Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stringband Rendezvous? Still alive?

This years Stringband Rendezvous was my first but it was rained out saturday. I understand that if this went into the red it would essentially force the ending of the effort. I tried the website address and it does not come up. Is this the demise of the Rendezvous? If you know speak up please.

I just drove by the facilitators house the other day and saw him in the yard. I will try to ask him next time.

This will be a sad day it he had to stop it. Very sad.

Old Time on Pandora the online music player

I keep meeting folks that are not aware of Pandora, the online music player service. This is different than online "radio". On Pandora you create a "station" by listing a favorite performer that represents the genre you like to listen to and it will play songs along the lines of the performer you listed. You help focus the program towards more precise song selection along the lines of what your looking for by rating the songs it is playing. In time your going to get pretty close to what your looking for in listening pleasure and very little of stuff you really don't enjoy.

They have a program that does all this for you. Amazingly they found a way to translate a song into digital catagories that can be pegged by the program and channeled your way.

There are of course, set standard catagories and genres that can get you started and for most will suffice completely. It's like listening to radio without hearing or seeing commercials. After about three years of operation the selections are getting pretty good given the esoteric nature of our taste.

Google Pandora and you will readily find the site. Part of how they gain revenue and the cooperation of the recording companies is the sale of copies of the songs digitally.

Check it out. If you can have your computer playing music at work this program is ideal and you will like the way it works.

Here is the link. I will provide it after all.

I have no financial interest here.

Banjo Billy Matthews workshops in Mtn View Ark.

Clipped from "The Inn at Mountain View" (Arkansas)

Billy Mathews' 3rd Annual Medley of OT Music Work-Shops hosted by: “The Inn at Mountain View”.

When: August 13th - 15th 2010
Where: The Inn at Mountain View
Cost: Room rate plus $50 Workshop Fee: $65.00 for workshop only (not staying at the Inn). Class limited to 20. We'll be playing tunes of great joy at the 3rd Annual Medley. Fiddle and Banjo; in a chorus of old-time bliss. With the changes to this year's Medley, the work-shops will only be for those two instruments. Billy will be doing both work-shops, as well as directing the jam.
These work-shops are about learning new tunes, but also how to put other instruments together in the context of an old-time string-band. This knowledge seems to be getting lost, as contemporarily each instrument wants to be the lead, and thus compete against each other for that, rather than work together for that old-time sound.
Cost: Room rate plus $50
Workshop Fee: $65.00 for workshop only (not staying at the Inn).

Weekend includes all of the following:
Friday night: Jam and snacks
Saturday: Breakfast, Morning Workshop, lunch on your own, afternoon workshop, Saturday night potluck supper and Evening JAM TIME
Sunday: Breakfast (Stay an additional night).
Book now online at
You can also call us at 1-800-535-1301 or 870- 269-4200.
***Jam and workshop available to Inn at Mountain View Guests of the INN unless otherwise arranged****

(I have no interest in this post financially)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Winfield/Walnut Valley Festival approaching

It's that time of year that you should be giving some thought to whether you will attend Winfield. Most people call it Winfield but the name is Walnut Valley Festival.

Hard to believe it but there are still many people who have not attended even once and I feel for these deprived souls who have missed out so far in having that experience. Yes, it is an experience. Kind of Country psychedelic. This is where differing cultural expressions gather together once a year to join in the love of acoustic music of an American kind. It's not much of a Bluegrass festival but there is Bluegrass there. It's a bit of Old Time, Bluegrass, Folk, Americana ect.

With about five stages playing more or less all at once continually you get to pick what you like and not feel like your just wasting your time. On occasion you feel like you just witnessed something that should be considered historically significant and then you realize it's like this every year.

It's also a place for Jams. Lots of Jams. Most are closed to strangers as a practical matter. Some have actual barriers to block them out, others arrange the tents and chairs to communicate "The In Crowd Only".

That's not to say it's bad. Groups have formed and they want to play together and not have some guy walk in and start playing Jimi Hendrix.

There are jamming opportunities of course. You will have to work at it some but you can find open jams. I think it's like this at any festival you find.

