Monday, June 17, 2019
My apologies for the too long hiatus but I get busy and I determined some years ago to stop providing content for content's sake. I want the blog to offer something meaningful and worth reading. Back in the 70's I lived in the Ozarks for a few years. In Ripley Co Mo. I never happened to stumble onto anyone that played the old time Ozark music or folk songs. There was a couple of Bluegrass bands that came and went. It was not until my sojourn at Norwood Mo. in south central Mo. that I ran across a local group that gathered for shape singing down in Douglas Co. Mo at an old White Church building. My friend Elmer Shudy took me down and I was able to enjoy something I had never heard before. At that time in my life, I was not into things like that but I did enjoy it but not enough to return. (Mistake) Back then Southern Gospel groups were the things with guitars and drums or acapella for many. There is lots of dramatic carrying on and honestly I still don't care for it to this day. Oddly, I did not really enjoy a lot of Christian songs then other than traditional hymnal songs, which I still enjoy. What impressed me was singing shape note hymns or similar singing that is very distinctive acapella singing the Church of Christ in small rural congregations or particularly, what was sung in Primitive Baptist Churches. In recent years Ozark Folk singing and songs have receded into obscurity while the Appalachian/Ozark string band music predominates. They have had folk singers perform at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View AR. to be sure. Maybe they still do more often than I think? But elsewhere, I have not seen it done. Then again, I have not gotten out there as much as I want to either. I think its a shame that the tradition of Folk songs being sung acapella by common people in rural areas has largely disappeared. This music is different than String band music. Folk songs and music comes from a bit of a different chain of tradition and heritage. In the fifties CBS came to Arkansas to research the song, "The Two Sisters". The following is the description of the video I am including below.
" The 1954 CBS / University of Arkansas produced documentary “The Search for Yokum Creek,” depicted the search for the origins of an Elizabethan ballad, “The Two Sisters.” The film begins with an exterior shot of the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center building where the presenter/narrator, Charles Romine begins by providing a few details about the upcoming investigation they are about to set out on (:42). Mary Celestia Parler, the founder of the Arkansas Folklore Society, an English professor at University of Arkansas and the wife of distinguished Ozark folklore collector Vance Randolph is seen listening to a hauntingly beautiful song on an old (1:00)." The video is pretty interesting.Vance Randolph, her husband is widely recognized for his work in Ozarks folklore and culture but his wife deserves recognition for her important contributions in Arkansas folklore research. I am including an article about her so more people learn about her contributions. She deserves to be remembered. Rachel Reynolds Luster wrote an article for the CALS Encyclopedia Of Arkansas and the link is here. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/mary-celestia-parler-3616/ I can't get my link feature to work here for some reason so please copy and paste to see it. I considered quoting the entire article but thought it best to provide the link. I have found it very difficult to come up with video for examples but I did find this. I am aware that there were more recent traditional Ozark folk singers out there but I can't find them right now. I set out to feature them but I cannot discover the material online right now. If you dear reader, know of anyone that does this, please let me know.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 6:28 PM
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
I have wanted to do a post about Alvie Dooms for years. I have not been able to get down to the Mclurg Jam to meet him. My previous efforts to learn much about his came up empty. However, he's been on a number of recordings I have as a noted Ozark back up guitar player. I saw on Face book that the Voice of America did a feature video on him and it's pretty good. The McClurg Jam has had some good media coverage over the years. It almost went under but some good folks came to the rescue. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I've been busy and no blog post subject was coming to mind. I'm sorry I've dropped off a while and I'm working on it.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 11:16 PM
Monday, May 20, 2019
Public Service Announcement about Banjo Billy Matthews Book signing at the Old Time music Festival in West Plains, Mo this coming June.
