Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Euphoria String Band in Topeka 1-16-2010

Saturday night, the sixteenth, from 7:30 to 10:30 pm, the Euphoria String Band will be playing in Topeka at the Classic Bean.

Kathy and Dave Para at the Prairie Dulcimer Club

Dave and Kathy, Or is it Kathy and Dave Para are playing/appearing/sittiing in on the Prairie Dulcimer Club in Independence Mo. at the First Presbyterian Church at 100 North Pleasant st. on January 16, 2010 9 am to 3 pm.
I don't know certain details yet and will report back. I assume visitors are welcome. I will also report on this group later.

I will also report back with a heads up post on the Para's (or is it Kathy Barton and Dave Para? Just kidding) Big Muddy Festival in April which will be here sooner than you think! About three and a half months is all!

UPDATE!!! Really, there is NO update because the person your supposed to be able to get info from via email at this club never replied to my email with questions about the upcoming event. This is all too typical. I won't bother mentioning them again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Comments will only be accepted in English please

Comments cannot be accepted unless in english. If I can't understand it I can't approve it. Sorry

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chase the Banshee Prairie Acre in Weston this fall

Great playing all round but the clawhammer banjo stands out. I really liked what they did with it. Good job as usual.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!





Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Americana Caroling news coverage.

Here is news coverage for the Americana Music Academy's downtown Lawrence Ks caroling expedition earlier this week.

Christmas preparations and rituals

Tonight I make my traditional Christmas Sacher Torte's. One for Gail and I and one for the family gathering at Christmas eve. I have been making them for many years now as a special treat for Christmas. I am getting better at doing it every time and now they almost look professional. But not quite. I don't really care about getting them any better but it would be nice. They have always tasted great though! Some years the family seems to appreciate it and others they seem indifferant. The last two years I threatened to just keep both of them at home for Gail and I but she insist's I take one to the gathering. So I will again.

We failed to get any Lefse this year. Werners was out both trips.

This is a hard Christmas for Gail and I. I have been unemployed for over a year now. Being this broke at Christmas is not easy.

As usual, I am sad because my children and grandchildren are far from me and I don't get to see them at this time of year.

I still remember the core reason for Christmas. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth. After all these years and everything I have been through, I can still say that I am a follower of this Jesus of Nazareth. I still think that love and forgivness is the way to live. I still think his way is the best way. As the living revelation of our Heavenly Father, I rest in the thought of dwelling within his mercy and grace.
I hope that those who know me will forgive me as I endevour to forgive them.
After all those years of Seminary and theological study I have concluded that it's really just very simple. Karl Barth said it well when in answer to what he beleived he answered, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" You of course recognize the simple childs song and prayer many of us repeated so very long ago.

Of course, this is Barth and not Falwell. If you know Barth, you will understand.

So, simply put, my theology is this.
Jesus was the living Word of God and the living revelation of God to us. His instructions to us are simple and profound. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. We pray that we are not lead into temptation and that God will deliver us from evil. We pray for God's will to be done knowing if often is not. I rest in his Grace knowing I am far from worthy. Anything more complicated than this is folly in my opinion. I keep it simple. It works for me.

So, I am lifted up by remembering all this on Christmas.

Gail just told me to make sure you know she made 5 loaves of banana bread too!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My personal Old Timey Guitar

Here is my beloved Martin D-18VS. I chose it for it's beauty and it's tone. I wanted a drednaught size so it could be heard and a slothead because it had mojo and twelve frets for the tone it could give.
Norman Blake, my favorite guitarist of them all was a big influence here. He was well known for playing them and still does.
Like Norman Blake, I like to play something a little differant than the herd. He even went to playing Gibsons for a while, just to get away from Martins because everyone wanted to play Martins. Oh, and SOME old Gibsons actually were great guitars. My first guitar was a Gibson, but thats another story.

