Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a happy new year and may God bless all of you. This is shaping up to be an even more unsettling year and it looks like things could even get harder. Well, I hope they are not harder for you. I hope to keep this up and do my best to make this humble blog interesting.

More Carl Anderton Clips for your pleasure

Carl is a real treasure to our community. This is a different kind of old timey music than strictly the appalachian style. Carl, as I have mentioned before, lives on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Guitars

These are my guitars. I now only have two. I gave away the super cheapie to a friend's grandson. The one on the left is my Martin D-18VS and the other one is a Recording King RD227. One is made in Bethlehem Pa. the other somewhere in China. The Martin is an excellent example of a "upscale" vintage recreation. It's mahogany and ebony with a sitka spruce top. It's also a slothead. It's a dreadnaught but slightly elongated which gives it a more mellow tone than a typical standard D-18. It also has tapered bracing. And of course, it sounds really good. Some of you know me or have been in a jam with me and know how poorly I play and it must have made you wonder what I am doing with such a good expensive guitar that I clearly am not worthy of. Well, I am not worthy of it but I found in my first year of trying to learn how important a decent instrument is for learning. Too many of us buy a horrible cheap guitar that is not fitted to our physical dimensions and the frustration only gets worse. In my case, my fingers are pretty thick and I NEED a wider fretboard than a 1 11/16". So I went in search of an affordable 1 3/4" nut width guitar that would fit me better and I had some trouble doing that. To make a long story short, and going through a string of guitars to work my way up to this Martin, I found that my frustrations decreased greatly. I am sharing this because more than a few of you may be like myself and are trying to learn to play at an advanced age. Or even if your young the same discoveries I made can help you too. Too too many music store clerks are clueless as to the importance of fitting the instrument to your physical dimensions. They can play anything and think you should be able to do the same. This is utter nonsense. If you have thick fingers, playing cleanly will be easier if the nut is wider. This is both rational and experience confirms it. Norman Blake prefers 1 13/16" by the way. In fact, at times he likes 1 7/8". If I had to buy a guitar today I might well specify 1 13/16" as a special order. I can get by with 1 3/4". I find the Martin easier to play in general. My other guitar has similar dimensions but for some reason it's not quite as easy to play. I strongly feel that if you have the fire in the belly you should get the best possible instrument you can afford to reduce the frustrations they can present. You will not be worthy of it for some time but so what?! My Recording King is a rosewood dreadnaught made in china. It's not a bad guitar for the money. I have about $600 in it. It sounds pretty good after three years. I went through two other small body Recording Kings that had defects that showed up immediatly and were returned. I ended up with a dreadnaught due to my concerns with the geometry of the RK small bodys. The new breed of asian guitars are much better than what they used to be. If you want a decent guitar it's a good place to start. The economies of instrument making means that American made guitars are becoming quite expensive and the quality of the asian guitar have improved to the point that they are great values and pretty darn good instruments. Many of you don't have the money to buy a Martin or a Gibson or a Taylor. Even the low end Martins are getting expensive. Inflation is very much at work in the instrument world and I predict Martin will end up leaving the low end entirely in a few more years. This is not the first time I have addressed this in this blog but it bears repeating. So, buy the best you can get. Don't worry if your not worthy of it. My Martin pulls me along and bids me play. Junker/beater guitars whisper "let me gather dust" "I'm just trouble". I love Martins and the occasional Gibson. They are some of the better brands out there but certainly not the only ones. Are you gassing for a better guitar? Yearning to finally own a Martin? Then by all means go for it. You will not regret that dream instrument. Updated edit. Don't neglect the bridge spacing either. 2 1/8" is too narrow for me and many others with big fingers. 2 5/16" is much better and yes it does make a difference. Small numbers that make a real difference.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's been a little hit and miss and at times downright slow here at the Kansas City Old Time Music blog. I returned to gainful employment this spring and little by little my spirits have risen as I returned to actually paying all my bills and having a bit of a life. For a time I could not bring myself to play at all and got pretty rusty and disinterested. In time I have found my self playing a bit more often but still not enough. My New Years resolution is to get disciplined about it again like I used to be and practice daily for a set time on a set time. The metronome will become my new friend. (love hate!) I will return to jams this year after becoming frustrated with my slow rate of progress last time. I will also be pacing myself in my life by paring back on Lodge activities and doing more things that I really really love and like. Like Church and Christian oriented things and music. Ah, music! I am sure that for you it's a kind of irreplaceable elixer of life that supplements my faith in God that combine to make life blessed' and joyful. Ah, God! Praise be to all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts! Praise Him Father Son and Holy Ghost! I give thanks to a loving and gracious Heavenly Father for forgiving me and sending a dream job my way. I thank Him for all blessing and for all my new friends. I try to keep this blog worthy of your visits. It continues to mature with changing goals somewhat but the main goal remains, to make this a source of ready information about Old Time Music here in the heartland. You can find links and people and videos you would have to dig for a long time (as I have) but can find fast here. Be sure to visit the archives for good information. I have added a second page that I hope to use for a reference place. It just takes my time and effort and I hope this winter moves me to get er done. Eventually, if I EVER get good enough, I will post clips of my own playing later this year. (yeah right Gary!) Really. And I hope I don't scare you off. There are folks out there I don't know about still and I often ask for people to tell me about themselves or others. But they never do! I wish there could be more interaction but then I know from other bloggers that can be hard. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rosalie the Prairie Flower by Carl Anderton

I don't live that far from Carl Anderton but I have yet to meet him. I expect that will happen some time or another soon enough. He just posted this on his FaceBook and I really liked it. Nice job. I hope you enjoyed it. This is an excellent example of the antebellum old timey music folks here in the KC area who are often found around Civil War reenactments and campgrounds. Carl Anderton lives on the Kansas side of the line here in the Kansas City metro area. He is a member of the Gum Springs Serenaders.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving in song

This happens to be one of my most favorite hymns. I hope you enjoy this fellow's playing it on a dulcimer. It's most appropriate because as the youtube film say's, the song is really OT. OT enough for me! I am thankful to my Lord for the blessing of a job after having been out of work for a tad more than two years. I get up every day with a thankful heart for the chance to make a living and to pay my bills and keep our home. I am thankful for second and third and forth chances. God is gracious and merciful. I am thankful for my Church and our Pastors. God has blessed me in this richly. I am thankful for the ones I love and that they remain in my life. I am thankful for my many friends. I am thankful for music and how it blesses me. I could go on like this for a long time. I know that I have a lot to be thankful for. I hope and pray that you too have a lot to be thankful for and that your day tomorrow will be blessed. Thanks for coming by to visit me here. I hope it's worth the time and you find something useful or interesting here. I stand on the shoulders of a lot of folks who know lots more, can actually play much better and bless us with their knowledge and gifts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yet another Carlin clip

I HAD to post this one too. It is awesome! YOU MUST LISTEN TO THIS ONE!