I had the pleasure of seeing Billy Matthews in concert at the old Mountain Music Shoppe in Shawnee Ks several years ago. I was just delighted. What a treasure. This is an announcement of a book sWest Plains Council on the Arts P O Box 339, West Plains, MO 65775 firstname.lastname@example.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Paula Speraneo May 20, 2019 417-293-2325 “500 Fiddle Tunes – Old-Time Archive” Book Signing at Festival The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival organizers will host a book signing by Fiddlin’ Banjo Billy Mathews for his new archive of old-time fiddle tunes. The author will be available on Saturday, June 1, at 5:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Lobby for a meet-and-greet, and will have available his new CD “Jambusters I.” The 25th annual Festival will be held May 31 and June 1, 2019, in and around the West Plains Civic Center. The two-day annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music and culture. Admission to all festival events is free. Festival hours are noon-9 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Mathews says ”The idea is to present a reasonable rendition of the tune; not too fast, pretty much straight up with very little ornamentation, which will be very helpful for many people who, like me, learn by ear. The second part of the 500 tunes project is the completion of a Book of Musical Notation that accompanies all 500 Tunes. The Book of Notation includes other essential information about each tune.” Information at http://banjobilly.net/500_tunes_project.htm "The tunes Billy has collected are little-known and are played in a disappearing style. I hope that these transcriptions will make these tunes available to many musicians in order to ensure that the old-time style that Billy plays will be carried on in a generation where newer styles are overshadowing their roots. In addition to serving as background for these tunes, the sources listed for each tune will also give insight into Billy's personal history as one of the last fiddlers to build a life from scratch in the Ozark Mountains " Emily Elam The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains. The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands. 2019 Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center, and Missouri State University-West Plains. Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. For more information on the festival e-mail email@example.com, visit the website at http://www.oldtimemusic.org, or “like” the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Old.Time.Music.Festivaligning for his 500 Fiddle Tunes book. Check it out!
Posted by Kansas Scout at 10:04 AM
Saturday, April 27, 2019
I think it's common knowledge that Kansas City had the nickname "Cowtown". The vast herds of cattle either passed through here going east or, later, it became a major meat packing center with many well known brand names we still know and still buy in the stores. The meat packing industry left long ago. The history of Kansas City "The Cowtown" remains. The modern locals have done everything they can to squelch that in the past 20+ years and largely succeeded. Here is old Cremona again playing "Buffalo Gals". Keep in mind, Nearly all the legendary western figures of note passed through and spent time here in Kansas City. Wild Bill Hickok put on shooting displays at what is now called "The River Market" Jesse James and Frank were frequent visitors. Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and many others spent some time here. Kansas City is a river town with the minstril tradition meeting with the Missouri style Fiddling which met with Ozarkian Appalachian traditional music which met with the poplular music of each decade. Buffalo Gals was a popular tune in the day and part of what makes Kansas City OT music unique. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails began here or in the case of the Santa Fe trail, passed through. Here is Old Cremona playing "Buffalo Gals".
Posted by Kansas Scout at 4:31 PM
While I'm exploring the differant types of music that came from the past here in the Ozarks and midlands, Old Cremona, a local band has been featuring this kind of historical music for years now. Here they perform "Boatman Dance", the same tune the Holmes Brigade Shirkers perform in the previous posting. They do a great job here. I've neglected to post about them for too long although I think I did a post on them years back.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 4:19 PM
