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Roy Smeck: Wizard of the Strings
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Academy Award Nominee
FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
27 minutes
Roy Smeck, born in 1900, became one of the first self-made stringed instrument virtuosos, playing the vaudeville circuit in his early days. In 1926 he appeared in the first sound films ever made, Warner Bros./Vitaphone (the first music video!). That made an instant celebrity out of Roy and was just the beginning of six decades of accomplishments on the banjo, guitar, Hawaiian guitar and ukulele. He wrote instruction/method books, arranged innumerable tunes for the uke; and made the first multiple-soundtrack movie for Paramount Pictures. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment, though, was very simply being the foundation of popular music through his ukulele music of the twenties and thirties. The film features Roy performing in the 1926 Vitaphone clip and other early sound films when his vituosity was at at its peak, and touching scenes when, in his eighties, he still performs, teaches, and exudes joy and charm. Testimonials from other giants of the era include Mel Bay, Gene Autry, and Arthur Tracy.
Written and Produced by Alan Edelstein
Directed and Edited by Peter Friedman
Camera by Richard Dallett
Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities
Roy Smeck  Roy Smeck
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Other links
To see and hear a brief (25 second) clip of Roy in action click:
http://ukediner.ukulele.org/movies/hands.mov
Here’s a good page about Roy with a link to an audio-only clip
http://www.banjomuseum.org/contact_about/hof/roy_smeck.asp
Video Cover