Monday, June 17, 2019

Youtube video tribute to Cathy Barton.

Ozark Folk Singing and Folk Songs

My apologies for the too long hiatus but I get busy and I determined some years ago to stop providing content for content's sake. I want the blog to offer something meaningful and worth reading. Back in the 70's I lived in the Ozarks for a few years. In Ripley Co Mo. I never happened to stumble onto anyone that played the old time Ozark music or folk songs. There was a couple of Bluegrass bands that came and went. It was not until my sojourn at Norwood Mo. in south central Mo. that I ran across a local group that gathered for shape singing down in Douglas Co. Mo at an old White Church building. My friend Elmer Shudy took me down and I was able to enjoy something I had never heard before. At that time in my life, I was not into things like that but I did enjoy it but not enough to return. (Mistake) Back then Southern Gospel groups were the things with guitars and drums or acapella for many. There is lots of dramatic carrying on and honestly I still don't care for it to this day. Oddly, I did not really enjoy a lot of Christian songs then other than traditional hymnal songs, which I still enjoy. What impressed me was singing shape note hymns or similar singing that is very distinctive acapella singing the Church of Christ in small rural congregations or particularly, what was sung in Primitive Baptist Churches. In recent years Ozark Folk singing and songs have receded into obscurity while the Appalachian/Ozark string band music predominates. They have had folk singers perform at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View AR. to be sure. Maybe they still do more often than I think? But elsewhere, I have not seen it done. Then again, I have not gotten out there as much as I want to either. I think its a shame that the tradition of Folk songs being sung acapella by common people in rural areas has largely disappeared. This music is different than String band music. Folk songs and music comes from a bit of a different chain of tradition and heritage. In the fifties CBS came to Arkansas to research the song, "The Two Sisters". The following is the description of the video I am including below.
" The 1954 CBS / University of Arkansas produced documentary “The Search for Yokum Creek,” depicted the search for the origins of an Elizabethan ballad, “The Two Sisters.” The film begins with an exterior shot of the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center building where the presenter/narrator, Charles Romine begins by providing a few details about the upcoming investigation they are about to set out on (:42). Mary Celestia Parler, the founder of the Arkansas Folklore Society, an English professor at University of Arkansas and the wife of distinguished Ozark folklore collector Vance Randolph is seen listening to a hauntingly beautiful song on an old (1:00)." The video is pretty interesting.
Vance Randolph, her husband is widely recognized for his work in Ozarks folklore and culture but his wife deserves recognition for her important contributions in Arkansas folklore research. I am including an article about her so more people learn about her contributions. She deserves to be remembered. Rachel Reynolds Luster wrote an article for the CALS Encyclopedia Of Arkansas and the link is here. I can't get my link feature to work here for some reason so please copy and paste to see it. I considered quoting the entire article but thought it best to provide the link. I have found it very difficult to come up with video for examples but I did find this. I am aware that there were more recent traditional Ozark folk singers out there but I can't find them right now. I set out to feature them but I cannot discover the material online right now. If you dear reader, know of anyone that does this, please let me know.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Alvie Dooms

I have wanted to do a post about Alvie Dooms for years. I have not been able to get down to the Mclurg Jam to meet him. My previous efforts to learn much about his came up empty. However, he's been on a number of recordings I have as a noted Ozark back up guitar player. I saw on Face book that the Voice of America did a feature video on him and it's pretty good. The McClurg Jam has had some good media coverage over the years. It almost went under but some good folks came to the rescue. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I've been busy and no blog post subject was coming to mind. I'm sorry I've dropped off a while and I'm working on it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Public Service Announcement about Banjo Billy Matthews Book signing at the Old Time music Festival in West Plains, Mo this coming June.