Most people who attend reenactments have no idea that many camps have home made music while in camp. In the case of these members of the Holmes Brigade Union reenactors who call themselves the "Holmes Brigade Shirkers", they perform for people attending these events. Today I attended the 2019 annual Civil War encampment in Fort Scott Kansas. I ran across these musicians and recorded a video of them playing a rousing version of "The Boatmans Song". Somehow I only actually recorded a couple seconds at the ending. Big groan! Curses! I need to spend more time with my camera. So, I lost a unique moment where the band gave me a rousing animated excellent performance. So, I turned to their Facebook Page and can share their own recordings. Chris Schafer (SP?) Banjo, Brian Robbins, Bones, Kyle Lunder, Tambo. I am missing a couple more members and I apologize for that. They were not present at the time. I hope I spelled everyones name correctly. If not please comment so I can correct it. Music like this was common among the actual encampments on both sides of the War. I supposed some was Old Timey appalachians type stuff but I have to guess that there was more music like this. No question, this is Old Time Music. Fully part of our history here in the heartland. While I have nearly solely focused on traditional Old Time music as found in the Ozarks, Missouri River Valley and northern Missouri, I would be remiss to ignore this. You see, we are different here in the heartland. There was cross fertilization of music of all kinds. In that sense, we differ from a more purist Old Time tradition. I hope you enjoy the video and I'm sure next year I will no doubt capture many more performances from these very pleasant men. Hurrah for the Holmes Brigade! Even if my ancestor was a Confederate. Heh! I expect to post more of this kind of thing as I move forward. If you get a chance, attend the annual Civil War Encampment in April. Fort Scott Kansas and Fort Scott are great places to visit. Fort Scott Kansas has some outstanding "mansions" along a main residential street and it's fun to see them. So, my apologies to the guys for blowing the video capture. Next year!!! This second tune was popular with the German troops who fought for the North in Missouri. Again, Old Time music but from a differeant directions.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 4:04 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Nathan Lee McMasters announced on Facebook that Ruth Hawkins, a Missouri Fiddler has passed away. According to Nathan, she traveled extensively and played Old Time. You can listen to her on the Missouri State Library youtube video's one of which is titled, "McCann, Hawkins and Baker" June 17, 1997. I could find no photograph of her online. She was featured in the Folk Stream's indie movie, "Women of Old Time Music" which featured heartland Old Time women musicians. Folk Streams has a copy for viewing on their site but it was not working today.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 2:31 PM
I just recieved news that Cathy Barton has passed away. I don't know more than that right now. Cathy and Dave Barton were dedicated Old Time/Folk musicians who have done great work in promoting and providing avenues for people to hear our music. According to their website, Cathy had been in failing health for some time. I have never met them but I am saddened to hear this news of her passing.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 9:25 AM
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
To finish the night I ran into this one and just wanted to share it with you. Kim Lansford and Bill Conley on guitar,David Scrivner and Ashely Hull Forrest on the Fiddle, Jim Ruth banjo. (he's the smiling face on the far right, not the other banjo player who was not identified as well as the bass player. "Johnny bring the jug"
Posted by Kansas Scout at 8:59 PM
I let my mind wander a bit while I'm working in the Boston area this week to see if there was something I could blog about. In my online ramblings I thought of Jim and Kim Lansford and the empty chair Jim left behind. I personally did not know Jim other than he was a Facebook friend and I had seen him perform once. Jim passed away in 2012 unfortunately. In my ramblings I ran across an excellent article Jim Nelson has written about them a few years before Jim's passing. A truly excellent piece published in the Old Time Herald. This is still available online and I recommend you google that up for more info in depth about the Lansfords. Anyway...I had no intention of trying to write anything like that due to my lack of knowing much about them and why would I when Jim did it so well. Really. I just wanted to post and share this YouTube with you. In my book, in Kansas, music like this is Kansas Old Time Music. I hope you enjoy and remember. Here is the link to Jim Nelson's excellent article about them in the Old Time Herald.Click here.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 8:45 PM
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
HERE. Here and Here
