Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 4 December 1881

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 4 December 1881

Postby dbennett » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:29 am

Dr. Isaac Garfield ("I.G." and also "Ike") Greer (1881–1967) was born in Watauga County, North Carolina.

Ike was a native of the northwestern part of North Carolina bordering Tennessee and was one of the earliest collectors of ballads in his area, with his mother and an aunt being two of his earliest inspirations. Greer became well-known for his folk singing and dulcimer playing and was first recorded by Frank Brown in 1914.

In the early 20th century, scholars such as Dr. Greer saw the mountain dulcimer as a symbol of Appalachia and worked to preserve its heritage and music. I.G. served as the President of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, and the President of the N.C. Folklore Society. Dr. Greer was one of the first nationally recognized authorities on mountain folk music and may have been the initial contact for a number of early collectors who visited the Hicks family and other dulcimer-playing, ballad-singing families on Beech Mountain and other areas of Watauga County, North Carolina.

From 1906 to 1908 Ike was a student at The University of North Carolina then later did graduate work at Columbia University. From 1908 to 1910 he taught in a one-room school and served as a principal. At Appalachian State Teacher's College, he taught history and government from 1910 until 1932 and in the 1920s he organized the first faculty string band. In 1932 Dr. Greer left the university to serve as the General Superintendent of the Baptist Orphanage in Thomasville, North Carolina from 1932-1948. From 1948 to 1954, Greer was the Executive Vice-President of the Business Foundation of North Carolina.

On August 10, 1915 I.G. married Willie Celia Spainhour in Burke County, North Carolina. Willie, who learned to play the mountain dulcimer from her mother, accompanied I.G. during many of his performances and recordings and according to Jean Ritchie, they began performing together the year they were married. Isaac and Willie were the parents of: Isaac Garfield Greer (1918-1998) and Joseph Phillip Greer (1922-2008).

In October 1929, accompanied on the dulcimer by his wife, Greer recorded the ballad “Black Jack Davy” for the Paramount label. In 1930 I.G. recorded for the Paramount Recording Company, recording 18 sides with Willie accompanying him on the dulcimer on two of the ballads. Ike and Willie later recorded ballads for the Library of Congress in the 1940s. The Greers continued to perform at civic and scholarly functions well into their later years.
Greer IG.JPG

Greer Oct 1929 B.jpg
Last edited by dbennett on Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 4 December 1881

Postby dbennett » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:45 am

Common Bill sung by I.G. Greer and accompanied on dulcimer by Mrs. Greer
25 Nov 1941
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