The Old-Time Herald Volume 12, Number 12

Uncle Steve Kimball and the Kezar Lake Pirate
By David Sanderson
Steve Kimball photo by Vivian Akers,
courtesy Lovell (Maine) Historical Society


“Uncle Steve” Kimball (1852-1934) was from the scenic mountain town of Lovell in western Maine, where he was a locally celebrated square dance fiddler. Like his contemporary, the fiddler Mellie Dunham from the nearby town of Norway, Kimball learned to play and call before 1900, and was a master of the nineteenth-century styles and repertoires that were soon to start slipping away.

And like Dunham, Uncle Steve found himself thrust suddenly – though briefly – into the world of wealthy high-rollers.

In 1925 Mellie Dunham traveled to Dearborn, Michigan, at the invitation of Henry Ford, an old-time music fancier, in a well-publicized gig that was the beginning of Dunham’s popular career outside of western Maine. And in 1927 Uncle Steve Kimball found himself in New York City entertaining Manhattan nightclubbers, most of whom were waiting out Prohibition in high style.

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