Old Timey guitars

The guitar is kind of a red headed stepchild in Old Time music. When you think of real old timey stuff the guitar does not come to mind as it made it's entrance into the Appalacians very late in the late nineteenth century. We think of the fiddle and the banjer and dulcimers and bones.
That sneaky guitar worked it's way into the music later. First as a suppliment. It worked well as a back up for the fiddle and banjer. It brought texture and depth that was pleasing. It softened the tone a bit from the shrillness of the fiddle and the harshness of the banjer.
Old Timey guitars in the early days did not look like the Bluegrass instruments that are so familiar to us now. They were small body guitars. Like the 1946 00-18 Martin that Gordon McCann uses. Parlor guitars were commonly used as well. These were particularly small instruments that gained in popularity after the civil war as Sears and Wards catalogues spread through the growing nation.
I am no expert on all of this. My personal knowledge is pedestrian. I am just shareing what I know. We have some serious experts living in our region. I just do not happen to be one. So, this is basic stuff I am sharing here. Here are some guitars that qualify as "Old Timey"
Notice that many of these guitars were slotheads! Yes! slotheads. And just about all of them were 12 fretters. No playing up the neck here!
14 fret guitars are grossly overrated and the tone they lose for those two frets is not worth it.
In my very humble opinion. The twelve fret slothead guitar is the epitome of an Old Timey guitar and fits right into any Old Time Music playing anywhere, anytime.
My Son, Jim has a picture of his Grandfather with his 12 fret slothead nameless guitar as a young man in the thirties in western tennesee. Share cropper dirt poor "kid" with a mail order guitar. He did not keep playing however. We don't know what happened to the guitar. WW2 interupted everything. He was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. Priorities change.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Joy to the World

Wexford Carol

Yet another favorite Christmas Carol. I might be veering off the "Old Time Music" track here this week.

Americana Music Academy Caroling tuesday

Americana Music Academy at Lawrence Ks is having their annual Christmas Carol outing tuesday at 5pm begining at Borders Books. Sounds like a blast! If you live nearby, consider going. Info courtesy of Steve Mason via Facebook.

Here is a news story and coverage!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band

It's about time I wrote about the Alferd Packer Memorial String band out of Lawrence Ks. This band has been around for a long time and muscians have come and gone. I have yet to see them myself. I just don't get to Lawrence enough. I will have to change that this spring and summer.
Here are some video's of them. Check it out.

Serendiptity comes to mind...

This is real Kansas Old Timey music! We are not the Appalacians after all!

The big guy who has a very similar appearance to Santa, is Steve Mason, a Luthier who has his own shop in Lawrence. He plays fiddle, bass and Mandolin and vocals.

Lauralyn Bodle plays fiddle, bass and vocals. Jim Brothers plays the washboard, jews harp, whistles horns and guns. Matt Kirby plays the Hammered Dulcimer, Accordian, Snare Drum and Bodhran and vocals. Mike Yoder plays Mandolin, Guitar and Bass and vocals. Steve Geoke plays Banjo and Bass.

As you can see, they are about having fun. No one will ever accuse them of being purists!

You can find their link to the left in the list of Old Time links. Be sure to check out the site and learn more about them. I think we are fortunate to have such a fun group in our area. Life is too short for grimly serious music.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hard times and Christmas

Times are hard now. There are millions who are not having a Merry Christmas this year. Some of the so called experts are telling us the recession is over but 25 million workers out of a job say something differant.
I have been out of work for a year now. Two interviews. The results are pending on the last one. Other than that, I have no prospects.
This is true for thousands in our region.
Still, I have found that in the darkest moments when there seems to be little to cheer, a song can lift the heart and bring warmth if only for a few moments.
In times of war, there are many stories of armies facing each other across stark fields of blood and gore, huddled in trenchs and foxholes, where spontaeneous singing of Christmas songs began and lasted for hours.
In crude dugouts and cabins and sod houses, across the vast prairies of Kansas families gathered around dim lamps and sang songs of Christmas joy and praise. Small children were thrilled to recieve homemade gifts of corn cob dolls and such having known no other kind of life beyond what they had.
Fiddles and banjos and Piano's and Organs would send up music to brighten the holidays and enterain gathering neighbors and friends. None of this cost money.
I hope this Christmas finds you gathering at the homes of family and friends and that singing and music is a part of that time. I hope the guitars and the fiddles and the auto harps and the pianos and the mandolins and the banjos come out of the cases and make that music we love.
I pray to God for a Happy Christmas this year and for a safe and prosperous New Year. I hope you too find renewed faith in singing Silent Night and the other glorious songs of Christmas.
My prayer for my Country is that we take this experience and realize that the relentless pursuit of material wealth and goods did not bring us happiness or fulfillment.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fiddler Ashley Hull

Ashley Hull was a student of old Bob Holt who lived in Douglas County, near Ava in Missouri. In turn, she taught Jeremy Myers who I featured earlier. Check out her fiddle work for your listening pleasure.