I had the pleasure of seeing Billy Matthews in concert at the old Mountain Music Shoppe in Shawnee Ks several years ago. I was just delighted. What a treasure. This is an announcement of a book sWest Plains Council on the Arts P O Box 339, West Plains, MO 65775 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Paula Speraneo May 20, 2019 417-293-2325 “500 Fiddle Tunes – Old-Time Archive” Book Signing at Festival The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival organizers will host a book signing by Fiddlin’ Banjo Billy Mathews for his new archive of old-time fiddle tunes. The author will be available on Saturday, June 1, at 5:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Lobby for a meet-and-greet, and will have available his new CD “Jambusters I.” The 25th annual Festival will be held May 31 and June 1, 2019, in and around the West Plains Civic Center. The two-day annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music and culture. Admission to all festival events is free. Festival hours are noon-9 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Mathews says ”The idea is to present a reasonable rendition of the tune; not too fast, pretty much straight up with very little ornamentation, which will be very helpful for many people who, like me, learn by ear. The second part of the 500 tunes project is the completion of a Book of Musical Notation that accompanies all 500 Tunes. The Book of Notation includes other essential information about each tune.” Information at "The tunes Billy has collected are little-known and are played in a disappearing style. I hope that these transcriptions will make these tunes available to many musicians in order to ensure that the old-time style that Billy plays will be carried on in a generation where newer styles are overshadowing their roots. In addition to serving as background for these tunes, the sources listed for each tune will also give insight into Billy's personal history as one of the last fiddlers to build a life from scratch in the Ozark Mountains " Emily Elam The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains. The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands. 2019 Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center, and Missouri State University-West Plains. Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. For more information on the festival e-mail, visit the website at, or “like” the Facebook page at for his 500 Fiddle Tunes book. Check it out!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Kansas City on the edge of the great plains and it's own western tradition music

I think it's common knowledge that Kansas City had the nickname "Cowtown". The vast herds of cattle either passed through here going east or, later, it became a major meat packing center with many well known brand names we still know and still buy in the stores. The meat packing industry left long ago. The history of Kansas City "The Cowtown" remains. The modern locals have done everything they can to squelch that in the past 20+ years and largely succeeded. Here is old Cremona again playing "Buffalo Gals". Keep in mind, Nearly all the legendary western figures of note passed through and spent time here in Kansas City. Wild Bill Hickok put on shooting displays at what is now called "The River Market" Jesse James and Frank were frequent visitors. Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and many others spent some time here. Kansas City is a river town with the minstril tradition meeting with the Missouri style Fiddling which met with Ozarkian Appalachian traditional music which met with the poplular music of each decade. Buffalo Gals was a popular tune in the day and part of what makes Kansas City OT music unique. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails began here or in the case of the Santa Fe trail, passed through. Here is Old Cremona playing "Buffalo Gals".

Pre Civil war Minstrel music

While I'm exploring the differant types of music that came from the past here in the Ozarks and midlands, Old Cremona, a local band has been featuring this kind of historical music for years now. Here they perform "Boatman Dance", the same tune the Holmes Brigade Shirkers perform in the previous posting. They do a great job here. I've neglected to post about them for too long although I think I did a post on them years back.

Civil War Reenactor music

Most people who attend reenactments have no idea that many camps have home made music while in camp. In the case of these members of the Holmes Brigade Union reenactors who call themselves the "Holmes Brigade Shirkers", they perform for people attending these events. Today I attended the 2019 annual Civil War encampment in Fort Scott Kansas. I ran across these musicians and recorded a video of them playing a rousing version of "The Boatmans Song". Somehow I only actually recorded a couple seconds at the ending. Big groan! Curses! I need to spend more time with my camera. So, I lost a unique moment where the band gave me a rousing animated excellent performance. So, I turned to their Facebook Page and can share their own recordings. Chris Schafer (SP?) Banjo, Brian Robbins, Bones, Kyle Lunder, Tambo. I am missing a couple more members and I apologize for that. They were not present at the time. I hope I spelled everyones name correctly. If not please comment so I can correct it. Music like this was common among the actual encampments on both sides of the War. I supposed some was Old Timey appalachians type stuff but I have to guess that there was more music like this. No question, this is Old Time Music. Fully part of our history here in the heartland. While I have nearly solely focused on traditional Old Time music as found in the Ozarks, Missouri River Valley and northern Missouri, I would be remiss to ignore this. You see, we are different here in the heartland. There was cross fertilization of music of all kinds. In that sense, we differ from a more purist Old Time tradition. I hope you enjoy the video and I'm sure next year I will no doubt capture many more performances from these very pleasant men. Hurrah for the Holmes Brigade! Even if my ancestor was a Confederate. Heh! I expect to post more of this kind of thing as I move forward. If you get a chance, attend the annual Civil War Encampment in April. Fort Scott Kansas and Fort Scott are great places to visit. Fort Scott Kansas has some outstanding "mansions" along a main residential street and it's fun to see them. So, my apologies to the guys for blowing the video capture. Next year!!! This second tune was popular with the German troops who fought for the North in Missouri. Again, Old Time music but from a differeant directions.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ruth Hawkins, Missouri Fiddler has passed away.