One more Carlin Clip

Bob Carlin, clawhammer banjo player

For some reason I have purchased a lot of John Carlin's recordings. John is a master clawhammer banjo player and historian/folklorist who published a history of the instrument a few years back. "The Birth of the Banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsey" John Carlin was a member of John Hartford's String Band and he played on Hartford's last CD, Hamilton Ironworks which is my reason for talking about him here. In addition to that, he helped out on Gene Goforth's CD the Hartford produced, "Eminence Breakdown". When you listen to Hartford's CD's your going to often hear him playing in the background while John is on the fiddle. For some odd reason, I don't hear much about him here in our region. I suppose it's because he is a North Carolinian and his orbit remains there and I have no notion that he has ever come our way to play that I am aware of. It's possible he has and I missed it. I am writting this to encourage you to give him a listen. He is truly a Master on the banjo. I must warn you he is different and has a sense of humor. Some of his stuff is kind of silly and odd but over all I enjoy what he does. Like past banjo men, he agree's that a banjo player must be funny. His book is on my list for future reading and I ought to have read it some time ago. I should be able to give you a review but alas I have slacked in my duties to you my dear readers. I want to recommend a couple other of his recordings that are most worthy of your buying. One he did with Bruce Molsky, "Take me As I Am" which came out in 2006. This one is particularly good and anything that Bruce Molsky does it excellent in my opinion. The other recording I want to point to you is "The Boys of North Carolina"(2003) I really liked this one and the tunes he picked. He tends toward minstrel tunes and they are an interesting lot. Have a listen to some fine pickin. Maybe you will catch the Carlin bug too. I hope so. The reason I am talking about him is the tie in with Hartford and the recordings he has done with Hartford and Goforth who as you well know are missouri fiddlers of renown. He sets the bar high on clawhammer banjo and I really like listening to him. I won't be able to do it but I wish someone would research banjo playing and the Ozarks. I suspect there is a weak tradition for it but I really don't know. I know there are some fine players out there NOW but it was not always so and I believe, or my impression is that Bluegrass style playing was pretty much it for many years back in the day until interested folks took it up since the sixties or seventies. If I am wrong TELL ME. In the meanwhile, check out John Carlin.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roy McClure of Independence Mo

I finally got to meet Roy McClure recently at an event at the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Site in Fairway ks. I had become his facebook friend some months ago. Maybe a year ago or more. I forget. Roy's thing is historical reenacting and banjo's. He often sets up his sutlers tent or fly and demonstrates old time frailing or clawhammer banjo playing as well as offering handmade banjos. Interestingly, he makes gourd banjos, fretted and non fretted. They sound much more subdued than a Bluegrass type instrument and are really pretty sweet. He also makes a nice basic Old Time banjo as well and his pricing is very reasonable. If I ever decide to take that banjo plunge (I can't ever get the guitar thing down enough as it is), I would buy my first from Roy. If your like me your very likely to run into him if you go to Missouri Town at Lake Jacomo, or Reenactments at Lone Jack Mo, or Hodge Park's historical village up in north town. He will be wearing a top hat and period clothing from the 1850's and playing a banjo with kids likely surrounding him. He does not have a website but he does have a facebook page. Just type his name in. If you want a gourd banjo or simple OT type of banjo, check his out! Roy is a delightful fellow and you will enjoy meeting him. He enjoys discussing the banjo and it's history and how to make them. I think he has a great way to enjoy his retirement and to enrich our community here in the greater KC metro. Next time your at a Civil War reenactment near KC or some historical event with any kind of demonstrators or folks with a 'booth' or tents, you just might find him. Stop and say howdy. You will be glad you did. I was.

Article about the McClurg Jam in SW Mo. by Jeremy Myers

Here is an excellent article about the McClurg Jam in tiny McClurg Mo in SW Mo where some of the best Ozark old timey musicians have played for some 25 years. Jeremy Myers is a frequent participant and he does a fine job of giving an overview. It's also a good intro to a fine magazine. I plan on subscibing myself now. Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine
Bob Holt used to play here pretty often back in the day. His guitar accompanist, Alvie Doom still does. A number of the Ozarks well known traditional musicians play there or have played there in years past. CBS has done a news story on this jam as well which I have posted about early on. So, check out Jeremy's fine effort.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Songs of faith in Old Time music

I have not, so far at least, discovered a lot of old timey fiddle tunes related to faith. Christian faith specifically. I find that odd. Very odd. Can it be that the old thinking of fiddlers and fiddling being of the devil be somehow true? Well, no I don't think so. It would indicate that at one time Christians looked down on frivolous things like fiddling and the dancing that was a part of that. I well remember knowing people in SW Mo who felt that attending movies were sinful and certainly dancing was sinful. There have been controversies about dancing as recent as the ninties in SW Mo in public high schools. For those folks in big cities, this is hard to grasp but the feelings against dancing and perhaps fiddling probably remain in rural areas. What I am concerned with is the lack of much gospel music in Old Time music. You sure see it in Bluegrass. In spades. Bluegrass Gospel is bigger than ever today and you hear lots of it. Get some old time musicians together and the old tunes get played but where are the gospel tunes? Where are the heartfelt songs of Christian faith and love? I know there are some but how many and just what are ill defined for me now so my latest blogger task is to explore this better and share what I find. If you know of some good tunes that can be considered Old timey fiddle tunes of a Christian nature, please tell me. I will be postings some clips I found for starters this weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Banjo Billy Mathews to return to KC???

Would you like to see Banjo Billy play in our area? I know I would. I would like to see if somehow I can help it happen. I don't know what I can do for sure but If I can help I will. I well remember the night he played at Mountain Music Shoppe in Shawnee Ks a few years ago along with Colin Blair. I saw my first gourd banjo played and played well, that evening. It seems that Billy felt like he really did not want to stop playing. If it was up to me he could have gone on much much longer. So, I hope somehow he can be brought back to KC or Lawrence and to play for us again

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Arkansas Pickin and Fiddlin Championships

Heads up! The Arkansas Pickin and Fiddlin championships are coming up Oct 8th & 9th. This includes the flatpicking guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle, Roots band and guitar accompanist. This will be held at Wildwood Park in Little Rock Arkansas.

