Sunday, January 8, 2012
Luke Highnights Ozark Strutters
As I have often said, I have a real interest in Old Timey music and muscisians from the Ozark region and more broadly, the state of Missouri and the Missouri river valley. The Ozark region more specifically is my greatest interest. I include Arkansas, parts of Oklahoma and parts of Missouri in this Ozark catagory. Of course, I love the Appallacians and that OT music as well but I tend to find I just find more interest in the Ozarks because I once lived there and knew and felt the culture more intimately. I fell in love with the Ozarks as a young man still in high school visiting from Yankee land, so as to see a girlfriend. After I left the Army in 73, my wife, that former girlfriend, and I, moved to Southern Missouri so I could be in a good place that made me happy with hills and rivers and creeks to explore and deer, squirrels and coons to hunt. Old Time music has deep roots there. Some real fine musicians rose up there. Some became famous, like Jimmy Driftwood. Most remained unknown and obscure. Back in the twenties, as recorded music began to be commercially available with devices to replay recordings in wider circulation,a number of OT groups were recruited to provide music for these small recording companies. You see, media always needs content, then as well as today. So here was a ready source of semi pro mostly amateur content providers. Because of this we have a cluster of really fine old recordings from the twenties that reveal some really really good playing. Playing that does not give up anything to what we have today. Some of this playing and the jam like groove they could get into remains a benchmark for really fine OT playing. It was music that was alive. It was music you could get excited about and we still do get excited about. It was dance music mostly. Folks got happy feet when they heard it and wanted to get up and do some steppin! Unless you were Baptist or Pentecostal then you probably would have to be real careful about such things as that! We think of OT music as a wholesome activity today but back in that day the fiddle still had the taint of Old Satan haloed around the sound hole and Corn Liqueur was on the breath of many of the fellows that were on that dance floor. People never really change. We think were all different now but we really are not. Well, I wanted to share this clip as a great example of how good OT could be in the Ozarks. This is one of my favorite groups from that period and I think they are fantastic. I am going to work on researching some of these groups this coming year and share what I can with you. It's also interesting that many of them are Arkansas folks. I really want to explore more history here than I have. Charlie Walden has done a fantastic job on his site and I would always refer you there first. I plan to explore the Arkansas groups and players this year. Let's see how well that goes. I hope you enjoy this clip. I love the group.