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Recently, I read an article shared on a social media group page concerning Old Time music, that spoke about this individual's "discovery" of "his tribe". He was particularly disdainful (to put it nicely) of conservative southerners and their culture and opinions and did not want to be around them ever. He had found his own bubble of like minded people who reflected his policial and social values. There are two ways to look at this "Tribe" thing. Tribalism is rising across the United States and we are more divided than ever. This has brought great conflict into our lives both personally and across society. At my own Christmas Eve family gathering, all hell broke out when two decided to discuss politics. The details are unimportant but the consequences were quite negative. One way to view this tribalism in the Old Time music world is, OK fine, everybody wants to be with like minded people. Seems reasonable. Most of us do this. However, when this is done, your living in a bubble where your completely out of touch with other people with differing opinions and likes or dislikes. Soon, after the distance grows great, the dehumanization of others takes hold. Contempt and hate grow from there. This can happen on any location on the spectrums of opinions. The other way to see this is to reject "tribes" altogether when it comes to human relationships. This is my personal outlook. My life has been very diverse and I've been among all kinds of people of all stripes and sizes and opinions. And I mean all. I look at the person, the shared interests we might have, or not, and start there. I don't ask them what their politics are, or their religion or what philisophical schools they identify with or what school of psycholgical theory they subscribe to. I want to know if they are good people. I want to know if they are positive responsible fellow travelers on this mutual journey of life. I have friends of all kinds. Some are extremely conservative. Some are in the middle. Some are on the extreme left. Some are anarchists. Some are Libertarians. Some are Socialists. I think I have a Marxist or two in there, I'm not sure. Some are very conservative Christians. Some are atheists. Some just don't know. Some are from other religions. I'm not saying I'm some kind of super enlightened person but I'm saying there is a way to travel through life without labels creating impreganble walls around us or others. What is my point here? When it comes to Old Time, Blue Grass,Folk, Americana, why not put aside the prejudices and enjoy other human beings and this music we love. Who wants to talk about politics when you can gather around music that should help us feel connected? Back in the 70's it was remarkable that both young and old came together at Bluegrass Festivals to play and enjoy. Mutual suspicions and prejudices? Sure. Of course. But in the process they discovered another human being who loved the same music. Back in 2010 (I think) when I started the blog, I saw this situation immediately. I was warned about it in fact. It has always greived me deeply. I'm blessed to have lots and lots of good friends from all points of view. Good people all. Valued people. I don't see why it has to be any other way. Its your choice my friend. Just don't expect to see your prejudices reinforced here. This is the no politics zone.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 5:55 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2019
This group opened for the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers at the Green Guitar Concert and the Shawnee Unitarian and Universalist Church last night. They are based out of St. Joseph Mo. and perform around the region. I was unaware of them until last night and I'm really sorry about that. I wish I had know of them years earlier. I The longer I do this blog the less inclined I am to label bands and people. I prefer to let them provide the description taken from their Facebook page which is a quote from The St Joseph Newspress. "Under the Big Oak Tree’s honeyed blend of vintage folk, acoustic country, and traditional bluegrass has been described as “warm” and “picturesque” with “flawless harmonies.” (St. Joseph Newspress) I filmed a segment of one of their songs but I think I'll stick with their video. I might try to add my video later. What a great Vibe they have! They are very impressive musicians and singers. Just like with the Sapsuckers who they opened for, I had a huge grin though the entire performance! I see that they perform in the area quite often and I'm sure going to see them again. If you have not seen them in concert yet, I recommend that you not waste time doing so! Thank God for live music by incredible musicians. I don't mean to neglect any of them but I have to comment on the guitarist, Jason Riley. He plays a style that's my favorite type. There is a vague similarity with Dickie Betts that I personally see but certainly he's no copycat. His skill on the guitar is incredible. But, thats true for all of them really. Taken together they have a great vibe and at the end I found myself emotionally moved. I don't usually have that kind of response and I was surprised. I was simply knocked out. I think it was the surprise of finding music like this that caught me off guard. They have a facebook page where you can learn more and see their schedule. Click here. Check them out on Youtube as well. To the Band I say, well done! Awesome performance! I've decided to broaden the blog to include groups like this. Country music done right!