Sandy River Belle

Nice effort by Martin Whitehead. Martin lives in my area of the world over in Missouri.

Spencer Deal, Jesse James.

I met Spencer at the Battle of Lexington reenactment a couple weeks ago and tried to play on his four string guitar with him and Martin Whitehead at the "old campground". Sorry to say I was pitiful. Gave up after a bit. Should a brought the guitar after all. Spencer is from NW Arkansas. Pea Ridge I believe.

Southern Missouri Stringband, Hookers Hornpipe

Jeremy Myers, Emily Dowden-Estes, and the unknown guitar player.....Jeremy! Credits should be given! When I find out his name I will list!

Yiannis Gourgourelas, greek flatpicker

Yiannis is one of my favorite flatpickers and hails from Greece. Not very common to find this in Greece. Of course, Bluegrass does have a presence in Europe but not so much in Greece. He is a fantastic player you ought to know about

Black Mountain Rag Cattle in the Cane

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Civil War reenactment, and some OT tunes. My weekend

I attended the Civil War reenactment at Lexington Mo. for the "Battle of Lexington" otherwise known as the "Battle of the Hemp Bales" (yes, it was marijauna)
The men and women reenactors did a fabulous job and the "battle" was spectacular. I went out to see my old jam friend Martin Whitehead as one of the reenactors and to join them for some tunes at the old campground.
I did not bring my guitar and a tenor guitar was given for my use but I was useless at that. I heard some nice clawhammer banjo (I don't remember his name...sorry) and Martin's fine playing on his mandolin. Soon enough we were joined by other reenactors who joined in singing and banging pots and pans. A harmonica appeared for a while.
It was great fun for all even if rain loomed for the later evening and the day had seen light rain nearly up to the time of the battle. Fortunately, it stopped raining and the effort went well.
Here are a few pictures of the day, Saturday. Next time, my guitar will come along. I need a small body guitar for such times....hmmmmm?! Am I getting GAS again?

Martin Whitehead is on the left playing the mandolin. He serves in the 2nd Mo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quail is a pretty bird, by Trisha Spenser at Clifftop

I just ran into this clip today and needed to share it with you all. Or You-uns, as you will.

This remains my favorite fiddle tune. John Hartford had it on his Hamilton Ironworks CD and said he got it from the Goforth family.

Jeremy Myers new fiddle tune

"Hannah put your new dress on" is a new tune composed by Jeremy Myers of SW Mo. Give it a listen. I think he did a good job on this one. I will post an update with the chord progression later. What do you think?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kenny Smith finally puts out a solo flatpicking album

For those of you that are into flatpicking guitar music and playing, Kenny Smith has finally put out an album of him just picking. No band.
Kenny is a killer/master flatpicker and I always wondered why he had not put one out long ago. Now he has. So check this out. I will have to buy this one. I like his style.
Again, my friends, this is part of the living tradition of OT. Just not purist. Deal with it. Chill. Take a breath. Enjoy. If it bothers you go play it the way you like it. It's all good.

Angeline the Baker with Bull Harmon and Kenny Smith

Bull Harmon is a great picker from St Louis and Kenny Smith hails from old Virginia. They really do a fine job with this and not so much jazzy but juiced up a tad but nicely. Improvisational juice. I like what they did. I hope you enjoy this. These two guys are masters.

Angeline the Baker by Tim May and Brad Davis

These two guys are often featured in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. This is not a strictly OT version. They jazz it up some. I bring this in the spirit of presenting more guitar work.
I would make the point that this kind of thing is a part of keeping OT living and fresh over time, much like Hartford was doing. So think a bit before you turn your nose up completely. Still, maybe I am like you in that I prefer not so much the jazzy and more traditional. Just not always.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

HK Silvey, Missouri Fiddler

I have not got that much info on him but I do know he appears on the Traditional Ozark Fiddling albums and he CAN fiddle.
This is him and his grandson playing. I hope to do more posting about him soon. He plays at McClurg jam.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Walnut Valley Festival, Otherwise known as Winfield

This wonderful event is coming up in a couple weeks. If you have never gone, be sure to do so. As far as Old Time, it's there but just in small doses. But it's there.
Dave and Kathey Para play there every year. The Wilders are back. I don't think I will go this year but hopefully next

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lyman Enloe

I don't have that much information on him and I think Charlie Walden's Missouri Fiddling page might. I just want to throw him out there to you and suggest you give him a listen. He played in both Old Time and Bluegrass styles. This puts him outside the purist camp but if you don't let that bother you, I think you will find that his playing is excellent. Betse Ellis learned from him back in the day. Others as well. He has been gone for several years now.
Check him out. He has some recordings available out there that I enjoy a great deal.
Yeah I know. Bluegrass content warning. Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn. LOL!

You can't find any youtube clips. That's too bad. Oh, I should balance this out by giving my opinion that there is too much banjo on many of his tracks. Bluegrass style. Sigh...
So, please look him up and give him a listen. He should not be forgotten.
Here is a link for you

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Banjo Billy update on his 500 fiddle tunes

Just a short note to mention that Banjo Billy Mathews has completed recording all 500 fiddle tunes to complete the series and are available at his website. Do stop by and get yer plastic out.

I plan on getting them myself at a point, probably this fall.

Oh My, new followers!

I have been neglecting this blog again and when I returned, to my surprise, I had new followers. Neat!
Welcome to my blog if your new. I really am going to renew my effort here. I am picking again and the feeling is returning after the deeply depressing extended unemployment I had to endure.

God is good and I am working and my spirits are rising again. The bills are being paid and my injured arm is better now.

I can afford to travel to area events now and I hope to offer more original content than before.

Eastman Guitars

Now that I work in Lawrence Ks all the time and it's just uphill from Mass St. Music, I visit that renown store from time to time. The last visit I discovered a nice assortment of Eastman guitars that run from about $800 to $1200. These are killer guitars that are well made and have tone that comes as close to a good (yes GOOD) Martin as you can find for that price point.

Had these been around a few years ago I would have bought one of them and not the ones I have now. For the money these are hard to beat. Some of these have Adirondack tops with scalloped bracing and are just beautiful. The sound is very good. Very impressive. They have the wide nut I like too. (1 3/4") The parlor guitars are slightly wider. Ah! Those parlors! Nice sweet little guitars that just called out my name but my check book said NO WAY...yet.

If your looking for a nice sounding excellent built and beautiful guitar, check them out. Yes they are made in China. Much much better than Recording King. I know. I have one of them.

