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Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, musician, artist and storyteller who was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a national treasure, died July 30 in Boston of complications from a heart attack he suffered in recent months. He was 94.

Armstrong was the subject of two PBS documentaries, “Louie Bluie” and “Sweet Old Song.”

For more than a decade, he was celebrated as the nation’s last black string-band musician, having outlived a generation of African-American musicians who traveled America in the 1920s and ’30s. These string-band artists played Americana, everything from Tin Pan Alley tunes to gospel and blues, for black and white audiences.

Armstrong was known for his exuberant fiddle and mandolin playing; he played several other instruments as well. This past spring he was nominated as an instrumentalist for the Blues Foundation’s W.C. Handy Award, an honor he won in 1996 for his only solo album, “Louie Bluie.” In March, Armstrong was honored with a Governor’s Award in the Arts by his native state of Tennessee.

He gave a concert last summer at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and continued to perform professionally until this past winter.

Armstrong’s grandparents were slaves and one of his great-grandfathers was a slave owner. He grew up in LaFollette, Tenn., a segregated town where his father, a craftsman, musician and minister, worked in a factory and as a waiter and taught his nine children to play a variety of stringed instruments, several of which he made.

As a young teenager, Armstrong joined a band led by Knoxville fiddler Blind Roland Martin and organized his younger brothers into a band. He sometimes made a living as a sign painter and muralist.

In his late teens Armstrong worked on the L&N Railroad as a water boy before joining Carl Martin, Blind Roland’s stepbrother, who became a lifelong musical partner.

In 1930 they, along with Armstrong’s brother Roland, made their first recording in Knoxville: “Knox County Stomp” and “Vine Street Drag” on the Vocalion label. A Vocalion producer called the group the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, one of several names the group used over the years. Armstrong later said the group was never paid royalties for its music.

Something of a linguist, he could sing in the Italian, German, Polish and Chinese that he picked up from immigrant factory workers along the way.

In their travels Armstrong and Martin met guitarist Ted Bogan and in 1933 the trio arrived in Chicago in time to perform at the World’s Fair. They worked as street musicians, performed in clubs and made recordings with well-known artists including Amos “Bumble Bee Slim” Easton and Big Bill Broonzy and performed with greats like Memphis Minnie. In 1934 Armstrong and Bogan recorded “State Street Rag” and “Ted’s Stomp” on the Bluebird label.

Later, Armstrong was working in Hawaii for the civil service when he witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.

After WWII, he found it difficult to make a living as a musician, so he worked on assembly lines in Detroit’s auto industry and retired from Chrysler in 1971, when a revival of interest in old-time African-American music led to the reunion of his old band, Martin, Bogan and Armstrong.

The band recorded, performed at clubs and festivals and went on a tour of South America sponsored by the State Dept. They played together until Martin’s death in 1979.

In 1985 Armstrong was the subject of a documentary by Terry Zwigoff, “Louie Bluie.” For feature film “The Color Purple,” music producer Quincy Jones invited Armstrong to help design a set for a juke joint scene.

He released his first solo album in 1995 and continued to perform with a younger generation of musicians, including his longtime companion, artist Barbara Ward, who managed the band. They married in 2001 and collaborated on artistic projects including an illustrated children’s book; their relationship is the subject of “Sweet Old Song,” a documentary by Leah Mahan that was nominated in January by the Directors Guild of America.

Besides his third wife, Barbara, he is survived by three sons from a previous marriage, including bass player Ralphe, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by another son, Thomas, who played bass with him.

Donations may be made to Howard Armstrong Fund/Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge, MA 02138.