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May 23, 2023 - 3:49:02 PM
3627 posts since 9/13/2009
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From another thread, about teaching OT fiddle... thought was interesting question.

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I'll ask, how did you get introduced to Old Time?
A music store? A rendezvous? A Contra Dance?
Even after I knew what it was, I found it such a subculture, I couldn't find anyone locally to play with, so I consider it an aside. No, I'm not going to burn up $100 gas to play OT.
 


Of course depends on how defining OT. 

For me, long before I heard the term as a label or genre; (folks just didn't use that term). I was already listening to and playing old songs and tunes; as well music with fiddle. Can't really say any one moment, where it stood out as unusual or unique... just part of diversity of all music ideas I heard/listened to, including growing up (neighbors and dances). Would have included hearing similar aspects (folk/trad), in all sorts of various places here and there; various other folk musicians; to old Country music; to midwest BG festivals of late 70s; to old 78 recordings from 20s/30s. To most musicians I was around; who had appreciation for diverse music ideas, including older/trad... but didn't think of it as subculture, or had hard different labels/categories/definition...in any purist sense. It was a bit looser mix, incorporating various ideas (like trad fiddling); just folks finding enough common ground to make music. 

As far as playing fiddle, a more defined what folks probably refer to as OT. While I had already picked up a little fiddle for old Country and some generic folk music; But for more trad fiddle tune world, it started with me playing guitar or bass, for good fiddlers.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/23/2023 16:00:42

May 23, 2023 - 4:58:27 PM

2483 posts since 12/11/2008
Online Now

I'm sure I've posted at least once or twice about how I got into Old Time fiddling but....

My relentless piano playing was driving my wife nuts so I decided to buy a fiddle -- a musical instrument I could take outside and not annoy anybody but the neighbors. So, with nothing more than a yen to give fiddling a go I went to the local music store and bought a cheap fiddle & bow.

Anyway, after getting basic instruction at the place I bought the fiddle from, I happened upon an ad David Bragger put in the local alternative newspaper concerning fiddle lessons. In short order I was learning Old Time fiddle, a new tune each week. He was a good teacher, and the music never failed to be fun & fulfilling to play. I started to jam and hang out with fellow Bragger students. As my repertoire grew and my chops got better, I'd go to bars, pizza joints, etc., where OT jams were happening. And yeah, for
better or for worse I was now an Old Time Fiddler. I've branched out to different genres since, but I'm still addicted to OT. For better or for worse...

As for the piano, it doesn't gather dust (and neither do my guitars). but it's the fiddle that occupies most of my music playing time.

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 05/23/2023 16:59:25

May 23, 2023 - 6:17:49 PM
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3355 posts since 10/22/2007

arts.gov/honors/heritage/dwight-lamb

I'd been playing about a year or two when I was introduced to Dwight "Red" Lamb. One or two pickers in his locality that also played that style. If you read about Red, there's alot going on over on the Missouri River. This ain't easy stuff like Soldier's Joy. I swear they do stuff for difficult sake. Like putting your fiddle on the wrong shoulder, and stuff like Coming Down from Denver, and Jack Danielson's Reel. More than I could muster.

May 23, 2023 - 6:23:54 PM
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268 posts since 9/6/2011

Born in Tennessee and raised in Kentucky.
My grandad was a fiddler and so was his dad. My dad played guitar and my wife played dulcimer,my mom cooked.
I fought it but I lost.
I had the same exact result with fishing,but my mom out fished everyone.

May 23, 2023 - 7:02:13 PM
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6527 posts since 8/7/2009

There is more to the story - but - believe it or not, alaskafiddler had a lot to do with it. I'll blame him.

May 23, 2023 - 7:08:45 PM

3627 posts since 9/13/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

arts.gov/honors/heritage/dwight-lamb

I'd been playing about a year or two when I was introduced to Dwight "Red" Lamb. One or two pickers in his locality that also played that style. If you read about Red, there's alot going on over on the Missouri River. This ain't easy stuff like Soldier's Joy. I swear they do stuff for difficult sake. Like putting your fiddle on the wrong shoulder, and stuff like Coming Down from Denver, and Jack Danielson's Reel. More than I could muster.


