Albert Gore, Sr.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 98 00:13:38 -0800
Subject: Albert Gore, Sr.
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Forwarded-by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Garber)
This was posted on Fiddle-L. I didn't know that Gore was a fiddler.
The following note about Gore as fiddler was written by Joe Wilson, Director
of the National Council for the Traditional Arts:
CNN's use of a photo showing the late Senator Gore with his fiddle on his
chest has spawned some speculation about him on music newsgroups. I answered
one query and feel it might interest some of you. It follows:
In 1938 Albert Gore performed on the 5th National Folk Festival, held that
year for the first time in Washington, DC and in the new Constitution Hall.
Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt (honorary chairman of the festival) and Mrs. Agnes
Myers (chairman of the festival and mother of Katherine Graham of the
Washington Post) were in the hall for his performance. He was the fiddler
with Fred Colby's group of middle Tennessee's square dancers. Festival
founder Miss Sarah Knott introduced him and said he was a new Congressman
and by my calculations he would have then been age 31. (The proceedings were
recorded, and the NCTA has tape copies of the original discs.) Gore didn't
speak, but jumped into his performance with a zest and energy that was good.
He had a strong right arm, and his timing was excellent. The dancers and
Gore received what would have been an encore in a less closely managed
When the 56th National Folk Festival was held in Chattanooga in 1994,
Senator and Mrs. Gore were guests and he was honored as the senior performer
from the early festivals. Jane Alexander (then NEA chairman) did a surprise
introducion at the evening performance and we played a tape of his 1938
performance as he came out of the hall and up on the stage. He was then 86,
but he came on stage buckdancing. He told a self-deprecating story about a
performance at a country school when he was a beginning performer. He left
Backstage he asked for a copy of his tape and I told him I'd send one. He
wanted to meet Eileen Ivers, the great New York Irish fiddler now touring
with Riverdance that he had seen earlier on the show. She kissed him, and
he beamed. He said that he no longer played, but that he loved music more
than ever. He seated himself backstage and talked to the musicians. He was
country to the bone, wonderfully bright, and blessed with a memory for
jokes. I sent him a copy of his tape and he sent a note of thanks. I later
sent him a copy of our Masters of the Folk Violin live tour CD (Arhoolie
Records) and he called to say thanks and how much he liked it.
Early last week the Vice President's personal secretary called to ask for
another copy of Senator Gore's 1938 performance. She said he wanted to hear
it and they had "turned his house upside down trying to find it." She called
back later in the day to say he had mistakenly taped over the first one and
he had also lost our address. He was 90. So he had enlisted his son's help
in finding us. We didn't know he was ill, but we fired a copy of his
recording off by FedEx. I hope he got to hear his fiddling again before he
Senator Gore voted for the 1957 Civil Rights Act at a time when "Solid
South" racism gripped virtually every national politician in the region. He
opposed the Vietnam War as unwarrented and wrong even while his son fought
there. There are many other examples of his courage, humanity, and wisdom.
He was defeated by Bill Brock, a rich man who appealed to the small minded
and catered to what I feel are the contemptible qualities in the electorate.
I'm from Tennessee, and I despise the proliferation of SOBs of that mold in
The array of photos put together for the national media came from the Vice
President's office. So I wonder if a search for an old recording may have
been the reason a photo of Albert with his fiddle was included. Whatever
the reason, he was a fiddler who helped make our nation a better place.
© 1998 Peter Langston