Posted by Kansas Scout at 11:27 AM
Friday, February 22, 2019
UPDATE I attended the concert and it was a real treat! I was really not aware of the two groups that performed last nigh but their performances were really special. The level of mastery of the musical forms they played and the amazing level of mastery of their instruments left me grinning through the entire time. Nikki Grossman's voice is powerful and compelling. Nikki Grossman and her partner Joe Hart perform harmonies in singing and playing that are marvels of technical skill and musicianship. And very enjoyable. My descriptions really are inadequete so I will leave it there but as we all know, live music always impacts us far more deeply when we are present than in recordings. Thank God we can still experience this from the hands of people committed to Country music from another time. The country music out there now does not compare at all to the REAL country music the Sapsuckers perform. Hearing them is like going back in time and they do it flawlessly. I always intended this blog to cover this kind of "old time music" as reflecting the Kansas City area. It was always my intention to include wider types of Country music like that found in the 20'-30's era. My primary focus remains on OT fiddle tunes in the heartland. One final comment about the performance. Grossman is a remarkable fiddler! Hart is a flawless back up guitarist. Just amazing talent! If you get a chance to the Sapsuckers perform GO! I recieved word of this earlier today but I was traveling and could not post earlier today. I'm excited about this concert and I'm going. If you see a older bald guy with a big smile come introduce yourself please. "Appearing at Green Guitar Folk Concert Series, 9400 Pflumm Rd. Lenexa, KS on Feb. 23, 2019- THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS (www.sapsuckersmusic.com) perform original songs and tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, country-duo, and old-time musical traditions–and also mines this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again. “Enchanting harmonies… note-perfect old-time fiddle playing… To be devoured by those who love old-time acoustic country music.” ROOTS Magazine, John Atkins. UNDER THE BIG OAK TREE opens the show. Doors open 6:30 pm, music begins 7:00 pm. Info and reservations at 913-717-9453. Website www,greenguitarfolk.org $15 with reservation, $17 at door, $3 students, thru 8th grade free.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 5:38 PM
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Howard Marshall's "Fiddlers Dream", part two of his three part series on Missouri Fiddlers and fiddling.
I read this recently and want to draw your attention to this wonderful second installment of Marshall's chronical of Missouri Fiddleing. This came out in 2017 while this blog was still in hibernation. I was completely unaware of it until a few weeks ago. The first book in the series was "Play Me Something Quick and Devilish, Old Time Fiddlers In Missouri". The first book covers the period of early settlement in Missouri up to the 1920's. More recent fiddlers are refered to as well but very briefly. It's an excellent book and I heartily recommend it for those particularly interested in Missouri Fiddling and fiddlers. This more recent book is the continuation of that series and begins in the 20's and moves into the 70's. I could be off a bit on that last date as I'm away on business and the book is at home. I really can't do a complete review because of that but I really wanted to post about this book and hope I can help it aquire even more exposure.What is really exciting to me is his lengthly biographies of important fiddlers and discusses the cross fertilization as fiddlers moved around over the decades to make a living and to compete in fiddle contests across the central plains even into North Dakota. One example is Lonnie Robertson who I misunderstood as to his actual style back in the beginning of this blog. He provides an excellent biography of Lonnie and you see a broader picture of him and his cross fertilized manner of playing. There are others covered of course, particularly Cyril Stinnett one of my great favorites and Pete McMahon a tremendous influence on many fiddlers who are playing today. He also covers the African American Fiddlers that were very important in Missouri fiddling. He provides as much info as he could find about them. I am completely impressed and thankful for Mr. Marshall's works on Fiddling. He comes from a scholarly background and while he says he is avoiding being " scholarly" he actually does a good job of being both scholarly and as a popularly focused writer. This is not an easy thing to accomplish and his writing style is very readable and enjoyable. I consider this a must have book. I just don't think I can do full justice to this book by trying to review in depth so I am pointing you to his works to encourage readers to buy these wonderful sources of information on our mutual interest of Missouri Fiddling. I should mention that this blog is not strictly about Missouri fiddling but it's an important segment of it. You can purchase his books on Amazon and the link is here for them. and here Here is a nice article about Howard Marshall and his book "Play me Something Quick and Devilish" from the "Mizzou" magazine. Be sure to read that here