I mentioned midwest BG festivals (late 70s, ealry 80s; mostly Iowa/Missouri)... that's where I first met Dwight and others like him. Those festivals were not exclusively purist BG... mix attracted lots of folks liked to sing old songs and play old tunes. To be honest, my interest was a bit more in the hot BG playing (esp young hot newgrassy, Grissman, Vassar); but that was very fast and difficult. Dwight and others like him, were like my uncles/neighbors, regular folks (not famous)... were very encouraging, and jamming mostly played a lot of much simpler tunes, like Soldiers Joy; Old Joe Clark, Big Liza Jane. Dwight would also play with accordion at times. Never referred to as "Old-time". 

May 23, 2023 - 7:16:06 PM

3627 posts since 9/13/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

There is more to the story - but - believe it or not, alaskafiddler had a lot to do with it. I'll blame him.


Perhaps, but Alaska small population, (and other aspects) has always had less segregation; bit of mix; BG and OT (and folk) knew each other, were at many same events, festivals, parties.  So I'm sure you heard plenty of OT. (though might have thought it was just BG played poorly) laugh 

May 23, 2023 - 8:37:42 PM

3355 posts since 10/22/2007

By the same token, Red and company were never referred to as Bluegrass either. If any label they may call it Missouri style. Dwight brought some tunes from his Danish heritage too. Charlie Walden seems like the current Missouri style Flamekeeper. What's O.T., and what's not, I really don't have time to argue.

May 24, 2023 - 2:57:46 AM

RichJ

USA

968 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Anyway, after getting basic instruction at the place I bought the fiddle from, I happened upon an ad David Bragger put in the local alternative newspaper concerning fiddle lessons. In short order I was learning Old Time fiddle, a new tune each week. He was a good teacher, and the music never failed to be fun & fulfilling to play.

Looks like my previous post sorta  morphed into this one. Hey Lonesome, love to hear more about that add and why it caught your attention.  It also sounds like a few other folks in your area were also attracted to the ad. I'd love to hear about Mr. Bragger's lessons and what made them so much fun and especially if he taught you about cross tuning. 

May 24, 2023 - 4:16:20 AM
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Erockin

USA

927 posts since 9/3/2022

Grateful Dead 1990>Old and In the Way 1995

Someone gave me a mixed tape 1997 of Blue Highway/III Tyme Out

Hired a local bluegrass band for wedding 2001

Joined my first bluegrass/string band on upright bass 2005 (Raging Creek String Band)

Someone gave me a CD of Doug's band, Highwoods String Band 2006.

Started playing fiddle 2022

:)

May 24, 2023 - 6:22:13 AM
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2588 posts since 10/1/2008

Well ... I moved from SoCal in 1977 to Paducah, KY and went from playing S&G , J.T. and Eagles with my fingers to New-grass with a flatpick. When I called up a fellow to see if he wanted to play, I was suddenly in a band singing harmonies, which I always liked to do. I didn't start listening to Bluegrass recordings from the 40's and 50's until years later. Starting out learning rhythm guitar I have since moved on to mandolin and then fiddle. Not forsaking guitar just adding to it. I even flirt with my banjo, occasionally. R/

May 24, 2023 - 6:56:38 AM
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1181 posts since 7/30/2021

Hmm, well as a teenager I was in my "horse crazy" stage and I had a friend who was, too. I also liked to play Dungeons and Dragons, and so did she. And we both liked writing stories. So I hung out at her house a lot. Her family was Irish, and she liked to play me records by the Chieftains - we would sit in her bedroom listening to the Chieftains and writing stories or polishing up our D&D characters, LOL. Every summer we went to the Philly Folk Festival and I loved it...I saw that these people played the same instrument as me, but in such a fun relaxed way. Throughout college I would tune in every Sunday to the "Thistle and Shamrock" and "Backporch Music" - folk music shows on NPR. And I guess that's how I got "exposed" (sounds like a virus)!

