Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Howard Marshall's "Fiddlers Dream", part two of his three part series on Missouri Fiddlers and fiddling.

I read this recently and want to draw your attention to this wonderful second installment of Marshall's chronical of Missouri Fiddleing. This came out in 2017 while this blog was still in hibernation. I was completely unaware of it until a few weeks ago. The first book in the series was "Play Me Something Quick and Devilish, Old Time Fiddlers In Missouri". The first book covers the period of early settlement in Missouri up to the 1920's. More recent fiddlers are refered to as well but very briefly. It's an excellent book and I heartily recommend it for those particularly interested in Missouri Fiddling and fiddlers. This more recent book is the continuation of that series and begins in the 20's and moves into the 70's. I could be off a bit on that last date as I'm away on business and the book is at home. I really can't do a complete review because of that but I really wanted to post about this book and hope I can help it aquire even more exposure.What is really exciting to me is his lengthly biographies of important fiddlers and discusses the cross fertilization as fiddlers moved around over the decades to make a living and to compete in fiddle contests across the central plains even into North Dakota. One example is Lonnie Robertson who I misunderstood as to his actual style back in the beginning of this blog. He provides an excellent biography of Lonnie and you see a broader picture of him and his cross fertilized manner of playing. There are others covered of course, particularly Cyril Stinnett one of my great favorites and Pete McMahon a tremendous influence on many fiddlers who are playing today. He also covers the African American Fiddlers that were very important in Missouri fiddling. He provides as much info as he could find about them. I am completely impressed and thankful for Mr. Marshall's works on Fiddling. He comes from a scholarly background and while he says he is avoiding being " scholarly" he actually does a good job of being both scholarly and as a popularly focused writer. This is not an easy thing to accomplish and his writing style is very readable and enjoyable. I consider this a must have book. I just don't think I can do full justice to this book by trying to review in depth so I am pointing you to his works to encourage readers to buy these wonderful sources of information on our mutual interest of Missouri Fiddling. I should mention that this blog is not strictly about Missouri fiddling but it's an important segment of it. You can purchase his books on Amazon and the link is here for them. and here Here is a nice article about Howard Marshall and his book "Play me Something Quick and Devilish" from the "Mizzou" magazine. Be sure to read that here

Tricia Spencer's kansas roots. Family in the heartland.

I've been pondering my next post when today, Tricia Spencer posted on Facebook to announce the new release of her Grandfather's recordings. These are to be found at the "Field Recorders Collective" website. Soon, you can visit the Bandcamp website to sample and also purchase the music. It's not there quite yet and I've not been able to listen yet. I'm really looking forward to that very soon. It's one of my goals to focus on Kansas more this coming year. I formerly did not know that much about Kansas Fiddlers but slowly information is coming. Click here for the link to the Field Recorders Collective website. tricia wrote a family and personal history as it relates to her Grandfather and fiddle music. She has written a nice article about this that is linked on the Field Recorders Collective website but I'll post the link
here as well. I've really enjoyed her music for many years now as have many of you and I was delighted to read this. She notes that the family has Kentucky roots back to the 1850's which is true for me as well. My own family moved from Kentucky in the 1880's to Arkansas, at least, that branch of the family. They are my southern branch. Tickles me to know this. It's really interesting that her family music roots go back generations and she's carrying it on today. I almost forgot but my interest in history wants to point out that Big Spring Ks is also situated on the Oregon Trail as it approaches Topeka from the east. The trail mostly follows 40 hwy until Big Springs and right there it turns north and downhill to cross where I 70 is now. You can see actual ruts on both sides of the hwy. On the south side look for the pasture with the wagon downhill from the horsebarn and ruts are there. Directly across I 70 there are several ruts running paralell to the hwy heading west. See the map provided to locate Big Springs and the green lines mark the approximate location of the old Oregon Trail. Seeing that the Spencers came there in the late 1850's they most definitely came by way of the trail. I wonder if Tricia knows this? I marked in green short lines the rut locations.
Big Spring was the location of a campground for the Immigrants traveling west which led to the village of Big Spring. The Spring is long gone by the way. So, if you know Tricia Spencer you know someone who's family arrived in Kansas via the Oregon Trial and this makes the first person I've ever known that has that distinction. How do I know they used the Trail? Because it was the equivalent of the interstate as the primary route of travel from the greater Kansas City area. Especially from Westport. Hwy 40 came from that trail.

Friday, February 8, 2019

John P Williams and Robert Mackey's recent tribute to Lonnie Robertson

This was very recently released. I got it and like it a lot. You should buy this! The cover says "Part One". John tells me this is the start. He also says that it's very soon to be available on most of the online digital music vendors like Spotify and Itunes.
John is on the left and Robert and his wife are on the right.

Another African American Stringband and friends and family. Location uncertain 1890-1921?

Taken by Alfred Lawrence out of Lawrence Kansas. On a glass plate. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Blue Rapids Kansas Fair, 1929

String band with a Sax! It would be great to hear them. From the Kansas Historical Society.

