brief presentations that featured Alan’s accomplishments and legacy by Carl Fleishhauer, Stephen Wade, and me, followed by a jam session (led by Bertram Levy and me) devoted to the well-known old-time tunes that Alan collected from Henry Reed and other Appalachian fiddlers. When we arrived about 150 chairs were set up, but by the time the reception was well underway it was clear that they’d probably have to set up another 150 to seat all the folks.
An excellent Video of the Entire Jabbour Legacy Event has been prepared by the LOC, and was recently posted on Youtube. My presentation appears from 30:46-52:15.
As I got up to talk about Alan’s musical influence I recall feeling quite nervous because so many important people in the field of folklore were in attendance. Presenting turned out to be a heart-warming experience and I was able to use Alan’s own words, stories and – via the magic of Powerpoint- recorded excerpts to paint a picture of his musical life. The jam session was particularly magical; there must have been 50 old-time musicians there to give Alan a good sendoff!!
Alan Jabbour (1942-2017)
The great Appalachian-style fiddler Alan Jabbour passed away at his own home in Washington DC in January 2017. Alan and I toured together for fifteen years, from the summer of 2000 until the state of his health intervened in the fall of 2015. From the moment he touched bow to string and we started playing together there was a strong musical affinity – an uncanny blend of fiddle tone with banjo tone, along with the sharing of sensibilities and tastes. His approach was strong and powerfully rhythmic, but fully lyrical and delicately phrased – even “charming.” As soon as I heard him interpret a tune – even one I had heard around the “scene” for years – that instantly became the definitive version for me, and one I fully wanted to emulate. He inspired me – not only to learn many dozens of his tunes note-for-note – but to develop a whole new way to accompany them that fit his style like a glove. This melding of fiddle and banjo can still be heard on several youtube clips, our CD Southern Summits, and – joined by Alan’s old friend, guitarist Jim Watson – on You Can’t Beat the Classics.