I feel lucky to live in NC. Lately we've had pro folk musicians dropping in at sessions...last night had the privilege of playing with a banjo player who's recorded with Green Linnet and gigs/gives lessons...I learned So Much from her playing. And going to her concert this weekend. :-)

May 24, 2023 - 1:15:36 PM

11460 posts since 3/19/2009

The bite of a fiddleback spider ( more commonly known locally as a Brown recluse spider) may have bitten me as a child. I was 5 when introduced to a violin and somewhere I heard fiddle music and the rest is history.. Oh, and the spider bite? That was a lie...

May 24, 2023 - 1:17:07 PM

bacfire

USA

50 posts since 3/26/2008

Basically born into it in Alabama in the 60s. One uncle a fiddler. A grandfather and another uncle were big fiddle fans. Others in the family were bluegrass diehards. The music was a local brew of traditional north AL/GA styles mixed with some TX/contest and bluegrass influences.

I discovered the contemporary Old-Time scene in the late 90s when a guitar pickin’ friend who had moved to Charlotte, NC, for a while moved back home playing clawhammer banjo.

Barry

May 25, 2023 - 7:22:22 AM
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Quincy

Belgium

881 posts since 1/16/2021

I knew certain tunes as a kid, like Dixie , and tried to play it on my harmonica. I remember this music was on tapes that my grandmother gave us and she recorded them from the radio. It were the days of the first radiocassette players with recording function. The tunes were played fanfare like on these recordings.
Later on on YouTube fiddling videos gained my attention ( I always looked up kids playing fiddle music) and when I saw the movie Cold mountain it started to feel like something irresistible... and at one point there was nothing I wanted more in the world than to be able to play the tunes like in that movie.
The fiddling kids certainly also added to my idea : if they can learn this , why can't I?

I mean kids like them:

youtube.com/watch?v=OZRjoqq84og

And then this kid , I still get extremely happy when I see this video:

youtube.com/watch?v=1_0T2ZIjWnw

It's not really part of my culture but it drives me crazy to hear good fiddling.

May 25, 2023 - 7:26 AM

Quincy

Belgium

881 posts since 1/16/2021

I mean how cool must that be to have a daughter like that hehe. I have no kids, but if I had I'd be so proud.

May 25, 2023 - 7:30:41 AM
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1181 posts since 7/30/2021

Whew, think how good she must be now, Anja!

May 25, 2023 - 7:48:43 AM
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DougD

USA

11897 posts since 12/2/2007

That second young lady can sing and yodel too! youtu.be/-_XSevhw0-4

May 25, 2023 - 8:14:52 AM
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6527 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

There is more to the story - but - believe it or not, alaskafiddler had a lot to do with it. I'll blame him.


Perhaps, but Alaska small population, (and other aspects) has always had less segregation; bit of mix; BG and OT (and folk) knew each other, were at many same events, festivals, parties.  So I'm sure you heard plenty of OT. (though might have thought it was just BG played poorly) laugh 


Alaska holds a special place in my life. We lived there 14 years. I played / performed folk (solo) all over, in bluegrass (2 bands) all over, a short time in traditional irish (guitar / short time in "Back Alley Banned"), and played with several very talented old time musicians. I've played in just about every festival in the state, parties, clubs, resturants, bars. There was a time when I could go to a jam 5 nights a week and play music of one sort or the other. My facebook homepage is a picture of me playing with several good friends that really did "make it" in the bluegrass world. One of the highlights of my music life.

I won't go into my music life before Alaska, but it started in 1964, first band (The Mods) in 1966. 

But to the point... old time started with me really just wanting to play fiddle. I was familiar with old time and knew folks involved with it, but only dabbled with with it (guitar). I pick the fiddle up to encourage my wife who wanted to play mandolin. She was frustrated because she didn't really play an instrument. I offered to join her on the learning trip with me playing fiddle / her mandolin - same tuning, so we would be learning some of the same "stuff" on the instruments. I choose to start with old time, and got hooked. And - as the saying goes - the rest is history. 