John Browns Dream.

Lonnies Breakdown

I have tried to get more information on Ashley Hull but her website is not working. She has a YouTube page you should see and Jeremy Myers has a posting on her too. She is a fine fiddler in my humble opinion. Bob Holt taught her well. As I said, the fire is still burning down in the Ozarks when it comes to fiddlers.

Mason's Apron and me

Tomorrow I enter the line of succession at my Masonic Lodge and become an officer. I am a forth generation Mason, if not more. My Father and Grandfather and Great Grandfather were all Masons and three years ago I too took my vows and became a Mason. In honor of this wonderful thing called Masonry and because of my entrance into the formal leadership of my Lodge, I offer these videos of Masonic music of the Old Time variety. I hope you enjoy the show.
Take a look at the Masonic Lodge. Perhaps you too might find Masonry a meaningful activity and will consider joining us in our journey and work in making good men better.
Dan Brown's most recent novel, "The Lost Symbol" is good reading I am told and it portrays Masonry in a good light. Mr. Brown was also the author of "The DaVinci Code". This book has increased the interest in Masonry and our membership is surging now.
If you would like to be a Mason, ask one about it. He will be glad to help.

The first selection is a bit differant for here but still within the parameters of real old time music. Check it!
Ian Werner playing.

Some young fiddle students of unknown ID
I like how they play this!

Davy Arthur playing on banjo

This one is pretty poor visually but they play damn good.

As played by the Evergreen Band.

Alas, none of the above is local but the song is the game here tonight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Dreamer in the Ozarks

Sigh!! Sometimes when I see someone doing something neat, it only ends up depressing me because I did not have the sense to do what they are actually doing, that I had dreamed about so long ago. My "practical" side has often steered me away from doing what my heart would love to do. After all, I had to be "realistic" didn't I?

After years of struggle and work I look back during this deep recession and feel betrayed by my "realistic" judgement calls in search for a better life. A better life was out there beckoning the whole time. A simpler, noble independent life. It was there before me and I left for the big city and a much less simple life.

A couple years ago I stumbled across a young man living in the Ozarks attempting to build a life in the country with the goal of self reliance in as much as he could. He would take up the old ways. He would garden, raise chickens, try to produce something for sale, make his way his way. Raise a family. Build a life.

Somewhere along the way he picked up a fiddle and learned to play from a former student of Bob Holt. He actually lives not all that far from Holt country. He has taken up the mantle of Ozarkian fiddle playing in the manner of Bob Holt and others and his playing continues to improve.

I am talking about Jeremy Myers

This is a tune from his second CD. This latest CD is called Johnny in the Briar Patch

With the real old timey fiddlers all passing from this world and nearly all gone now, Jeremy is what the future looks like for the next crop of future old timey fiddlers who one day will also be lamented for their passing too!

He is right on track to carry that torch and do right well at it too! Fiddling is alive and well in the Ozarks by God!

Jeremy has two websites you should see. The first one was his first attempt at a website in the form of a blog. He no longer posts there but lots of songs and videos remain and you need to see them.

His more recent site is to be found here. After viewing the first one go on to this one

His new CD was recently reviewed by The Old Time Herald.

Jeremy can be found at the McClurg Mo jam which Bob Holt used to attend when he was still living.

If you read his first blog, Jeremy talks at length about his dream. It appears he is on the way to living it. But, we Ozarkers know that this is all hard work and sweat salted with frustration and failure mixed in the joy of success. Too often the gravy is thin and the scratchin is poor. It's not easy making a living in the Ozark hills. I think he has a chance to pull it off. He has some good ideas and he has the gumption.

Anyway, check out his many videos. I personally enjoy his fiddle work. He is progressing very well and I predict that someday we will be talking about him when we want to talk about living Ozark fiddlers you need to hear.

