Letters: Remembering Joe Robertson


The passing of Pete Seeger brought back some fond memories to this writer, not about Pete, but about a guy both of us were fortunate to know.

That man’s name was "Stonewall" Joe Robertson, who lived and grew up around the White Creek/Cambridge, N.Y. area.

Joe Robertson wasn’t blessed with one gift from God, he was blessed with two. He could build a dry stonewall better than anyone I ever saw. Ergo, the name of Stonewall.

He also played the fiddle. He not only played it, but he played it differently than anybody I ever met. He could "heel" the bow in such a way that he would produce a unique double shuffle that this writer has never heard before, or by any other artist since his passing.

I met Joe when I was young, through my wife Millie, whose cousin was married to Joe. We used to go over to the farm that Joe and his family ran on the back side of Lincoln Hill and play all the old music that he and I knew. I had a hard time keeping up with him, but Joe’s sister Dorothy had no problem on the piano.

That family was very talented. Joe and his dad used to make violins, and he was related to Mary Robertson Moses, known to most people as "Grandma Moses."

On and off, down through the years, this writer had the pleasure to play a few backyard gigs with Joe, and he joined our band when we played over in White Creek a few years ago.

Somewhere along the way, Pete Seeger heard Joe play, and recognized the unique style he had. So he took him down to Albany and showcased him on his sailing ship up and down the Hudson. Altogether fitting and proper, "Stonewall" Joe Robertson won the title of Champion Fiddler of New York State, and rightfully so, in this writer’s humble opinion.




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