Jamming of course is what Winfield is famous for and much of the experience for many people is jamming and not so much the entertainers.

To do it right you need to plan on camping. Don't plan on much sleep. It can often be very hot and you will feel it. The last few years have seen serious flooding and the displacement of the campers. Some years it's all glory.

You can arrive on friday afternoon and still find a place to pitch a tent. It will not be a primo site but it will work.

Plan on walking around the Pecan Grove after the concerts are over to get the full experience. Beware. The local Police patrol aggressively and assertively for drunkeness and joints. You must be discreet my friends.

I don't want you to think it is all licentiousness and Gypsy partying. It is not. Most are rather sedate campers who have low key jams under the canopy of the old Winnebego. You should know that there is a place for everyone there. They all unite in the love of good music. What a concept!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Charlie Walden music

Here is some particularly fine fiddle music borrowed off of Charlie Walden's website. I don't think he will mind as my aim is to help him bring this to the fore of your attention and hopefully buy some of his stuff.

The longer I am into all this the more I appreciate his playing. Check out the selection below and then visit his website for more fun and enjoyment.

Garry Owen

As I continue on this semi martial thread of thought, I would like to discuss Garry Owen and the Seventh Cavalry.
As you may know, Garry Owen was an Irish tune that was the favorite of the infamous Seventh Cavalry of the Little Big Horn Battle fame. Custer himself counted it one of his favorites.
This is not to say that this reflected a demographic of the Cav as being mostly Irish because this was not the case. But, a good song is a good song regardless of it's ethnic origins.
You will remember that this song featured prominently in the movie, "We were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson. They used a very celtic version for dramatic effect and it was quite effective.

I am reading yet another book on the Battle of The Little Big Horn and the Seventh Cav and Custer. I caught this historical interest over twenty years ago and am still fascinated by the story.

Part of the reason is that my Grandfather served briefly with the Eighth Cavalry in Texas during the Pancho Villa expedition. He signed up as a sixteen year old kid lying about his age. He was a fairly small lad at that and after about three or four months they found him out and thankfully sent him home.

I have the photos of him there in Texas in the Alpine Tx area in camp and have his Campaign hat as well. Had he remained in service then, Villa's wolves would have devoured him had they ever met in battle. Of course I suppose he might have surprised us all but I rather doubt it.

So, my Grandfather was briefly a Cavalryman. One of the last. In the West too!

On my wall I have what is actually a deflated pillow with a photograph of the Eighth Cav in mounted formation riding in dramatic fashion. It can appear to look like a flag but it actually is a pillow. It's framed and can give a good impression. It's on my wall upstairs in my office.

I grew up admiring this and then in time came to possess it.

As for the song, it has nothing to do with the American west and the military here originally. Now it is preserved in our memory with those connotations.

Here are a couple versions of it. I will try to learn the guitar version shown off the Youtube. Wish me well on that.

It's actually a fine little song. We should try it in our jam sometime after I learn it.





When the Seventh Cavalry rode out of the post for it's destiny with the Sioux and Cheyenne people on the Little Big Horn the regimental band was playing this tune at length. It was not a routine expedition. They expected this to be the last big fight with the Indians and no more would follow. This was to be, they thought, the final battle and then they would rest in glory afterwards with book deals and lecture tours for the General and Tap room revelry's of personal heroism for the more humble enlisted. They rode out in great confidence that the Sioux and Cheyenne were no match for them in pitched battle. There was some truth to this as they had never suffered loss in direct battle with an Indian combatant unless they had been completely overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers like at the Ft Fetterman Massacre. They knew they were facing a lot of Indians too.

Perhaps not as many as they actually found.

A couple of points I want to make.
1. Custer should have been discharged from the Army several times for gross dereliction of duty and ought not to have been in Command on that day.
2. Custer was a very effective combat commander and certainly the most aggressive available and in some measure, the best man for the job.
3. Custer barely made it to the campaign due to his testimony against the corrupt Grant administrations dealings with the Indians on the Reservations. He actually had a greal deal of empathy for them.
Contradictions are apparent here. This is the case for Geo. Custer. A walking contradiction. Worthy of our admiration and condemnation all at the same time!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Lorena is an old song from the period of the Civil War. As I mentioned recently, they used it on the soundtrack for the John Wayne movie classic by John Ford, "The Searchers".