Friday, February 1, 2019

John Hartford,Cecil Goforth, White River, Hamilton Ironworks and me

I used to use the word "favorite" here a bit too much.I knocked that off this year.Still, John Hartford holds a very special place in my heart and this album he did remains my "favorite". No question about it really. It was at The Mountain Music Shoppe in about 2010-11 that I bought this CD and hit me like a ton of bricks, being a new afficiando of Old Time music. When I used to see Hartford on Hee Haw, I just did not get him. I knew nothing about him. I'm really sad about all those years I missed being uninterested. While my first fiddling CD was by Alan Jabbour, (no slouch there) it was Hartford that set fire to my new found passion for this music. I'm not going to say anything new but because I am missing him I thought I would post this little clip I stumbled onto. Actually, I'm nearly done with Howard Marshall's latest book "Fiddlers Dream" and at the chapter where he's covering Cecil Goforth. The tune "White River"popped up in the text and I looked it up on youtube and found this clip. I love me some "White River".

Thursday, January 31, 2019

John P Williams Fiddles and bows stolen on 1/31/2019 (Thursday)

UPDATE!! THEY HAVE BEEN FOUND. Please keep an eye out for these instruments stolen from John P Williams today. John lives in North Central/North East Missouri. Keep watch especially in St. Louis, Columbia and area pawn shops. John is on facebook and you can contact him there easily. Or contact me. And call the police!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Missouri State Library Gordon McCann Collection recording July 1996, Tape One, Lonnie Robertson.

I listened very closely to this recording session Gordon McCann did with Lonnie Robertson just before I did my post about him. I want to make people aware of this collection of recordings Gordon McCann did, especially for our purposes, with Lonnie Roberston. There is lots of dialogue here and it's very interesting. As I've said, I'm very drawn to his playing and I'm well into some kind of marathon session of listening everything he did.This will take a while. Since recieving Howard Marshall's latest book on Missouri Fiddling, "Fiddler's Dream" I've become even more facsinated with him. I will do a book review of that later next week.

Kansas Fiddlers Dan Pettit and Bill Yetter

You would think that given my interest in Kansas fiddlers that I would have discovered these fellows long ago. Thanks to Charlie Waldon's site Missouri Old Time Fiddlers Assoc. website, he sells an album of theirs that was field recorded in 1966. According to Charlie, the tape was part of an estate sale purchase in Nebraska. The album is for sale on the website for a modest amount. The style and material is certainly differant than Missouri and the Ozarks. The northern influence is strong in the materials recorded. The back up instrument was a banjo with both men switching back and forth on differant tunes. There is a real mix of tunes with Schottisches and waltzes with some OT fiddle tune standards. Thanks to Charlie Walden for taking the time to preserve this recording of two unknown men in North Central Kansas. I have to think there were more guys like them out there in Kansas but remained in obscurity. Tricia Spencer's Father who was from Big Spring Kansas (Eastern Ks) was one of them but his daughter carries on the family tradition very well. I am looking for more. As always. So, my aim here was to make you aware of these fellows and that Charlie Walden has their "album" for sale online here. Bill Yetter on the left, Dan Pettit on the right. Much thanks to Charlie Walden!!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Lonnie Robertson

