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Marshall Wyatt: A Conversation

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

“Wyatt is one of a handful of American music historians and record collectors, who, through their own devotion and- in some cases- single-minded obsession, have rescued a near forgotten piece of American history and, in a sense, saved a part of ourselves from extinction.” -Jonathan Perry, The Boston Globe

Marshall Wyatt by Eduardo Montes-Bradley

“Finding Marshall Wyatt” could easily be the title of my next documentary film. The man is no easy prey, and no wonder why. He is one of the most versed music historians when it comes to old time fiddling, string band music, blues, and a lot more. Back in 1994 he founded Old Hat Enterprises to promote awareness of American vernacular music and to research its history.

Raleigh, NC, 2021
Eduardo Montes-Bradley and Marshall Wyatt

Marshal has conducted field work and maintains archives of sound recordings in various formats. His collection of 78 rpm records of the prewar era is simply formidable. Other fortunes in his possession include oral history interviews, vintage photographs, catalogs, books, discographies, and musical ephemera.

And when I wrote “the man is no easy prey” I meant just that. Getting on hold of Marshal is challenge. The floormat on his front door reads “Go Away”, and he most definitely will not return phone calls unless he knows that one is as serious and committed as he has been to his research. The good news is that we are, and that Marshall did open the door for us as many times as it was required to get his testimony on film for Black Fiddlers, a documentary film that – as far as I understand today – would not have been a half of what it is today without his collaboration and precious archives.

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