Anyone out there in FiddlerHangout-land remember or know anything about the North Carolinian fiddler Lester Brooks?
Alan Jabbour visited, and recorded, Brooks once, in the mid-1960s, and thought of Brooks as a fiddler representative of local tradition.
Brooks, who was in his early seventies in 1968, learned to fiddle from an elder, probably in the Hillsboro area, possibly after Brooks had married. His first instrument was banjo. Brooks was playing local country dances in the late 1920s with a band that often had a packed schedule of local dances.
During a 1968 visit, approximately 30 tunes that were taped – it is not clear that this tape survived. I’m exploring that possibility now.
All but one of the 30 some odd tunes were in the Ionic mode – some say that was typical of Piedmont musicians who tended to stay in major keys, adding that when those musicians did venture into various modes, the tunes they played were often done poorly, an indication that the source for the tune was “non-oral.” I can’t comment on whether that makes sense or nor.
Brooks played the tune, “Somebody’s In The Bed with Dinah Gal,” and that tune, or Brooks’ version of it, seemed similar to the more familiar “Shady Grove.”
Brooks also fiddled a version of a tune that may have been “Black Eyed Daisy, but could have been “Black Jack David,” and offered some off colored lyrics for “Tippicanoe” that he sang for his visitors, quietly, but would not agree to sing into the tape recorder.
So, anyone have any specific memories of the fiddler Lester Brooks?