Old-Time TOTW #189 is Lost Partridge from the playing of Kentucky fiddler John Milton Masters (22 August 1904--17 February 1986). He was the son of Moses C. Masters (1876-1905) and Dora Belle Burton (1883-1917). The Masters family had been in the United States since at least the 18th century. John Masters married Zoba Betty Lackey (1901-1994) on 15 January 1927. (source: public documents)
Masters is listed in the 1930 Census as a farmer, and in the 1940 Census he is listed as a house painter contractor. He grew up in Madison County, KY, but spent most of his adult life in Lexington, Fayette County, KY. He was a left-handed fiddler who was recorded extensively by John Harrod. Masters admired Madison County, KY, fiddler Dock Roberts; later in life, Masters performed with Roberts' son James (Carson) Roberts. Masters performed at the Celebration of Traditional Music and recordings of his playing are in the John Harrod Collection in the Berea College Archives (source: Berea College website)
Titon states in his book, Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, that Masters specialized in tunes he learned from important, but under-recorded, African American fiddler Jim Booker.
James D. "Jim" Booker (February 1872--5 February 1940) was born in Plaquemine, Jessamine County, KY to James "Jim" Booker (1837-1903 and Sarah A. Million (1846-1932). Booker was a fiddler who played and recorded with his family band, The Booker Orchestra, which included his brothers Joe and John on fiddle and guitar. He was the fiddler for Taylor's Kentucky Boys, which was one of the first interracial bands who recorded in the old-time "mountain music"/"hillbilly music" genre. This was so taboo in the 1920s time period that a promotional photo for the band does not even include Booker. Instead, Dennis Taylor, the group's manager, was photographed holding a fiddle with the other band members. Sadly, I could not even locate a photo of Booker to include in this video.
John Harrod recorded Masters playing Lost Partridge c. 1975, and to Titon's knowledge, he was the only fiddler who had been recorded playing the tune.
The source recording at the end of this video comes from Larry Warren's Slippery-Hill. Slippery-Hill is a massive database of source recordings. Anybody who is interested in this should check them out at slippery-hill.com
Joining me are friends Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH) and Jeanie Creamer on guitar (Hocking Hills, OH).
Nice tune...sorta sounds like it's a derivative, or the other way around, of John Brown's Dream, Jimmy Johnson, etc. Very nice tune...y'all played it so mellow and sweet. Great choice during African American History month too.