Not to forget, Brandy is the name of his lovely wife who quite recently gave birth to a child. I am betting these two fine young folks are going to do just fine in God's country down there in southwest Missouri

The B-Town Stringband

I recently ran across The B-Town Stringband. They are a Kansas City based trio who play a combination of Ozarkian Old Time, traditional and modern Irish and Americana.

Like so many other folks, they found each other at Winfield Kansas' Walnut Valley Festival and realized they shared similar tastes and interests in music. They have been together for a few years now and have played around town some.
They have no dates set for the coming year as yet but think they will be at the Stringband Rendezvous again this May.

The group consists of Shawn Mulkey on guitar, mandolin and vocals. Becky Stevens on fiddle, guitar and vocals.Tom Howell on bass, harmonica and percussion.

I will post some more about these folks later on when I get more video and dates as they become available later.

There a several area bands that mix up their repertoir with Old Time and Irish. Seems natural given the strong links these genres have with each other. Kansas City has a strong Irish community that loves Irish music and they fill that niche as well as the Old Time.

The singer in the video above seems a natural for Irish songs!

I look forward to seeing them live sometime. When dates are set I will post.
Swing by their website for more videos and MP-3's.

you can click directly off the links list as well.

PS I took a another look at the Bass players pictures and think they cannot be the same person so I can't tell you which guy is Tom Howell. This will be corrected later when new things come my way soon

Monday, December 7, 2009

Speaking of Winfield

Typical Winfield Jam. Players unknown. If you know these guys tell me their names and I will post.

And now for something a little differant...

Bruce Molsky and Fred Morrison playing The Kansas City Hornpipe

Why does our music struggle in KC?

Another question for you. I really would like some comments.

Why does it seem that in Kansas City, there is a real lack of venues for Old Time music and Bluegrass? There are tons of players here. Lots of fans.
They tried a Bluegrass Festival in Gardner Ks a few years ago. It did not make it.
Why can't KC have a BG festival? Why does KC have very very few venues or events for Old Time music?
I know a couple Bars have some serious BG bands on occasion. But, thats about it.

Winfield's Walnut Valley Festival is a regional jewel of course. Hordes of us go there every year. It's like a religion. Maybe because of that, interest is reduced for something more local. Winfield is hard to beat.

Part of the problem is a gross lack of information getting out to the public. why do so many Old Time and Bluegrass bands lack attendance? At least part of the problem is a gross lack of publicity and available information to the public.

I would like to help. Someone needs to. If I have a hard time plowing for event dates and places, imagine the average persons problem?

I keep saying this. SEND ME YOUR DATES AND EVENT INFO. Help me increase my local readership to improve the situation.

Flatpicking and Old Time music

Here is another question for you. Please comment on this.

Does guitar flatpicking have a place at the table of Old Time Music?

Does flatpicking have the same validity as the fiddle and banjer in Old Time?

Is the guitar best reserved for rhythm only?

Tradition and music

Just a couple comments to think about.

Has anyone else noticed what is happening to Bluegrass? It appears to me that there is a widespread movement towards more commercially acceptable watered down "Bluegrass". I am talking about moving beyond the usual "Newgrass" explorations. I am talking about elements of Pop, New Country and Improvisational Jazz far beyond what has been tried before.

It was "Oh Brother" that spawned the revival in 2000. Interest in Bluegrass perked up considerably and Nashville folks discovered they could make a few bucks in the business. (not a lot, a few). So business grew up and around this revival.

This actually was a very good thing. I love Bluegrass and the opportunity to see and hear Bluegrass increased.

Some world class musicians rose to increasing predominance and some very good bands did well.

Along the way things started changing. Songs gravitated towards Pop and modern country styles. Homogenization began in a widespread wave towards softer styles and more urban themes. They were understandably chasing success. They had bills to pay.

Now, just try to find a Traditional Bluegrass band on the top in BG. Instead, you have lots of formerly traditional players and bands who traded Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe for the Dixie Chicks and Modern Country.

People who like this tell me it's just a reflection of the times and place we live in and no one lives in that "Little Cabin in the Pines" anymore. They have a point. To a point. Does this mean we are doomed to only enjoy music from the immediate context of our time and place?

Obviously not.

the economic crash has apparently pushed this trend even harder as the bands who used to be so busy are not so much anymore. Festivals are going under. Dates are being cancelled. They need a wider base to survive.