Posted by Kansas Scout at 6:44 PM
I've been pondering my next post when today, Tricia Spencer posted on Facebook to announce the new release of her Grandfather's recordings. These are to be found at the "Field Recorders Collective" website. Soon, you can visit the Bandcamp website to sample and also purchase the music. It's not there quite yet and I've not been able to listen yet. I'm really looking forward to that very soon. It's one of my goals to focus on Kansas more this coming year. I formerly did not know that much about Kansas Fiddlers but slowly information is coming. Click here for the link to the Field Recorders Collective website. tricia wrote a family and personal history as it relates to her Grandfather and fiddle music. She has written a nice article about this that is linked on the Field Recorders Collective website but I'll post the link here as well. I've really enjoyed her music for many years now as have many of you and I was delighted to read this. She notes that the family has Kentucky roots back to the 1850's which is true for me as well. My own family moved from Kentucky in the 1880's to Arkansas, at least, that branch of the family. They are my southern branch. Tickles me to know this. It's really interesting that her family music roots go back generations and she's carrying it on today. I almost forgot but my interest in history wants to point out that Big Spring Ks is also situated on the Oregon Trail as it approaches Topeka from the east. The trail mostly follows 40 hwy until Big Springs and right there it turns north and downhill to cross where I 70 is now. You can see actual ruts on both sides of the hwy. On the south side look for the pasture with the wagon downhill from the horsebarn and ruts are there. Directly across I 70 there are several ruts running paralell to the hwy heading west. See the map provided to locate Big Springs and the green lines mark the approximate location of the old Oregon Trail. Seeing that the Spencers came there in the late 1850's they most definitely came by way of the trail. I wonder if Tricia knows this? I marked in green short lines the rut locations.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 5:13 PM
Friday, February 8, 2019
This was very recently released. I got it and like it a lot. You should buy this! The cover says "Part One". John tells me this is the start. He also says that it's very soon to be available on most of the online digital music vendors like Spotify and Itunes.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 2:56 PM
Taken by Alfred Lawrence out of Lawrence Kansas. On a glass plate. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society
Posted by Kansas Scout at 1:54 PM
Friday, February 1, 2019
I used to use the word "favorite" here a bit too much.I knocked that off this year.Still, John Hartford holds a very special place in my heart and this album he did remains my "favorite". No question about it really. It was at The Mountain Music Shoppe in about 2010-11 that I bought this CD and hit me like a ton of bricks, being a new afficiando of Old Time music. When I used to see Hartford on Hee Haw, I just did not get him. I knew nothing about him. I'm really sad about all those years I missed being uninterested. While my first fiddling CD was by Alan Jabbour, (no slouch there) it was Hartford that set fire to my new found passion for this music. I'm not going to say anything new but because I am missing him I thought I would post this little clip I stumbled onto. Actually, I'm nearly done with Howard Marshall's latest book "Fiddlers Dream" and at the chapter where he's covering Cecil Goforth. The tune "White River"popped up in the text and I looked it up on youtube and found this clip. I love me some "White River".
Posted by Kansas Scout at 11:03 PM
Thursday, January 31, 2019
UPDATE!! THEY HAVE BEEN FOUND. Please keep an eye out for these instruments stolen from John P Williams today. John lives in North Central/North East Missouri. Keep watch especially in St. Louis, Columbia and area pawn shops. John is on facebook and you can contact him there easily. Or contact me. And call the police!!
Posted by Kansas Scout at 5:18 PM
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
The Missouri State Library Gordon McCann Collection recording July 1996, Tape One, Lonnie Robertson.
