Two Conaway brothers plinked and plunked on various string instruments in the early days of jazz. There was Sterling Conaway, one of the members of Duke Ellington's first combo, formed when this jazz giant was only 18. And there was Lincoln Conaway, best known for backing up classic blues goddess Bessie Smith, but also a member of various Louis Armstrong and King Oliver units well before Satchmo became known for singing numbers such as "Hello Dolly".
Playing ability on both banjo and guitar was something both the brothers had in common, although Lincoln Conaway's recordings on the former instrument were rare. While his brother trilled away on mandolin some of the time, this player dabbled on the ukulele and provided extremely early use of the lap steel guitar, sometimes calle a Hawaiian guitar, on recordings by singer Rosa Henderson. Conaway's contribution to the prolific Bessie Smith canon include scaling the heights of the "Black Mountain Blues".