Good music endures. It is not dependent on MTV or Bluegrass Unlimited or Festival owners. It just has to be good. When you hear it no one has to tell you it's good. Experts need not apply.

All of this is why I increasingly gravitate towards Old Time Music. I seldom listen to modern Bluegrass anymore. I still listen to the Old BG folks and some regional bands still carrying the torch.

When I went to Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival a couple years ago I was amazed to see that the best band was a "jam band" formed just for that performance out of the attendees. They were hot!

It's the amateurs who will keep Bluegrass alive. It's the amateurs who will keep Old Time alive. It's home made music folks. People like us sitting in circles playing your hearts out for nothing more than a smile.
I am not condemning commercial expression. Far from it. Thank God for Hartford and Blake and others who made careers out of playing our kind of music along with other styles. They helped bring the flame to lots of others who would never have heard it.

I just hate to see Bluegrass go the way "Country Music" did. Nashville has pretty much killed "Country Music". They turned their backs on the past and now it's Rock-Pop played with phony southern accents.

So call me Traditional. I suppose it's natural as I get older to be this way.
Part of the problem is the genre itself. Bill Monroe set it up to be an amalgem of Old Time fiddle tunes, Swing jazz, Blues, and even Latin Rythum. Perhaps it was just inevitable that it would morph itself out of existence?

What do you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Devils Dream/Mason's Apron

Played here by Robin Kessinger and Todd Halawell at Front Porch Radio at Winfield's Walnut Valley Festival. I like this because I am a Mason beside's it being a nice little tune. And no, there is no devil worship in the Masonic Lodge!

I got to see Robin Kessinger play in Winfield a few years ago and he definitely is one of the best flatpickers out there.

Three Bean Salad Lawrence Ks band

Check out this fine band from Lawrence. The video is not too good but you can still hear...

Mandolins in the attic

When my Grandfather died in "81" we went through his house to pack things up and disperse the artifacts of his life. The other branch of the family seemed more interested in the money side and my Sister and I pretty much had the family momentos to ourselves.

My Grandfather and I had become closer as I left home and helped me out during difficult times. He remains to this day, my hero and template for being a man and how to act and be.

He was of the generation I most admire. Those folks born around the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century were in my mind the real "greatest generation".

He raised a family in the depths of the depression and went on to some success later. His tales of hard times were real and deeply felt.

It was a surprise to find two old Mandolins in shabby old cases in the pile we found in the attic. I had no idea anyone had played the Mandolin in my family! Because he was no longer around to answer the questions we had which only increased as we found more unknown things and pictures, it would remain a mystery for 25 more years.

It was Jim Curley, who explained to me that there had been a Mandolin "craze" around the turn of the century. These were probably "cheap" japanese Mandolins from that period.

Upon further examination by myself later, I found they were in fact "cheap" Japanese Mandolins. One is a "tater bug" style and the other is a flat type more commonly seen today.
The attic was not kind to them. The necks are all loose from the body and need resetting. Other parts are loose or missing but in general mostly there.
One of these days, I might have it restored but only to playing status. It could be some serious fun to pluck on the instrument my Great Grandfather or Great Grandmother played back in "00"!

So, unknown to me and I suspect to others reading these lines, Home Made Music is in the family past. It is part of the story of hard working people scratching out their lives in the American Midwest looking for a better life.

Dusty Miller by John Hartford who learned it from Gene Goforth who learned it from his Daddy who learned it...

I have been holding back on this but from now on your going to see John Hartford Videos from time to time.

Buddy! I am here to tell you flat out I love John Hartford.

I will try to get back to the "Traditional Fidddle Music of the Ozarks" later today or tomorrow.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stille Nacht

Forebear my dear friends for this indulgence. This is my favorite Christmas song and I love it in German/Deutsch. Christmas Greetings to my Brothers and Sisters in Deutschland where a part of my ancestors originated.

"Breaking up Christmas" part four

They only ID themselves on YouTube as Kari and Larry. Another version of...

"Breaking up Christmas" part three

Benton Flippin with the Smokey Valley Boys playing,,,yeah, you guessed it.

"Breaking up Christmas" part two

The Horse Flies playing, Breaking up Christmas

Christmas music one

Tom Collins on the fretless banjer

My apologies for the earlier misidentification! Did you know?

