Trevor and Travis Stuart are twin brothers and string band musicians from Haywood County. They began learning from local artists such as Quay Smathers and the Dutch Cove String Band. Later they played with Red Wilson, Ralph Blizard, and other notable old-time musicians from the region. They both teach in the Haywood County Junior Appalachian Musicians program and tour regularly around the country and beyond.
Trevor Stuart passed away unexpectedly on March 2, 2016 at the age of forty-seven. This excerpted interview was published in the 2013 Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina guidebook.
Trevor: Our great-grandfather’s name was Henry King. My grandmother always talked about him playing the fiddle. He’d play all night, then he’d go preach the next morning. She said before they had a funeral he’d cut the people’s hair. He’d preach the service and cut their hair and get them dressed. She said he cut every dead man’s hair in Sandy Mush. I spent a lot of time visiting, just sitting up and playing my fiddle for her. Talking about him made me want to play and find out more about the old music. Later I named a tune I wrote after him.
Travis: I think that older generation didn’t divide [music] as much as it is now. A singer would sing an old-time song and then turn around and sing a Bill Monroe song. I never really talked to them about it that way, like, is it old-time? Is it bluegrass? It was just music. I still feel that way, although even as a kid, the older fiddle tunes and stuff really stood out to me.
Trevor: It’s really amazing how many young people are playing now. When we were teenagers we would go to the Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention, and as far as kids our age go, there weren’t many. There was me and Travis, maybe a few from Virginia; Brian Grim, his sister, and Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin. That’s about all. Now there are multitudes of kids out there playing this music.
Excerpted from the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina guidebook by Fred Fussell with Steve Kruger. Photo by Cedric N. Chatterley.