Flemming Brown

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Fleming Brown
Artist / Musician

1926-1984, born in Marshall, Missouri. He was a banjo player and one of the early teachers at the Chicago Old Town School of Flk Music. As an artist, Brown specialized in traditional songs of the Southern Appalachians. He was influenced by old-time banjo players such as Uncle Dave Macon and Doc Boggs. Brown supported himself as a graphic artist and as such never performed widely outside of Chicago.

Brown learned the banjo from Doc Hopkins, an old-time singer who hosted a morning radio show on WLS in Chicago. He would have his lesson at the studio after the show daily. As a banjo player Brown traveled much learning technique from other banjo players like Doc Hopkins, bascom Lamar Lunsfor, Grandpa Jones, Hobart Smith and Frank Proffitt. In 1963 Brown recorded the banjo player Hobart Smith for a record released as The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes.

In 1953 he joined the “I Come For To Sing” group with Studs Terkel, Larry Lane, Chet Roble and Big Bill Broonzy. Also in that year, he hosted the folk music radio show on Chicago’s WFMT entitled “The Midnight Special” since it began at midnight on Saturdays in those days.

At the Old Town School, Brown mentored banjoist Stephen Wade, who eventually took over teaching Fleming’s class in 1974.

Fleming had performed at the Ashville, North Carolina, Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and the University of Chicago Folk Festival.