Personally, these kind of guitars from China could kill Martin in the long run and that MUST not happen. As we all get much poorer from the irresponsible actions of the fools and liars in Washington, we will be FORCED to buy cheaper than American made instruments. Most of us anyway.

It's just another example of the downward spiral in our society. Martin can't begin to compete against such things. Martin will either seriously downsize and abandon the lower and middle scale of instruments or I think it will eventually die.

Their prices are far too high for most people now. It will only get worse. I don't know about you but this stinks.

As for us players, we have to play the hand that's dealt us and if your budget is like mine and you want a good sounding well built guitar or mandolin to pick on then Eastman is where you should look first IMO.

I bet you can find better prices online too. Mass St is kind of high IMO.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Favorite Fiddler is Cyril Stinnett

My official favorite fiddler of all time has changed. Cyril Stinnett was just an awesome fiddler. While I am drawn more to the Ozarks, I have to say that in this, this N.W. Mo. Fiddler is just the best overall.
Of course, this is just the opinion of an enthusiast. Not an expert. I know what I like and I like his fiddling. A lot.

Stop by Charlie Waldens page to hear for yourself.

When I am all indifferent and jaded about fiddling, Cyril brings be around. We cannot let his memory die. I bet he was an interesting old Coot to meet.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Banjo Billy Mathews in the Hospital

I received word that Billy Mathews is ill and in the hospital with Pneumonia and COPD. He is said to be recovering and expects to be released in a few days.
My prayers are with you Billy.

We need Billy around for many more years. Get well Billy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land"

I have really come to feel the true weight of what the writer of Psalms 137 was saying. How do you play music when your heart is downcast? I found out I couldn't. Being out of work for two years got me to the point that I could no longer play. add a couple injuries to my arm and you have guitars not being picked up.
You can imagine, after three months of working again, I am finally able to get excited about playing again. It's like something inside me was freed and now I feel the joy again.
I give God the glory and credit for this and I want my readers to know that God is good and is there for you too. There are rivers of living water awaiting you. Come drink!

Now, back to music. I am back working on scales again and it's funny how that is so satisfying right now. I am really feeling it. Whew! I was getting worried!

So I am back. Now, go read Psalms 137. You know you have a Bible somewhere. Go get it out to find out what I am talking about.

New Gillian Welch CD released yesterady!

Let's not quibble here. I consider them OT but in a modern way. They are OT today like Hartford was. Not traditional but living witnesses to the true vine of our music.
Well, call it what you will but it's big news to have a new "album" out by these special folks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Old Time music was once a feature on Prime Time TV!

Andy Griffith used to showcase some fine bands on his show and they always played some good Old Timey music. Here are the Kentucky Colonels (White family) with Andy playing. Clarence is there too.

Imagine that. Old Time on the little screen across America.

Getting better

I think I have some of the problems improved. BTW, the old photo of the young man fiddlin is of a Ripley County Mo. fiddler back in the day. This is the real deal my friends.

Layout changes coming

I am having issues with the layout and this may change somewhat over the next couple hours.

Clarence White

Here is a great clip of Clarence White picking with his brother.
Nice piece.

I like the picking style.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"When first unto this country"

Pre Doc Watson OT guitar style. I am gonna have to get serious about learning fingerstyle.

Raymond Crooke is the player. Australian bloke. Not bad.


I am going to add to my list of "Do's" for this blog to retrench on my idea of featuring the guitar in Old Time music. There seems to be plenty of fiddlers and Banjo players out there highlighting those instruments but who is holding up guitar? Who? Hey! It's gonna be me!

I love hearing the fiddle but you can hear that at other blogs from the wonderful players who write the blogs. Thank God for Charlie Walden and Jeremy Myers are great places for fiddling.

So, in light of that, I hope to point to resources and video clips and such for guitar in my beloved Old Time music.

And, I am going to loosen the boundaries a bit and wander into Bluegrass territory on occasion. It happens.

I have said this before here but it's part of my renewal of blogging to restate my purpose here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm nearly back now. Posts to resume

Whew! That was a long dry spell for me. I hardly touched the guitar at all for a couple months.
The musical feeling is coming back now.
It's been a time of changes for me. I returned to work about three months ago, thank God! I found a great Church to join and I am excited about that.
As for the music, the dry spell got so bad I was wondering if I should sell the guitar! No, I am not.
I played some this evening and had a good time at it. I expect to start posting some things this week. There has been a few things come to my attention and I will try to share it with you.
I keep saying, Arkansas is a good place to be if you love Old Time music. It's alive there.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Slow blog

I have really fallen off in my entries here and it's due to a dry spell I am going through in music. I must confess that I am not listening to much OT right now and my hours I have to give to work have me exhausted.

I have had a debate about even maintaining this blog. I really don't know what I am going to do but I will certainly not delete it. There is some good info here and hopefully, I will find inspiration again and perk up and start blogging again. This has happened before and I pulled out of it fairly fast.

Last time I changed things up a bit. Maybe I should do that again? We shall see.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stringband Rendezvous 2011

Stringband Rendezvous is coming soon. May 13-15th at Clinton Lake. Plan to come out and play and listen. Last year it was rained out saturday afternoon. Hopefully, it will be good weather this year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mass St Music

I stopped by Mass. St. Music for the first time in a couple years. Prices have increased on Martins. They used to be 35% off list price for Martins. That is not true any longer. The sales guy acknowledged that but did not say what the new percent was. Not as many Martins either. That's on purpose too.
I told you inflation was coming and you better get or already have that instrument you want before it gets worse. Much worse.

I still love the place. Just not as many top end guitars as before. Some Martins, a few Collings, Taylors, Eastmans, one Gallagher. At least their still alive.

I got my DR Rares .13 there today. I love em.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Stringband Rendezvous 2011

I had an email contact with the fellow that runs the Stringband Rendezvous a couple months ago and he say's its on for 2011. The website is not yet amended for 2011 yet but it should be in May as usual.

As soon as I hear more, I will tell more

2011 Arkansas Fiddlers Convention

I did not get to attend this year. Nor have I ever. But! Someday I will!!

Here are some clips gathered for your enjoyment. There is nothing like this in Missouri or Kansas. This is at Harrison Ar. on the State Univ. Campus. The really good players go and you will hear some jams that will not be easily forgotten.

I still dream of the day when we can get something like this here. Or something close to it. This illustrates my contention that the heart and soul of Old Time music is centered at Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri.

Michael Neverisky off his YouTube channel.