I played with a lot of folks, but George was the one person I trusted to "shoot me straight" when it came to anything to do with the fiddle and old time. He hosted one of the jams I went to regularly. 

edit to add - I want to add that Alaska would surprise most folks. You would think the "Last Frontier" wuldn't have that much going on in the arts. WRONG!  Per capita - Anchorage has more talent in songwriting, folk, bluegrass, old time, and traditional irish than you will find in most any city twice it's size (or even larger). It is truly rich with very accomplished musicians and artist. You would think a place like Memphis and the Mid-South area would be spilling over with talent - wrong. Bluegrass was pretty active for a while in the early 2000s, but not today. Blues is fairly active, but even that is not really a big thing like you would expect - from here. Go figure. 

Edited by - tonyelder on 05/25/2023 08:22:36

May 25, 2023 - 8:20:46 AM

Quincy

Belgium

881 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

That second young lady can sing and yodel too! youtu.be/-_XSevhw0-4


This one I know too yes <3

May 26, 2023 - 8:27:16 PM

423 posts since 6/3/2016

I think it was John Burke's Book of Old Time Fiddle Tunes for Banjo, purchased from Sandy's Music in Cambridge, MA.

May 27, 2023 - 1:43:11 AM
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DougD

USA

11897 posts since 12/2/2007

Sandy's Music - There's a blast from the past! "instruments repaired while you wait ... and wait ... and wait."

May 28, 2023 - 12:53:03 PM
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Fiddler

USA

4396 posts since 6/22/2007
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I've posted my story before, but here it is again. It is lengthy, but I have had many wonderful experiences.

Just after graduating college in 1976, a friend asked me to co-lead a Boy Scout troop with him. In order to hone our own camping skills, we frequently went on spontaneous overnight trips. In doing this, we made a pact that if we showed up at the other's house (and they had no plans), that we would grab our stuff and go. This meant that we keep our packs and camping gear ready at all times.

Well, I was working in Shreveport, LA when my friend showed up at my apartment at 9pm on a Friday in April. I grabbed my stuff and loaded up in his van. He would not tell me where we were going. We drove all night. I knew that we were in Arkansas. At about 5 am we pull into a long drive, but there was a locked gate. At sunrise, some came out and unlocked the gate. We found others who were also camped and joined them. My friend knew several of the folks. About 8am, after a campfire breakfast and pitching our tents, we got back in the van and drove into the small town nearby. Turned out to be Mountain View and the Folk Festival.

At 8 am the lawn around Square was already crowded with musicians and spectators. People were already claiming their place on the lawn and along the street anticipating a parade. I made my way around the Square feeling lost and out of place.

After the parade ended, the Square was packed even tighter with musicians and on-lookers. Getting around the Square was not an easy task!! A circle of musicians playing together. As I moved on the next group of musicians, that music of that groups faded as the next group became more prominent. I was a glorious cacophony!!

I noticed that each group of musicians was not homogeneous. There were rough and unkempt "hippies playing with crisply dressed, crew-cut professionals playing with bib overall-gimme-cap-wearing hillbillies playing with coiffed yuppies. Every slice of society. Rich. Poor. Doctor. Lawyer. Accountant. Farmer. Rancher, Student. Plumber. Carpenter. Politician. Preacher. I heard nearly occupation, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. It was amazing to me that such a broad collection of people could get along!! ... and it was through music. I wanted, no had to be a part of this!! But I didn't play any instrument.

But before I settled on an instrument, I went through the options and my personal limitations. First, I was working as an environmental chemist and I was traveling by air frequently across the country to various sites. My assignment would keep me in a location from a week to several months and I had lots of down time. Taking an instrument along was a possibility. However, whatever I took, must be small enough to fit in the overhead compartment. That eliminated the bass and guitar. It had to be easy and light enough to carry around through airports. This eliminated the banjo.

So, I had two possibilities - mandolin or fiddle. I noticed that the fiddler was the center of most of the groups. So that pretty much sealed it. I went looking for fiddles and mandolins. They were around, but I was not able to afford either one. I was dirt poor and could barely rub to dimes together. The fiddle would have to wait.

