Our very own Dr. Howard Marshall has released a new book, “Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri,” published by the University of Missouri Press.
From the University Press:
“Play Me Something Quick and Devilish” explores the heritage of traditional fiddle music in Missouri. Howard Wight Marshall considers the place of homemade music in people’s lives across social and ethnic communities from the late 1700s to the World War I years and into the early 1920s. This exceptionally important and complex period provided the foundations in history and settlement for the evolution of today’s old-time fiddling.
Beginning with the French villages on the Mississippi River, Marshall leads us chronologically through the settlement of the state and how these communities established our cultural heritage. Other core populations include the “Old Stock Americans” (primarily Scotch-Irish from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia), African Americans, German-speaking immigrants, people with American Indian ancestry (focusing on Cherokee families dating from the Trail of Tears in the 1830s), and Irish railroad workers in the post–Civil War period. These are the primary communities whose fiddle and dance traditions came together on the Missouri frontier to cultivate the bounty of old-time fiddling enjoyed today.
The physical version of the book includes a fantastic CD produced by Voyager Records featuring 39 tunes from Missouri fiddlers such as George Morris, Art Galbraith, Gene Goforth, Taylor McBaine, Pete McMahan, Warren Helton and Travis Inman.
Players: Warren Helton, fiddle; Howard Marshall, banjo; David Cavins, guitar
Warren’s father, Vernon Helton, often played this at dances in Brinktown; the tune is related to an untitled central Missouri melody called “Kemp’s Waltz,” or “Norma Lou’s Waltz.” Recorded by David Cavins. Included on the “Play Me Something Quick and Devilish” CD.
Golden Eagle Hornpipe
Players: George Morris, fiddle; Dan Foster, accordion
Included on the “Play Me Something Quick and Devilish” CD. Courtesy Charlie Walden.
Monkey in the Dog Cart
Players: Jim Herd, fiddle; Laura Smith, banjo; Vivian Williams, guitar; Phil Williams, bass
Recorded by Phil Williams at a jam session at Weiser, ID, during the week-long National Contest. Included on the “Play me something Quick and Devilish” CD. Courtesy Voyager Records.
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. Though he learned and loved many tunes local to his stomping grounds in Stone County, MO, he also had a special place in his heart for the Missouri Valley repertoire. When musicians and family members staged a Bob Walters reunion in 2010, Jim enthusiastically drove to Nebraska (and how many people can say that?) to play Bob’s tunes—and jaw with like-minded friends—for a whole weekend.
Jim played not only fiddle, but just about anything with strings, and a few things without, and did it all well. On just two of his records with his wife, Kim, Jim can be heard playing fiddle, mandolin, banjo, steel guitar, and both flatpick and fingerstyle guitar. The fuzzy edges between country and blues are especially evident in his playing. Jim spent much of his time playing music, both professionally and for fun, including memorable gigs with Don Ho and Shoji Tabuchi.
Like all the best musicians, Jim practiced, listened, and learned from others constantly, soaking up every new detail like it was the first. For the past several years, he’s been a master fiddler at the Bethel, MO Youth Fiddle Camp, partly to teach the campers and partly to enjoy the company and music of the other masters.
Kim and Jim have made music together as an old time band and a traditional country duet for decades. Their spine-shivering harmony singing combines two of Jim’s favorite things: great music and a great story, enthusiastically told. Jim wound up many a session with stories, injected with his dry wit, of musicians he’d known and times spent doing the things he loved best, fiddle in hand.
He’ll be missed.
Fever in the South
Players: Jim Lansford, fiddle; Kim Lansford, keyboard.
Recorded at a dance in Columbia, MO, 2008.
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. (Read more…)
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”).
Players: Players: John Summers, fiddle
Travis Inman, legendary fiddle champion and devoted teacher, released an exciting new album on Voyager Records in June 2012. TRAVIS INMAN: MISSOURI FIDDLER features a cross-section of fiddle tunes played in Inman’s masterful style.