Hangmans Reel

I posted this because I thought this was a remarkable job of fiddling. Notice the perfect time kept and how cleanly he plays. This performance alone qualifies to put this fellow at the far upper reaches of my favorites list.
This is not played robotically. The soul is there too. I hope you enjoy this. I don't know that much about him. Yet.

Just for fun and because I enjoyed it so much, here is a clawhammer banjo piece he did. Very clever playing and very well done. Nice melodic arrangement.

You will find him as FrostyMorn on YouTube.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New things out of old things

What I am doing in my pursuit of things Old Time in Music is similar to other interests I have had in my life. Being a history buff/fanatic, I found something of great value in looking back on different periods of time in history that were worthy of preservation.

Our current pop culture is pretty hollow and meaningless and you hope and pray much of it dies a fast death.

For whatever reason, I am one of those person's who has always had great disdain for the mass movement popular things. I could never stand Barry Manilow or some other such performers.

I am the niche person personified. If your reading this blog, you probably have a similar bent. Let's face it. Old Time Music is not going on American Idol anytime soon. I hope it never does.

As a young adult, I read every Foxfire book I could find. I devoured anything I could get about traditional Ozark crafts and practices. I learned a lot from my Father in law on the farm in Ponder. I soaked up a lot of the ways things were done from one who grew up farming with mules as a boy in west Tennessee on a sharecropper farm. I owe a lot to Franklin for my basic skill sets on such matters.

We are in a time when we can really use those skill sets again. The politicians in Washington have abandoned us and it's up to us now. It really always was up to us.
They were never really helping us anyway. They just lied to us about it. All the while the jobs left us and our debt's increased.

We had embraced a world of processed foods, plastic wrapped everything made in China by slave labor wage serfs under the control of a Communist dictatorship. Yes, they still call themselves Communist. Of course it's not Communist anymore. They are calling it Corporatist these days.

In any case, it's time to remember that all these things that used to be common among the little people of our land are still there to be recovered and used yet again. We can grow our food and raise our own stock and weave our own wool and cut our own wood and make our own way again. It's a hardscrabble way to live but you can live.

In the past city people reading Foxfire books were being caught up in romantic notions about traditional living. Well, if you don't know, it's hard work. Nothing romantic about it. I can tell you that it beats working in a factory as far as I'm concerned but people I knew who grew up poor in the Ozarks got to St. Louis and went to work in those factories when they could.

Now many of those factories are gone. To China. To Vietnam. To India. To Indonesia.

A number of us have been left behind by all this. We are on our own. It's up to us to reform our lives in ways that change how we do things.

Traditional things take getting used to after all this urbanized processed way of getting and using. Milk is not homogenized. It even tastes a bit different. Meat is not full of chemicals and hormones. The vegetables are superior beyond belief and you realize what crap you have settled for in the past.

Homegrown wool items are vastly superior to that cheap cotton Indonesian stuff you bought at Wallymart. They last longer and keep you warmer than polyester.

If there is an ice storm you have heat because you use wood stoves now. No utility can turn your heat off.

I also think it's time to unplug....and plug in.

It's time to wean yourself from endless devices that waste your time.

It's also time to take advantage of the connections that online communities can offer. Now you can discover new networks or build networks of like minded people who can help you as you can help them.

It's time to form networks that can revolutionize your area. Networks that can nurture economic communities and interests. Networks that are not driven by huge corporatist interests but are driven by real needs. Not driven by advertising but by what you really enjoy or want and not by psychological manipulation.

I am not talking hobby farming. I am talking about getting what you need by your own efforts and with the assistance of like minded folks.

I am not talking about some kind of communal subsistence thing either. I am talking about individuals helping themselves along life's way. No ideology but freedom to help yourself and others and to stop being a serf for some Corporation that wants to own you.

If your like me, stuck in the city, there are other things you can do to wean yourself from the economic cycles you were in before but are no longer available to the unemployed.

Don't worry. I will keep the blog focused on Music primarily. But I will be posting about some things being done by others to do just what I have been talking about.

Photo of Susie Smithers of Rollicking Hills Fiber Design of Ohio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jim Curley (of Mountain Music Shoppe fame)

Just a brief note that I just discovered that Jim Curley is rebuilding his life in Ohio. He has remarried. If your like me, you must have wondered what happened to him. Now we know. Seems like there are many others locally that know as well but word had not gotten to me.

Jim, if you read this, we miss you and the old Store but things are what they are. I am glad to hear your doing well now.

As you may know, Jim was the owner of the Mountain Music Shoppe in Shawnee that was forced out of business by the State of Kansas about two years ago.

That hole has never been filled and only gets bigger.


I was not a close personal friend of Jim's. When the State took the store some folks viewed him a tad harshly over this. Most felt very badly and knew that this was a tragedy for the community.

I can tell you that Jim had his hands full and given the challenges on his plate, he probably did as well as could be done. Probably not perfect but who does that?!

What he accomplished was pretty good for the years he was able to have the store. I have never run across a better music store in all my travels. I know there are some out there but certainly not in Kansas City. It's sad to see what is in the old space now. I visited once. I won't go back. If you want to see the "good" guitars there, you have to have an employee escort you into the locked room. No Martins or anything close to good there. I call it a joke myself.

I bought five guitars from Jim. Two cheapies not worth mentioning and three Martins. Without Jim's good deals I would have had a much harder time getting them.
I had in this order, a DM, D-16GT, D-18VS.

I bought my John Hartford CD's there. I also found the "Traditional Ozark Fiddle" Series CD's there. These were important milestones on my musical journey. Mountain Music Shoppe significantly changed my life, to be honest about it. Or helped me change it.

Life is change after all. Sadly, this chapter is over for Jim and our community. New things will come. Right now the void is not filled.

For some years something wonderful was at work among us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Prairie Village Mandolin Maker

A new FaceBook friend pointed me towards this Mandolin maker who lives in Prairie Village Kansas, just a tad south of me. From what I see on his website, he is a master craftsman. His instruments appear to be fantasic creations of wooden beauty. I have never heard one so I cannot speak to the tone. Even then I am no Mandolin expert.

Mark Franzke is the builder and here is his website.

Oh, yes, he also builds beautiful banjo's.

He has a clip of his playing one of his Mando's and he can play that thing well and it sounds good on the clip.

