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Matthew grew up near Ashland, KY. From early childhood, he learned many traditional mountain ballads and banjo tunes directly from his grandfather Hobart Stallard (1895-1996). Hobart could perform hundreds of songs from memory, and he regularly entertained at his farm many young visiting folklorists and musicologists (Jean Ritchie, Marynell Young, Annadeene Fraley, Guthrie Meade, Mark Wilson, and others), during the 1960s and 1970s. Matthew’s father, Chester Stallard (1941), was a barber on Greenup Avenue, Ashland, Kentucky (Route 23) for over 50 years.
Not only did Matthew absorb music and lore from his “Papaw Hobe,” he also soaked up old time Appalachian music from many other members of his musical family as well as local Kentucky traditional musicians who were regular customers at the Broadway Barbershop. During his teenage years, he was mentored on fiddle by JP Fraley who was a close family friend, and Stallard boasts a faithful command of Fraley’s fiddling techniques and eastern Kentucky fiddling repertoire. Matthew attended college on scholarships and holds a PhD. Now retired from academia, Dr. Stallard was a Professor of English at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio for 18 years.