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Feb 28, 2021 - 6:55:52 AM
373 posts since 7/31/2018

This week's tune is Moonlight from the playing of Wallace Thompson of Green County, KY. I wasn't able to find any information about him. I was able to find a Ray Wallace Thompson (who often went by Wallace rather than Ray) who was born in Canmer, Hart County, KY, on 2 May 1923 and died on 3 May 1996 in Greensburg, Green County, KY. With such limited information available, I'm not certain that this is the correct Wallace Thompson.

The only information I have about the fiddler Wallace Thompson is that Bruce Green recorded him in 1974 and 1988. A recording of him playing Moonlight can be found at the Digital Library of Appalachia ( Before playing the tune he stated:

"This is an old tune. It's an old Scottish tune...I've heard some of the real old fiddlers play it, my daddy played it, Gusty Wallace, perhaps Shelly Lyle, my great grandmother used to hum it to me and sing some words to it, and I don't remember what they were now but it was an old tune then and she was old."

Bruce Greene collected the tune, and though Thompson played it in an open, cross tuning, there are recordings of Greene playing it in D. It has a very different feel to me in D, but is very nice, too. In one recording of Thompson playing the tune, he is tuned to AEAE, at approximately A415, but a bit sharp. On another recording, he is tuned AEAE, but closer to A440.

The title is said to refer to dances in the area that lasted all night and were referred to as "moonlights."

Gusty Wallace, who Mr. Thompson mentioned in the quote above, was Robert Gustavus "Gusty" Wallace (24 November 1890--21 March 1984) of Metcalfe County, KY. He was the son of Addison Shackleford Wallace (1848-1908) and Sarah Katherine Trent (1851-1933). The Wallaces were farmers. Gusty married Ella Lydia Edwards (1893-1995) on 23 September 1914.

The photo at the end of the video is Gusty Wallace, but the recording is Wallace Thompson playing Moonlight.

Joining me are friends Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH) and Sean Fen on guitar (Wooster, OH).

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Feb 28, 2021 - 7:35:03 AM
Players Union Member



2623 posts since 2/3/2011

Lovely tune and well done!

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