I will add more to this post later as I am awaiting info from Mr. Franzke

His work looks to be exquisite and from the clip it sounds good. Live is always best. I hope to learn more about this builder.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


When I began this blog it was my intention to focus on Old Time and really not talk about Bluegrass all that much because I felt there were others doing a great job of that.
I am going to break down and do a few posts about Bluegrass groups local to the KC area that interest me or if I know the players. Many Bluegrassers play Old Time and really have no notion of any difference between the two genres (of course there is)

I am going wild on Facebook doing a major Bluegrass friend request campaign. Out of that I hope to bring what I learn about local players I have not heard of and some bands I was not following previously.

There is still a crying need for a Bluegrass OT jam in Johnson County Ks. While it proved true that my playing skills were not up to leading one, maybe I can inspire a Bluegrasser out there to start one?

Also, I have different ideas about how jams ought to be done. Less formally I think. They should be natural and organic. Simply posting on Folkjam and trying to get a group of strangers to start a jam may not be the best way. Better to start a jam with friends and grow from there. IMHO

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Now I know where that term comes from and what it means. I had never seen this before. I like it. How would you like to be a fiddler with that going on?!

This was filmed in Mountain View Ar. "borrowed" from Ozarks Traditions Youtube page.

Here is a good article in Wikipedia about this

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Buy your instruments now while you still can

Why would I say this? Inflation is here and it's going to get much much worse. Look around you at the rising costs of everything. Your instruments are going to get much more expensive.
I was fortunate in that I bought my Martin D-18VS in 06 knowing that it was my best chance at doing so and suspected that if that opportunity passed, I might never be able to get my dream guitar.
Being a Martin guitar aficionado, I watched their catalog over the years and saw that some models had exceptional value related to it's price and what kind of tone you could expect. If you are looking for that great Martin tone but have a limited budget, look for the more modest models that have the features that will give you the tone you yearn for. They are there. It's just hard to get your hands on a specific model to actually hear. There are few stores that carry that many in stock that you can find the one you want to try.
When I chose my Martin D-18VS I stepped out into the abyss and chose it and hoped for the best having never seen one. I based my choice on what I had read about them on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. I liked the price and it was a little different than the typical Bluegrass model. I also liked that my guitar hero, Norman Blake was famous for playing a similar model in his glory days.
I got lucky and got a very fine model with that killer tone I lusted after.

When you buy a Martin, find a dealer that offers the 40% discounted price, like My Favorite Guitars out of florida. I particularly recommend them for great service and prices. (I have NO connection with them nor am I paid to say this)

If you have a job, the money to do so, or am willing to use plastic, this is the time to buy. Later this year it will be more expensive.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Look

I hope you like the new look. It was time to change things up. You know. Sweep the dustbunnies off the corners of the ceilings and paint some walls. Tidy up.

Inflation is here and it's gonna get worse

I just stopped by Leo Posch's website and checked his new price list. His base price is now $4000.00 and specific details add more, such as Rosewood.
I will be the first to say that Leo is worth the price but he's now completely out of my universe.
Frankly, given the pricing out there, he was too low for what he could and should get and materials and such are rising in cost.
Just prepare yourself for instruments becoming much more expensive.
Leo is part of a group of elite builders that can legitimately charge this much money.
I will have to go check Martin's site for recent prices now. It's a good thing I have my good Martin already.

Incidently, if you don't know it already, the tonewoods we all love and enjoy are becoming less and less available and the prices are rising for them. A day is coming when you won't be able to get these. At least for a while.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fiddle makers in Missouri

I had an idea looking for instrument builders in our region would be interesting and it is. Through FB I learned about two builders in SE Missouri. One in Poplar Bluff and the other in nearby Naylor. I once lived in Poplar Bluff in the late 70's and a daughter lived in Naylor for a time. I used to live in nearby Doniphan in the mid 70's and knew folks in Naylor.

Bernard Allen lives in Naylor and builds fiddles. There is a small piece about him on this website page.

There is a little video clip of him for you to watch. Very nice feature.
As far as I am aware, he has no website to visit.
The other fellow in Poplar Bluff is Luther Medley. He builds fiddles and Bass. To simplify the link, just use the one above and you will see the easy link to him.
Here is an additional magazine story on him here...

Mr. Medley is mostly known for building basses it seems and his prices are great. According to this article it was about $700. That is cheap. If you play the bass check him out!
I am thrilled to see builders in SE Mo where I used to live long ago. If you live in the area you may already know about these fellows. I may stop and visit them some day. I will try to find some more builders so tune in often for updates.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More instrument builders

I know there are more builders out there. I will try to add some more in the future.
I kind of neglect Mandolins here so I am making that gap up. If you know of someone who builds and deserves to be known, send me the info. They must live and work in the Ks,Ar,Mo,area. Or very close.

Moon Beam Mandolins (Near Poplar Bluff Mo)

This builder is more expensive than the preceding builders I wrote about. He is making a living at this and charging more typical custom mandolin prices than the others.
To charge as much as Moon Beam Mandolins do, you have to have tone and serious tone to keep them moving out the door or word about how they fail to have tone will catch up with you and then you don't sell so many.

It seems they are selling very well and have been quite successful. I have never seen or heard one live yet so have to find out for yourself

You can find them here

A nice article about them can be found here

Here is a Youtube about one of his builds with the buyer playing it on a track

Clever merchandising. At his prices, he needs to be. He has a good thing going there and I wish him well. I used to live not so far from him. Long ago.

Chrystal Forest Mandolins (Heber Springs Ark)

Here is yet another Ozarks Mandolin builder who is based in Heber Springs Arkansas.

He specializes in flat top type mandolins and will also sell you plans so you can make your own should you wish to try. His prices are also very very reasonable! Maybe I should take up the Mando?! Not with my fat fingers. I wish I could. I find the guitar hard enough with these hands.


I think these Mandolins are just beautiful! Certainly check this builder out!

Here is an owner of one playing.

Again, in disclosure, I have no interest in this builder, nor do I know them.

Terry Majewski is the person at Chrystal Forest Mandolins.


Geezer alert! Geezers with guitars, mandolins, dulcimers and autoharps. Nice Jam! Done at Mountain View Ark. at the RV camp.

Please don't be offended by the Geezer alert. I am very much a Geezer myself.

John Wynn, Mandolin builder UPDATED

Here is a nice article on John Wynn who passed away last year.

He was a mandolin and banjo builder out of Ozark Mo.
Rest in Peace John.


Custom Instrument makers in our region

I just discovered a Mandolin Luthier in Eminence Mo. that you should know about. He makes Mandolins from scratch and his prices are ridiculously too low! It's not often you can say that! From the pictures on his website he does beautiful work. I can't vouch for the tone and you will have to discover that yourself anyway.

