Henry Reed Is Born

Henry Reed, age 19, plays banjo; his older brother Josh plays fiddle.

From the collection of James Reed, with permission.
Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection

James Henry Neel Reed, known as Henry Reed, was born on April 28, 1884, in the Appalachian Mountains of Monroe County, West Virginia. Reed was a master fiddler, banjoist, and harmonica player whose amazing repertoire consisted of hundreds of tunes, as well as multiple performance styles. His music conveyed tradition while setting new directions, and became a touchstone for academic research into the history of U.S. fiddle music.

James Henry Neel Reed (28 April 1884 – 16 June 1968) was an American fiddler and banjoist in the Appalachian music tradition.

Reed was born in Peterstown, West Virginia and grew up in Glen Lyn, Virginia. His brother Josh often performed with him on the fiddle.

Folklorist Alan Jabbour recorded Reed in the 1960s, and that collection is now held at the United States Library of Congress. Jabbour, who is also a fiddler, has recorded many of Reed's tunes with the banjo player Ken Perlman.

Henry Reed
Henry Reed was the narrow neck in the hourglass of tradition,
through which tunes were guided
back out into the wider currents of circulation. ”

— Alan Jabbour