I stumbled into the McSpadden Dulcimer Shoppe. I liked those and the simplicity. But, even those were beyond my reach. However, I saw that they sold a kit and it cost about $15. I could afford that!! This would have to do for now. Within a month, I built it and was learning to play it. I wanted to play fiddle, so I started learning fiddle tunes. Keep in mind that there was not much out there for mtn dulcimers at that time. So, I had no examples to follow. Playing fiddle tunes at dance tempo was unheard of and very few people were doing it. Three years later I decided to enter the dulcimer contest in Mtn View (my first and only!), just to see how I compared to others. I was surprised to be named one of 5 finalists from a field of a couple of dozen. In the meantime, I saved money for a fiddle and bought a VSO and bow for $100.

I was living in Austin, Tx after Shreveport and found the Austin Friends of Traditional Music. I found a community interested in traditional music and helping each other. Several folks helped me with the fundamental mechanics of playing the fiddle - how to hold the instrument and bow, etc. Celtic music and old-time music overlapped. I was drawn to the driving style of Jean Carignan and Buddy McMaster, but I did not have the skill to play it. Then I "discovered" Tommy Jarrell! His playing just resonated with me. I found my musical home!

The year after my first visit to MtnView, I met several old timers who also nutured my playing. The most important to me was Lester Bennett. He and his wife, Elnora, "adopted" me as thier grandson, and we had a wonderful relationship! Lester had a unique style of fiddling and was also quite opinionated about what he liked and didn't like in other's playing. (Can't keep time. Too many notes. Too violiny. etc.) I learned much from him! I also had the incredible opportunity to play with some well-known folks and many, many excellent revivalist musicians.

Other old-timers influenced me in very profound ways. One was Leonard Smith who lost his right arm in a hay-baling accident. He fiddled while holding the bow between his legs. We had several conversations about fiddling and life. I figured that if he could fiddling with only one arm, I could do it, too, with two arms. I also found that the fiddle music of the Ozarks and Missouri was very similar in many ways to Cape Breton fiddling.

About this time, I also me a square dance caller who specialized in West Texas squares and had done a lot of historical research on the style. He and his wife significantly influenced the modern western square dance movement. A couple of us play for him and his dances. His set would go on 15-18 minutes!!! His rule - don't break time and don't change tunes. The reason was that he was a patter-caller and would sing calls to the melody.

I met my "to be" wife playing fiddle while she clogged. She had just moved to Dallas from Detroit, Michigan where she had learned to call New England contra dances. This got me into learning to chestnuts for these dances. Again, the music of the Maritimes and New England had similarities to Missouri fiddling. But, the bottom line is playing for dances! Watching people move to your music is very fulfilling! The ultimate compliment is when the caller stops prompting and the dancers are letting the music direct the figures.

My journey has not been linear! I have followed my interests and they have changed over time. Celtic fiddling faded into Appalachian fiddling which morphed into midWest fiddling with many overlaps into Shetland, Cape Breton and Scottish fiddling. Currently, I am finding English County dance fiddling currently has a strong appeal. Afterall, it's dance music!

Thank you for reading!

May 28, 2023 - 3:16:55 PM
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1489 posts since 3/1/2020

My introduction to the music was through my parents. When I was little we lived in Ames, Iowa while my father was working as an arts administrator for ISU. My parents were both involved with a group called the Onion Creek Cloggers, which played barn dances all over Iowa (I think they’re still going!). My father was one of the fiddlers and my mother was one of the dance leaders. I would always come along for their rehearsals and performances and listen.

When my violin playing progressed to the point where I could play fiddle tunes, I got to play with the group a little and really enjoyed the experience of playing for the dancers and entertaining an audience. I also really enjoyed going with my family to the Iowa State Fair and listening to my father and the other fiddlers in the competition. One of my first fiddling gigs was playing with my father and a guitarist at the “Iowa Games.”

During the summer after I turned nine, we moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, where I lived until college. Shortly after arriving, I found out that there was a small shop very close to my house that was run by the best fiddler in town, Fiddlin’ Robbie Wells. Robbie had an active and very devoted fiddle teaching studio and he did some minor repair work and sold violins and a small selection of other traditional instruments. Going into his shop was a wonderful experience, and it felt like home. I loved listening to the recordings he had playing all the time and I was always eager for him to take me into the workshop to show me the various violins he was repairing and preparing for sale.

