This a recording from the upcoming PineCone CD Release, "Going Down to Raleigh: Stringband Music in the North Carolina Piedmont 1976-1998," which features 48 old-time regional stringband dance tunes and songs highlighting some of the best traditional music of Piedmont region.
Smith McInnis - fiddle, A.C. Overton - banjo; Recorded 1996 by Bob Carlin and Wayne Martin.
Smith McInnis (b. 1914) is a descendant of Scottish Highlanders who settled the Cape Fear River valley in southeastern North Carolina. Angus McInnis, Smith McInnis' great-grandfather, immigrated from the Isle of Jura in Scotland to America in 1820 and found his way to the Fayetteville wharves, where he worked as a boatwright. Later the McInnis family moved to Rockfish Station in adjoining Hoke County, where they farmed.
Born and raised in the farmhouse built by Angus McInnis, Smith heard fiddle music as a child. His father knew several hornpipes on the fiddle, and three of Smith's brothers could play. Equally influential was his grandmother's brother, Maximillian "Mac" McFayden, who was born before the Civil War. "He played some of the clearest, prettiest notes on that fiddle," Smith remembers. "He held it down on his armhe played it with all the ease in the world."
Smith McInnis fiddled breakdowns and hornpipes at a quick pace that nonetheless featured fully developed melody lines. These qualities made his made his fiddling exciting and well suited for both dancing and listening. Smith was particularly adept at "pushing" the bow to add subtle rhythmic embellishments to a tune, all the while maintaining a driving pulse.
While recuperating from surgery at age 70, Smith decided to take his fiddle out of the case. Finding a renewed interest in music he began practicing regularly to regain his touch. He entered and won prizes at several fiddle contests and accepted invitations to perform in churches, rest homes, senior centers, and at funerals, banquets, festivals, and parties near his home in Raeford. During the 1990s he played with local musicians and, on occasion, with Marvin Gaster and A.C. Overton. Smith McInnis received North Carolina's Folk Heritage Award in 1996.