Travis is eleven-time Missouri State Fiddle Champion, and his fiddling is deeply grounded in his Missouri roots. He represents a transition between the dance-dominated fiddle traditions of earlier years and more contest- and performance-oriented traditions of today. Travis has embraced elements of these influences to create a sound that’s firmly traditional, surprisingly contemporary, and uniquely his own. (Read more…)
Happy Eighth of January! If old-time has a holiday, this is it.
Long before Jimmy Driftwood made up the words to describe the Battle of New Orleans to his high school history students, or Homer and Jethro camped it up with lyrics about Camp Kookamonga, Eighth of January was a fiddle standard all over the country.
Here is a sampling of Missouri versions to whet your appetite for a little celebration this Eighth of January. And just in case you miss the eighth of January, Ozarks fiddler Bob Holt offers up his “Ninth of January”, complete with dancing feet.
Eighth of January
Players: Leroy Canaday, fiddle; Norman Canaday, guitar; Howard Marshall, banjo; Forrest Rose, bass
This recording comes from the CD “Old Dan Tucker Was a Fine Old Man” produced by Voyager Records.
Eighth of January
Players: John White, fiddle; Jim Ruth, banjo; David Cavins, guitar
Recorded January 6, 2012 at the Columbia, Missouri contra dance, out of Sam Griffin’s PA.
Ninth of January
Players: Bob Holt, fiddle; Alvie Dooms, guitar; Jim Beeler, rhythm banjo; Patty Beeler, bass; Ted Heavner, guitar
Excerpted from “Got a Little Home To Go To” produced by Rounder Records. The story goes that Bob played this tune for a square dance and was asked what tune it was. Bob said it was “The Eighth of January.” The person who asked the question shook his head and said, “That’s not the ‘Eighth of January’.” Bob replied, “Well, then, it’s the ‘Ninth of January’!”
Our site had been hosted at fiddle.missouri.org since 2003, through the generous support of the Columbia Online Information Network and the Daniel Boone Regional Library, who offered free web hosting to local nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, with budget cuts to MOREnet, the technology supplier behind COIN and DBRL, those days are over. Thanks go to John Wilbers, who built the original site, and to COIN and DBRL, for thinking nonprofits needed web space and provided it!
I’ve taken the opportunity presented by the move to update the structure of the site a little bit and plan to add quite a bit more content in the weeks to come. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check back for new tunes, profiles of fiddlers and event listings.
Saturday, October 16, 2010 • 2 p.m.–Midnight
Tekamah, Nebraska, City Auditorium (map)
We’re having a party to celebrate the fiddling legacy of Bob Walters as carried on by Dwight Lamb of Onawa, Iowa. Bring your instruments for an afternoon (and evening) of music. Also bring a dish to share for a potluck dinner. Contact Bill Peterson with questions.
UPDATE: The Tekamah newspaper, the Burt County Plaindealer, has published an article about the event, a story and a poem about Bob Walters. The biographical story was written by Harold Walter’s daughter, Alta Wolf.
I regret to report that we have lost another elder statesman of traditional Missouri fiddling.
Roy W. (Bill) Eddy, Sr., died August 2, 2010, in Slater, Missouri, at the age of 95. He had been ill for several years, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Graveside services will be held at the Slater City Cemetery, Thursday, August 5, at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be held at Weiker Funeral Home in Slater at 9.30 a.m. Memorials may be presented to the Gilliam Baptist Church.
University of Missouri Journalism School student Erin Schwartz created this excellent photo essay of the Columbia Contra Dance in action. You’ll see some familiar faces in the photos, like Tom Verdot and John White. The music is provided by the F-150 band.
May 25, 2013 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Registration begins at 10 a.m.
Homestead National Monument of America, Beatrice, Nebraska
June 3, 2013 • 1-4 p.m.
Capital Ritz Studio, 2716 Plaza Drive Jeffeson City, MO
June 8, 2013 • 4-10 p.m.
Hallsville Community Building
July 13, 2013 • 4-10 p.m.
Hallsville Community Building