I listened very closely to this recording session Gordon McCann did with Lonnie Robertson just before I did my post about him. I want to make people aware of this collection of recordings Gordon McCann did, especially for our purposes, with Lonnie Roberston. There is lots of dialogue here and it's very interesting. As I've said, I'm very drawn to his playing and I'm well into some kind of marathon session of listening everything he did.This will take a while. Since recieving Howard Marshall's latest book on Missouri Fiddling, "Fiddler's Dream" I've become even more facsinated with him. I will do a book review of that later next week.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 7:23 PM
You would think that given my interest in Kansas fiddlers that I would have discovered these fellows long ago. Thanks to Charlie Waldon's site Missouri Old Time Fiddlers Assoc. website, he sells an album of theirs that was field recorded in 1966. According to Charlie, the tape was part of an estate sale purchase in Nebraska. The album is for sale on the website for a modest amount. The style and material is certainly differant than Missouri and the Ozarks. The northern influence is strong in the materials recorded. The back up instrument was a banjo with both men switching back and forth on differant tunes. There is a real mix of tunes with Schottisches and waltzes with some OT fiddle tune standards. Thanks to Charlie Walden for taking the time to preserve this recording of two unknown men in North Central Kansas. I have to think there were more guys like them out there in Kansas but remained in obscurity. Tricia Spencer's Father who was from Big Spring Kansas (Eastern Ks) was one of them but his daughter carries on the family tradition very well. I am looking for more. As always. So, my aim here was to make you aware of these fellows and that Charlie Walden has their "album" for sale online here. Bill Yetter on the left, Dan Pettit on the right. Much thanks to Charlie Walden!!
Posted by Kansas Scout at 12:15 PM
Sunday, January 27, 2019
I want to edit this post to add that Howard Marshall does an excellent job of relating the story of Lonnie Robertson in a much more coherant and precise way than you can find here. He does this in his book from 2017, "Fiddler's Dream". Recently, John P Williams and Robert Mackey released their "Tribute to Lonnie Robertson EP. John sent me some recordings Lonnie and Thelma Robertson did over in Pittsburg Ks.about a week or two before this. Well, it got me interested in Lonnie Robertson again and I realized it was hard to find on one place information about him. If you hunt around you can find bits and pieces but nothing comprehensive. At least, thats what I thought until I discovered that Howard Marshall did a second installment of his Missouri Fiddling series. In this new book, he starts where he left off and moves from the 20's to the 60's. In light of this excellent work wherein he supplies a detailed biography of Lonnie Robertson and his wife I must refer you there for much more complete information. I strongly recommend this book that was released in 2017. So, I have heavily edited my original effort here because of this book. Lonnie Robertson was one of the Missouri fiddlers I was attracted to right away when I began this blog journey. I really enjoy his playing and from what I read, he was a very influential fiddler in Missouri. He was said to know an incredible number of fiddle tunes and many of those he took to his grave with him. No telling what we lost there. Well, he was and still is very influential both then and now. Lonnie Robertson was born in SW Missouri in Ozark County along the border with Arkansas at Longrun. This is a tiny community that sits on the eastern side of Ozark County. It's a tiny village that's pretty well run down now. Lonnie came from a musical family with his Father and Brothers also playing fiddle. Lonnie left his families Ozark County home for St. Joseph, Mo to work in the meat packing plants there. It was there where he began being exposed to area fiddlers who had a differant style of playing. He also discovered standard tunings which opened up the fiddle for him immensely. Eventually he married his wife Thelma and they went on to become Radio performers across the country moving around a great deal. In doing so he picked up tunes and styles differant that Ozark fiddling and was greatly influences by Missouri Valley and Northern fiddlers such as Uncle Bob Walters. Lonnie and Thelma traveled all over the midwest from Iowa to South Dakota to West Virginia to Virginia and parts inbetween playing music for a living. Like all musicians they had to play what people wanted and at times played other things than fiddle music. They also built a resort in the early 50's near Theodosia near Bull Shoals Reservior called "Lonnie and Thelma's Court" They sold that after a few years and moved to Springfield Mo. I'm not clear yet on the timeline for some key events but for several years he and Thelma played to gether on KWTO (Keep Watching the Ozarks) Radio station there . At another time, Lonnie played for a Pittsburg Ks radio Station as The Lonnie and Roy program. His wife Thelma also sang with and they recorded at least one album out of that which John P Williams was kind enought to share with me recently. On one of the