"Fiddling" Ted PowersMarch 06, 2012
Date of Birth: September 16, 1912
Place of Birth: Coeburn, Virginia
Date of Death: 2004
From a very early age, he was surrounded and influenced by old time and bluegrass music in the region. An interesting story Ted always told was how he acquired his fiddle. His fiddle was made in 1733 by Bergonzi. Ted says that an older lady he knew had an old fiddle sitting in her house collecting dust. It had been in her family for years, and Ted wanted it in the worst way. Finally, one day he went down to her house, and she liked a gold pocket watch he had on him. He asked her if she would take the watch for the fiddle, and she said yes. Ted had that fiddle until the day he died, and it was the loudest, clearest sounding fiddle I have ever heard. Ted always used to put rattlesnake rattles in his fiddle, he said it made it sound better.
When Ted was in his 20s, he started playing in a group called the Potter Family. They played at functions and on radio stations in the area of S.W. Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and the surrounding area. On some radio programs they were sharing the bill with the Carter family and other well known bands of the area. They had an offer to travel and go on to bigger and better things, but Ted had met his wife, Flora Mullins, and was ready to get married and start a family, so that’s what he did. Ted and Flora had 6 children, and Ted was a carpenter by trade. His oldest son, Hubert Powers, became interested in the music, and learned to play all five instruments (Fiddle, Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin and Bass.)
In the 1970s, Ted and Hubert went into the studio and recorded several albums with Maggard Studios in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. They were a big hit in the local area and beyond. They played all around the area as Ted and Hubert Powers. Also, Hubert played in several local bands himself, such as the Lonesome Pine Playboys, the Rocky Mountain Boys, Edwards Ridge Grass, etc. They played at numerous places, including the Carter Family Fold and in Sandusky, Ohio for Ford Motor Co.
When Ted got older, he quit playing in public, but he would still play for family gatherings and reunions, which was always a highlight. Ted’s great-grandson Jason Blankenship, is carrying on the tradition. He is learning to play the fiddle, guitar, and mandolin. Family affectionately calls him “Fiddling Red," due to his red hair.
Story provided by Tim Blankenship, grandson of “Fiddling” Ted Powers.