Emmett Lundy Bio

At a glance:

e_lundy

  • Born 1864 in Grayson Co., VA
  • Learned to play the fiddle as a teenager
  • Played at social gatherings, jammed with other musicians in the area, and performed at a 1920s Galax fiddlers’ convention
  • Only commercial recordings are two duets with Ernest Stoneman
  • Recorded in 1941 by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax for the Library of Congress
  • Died 1953

 

Lundy’s heritage can be traced to seventeenth century English settlers in Pennsylvania.  His grandfather moved to Grayson County, VA in the late eighteenth century.  Lundy was raised as a Baptist and his church believed playing instruments was a sin.  However, he learned to play the fiddle from “old timer” Green Leonard, who lived a couple miles from the Lundys.  Leonard is  remembered as one of the best fiddlers from the area.

Lundy’s fiddle was for enjoyment, not profit. Farming was his main source of support.  Lundy also found work as a blacksmith, watch repairmen, and “pulling teeth” (which is apparently considered the equivalent of a dentist).   Lundy may have won the first $10 gold piece ever awarded at the Galax fiddler’s convention, which is a testament to his skill and the growing interest in his style of music.

In 1925 Lundy traveled to New York with a younger Grayson County musician, Ernest V. Stoneman. The result, two harmonica and fiddle duets, were Lundy’s only professional recordings.  This is one of the two duets.  The quality isn’t that great–Lundy didn’t like how the fiddle sounded when he listened to the recording.

 Lundy (61 years old at the time) held onto the “old time” style he had learned from Leonard.  He used four fingers instead of two or three and he did not tune his fiddle too often.  Lundy also inherited a complex bowing style that faded out in Stoneman’s generation, most likely due to the use of the banjo.  

In 1941, Alan and Elizabeth Lomax recorded Lundy on behalf of the Library of Congress.  Two of his sons, Kelly and Geedy, played guitar and banjo on these recordings.  The recordings, and the Lundy legacy, were reissued in 1977 as a compilation called Fiddle Tunes of Grayson County, Virginia.  “Duck on the Millpond” is my favorite.

Sources:

Old Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame

Eugene Chadbourne’s artist biography

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