Nathan Lee McMasters announced on Facebook that Ruth Hawkins, a Missouri Fiddler has passed away. According to Nathan, she traveled extensively and played Old Time. You can listen to her on the Missouri State Library youtube video's one of which is titled, "McCann, Hawkins and Baker" June 17, 1997. I could find no photograph of her online. She was featured in the Folk Stream's indie movie, "Women of Old Time Music" which featured heartland Old Time women musicians. Folk Streams has a copy for viewing on their site but it was not working today.

Cathy Barton passed away

I just recieved news that Cathy Barton has passed away. I don't know more than that right now. Cathy and Dave Barton were dedicated Old Time/Folk musicians who have done great work in promoting and providing avenues for people to hear our music. According to their website, Cathy had been in failing health for some time. I have never met them but I am saddened to hear this news of her passing.
They were long time musicians working in the area. They lived east of Kansas City in a small town and among other things, celebrated the river history of folk music. I could say so much more but my intended audience here already knows a great deal about them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Arkansas Old Time Fiddlers Gathering, 2013

To finish the night I ran into this one and just wanted to share it with you. Kim Lansford and Bill Conley on guitar,David Scrivner and Ashely Hull Forrest on the Fiddle, Jim Ruth banjo. (he's the smiling face on the far right, not the other banjo player who was not identified as well as the bass player. "Johnny bring the jug"

Jim and Kim Lansford remembered

I let my mind wander a bit while I'm working in the Boston area this week to see if there was something I could blog about. In my online ramblings I thought of Jim and Kim Lansford and the empty chair Jim left behind. I personally did not know Jim other than he was a Facebook friend and I had seen him perform once. Jim passed away in 2012 unfortunately. In my ramblings I ran across an excellent article Jim Nelson has written about them a few years before Jim's passing. A truly excellent piece published in the Old Time Herald. This is still available online and I recommend you google that up for more info in depth about the Lansfords. Anyway...I had no intention of trying to write anything like that due to my lack of knowing much about them and why would I when Jim did it so well. Really. I just wanted to post and share this YouTube with you. In my book, in Kansas, music like this is Kansas Old Time Music. I hope you enjoy and remember. Here is the link to Jim Nelson's excellent article about them in the Old Time Herald.Click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lazy Goat String Band, Mountain View Arkansas