"Shawnee Creek Woodworks" is a one man effort by Mike Holmes, a retired Park Service Ranger.

I have never met Mr. Holmes btw. I have no interest financially in his success as a matter of disclosure. This is not a monetized blog. Yet.

Here are some pictures of his work.

He also works in the beauty of the Shannon County Ozarks. How would you like to go to work where he does?

Mike does demonstrations (and classes? not sure on that) on building Mandolins at various places. Check him out! Remember what I said about prices???!!!
He charges &550 for a "two point" or $650 for an F-5 clone. What!?
He is too cheap! Mike, raise your prices! I know. You mando players out there are mouthing..."shut up Gary!"

Here is his website

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wild Whites of West Virginia

I am watching this movie about "The Wild Whites of West Virginia". It's about the family of Jesco White who is from a line of well known OT dancers.
Most folks would call them white trash. I sure would. About as trashy as it can get. These are the people that give the Appalachians a bad name.

You can find these kind of people in the Ozarks too. You could see versions of it portrayed in the movie, Winters Bone.

If your ever about and see one of these folks, I hope your carrying a gun. You very well might need it. No kidding.

Think your safe in the Ozarks beautiful countryside? Safer than me in KC? You would be wrong.

Would I recommend this movie to you given it's slight relevance to OT dancing? No. My wife and I enjoy watching things like this on occasion but really, this movie is not for the average person.

Some of the best folk I have ever known lived or live in the Ozarks and it's a shame people like the Whites can ruin an otherwise good place.

As a sociological exploration of poor white folks in the Appalachians, you might find this interesting. If you have never seen this kind of thing before you could find it illuminating.

Monday, January 17, 2011

And now for something a little different!

Here are "The Old 78's" playing. NICE!

Old Time music is fun!

The Old 78's are a northern Arkansas group. Check them out.

New website of note to add to your links

Ozark Traditions is a new website for those interested in Old Time music and Dance in the Ozarks. Stop by and check it out.

I have added it to my links list

Den Levenson Clawcamp Mt. View Ar.

From Dan Levenson's website. Upcoming event at Mountain View Arkansas in March

March 21 - 25, 2011

Clawcamp Ozarks!
This will be the only full blown Clawcamp of 2011. Join us at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas for our weeklong Clawhammer Banjo event. All aspects of Clawhammer banjo will be addressed from the basics of technique to the styles of playing to using both ear training and written tools to become a better clawhammer banjo player.

The Ozark Folk Center
Mountain View, Arkansas


August 18 - 20, 2011 (Thursday - Saturday)

Old Time Stringband Camp! SO, you want to be in a Stringband! Here’s your chance. Join The Boiled Buzzards members Fiddler Dan Levenson, Clawhammer Banjoist Miss Jennifer Levenson and Guitar Buzzard Annie Trimble for the special workshop in all things stringband.

In the mornings, we’ll break into instrument groups and work on repertoire - “Lead” instruments including fiddle and mandolins will work with Dan, Banjos with Miss Jennifer and Guitar and Bass players with Annie. In the afternoon we will form bands and work on the morning’s tunes together as well as discussing some of the more “businesslike” issues that come up for professional and amateur bands alike.

All old time stringband instruments are welcome.

The Ozark Folk Center
Mountain View, Arkansas


This is Dock Boggs doing "Oh Death". I chose him because I really don't like Ralph Stanley all that much and Dock is more OT than him anyway. I have been wanting to tell you about how I feel about Ralph for some time but generally I avoid harsh negatives here or elsewhere.

Hitting sixty this year has found me much more mellow than when I was young. Thank God for that.

Death is all around me these days. Death and the impending deaths of folks I know. It just breaks your heart to see it. Last month very good friends or ours lost their sixteen year old grandson to a car accident. This was just horrible to see a life taken much too soon and the lad was truly special.

In my Masonic Lodge a dear Brother has announced that he is giving up the battle against cancer and preparing for the end by signing on to hospice care.

Then today, one of my favorite bloggers who had not posted for a week just announced that he was now in a VA hospital with lung and brain cancer and it is clear he will soon enough rest in the Saviors arms.

So when Dock Boggs sings this plaintiff song about death, you can be sure he knows all about it.

One of my odd hobbies that lots of people share is visiting old Cemeteries. One of the first thing you notice are all the babies and young children. Lots of them. Then you notice the young women of child bearing age.

I well remember my own Fathers death of cancer 40 years ago. It remains with me as if it was yesterday. I can still remember riding in the car through the cemetery and nearing his new resting place.

Death leaves big holes in all of us when it takes away the ones we love and the holes are never filled. Even after many years you will peek over into the hole thinking it might be gone and...damn it, still there.

People come and go in our lives and in doing so they become part of us in some way. Some are good and some not. It's all there and it's all part of us.

Oh Death, come again another day. I know you will.

James Franklin Sloan, fiddler, Ripley Co

Here is another Ripley County Mo. Fiddler I found. James Sloan. Died in 1944.

James was first a musician, He played the fiddle like noone else. He played for the church and you could here his fiddle all over the town. He played weekly for the town Square dances. He built his own fiddle and also had one that he got in Mississippi in 1900.

James Franklin Sloan was a barber He also worked on the railroad.. He was born in Milan, Tennessee where he met and married his bride Bela Garner d/o Wm."Tobe" Garner and Dona Robison Garner.. He married in 1904. In about 1917 or 18 he moved with his family to Oxly, Missouri in Ripley County where he continued being a barber. He passed away after a long illness in which his great-niece Kathryn helped care for him. He is buried at Antioch Cemetery in Ripley Co., Mo.

info courtesy of

Here are two fiddlers born in Tennessee who played in Ripley Co. Mo. Worthy of note as to sources and influences.

Fiddlers Spring

Did you know there is a "Fiddlers Spring" in the Irish Wilderness" area of the Missouri Ozarks in SE Mo. north west of Doniphan and Sw of Van Buren Mo ?

How did it get named that? Did fiddlers gather there to help partake of the fruits of the moonshiners labors as part of local gatherings or play parties? I don't think anyone has any idea any more.

Maybe a fiddler lived nearby?

photo courtesy of "Showme Hiking"

A real old timey fiddler

On one of my hunts for fiddlers in Missouri and found this little tidbit about a fiddler from Ripley County Mo. where I lived for a time in the seventies and where my ex-wife resides for eternity along with most of her family.

It used to be a kind of second home for me but no more.

This entry was copied off the blog of a descendant of said fiddler.

John Jasper Campbell (1838-1882), in the 1860’s.

