Friday, November 6, 2009

Mac and Sleepy: Part 1


I just had lunch with Sleepy Marlin (photo on left), his son Jace, and the fiddle player in my bluegrass band Linda Starks. Sleepy was born in 1915 and was active in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky in his professional career which began around 1932.

He also played with Merle Travis in their Drifting Pioneers Band which formed in early 1937. They were in Evansville, Indiana when Merle got word via a telegram that Clayton McMichen wanted him to play guitar for the Georgia Wildcats.

The Pioneers didn't want to keep Merle from his chance with a big-time band so Merle headed out in the Spring of 1937, during the late stages of the Flood of 1937, to play with McMichen. Merle didn't stay long with McMichen returning to The Drifting Pioneers in July 1937. Travis would play with Sleepy until 1942 when World War II broke up the band.

Sleepy was one of the premiere contest fiddlers in the nation for many years. He beat McMichen several years at the Kentucky state competition in Louisville the 1950s. He also played with Mac for about 6 months.

Sleepy is in good shape and his sons now carry on the tradition in several bands including "The Marlins," a nationally known cover band and his son Jack's band "The Marlinaires." I'm planning to do an article on him for the Old-Time Herald.

More on Sleepy to come,

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