For some time now I've been facebook friends with Emily Elam, one of the members of the Lazy Goat String Band in Mountain Home Arkansas. I've been following her work as a musician for all that time and I did buy the DVD, "East Richwoods" that she and Martin Daryll put out a few years ago. I really enjoyed that DVD (And I recommend it). Both Martin and Emily did a great job on this. Because of this I thought it was a good idea to cover the band she has been in for many years now. Lazy Goat Stringband is based out of Mountain View Arkansas and play in the general area over the summers. Emily has been in College/University but graduated a couple years ago and returned to her home town whereupon she married another fiddler, Everett Elam. As you guessed she is the fiddler of the group but plays banjo equally as well. She is a very accomplished musician. The group began in 2012. They discovered that they really worked well together in a special way and took it all the more seriously. They quickly became regular players at the Ozark Folk Center State Park and on the County Court House Square in Mountain View Ar. Emily reminds me they are all multi-intrumentalists and all take parts in the vocals. They have at least two CD's out, "Goats for Sale"2013, and Climbin the Fence" 2015. You can find these on CD Baby HERE. Here and Here
Scott Blake is the main guitar picker who is self taught. His background reflects many of ours in music. He enjoyed groups and people like The Carter Family, Norman Blake, The Stanley Brothers, and the Old Time authentic musical legacy of the Mountain View area that his Father helped pass on to him. Emily points out that his son Samuel Blake who also plays in the group was guided by his father along the way quite successfully. Samuel plays banjo and harmonica and like all young players is a work in progress for the future. This is not to say he can't already play quite excellent! I asked Emily specifically how she would describe the music she plays, and she replied, "I primarily play Ozark and Appalachian style Old Time. Check out the youtube videos of them playing I have added. As an insight into the "Goat" theme found in their CD titles, Emily's folks raise goats. I follow her Mom's facebook page where she discusses life on their small farm raising goats and chickens and a special breed of Cattle. From that I can say that when young, goats are adorable and charming little playful things. But! From a family photo I will include just for grins, they grow up and things change! I want to thank Emily for the information used here and in a few places either used her own phrases or slightly modified them. From the time I began this blog it was my desire to hew to the Old Genuine Ozark (All States included) and the Missouri tradition. Since then, I've opened it up to bordering States as just as much part of the heartland OT tradition well worth discussing and sharing. The Lazy Goat String Band fits the first niche well. Do check them out. Go ahead, buy those CD's! Catch them playing. Julienne Johnson Video

Thursday, February 28, 2019

This is the no politics zone

Recently, I read an article shared on a social media group page concerning Old Time music, that spoke about this individual's "discovery" of "his tribe". He was particularly disdainful (to put it nicely) of conservative southerners and their culture and opinions and did not want to be around them ever. He had found his own bubble of like minded people who reflected his policial and social values. There are two ways to look at this "Tribe" thing. Tribalism is rising across the United States and we are more divided than ever. This has brought great conflict into our lives both personally and across society. At my own Christmas Eve family gathering, all hell broke out when two decided to discuss politics. The details are unimportant but the consequences were quite negative. One way to view this tribalism in the Old Time music world is, OK fine, everybody wants to be with like minded people. Seems reasonable. Most of us do this. However, when this is done, your living in a bubble where your completely out of touch with other people with differing opinions and likes or dislikes. Soon, after the distance grows great, the dehumanization of others takes hold. Contempt and hate grow from there. This can happen on any location on the spectrums of opinions. The other way to see this is to reject "tribes" altogether when it comes to human relationships. This is my personal outlook. My life has been very diverse and I've been among all kinds of people of all stripes and sizes and opinions. And I mean all. I look at the person, the shared interests we might have, or not, and start there. I don't ask them what their politics are, or their religion or what philisophical schools they identify with or what school of psycholgical theory they subscribe to. I want to know if they are good people. I want to know if they are positive responsible fellow travelers on this mutual journey of life. I have friends of all kinds. Some are extremely conservative. Some are in the middle. Some are on the extreme left. Some are anarchists. Some are Libertarians. Some are Socialists. I think I have a Marxist or two in there, I'm not sure. Some are very conservative Christians. Some are atheists. Some just don't know. Some are from other religions. I'm not saying I'm some kind of super enlightened person but I'm saying there is a way to travel through life without labels creating impreganble walls around us or others. What is my point here? When it comes to Old Time, Blue Grass,Folk, Americana, why not put aside the prejudices and enjoy other human beings and this music we love. Who wants to talk about politics when you can gather around music that should help us feel connected? Back in the 70's it was remarkable that both young and old came together at Bluegrass Festivals to play and enjoy. Mutual suspicions and prejudices? Sure. Of course. But in the process they discovered another human being who loved the same music. Back in 2010 (I think) when I started the blog, I saw this situation immediately. I was warned about it in fact. It has always greived me deeply. I'm blessed to have lots and lots of good friends from all points of view. Good people all. Valued people. I don't see why it has to be any other way. Its your choice my friend. Just don't expect to see your prejudices reinforced here. This is the no politics zone.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Under the Big Oak Tree band performance at the Green Guitar Concert last night.