A few years later, he and my father made an arrangement: Robbie would take classical lessons from my father in exchange for giving me fiddle lessons. We did that for a while,
and I attended a summer fiddle camp that he held. Robbie really inspired me to delve deeper into the style, and I will forever be grateful for my time getting to know him. He was enthusiastic about my progress in playing and I was honored to have him join me on stage for a number in my debut recital and later one of my senior recitals. In addition to sharing so much time with me playing, he gave me a lot of encouragement as I became interested in working on violins. He would invite me to his studio and we’d work on a repair and play some music together.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 05/28/2023 15:32:29

May 28, 2023 - 3:23:43 PM

11460 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

My introduction to the music was through my parents. When I was little we lived in Ames, Iowa while my father was working as an arts administrator for ISU. My parents were both involved with a group called the Onion Creek Cloggers, which played barn dances all over Iowa (I think they’re still going!). My father was one of the fiddlers and my mother was one of the dance leaders. I would always come along for their rehearsals and performances and listen.

When my violin playing progressed to the point where I could play fiddle tunes, I got to play with the group a little and really enjoyed the experience of playing for the dancers and entertaining an audience. I also really enjoyed going with my family to the Iowa State Fair and listening to my father and the other fiddlers in the competition. One of my first fiddling gigs was playing with my father and a guitarist at the “Iowa Games.”

During the summer after I turned nine, we moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, where I lived until college. Shortly after arriving, I found out that there was a small shop very close to my house that was run by the best fiddler in town, Fiddlin’ Robbie Wells. Robbie had an active and very devoted fiddle teaching studio and he did some minor repair work and sold violins and a small selection of other traditional instruments. Going into his shop was a wonderful experience, and it felt like home. I loved listening to the recordings he had playing all the time and I was always eager for him to take me into the workshop to show me the various violins he was repairing and preparing for sale.

A few years later, he and my father made an arrangement: Robbie would take classical lessons from my father in exchange for giving me fiddle lessons. We did that for a while,
and I attended a summer fiddle camp that he held. Robbie really inspired me to delve deeper into the style, and I will forever be grateful for my time getting to know him. In addition to sharing so much time with playing, he gave me a lot of encouragement as I became interested in working on violins. He would invite me to his studio and we’d work on a repair and play some music together.


That is a great story, Rich.. My image of you based on your  posts was that you were classically trained and took more of an academic approach to music...and not necessarily Old Time.. Now I see a different 'the Violin Beautiful'..!!!  Live and learn, I  alwaze say!!

May 28, 2023 - 3:24:47 PM
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11460 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddler

I've posted my story before, but here it is again. It is lengthy, but I have had many wonderful experiences.

Just after graduating college in 1976, a friend asked me to co-lead a Boy Scout troop with him. In order to hone our own camping skills, we frequently went on spontaneous overnight trips. In doing this, we made a pact that if we showed up at the other's house (and they had no plans), that we would grab our stuff and go. This meant that we keep our packs and camping gear ready at all times.

Well, I was working in Shreveport, LA when my friend showed up at my apartment at 9pm on a Friday in April. I grabbed my stuff and loaded up in his van. He would not tell me where we were going. We drove all night. I knew that we were in Arkansas. At about 5 am we pull into a long drive, but there was a locked gate. At sunrise, some came out and unlocked the gate. We found others who were also camped and joined them. My friend knew several of the folks. About 8am, after a campfire breakfast and pitching our tents, we got back in the van and drove into the small town nearby. Turned out to be Mountain View and the Folk Festival.

At 8 am the lawn around Square was already crowded with musicians and spectators. People were already claiming their place on the lawn and along the street anticipating a parade. I made my way around the Square feeling lost and out of place.

After the parade ended, the Square was packed even tighter with musicians and on-lookers. Getting around the Square was not an easy task!! A circle of musicians playing together. As I moved on the next group of musicians, that music of that groups faded as the next group became more prominent. I was a glorious cacophony!!

