Editor's Note: This is the 303rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - The late Joe Dobbs was a fiddle-playing musical legend. Born in Mississippi, where his grandfather was a fiddler, Dobbs was playing fiddle by the time he was 10 years old. As a young musician, he fiddled his way across the south and southwest. When he turned 30 or so, he moved to West Virginia.
In 1976, Joe and his brother Dennis opened Fret 'n' Fiddle, a small shop on West 14th Street where they sold and performed intricate repair work on guitars, banjos and fiddles. In 1981, Joe and his daughter Diane moved the shop to Heritage Village in downtown Huntington.
James McClelland, director of the Huntington Board of Park Commissioners, hailed Fret 'n' Fiddle as a perfect fit for Heritage Village.
"The idea of the village is to have a series of shops that provide an attractive and unique shopping opportunity that isn't found anywhere in the Tri-State area," McClelland said. "If that goal is to be reached, then we need the type of West Virginia arts and crafts that together produce an exciting and attractive shopping experience."
After a few years at Heritage Station, Joe moved the shop again, this time to St. Albans, West Virginia, where it continued in operation until its recent closure.
Over the years, Joe traveled and played all across the country and even abroad. He was one of the founders of The 1937 Flood, the popular musical group, and hosted "Music From The Mountains," a bluegrass and traditional music program that aired on West Virginia Public Radio for 25 years.
Joe Dobbs died in 2015 at age 82. Today he's remembered as a gifted old-time musician whose shop was a place where musical magic happened.