A number of fiddlers and accompanists performed at Shade Tree Fiddlers State as part of the annual Art in the Park festival at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia on June 7 and 8. Some 10,000 visitors came to the fair to see the artworks of dozens of artists working in various media – and to take in some good music. The Shade Tree stage was organized by Howard Marshall, and cosponsored by the Missouri Traditional Fiddle and Dance Network. The venue included hour-long sets by a range of fiddlers young and old, playing styles such as bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, and western swing.
Legendary Missouri fiddler Nile Wilson passed away Friday, March 21. He was 95.
I wish to inform everyone of the death on March 21 of north Missouri fiddler Nile Wilson of Bucklin at the age of 95. A great loss of one of the legendary elders, and a good friend.
Nile was among those who played in the WOS radio fiddle contests and live broadcasts in the late 1920s (Jefferson City). Nile played a number of “tie hacker tunes,” many of which he learned from his fiddling grandfather Isaac Wilson, who walked to north Missouri from Indiana after the Civil War as a young Union Army veteran. Isaac Wilson worked in the tie hacker camps, hewing white oak railroad ties for the railroad being built across north Missouri. These camps included a number of itinerant Irish and Scotch-Irish fiddle players (Civil War veterans), in the same part of Missouri where Francis O’Neill taught school for a year and collected several fiddle tunes at local dances (before going to Chicago and becoming famous; see article in Missouri Historical Review, October 2005).
St. Louis square dance fiddler extraordinaire Vesta Johnson made an appearance at this year’s University of Chicago Folk Festival.
John White, one of Missouri’s premiere square dance fiddlers, has recorded a new CD packed with 28 dance tunes ranging from hoe-downs to schottisches. John comes from a musical family in north-central Missouri and learned to play by playing for regular dances. Consequently, he has a fiddle style all his own that is built upon his great sense of rhythm and drive. Square dancers and fiddle enthusiasts drive from all around to dance a square or just to hear John play.
Released in 2007 by Voyager Recordings of Seattle, this CD features John playing standards like "Dry and Dusty," "Arkansas Traveler," "Soldier’s Joy" and the "Peek-A-Boo Waltz," and some more unusual tunes like "White Man," "New Five Cent Piece," "Nine Miles" and "Natchez Under the Hill" (not the "Natchez" that is from the "Turkey in the Straw" family). John is joined on this CD by musicians Kenny Applebee, David Cavins, Amber Gaddy, Kathy Gordon, Howard Marshall, Jim Ruth and Musial Wolfe.
Dear friends of Missouri fiddling,
It is with regret that I inform you that the lifelong devotee of Missouri fiddling and fiddlers, Charlie Stallcup, died on Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at a Hannibal hospital. Frank Ferrell, Charlie’s son-in-law, called me to report this news.
Services will be held next Saturday, December 29, at the James O’Donnell Funeral Home, at 302 S. 5th Street in downtown Hannibal (tel. (573) 221-8188). Visitation will be at 10 a.m., with the memorial service at 11 a.m., and with burial to follow. A brief notice appeared in the Hannibal Courier-Post, Dec. 20, 2007.
The old-time banjo player, fiddler and guitarist, Alva Lee Hendren (Mrs. Kenneth Hendren) of rural Madison, Missouri, died March 6, 2007 at the age of 77. Alva Lee was born in Moberly (Randolph County) in 1929 and was part of a well-known musical family. Her father was Luther Wilson, a coal miner in the Moberly-Huntsville area, who who taught Alva Lee a two-finger, up-picking style of playing five-string banjo. Wilson had learned banjo from Columbus Raider, and this banjo style, providing excellent accompaniment for fiddling, reached back to the Civil War in central Missouri.