John Jasper Campbell was born 28 Dec 1838, probably in Ripley County, Missouri. His parents were Boyd Campbell and Boyd’s first wife (name unknown), who had probably recently moved from Haywood County, Tennessee. “J. J.” left home around 1851, at the age of 13, making his own way in the world from that time on. As the picture indicates, he was a fiddler. In 1862 he joined the Confederate army, serving in Company C of the Missouri 8th Infantry, although some of his brothers served the Union. Little is known of his Confederate service except that he “last appears on a list of men who were with the Cavalry without authority.” In 1867 he married Nancy Marie Smith in Randolph County, Arkansas, and they returned to southern Missouri. Their first son, James Boyd Campbell, was born in September 1871, and Nancy died just a month later. J. J. married a second time to Mary Jane Griffeth (date and place unknown), In 1879, J. J. became the first post master of Mountain View, Missouri. He also ran a general store and operated a grist mill. He died in 1882, after sleeping overnight at the mill, and catching a “chill.” He is buried with his first wife, Nancy, at Chapel Hill Cemetery, in Mountain View, Missouri.

source:Janis Walker Gilmore blog

I found more info online from another website by this author and to distill, this fellow was fond of alcohol and his second wife helped him dry out and adopt a severe form of strict moralistic faith and (dang it) he quit the fiddle as part of reforming. What does that tell you about that devilish fiddling! Huh!!!

This is interesting to me on two levels. He fought with the Confederate forces as part of the guerrilla resistance and he was a fiddler. A major skirmish was fought just a couple three miles from my former in laws farm and I think I baled hay on the site once. When I lived there I had no idea there was so much history concerning the Civil War there as much as there is.

Wouldn't it be interesting to meet this guy? If you could? What stories he could tell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers

Here is an interview with one of the members of Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers. Good reading.

They were a short lived group that did some fine work. All those interested in Ozark Old Timey should know about these folks.

They were more or less from the Searcy Arkansas area. This is on the more eastern side of the state N.E. of Little Rock and on the edge of the Mississippi delta on one side and the ozark foothills on the other. I believe most of them are from the hill side.

Having lived on the border with Arkansas and attending college in Walnut Ridge, I can tell you there is a huge diffence between the two areas. I am not surprised that the musicians come from the hills and only rarely from the flatlands.
Why? I am not sure about that. There were some fiddlers that worked and lived there but left few recordings behind. One of the exceptions to that were The Grinnel Giggers who worked out of the New Madrid County area.

I have read that the Scotch-Irish tended to settle in hill lands like the Ozarks and that this concentrated it's culture there. Maybe so.

I think that the history of the eastern Arkansas flatlands is more interesting than you might imagine. I have read a little bit of it and will be doing more of it soon.

It's good to remember that much of eastern Arkansas was swampy and settled relatively late. As in more towards the turn of the century and later. That probably has as much to do with it as anything. I know this is only marginally related to the music but I want to comment on the sociology of the unique area of the divide between the flat and the hill having lived there.

Anyway, I really like the band. Listen to Jawbone and think of a now current OT band in Arkansas that sounds very similar on occasion. I really like them too. Who do you think I am referring to?

I have become increasingly convinced that Arkansas is a big part of keeping this music alive and well. I think I have said that I intend to spotlight Arkansas more in this blog to show you the life there.

My Mother was conceived in Corning Arkansas which is in NE Arkansas just in the flatlands. Her Mother left there and Mom was born in Northern Illinois.

My children live not far away. I always wondered if my ancestors pulled us back there somehow. I don't live there myself having left long ago. Frankly, I dislike the flatlands of Arkansas. I would never live there. Sorry if you live there and like it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blogging update

The more I reflect, the more I realize how much of what I just posted was said pretty much previously. In much the same way. To my regular readers, I apologize for being in a rut that way. I really do mean for this to be a relevant place for real information. I hope to begin posting more upcoming events as the new year begins and new things are coming this spring.

These remain troubled times for our nation with the murder of a Congresswoman in Arizona today by a disturbed person. Given the upheaval of the economy, my own long term unemployment and shadows of more approaching turmoil and trouble, there are days when it does not seem as important as it once did to discuss Old Time Music. And it really isn't in the scheme of things. And yet at the same time it is.

I am by no means ready to give this up. I know that there is more to do that is within my ability to perform. I still think I have something to say worth reading. I remain humble in my self appraisal but not so much that I think I should be expected to hang my head!

I remain pleased at how many folks I "meet" through this blog. The vast majority of folks are really really nice people. There are a couple snobs out there but what can you expect? Ha Ha! Life is like that.

Bridges to the past

While I am sure others have done this, two modern performers bridged the chasm of time in Old Time music successfully. Jimmy Driftwood 1907-1998 and John Hartford 1937-2001 Both were immersed in OT and had successful careers in Pop music. Both wrote songs that were Old and New at the same time. As if these songs were written back in time yet they were written recently.

When you hear these songs you think, "this must be an old one..." and they are not.

Jimmy used a lot of old fiddle tunes with his lyrics to create many of his hits. Other times he wrote both music and lyrics with an OT feel. Now, you expert ears out there can pretty much tell which of these songs are real OT and modern. No fooling you!

As I have maintained here more than once, both performers are great examples of what can be done to keep OT alive as a living genre of music and not a museum piece of curiosity preserved by quirky nerds. Hmmmmmm? did I say nerds. Naw! We are really not nerds are we? Well, that's the topic for another post.
(No were not nerds)

Both men had real roots in OT. They themselves were "apostolic" in the succession of the tradition in their hands. By this I mean, the "fire" was literally passed down to them from others who were the real deal connected to the foggy past. Hartford and Driftwood were not made up self created performers on the style of Ramblin Jack Eliot or Bob Dylan. (not to diminish the real cred of these guys but they will never be thought of as roots performers grown from the soil)

So, here are songs by these guys to illustrate.

Jimmy's lyrics are the big difference here, in Soldiers Joy. I like his version best.

Along the way in learning to play OT I try to keep in mind that music is locked down in tradition like a bug trapped in Amber. Jimmy and John would tell you this is not the way to keep OT alive. Jimmy was my first OT influence. He planted the seed in me. It's later on when I encountered the straight up no mixer stuff that I responded with my heart and soul because the ground had been prepared well.

It's why I like Alferd Packer Memorial Stringband so much. Creativity within OT in the western context. Just brilliant.

They are excellent examples of what I am talking about here in the greater KC metro region. (in my opinion includes Lawrence)

I have said all this before. I will say it again. It just has to come out.