If you ask an avid fan of the famous television show, Hee Haw, to name a favorite character, the name Dave Akeman would certainly be on the top list. Who doesn’t know the “Stringbean”, anyway? But aside from his stint with the hit program, Akeman had been associated with several interesting events making him become a master of his craft. So, what are these qualities of this man had that was loved by millions?
A Primer of Traditional-Style Banjo
Coming from a family who loved and lived music, it has been so natural for Akeman to develop inclination toward music at a young age. Apparently, he inherited his exceptional skill in playing the banjo instrument. His father used to be a banjoist who played at local events and was instrumental in Dave’s mastery of the musical instrument. Don’t you know that in order for Dave to have his first real banjo, he needed to barter a pair of chickens? That’s how determined he was to become a banjo master. The said device became an essential component of country music sound prior to the 20th century.
Watch one of Akeman’s performances below.
A Talent Contest Champion
Entering and winning a talent contest propelled Dave Akeman’s music career. It was also from this competition where he earned his moniker. A judge of the event named Asa Martin granted him the winning title and was given the opportunity to join Martin’s band. On a certain occasion, Martin was about to introduce Akeman but forgot his name. Given his height (6’5″) and thin built, Martin introduced him instead as “String Bean.” From that moment on, Akeman adopted and used it as his stage name. Moreover, Akeman wore a costume that would perfectly match his moniker and physical attributes.
A Legend at the Grand Ole Opry
One of the pioneer members of the well-known show, Akeman used to work with his fellow comic-banjo player, Grandpa Jones. Showing his remarkable musical and comical skills helped cement Akeman’s reputation as an entertainer. Likewise, the talented artist was able to establish a strong fan base. While maintaining a solid reputation at the Grand Ole Opry, Akeman also gained high popularity upon joining the Hee Haw show in 1979. This participation further shaped his comedic side and turned him into a celebrated personality outside the music niche.
His Stint with Bill Moroe and Other Banjo Legends
In 1943, Akeman became a part of Bill Monroe‘s band after the “Father of Bluegrass” discovered him on a baseball playing field where his team was present. Accordingly, Akeman turned to be Monroe’s first banjo player where he learned various traditional banjo playing styles. Aside from Monroe, Akeman also worked with other legendary banjoists including Ricky Skaggs, and Uncle Dave Macon.
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Dave Akeman, Hee Haw, Stringbean