Monday, October 7, 2019

New Old Time music Jamb in Lawrence Ks

I just now became aware of a longstanding Old Time music jamb in Lawrence Ks at the Beautiful Music Violin Shop . This is where Tricia Spencer works and she is leading the jamb sessions. They have a Facebook group for this you can check out.
The Shop's address is 925 Iowa Suite 1
Lawrence, Kansas 6604. It's very easy to find.
Here are the dates for the old-time jam at Beautiful Music Violin Shop from 1pm-3pm.
October 19, 2019
November 23, 2019
December 21, 2019
 (785) 856-8755 Shop phone number. Call for info.

Tricia Spencer is a fantastic fiddler I love to listen to. I would suspect other instruments would be welcome besides fiddles.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

An interesting story about a Fiddle that is a family heirloom with a history.

Rod Durst is a Kansan who lives in N.E. Kansas. He recently shared the history and photographs of the family heirloom fiddle. It's a great story and with Rod's permission I am sharing this with you now.
 Here's an old German Guaneri fiddle that belonged to my great grandad,pictured on the left in the last photo. As you can see its had a rough life.Its story has passed through the family thusly.
My great grandad Edward Charles McKenzie played for dances in his younger days and he traded a watch for this fiddle. While he was dating my great grandma they were on the way to or from somewhere and he laid the fiddle on the wagon seat beside them as the drove a team and wagon.
I don't know if it was in a case or not,but it jiggled off the seat and the wagon wheel crushed it causing the damage you see pictured here.
When they arrived back at her house they put the remains in a closet and forgot about it. One winter my great great grandad was laid up with a broken leg so he got the old fiddle out and pieced it back together as best he could. If that's true he sure did a better job than I could have. Grandad came over to the house and great grandad asked him to play a tune on the fiddle. Grandad said "You know I don't have a fiddle any more?" Great great grandad then handed him his resurrected wreck and he played it the rest of his life. I never knew him but played with two of his sons,my grandad and great uncle who both played fiddle.
Cousin Joel Garrett is the caretaker now. He and his 3 sons will ensure that it keeps making music for years to come.

Rod Durst is a great banjo picker and as the post implies, he comes from a very musical family. If you have a story about a family heirloom instrument and would like to share it I would like to share it here. Thanks to Rod for permission to post his story and photos.
Since my return to the blog, blogger has not been all that friendly the way it used to be. I have no idea why part of this is highlighted in white. Or that the text font changed. I also have trouble getting paragraphs set properly. One person complained and I have tried to fix this.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Another OT event here in Kansas City Mo. "Betse and Clark Old Time Party" at "The Ship"

I'm sure I've said this before but maybe not. When I first saw Betse Ellis perform as a member of "The Wilders" a well known Country band here in Kansas City, it was love at first sight. I was absolutely stunned! by her fearless performance. She was totally out there and into it in her cotton country style dress and sweater. She is the quintessential fierce fiddler. I was totally charmed by her. I spent the whole time trying to figure out, "Is this how she really is with the dowdy dress and sweater and the whole schtick or was this totally an act?" One way or the other I decided it just did not matter. She was awesome. So were the Wilders who I really really miss.  Betse Ellis Married Clark Wyatt some years back and have formed a group called, Betse and Clarke. Betse is one of the areas foremost fiddlers and does her share of keeping the music alive and vital for which she deserves much credit. She was one of the Judges for the Missouri Fiddle Contest at the State Fair this year.
I can't find very much about Clarke Wyatt. They don't say much about his on their facebook page or their Webpage. He's a banjo player mostly it seems and has been a partner with Betse since 2014 traveling the nation and parts of Europe performing.  I wish I knew more.

Up coming events of note

I'm remodeling my kitchen (still) and have not had to the time to post. But! There are interesting events coming up worthy of note for folks here in the Missouri Ozarks and Kansas City.
The first one to mention is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fiddle Off in Sept 21st at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home museum near Mansfield Mo. There is a 9 am registration for those who wish to compete. I would hope and expect that Junior Marriot will be there to help things happen. If you live near there and have the time I would hope you'd check this out. The museum is wonderful. I'm a big fan of Laura Wilders books. I read every one as a child. They are timeless.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The "Old Country Fair" returns to Branson.
There is a Jam held at this newish event the you might be interested in. I would anticipate it will be a mix of Bluegrass and Old Time traditional tunes. Check out the posted link. Photo credit: Branson Tri Lakes News Online site. 

The passing of Bluegrass DJ Harry Moore Moore was a well known Bluegrass aficionado and host of a Bluegrass program on the Public Radio station in Springfield Mo. He recently passed away. I knew Harry on Facebook and he was a good man who loved music and people. I don't normally post anything Bluegrass but Harry knew lots of Old Time musicians or people connected to it. He did a wonderful thing keeping the Bluegrass torch alive in SW. Mo.
Please click the link above for more info.

Edit note. I'm mortified to see that I said "Smith" instead of Moore. My apologies for my senior moment. I have too many of those. Harry was a great guy. He will be missed.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains at Clifftop

Tricia remains my favorite living fiddler and I'm especially happy that she lives in nearby Lawrence Kansas. She just posted this video of her playing in the very recent Clifftop event. This is a simple tune but I like it as much as she does. It's her personal favorite at the time. Every time I hear her play it recharges my love for OT in the heartland. I have not listened or watched anything but heartland OT for years now. I hope you all enjoy this. I just had to share this as soon as I saw it.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Missouri State Fiddling Championships August 18th Sedalia Mo.

Finally this year I'm attending the Missouri State Fiddling Championships at the State Fair. I plan on meeting a number of folks I only know in the digital world. If you see me in my cowboy hat please introduce yourself to me. I hope I get to meet new faces. I'm really excited about going. I've retired this summer and now I can do things like this. It's part of my plan to do more original posting from jams and events. I wish I could do more of this than I have so far.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Jeremy Myers new release and video

This coming Saturday, Jeremy Myers will release his latest recording, "My Little One is Waiting for me". Jeremy is a fine songwriter and he's creatively working within the Old Time music to create new songs. This is what's needed along with the music conservation that has been done so well for so long now.

This kind of effort keeps the juices flowing in the music in the same way that John Hartford and Norman Blake did. I've known Jeremy for many years now. It's been wonderful to see his progression in music and life to come to this point where he can create music and share it with us.

Check out one of his songs in this YouTube video. It's called "Brandon Myers" I enjoyed it a lot. Nice Job Jeremy!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Missouri State
Fair Fiddling Championship 2019
1:30 PM Sunday,
August 18, 2019
Touchstone Energy Stage
Missouri State Fair
Sedalia, MO

NOTE: Open only to
Missouri residents.
Proof of residency
may be required!
$2,000 in total prizes!!
plus trophies or ribbons for all winners

This year's contest will feature three divisions:
Open – Any Age
Senior – 60 & Over
Junior – 16 & Under
plus a prize for the Best Accompanist

¨ Contestants must first go to the Hospitality Booth located on Hwy 65, identify themselves as a fiddling contestant, and pick up a green hang tag (Gate 11) for parking. The approximate address of the Hospitality Booth is 2088 South Limit St. (a.k.a. Hwy 65 South). It is across the street from Dollar General. Below is a picture of the booth.

¨ Contestant registration begins at 12:30 p.m.
¨ Fiddlers and accompanists reimbursed for gate admission at contest tent.
¨ Up to 3 accompanists permitted on stage.
¨ Open to Missouri residents only.
¨ Contest information and entry blank available at
¨ Please note that exhibitor paperwork must be completed fully before premiums will be paid.
Bill Shull | 660.429.2260

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".