Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 26 July 1920

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 26 July 1920

Postby dbennett » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:26 am

Archie Laine Lee (1920-2001) was born in Clinton, Kentucky. In the early 1940s, prior to going into the Army, Archie Laine Lee (1920-2001) played a comedic character named “Little Clifford” on a popular radio program, Renfro Valley Barn Dance. During World War II, Archie served in the Army as a corporal and he was awarded a Purple Heart.

From at least 1955 through 1958, Archie performed at the Florida Folk Festival held at the Stephen Foster Memorial in White Springs, Florida. At these festivals, Archie played his grandmother’s dulcimer that has an 1817 date on it (no one knows for certain what that date signifies).

For a while Archie was president of the Ala-Sippi Dulcimer Association. He was also active in the Southern Appalachian Dulcimer (SADA) club in the Birmingham, Alabama area as well as being involved with clubs in the Huntsville area.

Ralph Lee Smith corresponded with Archie Lee in 1986 wrote in his book, The Story of the Dulcimer, regarding Archie’s dulcimer, “Although the instrument was apparently made in Kentucky, it belongs to the Virginia style and tradition… If Archie’s dulcimer was made in 1817, it pushes the Virginia tradition back some fifteen years from the instrument made by John Scales. One should presumably allow an additional period of time for the Virginia tradition to migrate to Kentucky by way of an early settler. We thus find ourselves approaching the turn of the century in our backward quest. Our inquiry seems to end where it began — in the mists of the 18th Century Appalachian frontier.” Archie died in San Antonio, Texas in 2001.

Ralph Lee Smith devotes much more analysis to this dulcimer in his book, The Story of the Dulcimer.

For more info and videos about Archie Lee see my dulcimentary at
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