Born in 1917 in Rugby Virginia, Albert Hash was a well-known and beloved fiddler and instrument maker. He learned to play fiddle from Corbit Stamper, Jim Reedy, his uncle George Finley, and was influenced by G.B. Grayson. After Grayson was killed, Albert played with Henry Whitter. Albert also played with many other musicians through the years, including the Virginia Carolina Boys with Wayne and Max Henderson, and of course the Whitetop Mountain Band with Flurry Dowe, Emily and Thornton Spencer, and Tom and Becky Barr. Albert Hash made his first fiddle at age ten, at the height of the Depression. He enrolled in the U.S. Navy and learned to be a machinist, something that would be an integral part of his later fiddle making. He worked in the naval shipyard and torpedo facility in northern Virginia. While in the Navy, he married Ethel Ruth Spencer in 1944, and the two of them had two daughters: Joyce Mae and Audrey Marie. After being in the Navy, he moved to back to Fees Branch area and then to neighboring Lansing, NC. During the folklife revival of the 1960s and 70s, many musicians sought his expertise, seeking history, an impromptu jam session, one of his handcrafted instruments or instructions on how to craft an instrument. In 1967, Hash and his wife moved back to Whitetop, Virginia. He continued to visit local craft fairs, music festivals and fiddler's conventions in Virginia and northwestern North Carolina and was a regular at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Virginia and the Ashe County Fiddlers’ Convention. His talents have been the showcase for the 1982 World's Fair, the Smithsonian Institute and the Grayson Highlands State Park in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. After his death in 1983, the Commonwealth of Virginia presented Ethel with a framed copy of House Resolution 18, proclaiming a moment of silence in his honor. Albert also helped start the old time music program at Mt. Rogers Combined School in Whitetop, VA. Albert, his daughter Audrey, Thornton Spencer and Emily Spencer started volunteering at the local fire department teaching old time music lessons to the community. Later, he began giving lessons at Mt. Rogers School to the students there. After he passed away, Audrey carried on the music program until she moved to Lansing, NC. Emily Spencer now carries on the old time music program and it has become an everyday class that students get credit. It also has been featured on television, newspapers, radio and got nominated for a Grammy for schools. The school band is named the Albert Hash Memorial String Band.
Albert Hash was a famous fiddle player and maker from Whitetop. He was born in 1917. He learned to play from Corbit Stamper, Jim Reedy, his uncle George Finley, and was influenced by G.B. Grayson. After Grayson was killed, Albert played with Henry Whitter. Albert also played with many other musicians through the years, including the Virginia Carolina Boys with Wayne and Max Henderson, and of course the Whitetop Mountain Band with Flurry Dowe, Emily and Thornton Spencer, and Tom and Becky Barr. Albert's kindness and willingness to help all is well-known. Much more will be added about Albert in the near future. The song above is "Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?" from a fiddler's convention recording. Albert-fiddle, Thornton Spencer-fiddle, Flurry Dowe-banjo, Becky Barr and Emily Spencer-guitar, Tom Barr-bass
The band originated with Albert Hash in the 1940s, a well-known and beloved fiddler and luthier. When he was a teenager, Albert played fiddle with Henry Whitter of “Grayson & Whitter” which recorded during the 1920’s. Albert had a tremendous impact on the old time and bluegrass scene. The tune, “Hangman’s Reel” that Albert recorded is the version played by so many old time musicians today. He also taught such luthiers as Wayne Henderson, Audrey Ham, and many others to build instruments.
In the 1970s, Albert’s brother-in-law, Thornton Spencer (twin fiddle), and his wife, Emily Spencer (banjo, vocals), joined Albert in the Whitetop Mountain Band. The three also started an old time music program at Mt. Rogers School, a small k-12 public school, in Whitetop. The students learn fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, etc. and dancing. Emily Spencer carries on the program and it has received a lot of regional and national attention for its uniqueness (Grammy award nomination, CMT, numerous articles and radio shows
The Whitetop Mountain Band is one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains. They have a great following at square dances all over Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky at venues like the Carter Family Fold. The band has also performed at all sorts of venues throughout the United States from festivals to concerts, competitions, and colleges. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, National Folklife Festival, World Music Institute in NYC, Carter Family Festival, Dock Boggs Festival, World Fair, Virginia Arts Festival, Floydfest, Ola Belle Reed Festival and Merlefest are a few of the many festivals the band has performed at. They recently were featured on the NCTA Crooked Road Music tour of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho in October 2007. In September 2007, Members also toured the United Kingdom and Ireland playing the Cornish Bluegrass Festival and Open House Festival along with venues through England, Wales, and Ireland. In January 2008, members of the band also played at the Illawarra Folk Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival in New South Wales, Australia. The band has also taught and been master musicians/dancers for workshops and classes in fiddle, banjo, guitar, vocals, and dance all over the US. Some of these include Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC, Cowan Creek Music School in KY, Mountain Music School in Big Stone Gap, and Mt. Rogers Combined School.