Clarence "Tom" Ashley was raised by his mother and grandparents in Mountain City, Tennessee. Born in Bristol, Tennessee in 1895, Ashley asked his grandparents permission to join a traveling medicine show at the age of 16. He toured with the show for several years and honed his skills as a banjo player. In 1914 he married Hettie Osborne, and continued to play at fairs and festivals. In 1925 he, Gwen Foster and Doc Walsh formed the Carolina Tar Heels after meeting at a fiddler's convention. The Carolina Tar Heels recorded 18 records for the Victor label in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1960, Ralph Rinzler met Ashley at the Old Time Fiddler's Convention in Union Grove, NC and convinced him to record some of his old banjo tunes. Ashley started touring on the folk revival circuit and brought along a few of his friends from back in the hills of North Carolina and Tennessee, including a young man from Deep Gap, North Carolina named Doc Watson.
A recording from his "re-discovered" musical career. With Autoharp!
A bluesy and bawdy song from one of his early recording sessions.