Harold Leake, Callaway County Radio Fiddler (1923-2014)

Harold LeakeBy Howard Marshall

Harold Leake, the long-time fiddler with Ron Lutz and the Rooster Creek Show on Fulton’s KFAL radio (900 AM), died June 3, 2014 at the age of 90.

Mr. Leake was born near Perry, Missouri, in 1923. After service in the Army during World War II, Harold became a lifelong livestock raiser and family farmer in the Millersburg community in Callaway County (just west of Fulton). He loved farming, long walks in the woods, old tractors, and talking about cattle. Continue reading

Updated Contest Calendar for 2014

Check out the newly refreshed contest calendar for fiddle contests around Missouri.

Some of the events include a “tentative date” notice; these contests aren’t confirmed yet, so it’s best to contact the organizer before traveling if you have any question if an event is on or not. As always, if you know of an event that should be included or find an error, please tell me about it.

It’s going to be a great contest season. Several contests are relatively young or otherwise deserve a little extra attention. Bunceton, Missouri is hosting its second annual fiddle contest on the Fourth of July. The Tebbetts, Missouri contest, which used to be one of the best around, is back on the schedule for this season (thanks to Jim Buffington for bringing it back as well as the work he does on the Mokane contest). Finally, while it’s not a contest, Glasgow, Missouri is hosting a parade commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Glasgow and would like to have some music for the event.

New events will be added to the schedule as I find out about them, too, so be sure to check back.

Fiddle Sessions at Walters Boone County Historical Museum Resume

Bobby Joe Caldwell at an open house in honor of Pete McMahan held at the museum.

Dale Pauley plays guitar for Bobby Joe Caldwell at an open house in honor of Pete McMahan held at the museum.

First and third Thursdays of each month
5:30-8 p.m.

Walters Boone County Historical Museum, Nifong Park, southeast Columbia, Missouri

Emphasis on traditional fiddle music. All levels of experience are welcome, but we ask that everyone observe “jam session etiquette.” Hosted by the Boone County Historical Society. Contact the museum at 573-443-8936 or via email, or Dale Pauley at 573-815-9604.

Ray Thebeau

We’re sorry to report that Ray Thebeau, caller extraordinaire, has passed away.

Ray Theabeau

Ray Thebeau

Ray was a ring leader of the Potosi dancers and a familiar face at square dances around Missouri. He had perfected the art of teaching dances without bossing anyone around, and was a kind and gentlemanly presence behind the microphone, in a square, or sitting one out, chatting in the chairs around the floor. Dancers all over the state will miss him.

He is survived by his wife Emma, also a dancer. Visitations will be held Sunday, January 12 and Monday, January 13 in Potosi.

More information is available here.

African-American Fiddlers in Central Missouri

Map of Slave populations in Missouri, 1860, showing high populations along the Missouri river between KC and Washington, and north to  Hannibal, as well as in the bootheel.

Map of Slave populations in Missouri, 1860

In 1860, seven central Missouri counties in the area known as “Little Dixie” had slave populations of 25% or more; the geography of land along the river made it appropriate for cultivation of hemp, cotton, tobacco, and other crops demanding a high proportion of low-cost hand labor. Unlike the southern portions of Missouri, whose Anglo populations were largely upland English and Scots-Irish subsistence farmers emigrating from other mountainous regions like the Appalachians, the Missouri riverfront areas were settled by midland and tidewater southerners whose ancestors had been landholders and farmers in England, and who brought with them slaves for agricultural and domestic use.  A fascinating list of local plantations and background includes one which can be visited as part of a Missouri State Park.

Continue reading

New DVD of Cyril Stinnett

Pull up a chair and go back in time to watch a rollicking session with first-class Missouri fiddler Cyril Stinnett.

A new DVD from Missouri Valley Music features almost four hours of video of legendary fiddler Cyril Stinnett.

A new DVD from Missouri Valley Music features almost four hours of video of legendary fiddler Cyril Stinnett.

In this collection assembled from the home video recordings of Dwight Lamb from 1979-80, Cyril rips through over a hundred fiddle tunes, including a collection of the twisty hornpipes and reels he’s known for along with his unique versions of warhorses like Mississippi Sawyer, Grey Eagle and Sally Johnson. Also included are less well-known gems like Leddy’s Hornpipe, Ariel Horpipe, Red Lion Hornpipe, Centerville, and a slew of B♭ hornpipes. This is traditional music at its finest:  an informal setting, relaxed musicians, and great music. Continue reading

Farewell to Jim Lansford

We are very sorry to report that singer and multi-instrumentalist Jim Lansford of Galena, MO lost his battle with cancer October 30, 2012.

Jim had a deep commitment to and knowledge of traditional fiddling. He played fiddle tunes from Canada clear to Mississippi and back again, collecting them like a child collects shiny rocks. Continue reading

2012 South Dakota Old-Time Fiddle Contest Results

Below are the results from the annual fiddle contest held in Yankton, South Dakota. The event was started in 1973 by Wilbur Foss, who’s still going strong 40 years later. The weekend event features something like 16 contests; many of the contests are broken into two divisions: one for South Dakota residents and one for the visitors. Continue reading

Tune of the Day: Rye Straw

John Summers was a fiddler from Wabash, Indiana. While he’s not a Missouri fiddler, he’s similar in repertoire and style to the Missouri Valley and north Missouri fiddlers, probably due to shared Scots-Irish influence. Like the Missourians, he plays a variety of tune forms, including reels, schottisches, jigs and waltzes.

He’s got a clean, fascinating solo fiddle style with a slightly Scottish cast, and plays some very unusual (and lovely) tunes as well as some cracking good versions of old favorites like Rye Straw (also known as “The Joke’s on the Puppy”).

Rye Straw

Players: Players: John Summers, fiddle

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Upcoming Events

Jake Hockemeyer Memorial Fiddlers’ Contest

August 31, 2014 • 3 p.m. Registration begins at 2 p.m.
Mokane Lions Club Park, Mokane, Missouri

Hallsville Square Dance – September

September 13, 2014 • 4-10 p.m.
Hallsville Community Building

Sullivan Fiddlers’ Contest

September 13, 2014 • 1 p.m.
Part of the Chuck Wagon Jamboree, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 528 N. Church Street

Yankton, SD Fiddle Contest

September 19, 2014 •
Yankton, South Dakota

Folk School of St. Louis Fiddle Contest

September 28, 2014 • 1 p.m.
Strauss Park (Forest Park area, near intersection of Washington Blvd. and N. Grand) map

See more events