I want to edit this post to add that Howard Marshall does an excellent job of relating the story of Lonnie Robertson in a much more coherant and precise way than you can find here. He does this in his book from 2017, "Fiddler's Dream". Recently, John P Williams and Robert Mackey released their "Tribute to Lonnie Robertson EP. John sent me some recordings Lonnie and Thelma Robertson did over in Pittsburg Ks.about a week or two before this. Well, it got me interested in Lonnie Robertson again and I realized it was hard to find on one place information about him. If you hunt around you can find bits and pieces but nothing comprehensive. At least, thats what I thought until I discovered that Howard Marshall did a second installment of his Missouri Fiddling series. In this new book, he starts where he left off and moves from the 20's to the 60's. In light of this excellent work wherein he supplies a detailed biography of Lonnie Robertson and his wife I must refer you there for much more complete information. I strongly recommend this book that was released in 2017. So, I have heavily edited my original effort here because of this book. Lonnie Robertson was one of the Missouri fiddlers I was attracted to right away when I began this blog journey. I really enjoy his playing and from what I read, he was a very influential fiddler in Missouri. He was said to know an incredible number of fiddle tunes and many of those he took to his grave with him. No telling what we lost there. Well, he was and still is very influential both then and now. Lonnie Robertson was born in SW Missouri in Ozark County along the border with Arkansas at Longrun. This is a tiny community that sits on the eastern side of Ozark County. It's a tiny village that's pretty well run down now. Lonnie came from a musical family with his Father and Brothers also playing fiddle. Lonnie left his families Ozark County home for St. Joseph, Mo to work in the meat packing plants there. It was there where he began being exposed to area fiddlers who had a differant style of playing. He also discovered standard tunings which opened up the fiddle for him immensely. Eventually he married his wife Thelma and they went on to become Radio performers across the country moving around a great deal. In doing so he picked up tunes and styles differant that Ozark fiddling and was greatly influences by Missouri Valley and Northern fiddlers such as Uncle Bob Walters. Lonnie and Thelma traveled all over the midwest from Iowa to South Dakota to West Virginia to Virginia and parts inbetween playing music for a living. Like all musicians they had to play what people wanted and at times played other things than fiddle music. They also built a resort in the early 50's near Theodosia near Bull Shoals Reservior called "Lonnie and Thelma's Court" They sold that after a few years and moved to Springfield Mo. I'm not clear yet on the timeline for some key events but for several years he and Thelma played to gether on KWTO (Keep Watching the Ozarks) Radio station there . At another time, Lonnie played for a Pittsburg Ks radio Station as The Lonnie and Roy program. His wife Thelma also sang with and they recorded at least one album out of that which John P Williams was kind enought to share with me recently. On one of the Gordon McCann recordings (01/20/1977 found on the Missouri State University archieves under the Gordon McCann Collection) his wife thelma related that Lonnie "got nervous" when people tried to rush him. He did not like really fast playing. However, he was more than capable of playing fast Ozark tunes when he needed to.Earlier in this recording session, Gordon McCann took note of the Banjo coming into the center of the music and that the tradition was that it was always the fiddle. Well, Lonnie remarked "I don't need no banjo!" "I don't like banjo!","The banjo's are trying to take over!" Steven McDonald described Lonnie as a quiet man. He did not go for all that hyped up fast playing that others did. He wanted the fiddle to take its rightful place as the center of the music with others providing timing. Because Lonnie traveled a great deal, he has many differant influences and contrary to what I once thought is not a strictly Ozark style fiddler. Lonnie did not become well known for his albums except for the "Lonnies Breakdown" album done later in life following coming into contact with Gordon McCann. However, Lonnie recorded a lot of his tunes on his own tape recorder in his kitchen and made his own albums via a vanity record company in Arkansas. Some of these are still available. You can obtain "Lonnies Breakdown" on Amazon and Itunes. Better yet, check out Missouri State fiddlers Band Camp website and buy his albums there. Don't forget John P Williams and Robert Mackey's EP release "A Tribute to Lonnie Robertson". You can find that here I want to credit Howard Marshall's book, "Fiddlers Dream" University of Missouri Press, 2017 for the updated information about Lonnie and Thelma. I also want to thank Charlie Walden for giving me the first Robertson album I ever had a few years back. I've been a big fan of Lonnie since and still am. Check out the Gordon McCann archieves on the Missouri State Library youtube channel.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Association Band Camp website

You can buy a number of Missouri Old Time Fiddler music albums
here. I recommend. Visit and buy some very good albums. I've started doing this myself. I've decided to build my collection of digital recordings and this is one of the primary places to turn to. Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Bandcamp site.

OK, I'm back again. Making changes on the blog. Improvements.

I think in a way, the hiatus I took here was beneficial. It cleared my head about what I was doing here and the better ways to improve it and make it more useful and helpful to folks who visit. One of the important changes is on the right hand side where I feature important fiddlers in the heartland. If you click on the image you will find more information about these musicians. I hope to expand on this even more. I intend to improve the depth of information here. I will be doing more biographical posts to fill in the blanks about a lot of heartland musicians that is not easy to find other than a couple paragraphs. Now that I'm mostly retired I will spend more time on this. I promise to not post stuff just to post stuff. I will probably not post as often as in the past but I hope I can offer better info. One of my important projects is a fuller biography on Lonnie Robertson including his wife who he performed with for many years. That's coming soon. I have a book review to redo for the better. I also have a Arkansas Old Time band to feature with more in depth info on them. All of this is coming very soon. I wish to thank all those people out there that have done a lot of heavy lifting on information and preservation of the music and people of Heartland Old Time music. I think my blog's original title was Heartland Old Time music. I should have kept that name.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

I stumbled onto this from Charlie Walden's Youtube site. Bob Walsh. I am not familiar with him at at all but I will have to change that. Let me give a boost to Charlie Walden's website where he will sell these old albums for a very reasonable price. Band Camp Click on the Band Camp link above. Tons of good stuff.

Slow restart

I had some job changes since I restarted the blog entries. This is why I have not posted in a bit. I am taking a bit differant approach this time. I am retiring this year and my goal is to attend more jams and events and post about them. I'm aiming for more depth too. The first years were gathering info for myself about this music I love. The blog was an attempt to share my discoveries with others who might not know about who what when and where. I sold my good Martin a couple years ago because I'd basically given up on playing. I kept another guitar and now that I no longer have an insanely stressful career I'm going to take it up again. Stress was my enemy and I was generally too keyed up to slow down and learn right. I was in a hurry and that did not work. I have known for a long time that I have attention deficit disorder. The only good part of that is I can hyper focus on things I am really interested in. I have noticed I repeat myself too much. Bear with me on that please. So, here really soon, I have a band out of Mountain View I'm going to highlight. I hope to do more of this moving forward. Finally, I'm hoping to offer original content. Happy New Year to you all and look for more posting. Mr. Joshua Keithly Photo taken from Vance Randolph's Ozark Folksongs, Vol III. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Charlie Walden wins first place at the Illinois State Fiddle Championships.

Congratulations to Charlie Walden for winning first place at the Illinois State Fiddle Championships this year!