I was saddened by the news that my friend Greg Lam had passed away. He was in his mid 60’s. His health had not been so good when I spoke to him last at the Galax Fiddler’s convention in August 2019. Before I heard the news that same day I was trying to memorize the words to this song, Little Maude, and thinking of Greg. I guess I sensed something in the universe as he passed to think of him and this song.
Greg and his brother Danny were a true brother duet. They had a bluegrass band around the Harrisonburg, Virginia area in the 1980s and ‘90s and earlier. They made at least one CD that I have heard. Unfortunately, Danny died at a young age and was gone by the time I met Greg at Galax fiddler’s convention 12-15 years ago. Greg loved coming to the Galax Fiddler’s convention and was friends with members of the DryHill Draggers band. He played clawhammer banjo in a traditional driving style in several jams that I attended at their campsite. Greg also played a nice driving style of old-time fiddle. He stood out as a fine vocalist, singing with a clear tenor voice. The campsite was a sight to see, with dance boards filled with flatfoot dancers every evening.
As it turned out Greg’s great grandfather was Bela Lam who had formed a group in the 1920s that specialized in old-time gospel quartet singing from Greene County, Virginia. Greene County is located in the part of Virginia just East over the mountain from the Shenandoah Valley. Bela Lam and the Greene County Singers made several recordings for Okeh with early finger-style banjo picking and guitar for accompaniment. They even recorded this song that Greg and his brother Danny learned in their family and carried forth into the future. Here’s the original version of Little Maude that Greg and Danny carried forth in their music: view on YouTube.
This rendition of Little Maude is in memory of Greg Lam. He is playing banjo and singing lead on the verse and high harmony on the chorus. Danny takes the lead on the chorus. This is one of my favorite clawhammer banjo songs ever.