Gordon McCann recordings (01/20/1977 found on the Missouri State University archieves under the Gordon McCann Collection) his wife thelma related that Lonnie "got nervous" when people tried to rush him. He did not like really fast playing. However, he was more than capable of playing fast Ozark tunes when he needed to.Earlier in this recording session, Gordon McCann took note of the Banjo coming into the center of the music and that the tradition was that it was always the fiddle. Well, Lonnie remarked "I don't need no banjo!" "I don't like banjo!","The banjo's are trying to take over!" Steven McDonald described Lonnie as a quiet man. He did not go for all that hyped up fast playing that others did. He wanted the fiddle to take its rightful place as the center of the music with others providing timing. Because Lonnie traveled a great deal, he has many differant influences and contrary to what I once thought is not a strictly Ozark style fiddler. Lonnie did not become well known for his albums except for the "Lonnies Breakdown" album done later in life following coming into contact with Gordon McCann. However, Lonnie recorded a lot of his tunes on his own tape recorder in his kitchen and made his own albums via a vanity record company in Arkansas. Some of these are still available. You can obtain "Lonnies Breakdown" on Amazon and Itunes. Better yet, check out Missouri State fiddlers Band Camp website and buy his albums there. Don't forget John P Williams and Robert Mackey's EP release "A Tribute to Lonnie Robertson". You can find that here I want to credit Howard Marshall's book, "Fiddlers Dream" University of Missouri Press, 2017 for the updated information about Lonnie and Thelma. I also want to thank Charlie Walden for giving me the first Robertson album I ever had a few years back. I've been a big fan of Lonnie since and still am. Check out the Gordon McCann archieves on the Missouri State Library youtube channel.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 10:44 PM
Friday, January 25, 2019
You can buy a number of Missouri Old Time Fiddler music albumsMissouri State Old Time Fiddlers Bandcamp site.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 10:03 PM
I think in a way, the hiatus I took here was beneficial. It cleared my head about what I was doing here and the better ways to improve it and make it more useful and helpful to folks who visit. One of the important changes is on the right hand side where I feature important fiddlers in the heartland. If you click on the image you will find more information about these musicians. I hope to expand on this even more. I intend to improve the depth of information here. I will be doing more biographical posts to fill in the blanks about a lot of heartland musicians that is not easy to find other than a couple paragraphs. Now that I'm mostly retired I will spend more time on this. I promise to not post stuff just to post stuff. I will probably not post as often as in the past but I hope I can offer better info. One of my important projects is a fuller biography on Lonnie Robertson including his wife who he performed with for many years. That's coming soon. I have a book review to redo for the better. I also have a Arkansas Old Time band to feature with more in depth info on them. All of this is coming very soon. I wish to thank all those people out there that have done a lot of heavy lifting on information and preservation of the music and people of Heartland Old Time music. I think my blog's original title was Heartland Old Time music. I should have kept that name.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
I stumbled onto this from Charlie Walden's Youtube site. Bob Walsh. I am not familiar with him at at all but I will have to change that. Let me give a boost to Charlie Walden's website where he will sell these old albums for a very reasonable price. Band Camp Click on the Band Camp link above. Tons of good stuff.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 7:17 PM
I had some job changes since I restarted the blog entries. This is why I have not posted in a bit. I am taking a bit differant approach this time. I am retiring this year and my goal is to attend more jams and events and post about them. I'm aiming for more depth too. The first years were gathering info for myself about this music I love. The blog was an attempt to share my discoveries with others who might not know about who what when and where. I sold my good Martin a couple years ago because I'd basically given up on playing. I kept another guitar and now that I no longer have an insanely stressful career I'm going to take it up again. Stress was my enemy and I was generally too keyed up to slow down and learn right. I was in a hurry and that did not work. I have known for a long time that I have attention deficit disorder. The only good part of that is I can hyper focus on things I am really interested in. I have noticed I repeat myself too much. Bear with me on that please. So, here really soon, I have a band out of Mountain View I'm going to highlight. I hope to do more of this moving forward. Finally, I'm hoping to offer original content. Happy New Year to you all and look for more posting. Mr. Joshua Keithly Photo taken from Vance Randolph's Ozark Folksongs, Vol III. Thanks for reading.
Posted by Kansas Scout at 7:00 PM