Did you know about It's where you find places to jam with other local musicians.
Did you know it was started and is run by a local musician right here in Johnson County Ks which is on the Kansas side of the Kansas City Metro area?
If you have not been yet, go by and check this online wonder out. They did a great job of setting this up.

Hard times and home made music

There is no disputing these are the hardest times I can remember. I had one other time in 1981 in Dubuque Iowa that was this bad. We used to go get the USDA cheese and butter at the Convention center after standing in long lines of unemployed down on their luck people. I thought then I was back in 1929. Imagine standing in line for over an hour to maybe two for what is now worth about $20?

Economic reality is hard. The answer? Home Made music. It's nearly free. If you don't count what you paid for all those lessons and the instrument and the tapes and the tab books and the instruction videos and....

Free jams is where the fun is and that is only going to cost you a little gas money. If you live in KC, driving to Lawrence can be a big deal if your short on gas money. It's why I am still thinking seriously about starting a jam in Shawnee in a month or so. If your a local here, check out The Kansas City and Lawrence areas are hotbeds of jam sessions. Bluegrass jams are big on the Missouri side of the line here in KC. There is only one Old Time/Celtic/Contra jam in Johnson county so far.

Much kudos and thanks to for what they do!!!!!!

Maybe we will see more of the old ways of folks getting together and pulling out the instruments and playing and singing for our own entertainment?

We lost The Mountain Music Shoppe last year about this time. Right after I lost my really good job. It was all downhill from there. It gets depressing and stressful. Yet, I find myself thankful for what I still have and the friends I have made and the wife who stands by me.

I am thankful for my really great Martin D-18VS guitar which brings me great satisfaction and enjoyment when I pick it up and play. Thank God I got it bought when I did. I have had it for three years now and it's never going to leave these hands until they pour me into that remains jar.

The future is uncertain for many of us now. More changes are coming to our way of life. Things will never be the same. So, my friends. Get out your Mandolins and fiddles and banjers and guitars and bones and dulcimers and autoharps and pianos and harmonicas and mandicellos and bouzouki's and cello's and basses and whatever else you have and make some music.

Sometimes the way forward is what we did so long ago.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I didn't get enough of Prairie Acre

Fiddle jam in Lawrence

This was filmed at Steve Mason's Fiddle shop in Lawrence Ks during the regular weekly jam. I gotta go!

Should I wear a tag telling folks who I am???

Jim Krause, Lawrence Ks musician you should know

Check out a nice little video of Jim Krause, a Lawrence Ks musician who has played with Euphoria Stringband. Good little intro to him.
He was playing at the "Tuesday Concert" in Lawrence. Check out the website,

More Prairie Fire!

While I have not seen every local Old Time Band yet...and I will. These folks are pretty much my favorite local band. Enjoy the clip. I did!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Merry Christmas time!

I wished my first persons, Merry Christmas today and I wanted to do so to you too!

I will say this some more later on but you need a shot of this now!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Many faces of Betse Ellis

I can tell you one thing for certain and no one will dispute this.
Betse Ellis has it clinched down solid that as a Fiddler, she will be known as "Fierce". No one else will bear that title. Not in the same way.

Community Barn Dance

The Lawrence Barn Dance Assoc. Community dance is coming up on December 19th at the Woodlawn School in North Lawrence. 508 Elm.
Three Bean Salad is playing and the caller is Jim Allen. I am going to try to make this one. Maybe I will see you there! Starts at 7:30 pm.

Uptown Hoe Down this Saturday night

The next Uptown Hoedown dance will be this coming Saturday 12-05-09 at 7:30 pm at the Camelot Ballroom,1117 Mass. St. Lawrence Ks. Cost is $7 general and $3 students.
Fox on the Run will be playing and Missouri caller Jim Thaxter.
Contra and Square dancing.
I have not been to one of these yet and cannot go this time but I think I will next time.

My mission statement again

I thought it would be good to mention my "mission statement" again. I am trying to be a Kansas City Regional source of information for Old Time Music. Of course, if there is something in general about OT, I am going to talk about that as much as what's happening locally.

I want you local folks to know I am still working on the "whats happening" part of this and I expect the formats to change around until I get it right..or not..

