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.

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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

New Travis Inman CD from Voyager Records

Travis Inman CD from Voyager RecordsTravis 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. Continue reading

Welcome to the New Home of Missouri Fiddle & Dance

Our site had been hosted at 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.

Bob Walters & Dwight Lamb Day

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.