This group opened for the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers at the Green Guitar Concert and the Shawnee Unitarian and Universalist Church last night. They are based out of St. Joseph Mo. and perform around the region. I was unaware of them until last night and I'm really sorry about that. I wish I had know of them years earlier. I The longer I do this blog the less inclined I am to label bands and people. I prefer to let them provide the description taken from their Facebook page which is a quote from The St Joseph Newspress. "Under the Big Oak Tree’s honeyed blend of vintage folk, acoustic country, and traditional bluegrass has been described as “warm” and “picturesque” with “flawless harmonies.” (St. Joseph Newspress) I filmed a segment of one of their songs but I think I'll stick with their video. I might try to add my video later. What a great Vibe they have! They are very impressive musicians and singers. Just like with the Sapsuckers who they opened for, I had a huge grin though the entire performance! I see that they perform in the area quite often and I'm sure going to see them again. If you have not seen them in concert yet, I recommend that you not waste time doing so! Thank God for live music by incredible musicians. I don't mean to neglect any of them but I have to comment on the guitarist, Jason Riley. He plays a style that's my favorite type. There is a vague similarity with Dickie Betts that I personally see but certainly he's no copycat. His skill on the guitar is incredible. But, thats true for all of them really. Taken together they have a great vibe and at the end I found myself emotionally moved. I don't usually have that kind of response and I was surprised. I was simply knocked out. I think it was the surprise of finding music like this that caught me off guard. They have a facebook page where you can learn more and see their schedule. Click here. Check them out on Youtube as well. To the Band I say, well done! Awesome performance! I've decided to broaden the blog to include groups like this. Country music done right!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Yellow Bellied-Sapsuckers playing friday evening in Lenexa Ks.

UPDATE I attended the concert and it was a real treat! I was really not aware of the two groups that performed last nigh but their performances were really special. The level of mastery of the musical forms they played and the amazing level of mastery of their instruments left me grinning through the entire time. Nikki Grossman's voice is powerful and compelling. Nikki Grossman and her partner Joe Hart perform harmonies in singing and playing that are marvels of technical skill and musicianship. And very enjoyable. My descriptions really are inadequete so I will leave it there but as we all know, live music always impacts us far more deeply when we are present than in recordings. Thank God we can still experience this from the hands of people committed to Country music from another time. The country music out there now does not compare at all to the REAL country music the Sapsuckers perform. Hearing them is like going back in time and they do it flawlessly. I always intended this blog to cover this kind of "old time music" as reflecting the Kansas City area. It was always my intention to include wider types of Country music like that found in the 20'-30's era. My primary focus remains on OT fiddle tunes in the heartland. One final comment about the performance. Grossman is a remarkable fiddler! Hart is a flawless back up guitarist. Just amazing talent! If you get a chance to the Sapsuckers perform GO! I recieved word of this earlier today but I was traveling and could not post earlier today. I'm excited about this concert and I'm going. If you see a older bald guy with a big smile come introduce yourself please. "Appearing at Green Guitar Folk Concert Series, 9400 Pflumm Rd. Lenexa, KS on Feb. 23, 2019- THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS ( perform original songs and tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, country-duo, and old-time musical traditions–and also mines this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again. “Enchanting harmonies… note-perfect old-time fiddle playing… To be devoured by those who love old-time acoustic country music.” ROOTS Magazine, John Atkins. UNDER THE BIG OAK TREE opens the show. Doors open 6:30 pm, music begins 7:00 pm. Info and reservations at 913-717-9453. Website www,
$15 with reservation, $17 at door, $3 students, thru 8th grade free.