I am pleasantly surprised and pleased to see that I have visitors from all around the world. I want to say hello to all of you overseas who stop by to check this out. I hope the stop was worthwhile for you.

I am having a decent number of visits for such an early stage of things. I am working hard to improve my writing and the content and hope you all bear with me while I improve things here.

So Howdy! to ya'll from whichever corner of the world you hail from!

A double Howdy! to you local folks who I want to serve with OT information. Please email me to make suggestions or tell me about something you think deserves to be written about. So far no takers on that offer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Must see website for Old Time Music and Dance

I just ran into this website that I had not seen before but which I was impressed with. Go by and check it out! I will be visiting often myself. Nice Site. Lots of good stuff there.

I will try to get this hyperlink problem fixed soon, dang it!

New Betse Ellis CD/Album

Here is another example of how fragmented we are in KC, in our Old Time "community". In May, Betse Ellis released her first solo project entitled "Don't You Want to Go? I only just found out and it's December!
I was initially excited because I love her fiddling. I have heard her play with "The Wilders" for several years now and every time I hear her let it rip with her fiddle I am just thrilled.
At the CD Baby site where the album is presented for sale, as referred by her website, the album is described as...
"New and old roots music, for traditional music lovers and for indie rock lovers too, from the fiddler of The Wilders."
This seems to be fairly accurate. There are a few true Old Time Fiddle tunes here in a mix similar to the Wilders which mixes it up between Hank Sr type songs and genuine Old Timey fiddle tunes along with a recent incorporation of Split Lip Rayfield type stuff.
Two of these tunes are well known Missouri fiddler standbys. White River and Bear Creek Sally Goodin.
I have to say I was disappointed in White River. After listening to Gene Goforth, John Hartford and Howe Teague play them earlier today, I found her version similar in structure and style but lacking in expression and spirit in some way. She played it flawlessly and all but it lacked the zest you hear in the other folks I just mentioned. This was surprising to me because I know she can rip it up and can play like the very devil is on her shoulder. The devil must have taken leave of her when they recorded this one.
I liked Bear Creek Sally Goodin a bit better and I liked her version of it and the unique thing she did with it but still well within authentic Old Time Fiddling. What I did not enjoy was the back up playing which intruded and at times overshadowed her playing and made itself too present and out in front instead of just supporting her.
I most enjoyed "Walk along John" and think it's the best done tune here, on the traditional side of the song list. Nice back up playing with tasteful bones in the background. Well done on that one.
John Henry was done a bit differantly and overall nicely done.
Hansons Farewell was another nicely done tune.
"Run" is the last tune I am going to mention and it's a good example of Betse tearing it up on the fiddle.

The rest of the album go from hard core Blues to a Classical piece to Country and Americana all of which is OK and maybe even nice but outside my Old Time focus here.

So overall, maybe not a bad effort for the first time out of the chute but I thought it could have been better in some ways well within her abilities. I think whoever produced this let her down. I can't knock someone for loving Ozark fiddle tunes like she does and going out and recording them but I have to be honest and admit I expected more from Betse. I guess that might be the problem. I expect a lot from her after listening to her live all these years.

Traditional Fiddle Music Of the Ozarks CD's Disk One

In 1999-2000 Rounder put out a three CD series called “Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks”. Each of the three CD's feature a specific area of the Ozarks for it's distinctive styles and tunes. I noticed that these areas are also clearly defined geographical regions well known to Missouri folks. From my years of living in Missouri, I can tell you that each of these regions are quite different from each other and in the past each area tended to be insulated from the others that regional styles and tunes emerged over time.

CD One is titled“Along the Eastern Crescent”. This is the area of Eastern Missouri that is hillier than the regions to the west and extends into north Arkansas and part of Oklahoma. This is where the Goforth's, Lonnie Robertson hailed from originally. Classifications are not hard and fast as both Gene Goforth and Robertson were influenced by Missouri Valley styles. Goforth was influenced by the infamous Roy Wooliver who was said to be a Missouri Valley style player and Robertson was influenced by Bob Walters who is said to have been the most eminent Missouri Valley style player of all time.