This got me to thinking about my own families memories from that time and what a different era and culture. The folks in my old area around Centerville School just south east of Rockford Il in Winnebego County were farmers.

Like other areas, they were mostly people of eastern regions who had migrated due west and hailed from New England and points further east along the eastern seaboard as far north as Maine and south as far as the mid atlantic states.

Being in northern Illinois, they had Yankee attitudes and notions. They loved America and wanted to see it preserved and slavery abolished.

So, the local lads and gentlemen formed themselves into groups of enlistee's and in preparation for the big show they had military drills. They were eager for the excitement of the war but had no idea how it was really going to be.

So it was that my ancestor, a young lady of elementary school age reported standing on her tippy toes to peek into the stone school house windows to watch the young men "drill" with corn stalks as ersatz muskets.

This stone school house still stands today. Unfortunately someone has used it as part of their house and while it is attractive, it remains a shame that it was not properly preserved.

I am proud to say that when the men returned from the war they brought back a freed black man and remained in contact with him to the end. He of course moved into Rockford and they remained on farms.

We look back on that period like it was a kind of movie but it was very real to those folks. It is good to realize that we could find ourselves in great difficulties as well and that we have not escaped history and the events that can and do overtake societies.

So, let's listen to Lorena and empathize for the lonely people that suffered and felt it. Maybe even remember that free black man no longer in the bonds of slavery but yet still not free.

All is quiet on the Potomoc Tonight

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dwight Lamb, Missouri Valley Fiddler releases CD's

Dwight Lamb, a well known (to the illuminati like us) fiddler from Iowa, has released two new CD's. One is a compendium of two older LP recordings from the seventies into one CD, called "Old Time Fiddle Classics in the Missouri Valley Style". The other is "Accordian Tunes, Danish Melodies in America" This last one is an accordian album.
More information can be found at the Missouri Traditional Fiddle and Dance Network site.

Two samples are available for your listening pleasure.

I never hear about where Dwight Lamb plays these days so I will dig around for that.
To restate, Dwight Lamb is an accomplished fiddler in the Missouri Valley Style. Dwight is older now so we should take some care to be able to see him perform someday.

Both CDs are available from Missouri Valley Music at 511 South Pleasant St., Canton, South Dakota 57013, or via e-mail.

Check out this article about him here...

Dwight is playing with this group.

Like I tell you often here, I love Ozark fiddling the best but I do love me some Missouri Valley Style Fiddling too! It seems to grow on you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blog post on Polk Miller, late nineteenth Century Banjo player

I stumbled onto an very interesting blog post about a turn of the century banjo player. Jas Obrecht is the blogger and this is quality stuff. You will learn about an interesting person and how he integrated black music and culture with ours. Don't pass this by. Go visit at

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Wilders

I have put off posting about them for a long time. The reason was, I had been mightily disappointed when they took after Split Lip Rayfield, another local band who played the most awful kind of music. While reviewers and others seem to give them good write ups, I could only stand so much before leaving the concert. Thank God it was free. I have to hope they have quit this imitation and moved on. They still did mostly play the same old tunes as before so all was not lost.
I have not seen or heard them in a couple three years now.

The Wilders have previous to this shift, been one of my favorite bands of all time and place or genre. They play straight ahead Old Time, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk Hank Williams type Country and do it with rare skill and zest. Having seen them in concert several times now, I am always left feeling like I was really lucky to have been able to witness something special.

If you have not listened to them or attended a concert by them, you are missing the best of what our area can offer musically, in our kind of music.

