McClurg Jam

McClurg Jam

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review:" Play Me Something Quick And Devilish"

I just finished reading Howard Marshall's "Play Me Something Quick And Devilish". This is a newly released book about Missouri Old Time Fiddlers and the music they play. Howard Marshall has long been involved with Old Time Missouri fiddling for many decades now. Due to his personal contact with Missouri fiddlers and with his position as a Professor at The University of Missouri,he was in a particularly good vantage point to both document and to understand the history of Old Time fiddling in Missouri. This is the book we have all wanted and needed for a long time now. I have been wanting to find out more about this topic for some time now and I was pretty sure there was nothing comprehensive out there. Now we have in one book a pretty good overview of Missouri Fiddlers and the tunes they play. Marshall is an academic writer but he keeps it readable for those who are not. His style is a good blend of academic/popular. I like that he has organized his work in an academic manner with footnotes and references that we can use to follow up people and ideas with. Being an academic, he sometimes follows a theme that some might find mostly technical but this does not happen too much for me. He covers just about all the angles here and brings in a few surprises along the way. Marshall reviews the historical trail of fiddlers all through Missouri history including the French through to today. Because there is just about no record of the Spanish period, he does not say much about that but for all the other major periods he does. It was interesting to see that the French influence remains alive in Missouri. Of course, he also covers the "Old Stock Americans","Irish"(Scot Irish) Black,German,Indian,too.One very common background of many of the better known fiddlers were both Scotch Irish with some Indian in their family backgrounds.You would have expected this but Marshall found the Indian infusion an interesting phenomena that he explores at length. Of course,many of the well known fiddlers from the 20th century were examined. The only disappointment was that Roy Woolivar was only mentioned twice. I have been interested in learning more about him ever since I heard John Hartford talk about him on his "Hamilton Ironworks" CD. (See Gene Goforth's "Eminence Breakdown"CD too)I suppose there is a lack of any kind of document trail for him or I would guess that he would have covered him better. Otherwise, I felt like I understood many of these folks better after reading his biographical sketches. He has a very helpful section on the influence of early jazz on Old Time music and explains how rags became part of the typical fiddlers playlist. I found this most interesting. There is a CD included with the book. There are 39 tracks with various fiddlers representing the spectrum of fiddlers across the state.They are, Gene Goforth, Art Galbraith, John Hartford, Cyril Stinnett, Bob Holt, Taylor McBaine, Pete McMahan, Ed Tharp, Fred Stoneking, RP Christeson,Lyman Enloe, Jim Herd, Charlie Walden, Johnny Bruce, Kelly Jones, Jake Hockemeyer, Emmanuel Wood, George Helton, Cleo Persinger, John White, Billy Lee, Bunk Williams, Gary Johnson, Warren Helton, Leroy Canaday, Cliff Bryan,George Morris,Geoff Seitz, Bobby Joe Caldwell, Lloyd Lalumondier,Nile Wilson. I don't know why but he did not include Lonnie Robertson. I think this was a mistake because I regard him as one of the more important Ozark fiddlers.Otherwise, this is a good collection of tunes that help illustrate their playing styles and tunes. Not surprisingly, there is a real jewel of a tune played by Hartford called, "Moselle". I just love that tune and Hartford does it they way he does. Which is real good. So, overall, this is a wonderful book that I strongly recommend you purchase while you can. For many of us this is a long awaited source of information. University Of Missouri Press Book. Below is the author.

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