The other noted Fiddler in this section was Bob Holt of Douglas County near Ava. He is the best example of an Ozark fiddler of the bunch as his style is emblematic of the fast driving dance hall playing that sets it apart from other styles. Bob loved to play for dances and considered that as important as his playing. Fiddling was dance music to Bob Holt.
Bob Holt is definitely one fine player! He certainly is one of my favorite fiddlers. There is a smoothness and energy that his playing has that I find compelling.
This is not to slight the other fiddlers on this set. Cecil Goforth is a very fine player and in my mind stands up well next to his brother Gene.
Stan Jackson, a resident of Washington state who emigrated there from Missouri is another particularly fine player you should pay attention to. He only has three short tunes in this but they are nicely played
Violet Hensley is a Northern Arkansas fiddler who makes here own fiddles and has been featured on CBS twice for her talents as a builder and player. Like all the other folks on this set Violet is the real deal. These are the kind of folks I remember meeting in the Ozarks back in the early 70's and it seems to be harder to find them now.
Howe teague is one of my favorites from all these CD's. He plays White River smoothly with the feeling that gets my head a bob'n and my feet a tappin! You might have noticed he is on my blog list of favorite players.
The complete list of fiddlers appearing in this CD is as follows, Gene and Cecil Goforth, Howe Teague, Violet Hensley, Bob Holt, Jesse Wallace, Audrey Handle, Stan Jackson, Sam Younger.

The song list is as follows.
1. Big Tater's in the Sandy Land
(Stan Jackson)
2. Darkies Dream
(Gene Goforth)
3. Boatin Down the River
(Gene Goforth)
4. Uncle Henry
(Violet Hensley
5. Rose Nell
(Violet Hensley)
6. Wabash Foxtrot
(Howe Teague)
7. White River
(Howe Teague)
8. Plantation Medley
(Bob Holt)
9. Sourwood Mountain
(Bob Holt)
10.On the Rock
(Jesse Wallace)
11.Old Leather Bonnet with a Hole in the Crown
(Jesse Wallace)
(Cecil Goforth)
13.New Five Cents
(Cecil Goforth)
14.Oklahoma Run
(Stan Jackson)
15.Bear Creek Sally Goodin
(Bob Holt)
16.Mason's March
(Sam Younger)
17.Nine Mile
(Howe Teague)
18.Nine Mile
(Gene Goforth)
19.Ragged Bill
(Gene Goforth)
20.Sam Taylors Tune
(Stan Jackson)
(Stan Jackson)
22.Drowning Creek Blues
(Audrey Handle)
23.Old Joe Redbird
(Jesse Wallace)
(Jesse Wallace)
25.Sam Moore Waltz
(Violet Hensley)
26.Wang Wang Blues
(Violet Hensley)
27.Jenny Nettles
(Cecil Goforth)
28.Hamilton Ironworks
(Cecil Goforth)
(Howe Teague)
30.Cluckin Hen
(Howe Teague)
31.Blue Mule
(Bob Holt)
32.Wolves a Howling
(Bob Holt)
33.Bay Rooster
(Jesse Wallace)
34.Arkansas Hop
(Howe Teague)
35.Mate to the Hog Waltz
(Violet Hensley)
(Violet Hensley)
37.Saddle Old Spike
(Jesse Wallace)
38.Rocky Road to Denver
(Gene Goforth)
39.Pretty Little Girl with the Blue Dress On
(Stan Jackson)
40.Sourwood Mountain
(Cecil Goforth)
I don't mean to slight the players that I did not highlight here by any means. The strength of this series is the inclusion of a wide range of fiddlers with varying skills and styles that brings an authenticity that makes this series so special. This is real homemade music made by real people. It's getting harder to find real anything any more and folks, this is real stuff! I am tired of the over produced stuff put out by Nashville and others that just eliminates the soul and spirit in the music.

If you have not purchased these CD's yet, by all means do so. Get the actual CD's because you will want the little booklets that come with each disk for the extremely valuable and interesting information they provide.
If you love Ozark music, especially fiddle music this is what you need. As a companion CD, I encourage you to get John Hartford's Hamilton Ironworks CD on which he plays several of these tunes that he learned from Gene and Cecil and Lonnie Goforth as well as from other Missouri Fiddlers.
Mark Wilson and Gordon McCann are the producers of these CD's. They have left something behind them to be proud of and we are all richer for it.

Sadly, I can't find any videos directly related to these players to share with you. I will feature the individual players later on as I go.