This past year Betse Ellis, their fiddler originally from Arkansas who has lived here for many years now, released a solo fiddling album and it's a pretty fair assortment of good tunes played well. I gave it a slightly less than positive review because it fell short of what I have seen her do in live performances.
Betse is a fantastic fiddler who has a rare stage presence and force that will excite you like few others will. Her album fell a little short of that but I do want to tilt the scale a bit more positively in it's favor and she is to be praised for her efforts in adding yet another sound member to the Ozark fiddling edifice.
That album is "Don't you want to go"

Ike Sheldon is the front man who does most of the singing and seems to be channeling Hank Williams in a way that spooks you. It's not simple imitation. It really is a kind of authentic emergence of a force of music that demands to be released.

The rest of the band are all very fine sidemen who do journeymans work in providing the vocal and instrumental backup.

They used to play at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield ks pretty much every year. When they do, they own the place. That's says a lot given the level of talent that is present there during any year.

So, I am finally mentioning them after all these months because there actually are people that I meet at jams that have never heard of them.
If your one of those, stop by their website and give a listen to their music and be ready to get excited. Stop by Youtube and watch them. That's the best. They are a live band that must be seen live to appreciate them.

They are mostly in Europe this year so don't expect to see them her abouts any time soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie trivia, the Searchers

I am watching "The Searchers" on tv and just took note that they used the tune "Lorena" as part of the sound track. Cool.
This is my favorite John Wayne John Ford movie.

Gospel tunes at the jam

Gospel tunes are more than welcome at the jam. If you ever had any question about that you just got it answered. We played several tonight. Great fun. I think it's OK to say that we love the Lord at our jam. There are not that many Old Timey gospel songs per se but we are not that picky.

Angeline the Baker clips you should see

The first clip was from a Mountain Music Shoppe concert. Yes, our Mountain Music Shoppe in Shawnee ks. These boys are guitar gods, flatpicking giants and they do a great job on the tune.

Here it is on banjo.

Yet another banjo version. Good one too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Angeline the Baker

I am working on this one. Having a bit of a hard time getting the tune right but working at it. I MIGHT be able to play lead on this. My goal was to do more but the flu hit me hard for three weeks and I am just now able to really get back at playing.

Update post jam

We have chosen to make Angeline the Baker and Arkansas Traveler two songs we will concentrate on as jam standards. We will add more in the future but these two you can expect to play. I might add St Anne's Reel but will check at the next jam.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jam time already this saturday

Given the phenomena of the calender for this month, the monthly jam is coming up this saturday. I am about a couple weeks behind in my personal preparation for this. I had the flu that really lasted for two weeks with a third lingering. I am going to try to woodshed up and try to learn a new tune that we play.
After some months of being down about things I am starting to get more interested in my guitar again and enjoying it more. I think everyone goes through those periods. For years I made it a point to play every day. Then this winter I fell off the wagon for long periods until recently.
Why? Discouragement. I hurt my arm quite badly and it hurt to play for long. Then I got the flu. I guess I just needed a break.
I am always of the opinion that you can learn something from any circumstance. What did I learn?
A break can be good in some ways. Don't force it if it's not in you. It will only make the experience sour and in the long run hurt your love for the music.
Why have I stuck with this so many years when I still can't play very well?! I have to wonder but I can't help it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bluegrass weekend at the KC Old Time Blog

Interesting film from a Bluegrass festival in 65. Mac Wiseman, Bill Monroe. I love it.

A nice clip from 57. Earliest Reno and Smiley film clip to be found.

Reno and Stanley on the banjo doing Home Sweet Home

Jimmy Martin and Cherryholmes
Jimmy is one of my musical hero's. I admire a man who stands up and crows. Kind of like an alcoholic Peter Pan. He's gone now but very much missed. An original.

Charlie "Possum" Walden videos

He has some nice tunes on his YouTube page and you should visit. Makes it look easy but you know it's not. Nice and smooth.

Little Rabbit Where's Your Mammy?

I think this is an old Minstrel song. This is a song on the old Ozarkers play list. Check out the accordian and how well it integrates into the song and sound. Interesting huh?

Look at the bass too.

Here is the basic version

I like this version real well. Nicely done.

Ebony Hillbillies

Give a listen if you please.