I noticed that each group of musicians was not homogeneous. There were rough and unkempt "hippies playing with crisply dressed, crew-cut professionals playing with bib overall-gimme-cap-wearing hillbillies playing with coiffed yuppies. Every slice of society. Rich. Poor. Doctor. Lawyer. Accountant. Farmer. Rancher, Student. Plumber. Carpenter. Politician. Preacher. I heard nearly occupation, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. It was amazing to me that such a broad collection of people could get along!! ... and it was through music. I wanted, no had to be a part of this!! But I didn't play any instrument.

But before I settled on an instrument, I went through the options and my personal limitations. First, I was working as an environmental chemist and I was traveling by air frequently across the country to various sites. My assignment would keep me in a location from a week to several months and I had lots of down time. Taking an instrument along was a possibility. However, whatever I took, must be small enough to fit in the overhead compartment. That eliminated the bass and guitar. It had to be easy and light enough to carry around through airports. This eliminated the banjo.

So, I had two possibilities - mandolin or fiddle. I noticed that the fiddler was the center of most of the groups. So that pretty much sealed it. I went looking for fiddles and mandolins. They were around, but I was not able to afford either one. I was dirt poor and could barely rub to dimes together. The fiddle would have to wait.

I stumbled into the McSpadden Dulcimer Shoppe. I liked those and the simplicity. But, even those were beyond my reach. However, I saw that they sold a kit and it cost about $15. I could afford that!! This would have to do for now. Within a month, I built it and was learning to play it. I wanted to play fiddle, so I started learning fiddle tunes. Keep in mind that there was not much out there for mtn dulcimers at that time. So, I had no examples to follow. Playing fiddle tunes at dance tempo was unheard of and very few people were doing it. Three years later I decided to enter the dulcimer contest in Mtn View (my first and only!), just to see how I compared to others. I was surprised to be named one of 5 finalists from a field of a couple of dozen. In the meantime, I saved money for a fiddle and bought a VSO and bow for $100.

I was living in Austin, Tx after Shreveport and found the Austin Friends of Traditional Music. I found a community interested in traditional music and helping each other. Several folks helped me with the fundamental mechanics of playing the fiddle - how to hold the instrument and bow, etc. Celtic music and old-time music overlapped. I was drawn to the driving style of Jean Carignan and Buddy McMaster, but I did not have the skill to play it. Then I "discovered" Tommy Jarrell! His playing just resonated with me. I found my musical home!

The year after my first visit to MtnView, I met several old timers who also nutured my playing. The most important to me was Lester Bennett. He and his wife, Elnora, "adopted" me as thier grandson, and we had a wonderful relationship! Lester had a unique style of fiddling and was also quite opinionated about what he liked and didn't like in other's playing. (Can't keep time. Too many notes. Too violiny. etc.) I learned much from him! I also had the incredible opportunity to play with some well-known folks and many, many excellent revivalist musicians.

Other old-timers influenced me in very profound ways. One was Leonard Smith who lost his right arm in a hay-baling accident. He fiddled while holding the bow between his legs. We had several conversations about fiddling and life. I figured that if he could fiddling with only one arm, I could do it, too, with two arms. I also found that the fiddle music of the Ozarks and Missouri was very similar in many ways to Cape Breton fiddling.

About this time, I also me a square dance caller who specialized in West Texas squares and had done a lot of historical research on the style. He and his wife significantly influenced the modern western square dance movement. A couple of us play for him and his dances. His set would go on 15-18 minutes!!! His rule - don't break time and don't change tunes. The reason was that he was a patter-caller and would sing calls to the melody.

I met my "to be" wife playing fiddle while she clogged. She had just moved to Dallas from Detroit, Michigan where she had learned to call New England contra dances. This got me into learning to chestnuts for these dances. Again, the music of the Maritimes and New England had similarities to Missouri fiddling. But, the bottom line is playing for dances! Watching people move to your music is very fulfilling! The ultimate compliment is when the caller stops prompting and the dancers are letting the music direct the figures.

My journey has not been linear! I have followed my interests and they have changed over time. Celtic fiddling faded into Appalachian fiddling which morphed into midWest fiddling with many overlaps into Shetland, Cape Breton and Scottish fiddling. Currently, I am finding English County dance fiddling currently has a strong appeal. Afterall, it's dance music!

Thank you for reading!

..... married the clogger... Seems that that happens often in OT music..I know of others who did that..

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