Walt Koken announces the publication of Fire On the Mountain: An American Odyssey, his memoirs of “his barnstorming days and the characters encountered during that period.” Episodes that first appeared in the Tales From the ’Woods series in the Old-Time Herald are joined by 30 more stories of Walt’s time with the Highwoods Stringband, the Busted Toe Mudthumpers, and the Muskrat Ramblers in the 1960s and ’70s. Fire On the Mountain is available from Mudthumper Music, www.mudthumper.com
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area now offers Down the Road On the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, a series of podcasts about the music of the North Carolina Mountains. by Laura Boosinger, the first 28 episodes cover topics from traditional Cherokee hymns to the African American history of the banjo to Jimmie Rodgers’ job as a cab driver in Asheville. Episodes are available for streaming and download at
The Georgia Folklore Collection, an archive of over 1,000 hours of music, interviews, and storytelling, is now online at libs.uga.edu/media/collections/audioradio/gafolklore. The collection consists mainly of recordings made by field recorder Art Rosenbaum, as well as by volunteers from the Georgia Folklore Society. Among the artists represented are the Tanner family, Rev. Howard Finster, the McIntosh County Shouters, Doodle Thrower and the Golden River Grass, Neal Pattman, Joe Rakestraw, Jake Staggers, the Eller brothers, Doc and Lucy Barnes, Nathaniel and Fleeta Mitchell, R. A. Miller, W. Guy Bruce, and Precious Bryant.
The Missouri State Old-Time Fiddle Association (MSOTFA) is now offering recordings, books, and other items related to Missouri’s fiddling heritage at missourifiddling.com/MSOTFA_Store/msotfa_store.html. For a limited time, cassettes will cost only $3 each.
Whittlin’ and Fiddlin’ My Own Way: The Violet Hensley Story, by fiddler Violet Hensley and Randall Franks, is now available from Peach Picked Publishing. The autobiography of the 98-year-old fiddler, fiddle maker, and whittler can be ordered from violethensley.com or
Past Present Peru, a book/DVD/three-CD set from Steidl, presents photographs, music, and films from 50 years of John Cohen’s fieldwork in Peru (see OTH Vol. 13, No. 10, “John Cohen and Peruvian ‘Old-Time’ Music”). Though the set is already out of print from the publisher, copies can be ordered through some online booksellers.
Dear Old Illinois: Traditional Music of Downstate Illinois (compiled and edited by Garry Harrison and Jo Burgess) will soon be reissued by Pickaway Press, and available on cdbaby.com. First published in 2007, Dear Old Illinois includes 750 tunes and songs from the downstate Illinois collections of Garry Harrison and David S. McIntosh.E-mail to be notified when the book-and-three-CD set is available for purchase.
The Mountain Music Trail, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting and presenting the traditional music, dance, and folkways of the Allegheny Mountain region of West Virginia, has published new weekend itineraries highlighting traditional music and dance events along US Route 219 in Monroe, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker Counties, West Virginia. The fourth itinerary features events for the weekend of September 26 – 28. The itineraries, a calendar, and other resources related to West Virginia’s old-time music and dance heritage appear at mountainmusictrail.com.
Old-time string band the Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen are featured in the soundtrack of the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, playing “The Roving Gambler.” As of this writing, the album—which also features recordings by Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Chris Thile, and Justin Timberlake—is #2 in the Billboard Soundtracks ranking.
Andy Holmaas’ show Old Time Railroad broadcasts live on all the Allegheny Mountain Radio Stations in Virginia and West Virginia Sundays from 6 to 9PM EST . The show can also be heard streaming at alleghenymountainradio.org.
The Arts Center of Cannon County (Tennessee), home of Spring Fed Records, has great resources for traditional music lovers on its website, artscenterofcc.com. The Spring Fed Records catalog, accessible on the website, now includes nearly 50 CDs and DVDs of old-time, blues, and bluegrass music from Tennessee and beyond, by artists including Uncle Dave Macon, Sam and Kirk McGee, Hamper McBee, Mississippi John Hurt, Clyde Davenport, and many others. While visiting the site be sure to visit artscenterofcc.com/Spring-fed/im-believen, to explore the project “I’m Believin’: Gospel Music in Middle Tennessee.”
Charlie Faurot passed away in August (see “Final Notes,” ) after many years of playing, recording, and producing old-time and bluegrass music. The record label he founded and directed, Old Blue, will continue in operation under the leadership of Tom Mylet. Visit oldbluerecords.com to check out the label’s offerings.
Phil and Vivian Williams write: “Tommy Jarrell and banjoist Blanton Owen stayed with us for a week when they were in Seattle in 1975 doing performances at the presentations in our region of Mike Seeger’s 1975 American Old Time Music Festival. After one of the concerts, Jarrell and Owen sat on the couch in our living room, about fifteen listeners sat on the floor, and they did a one-hour-and-twenty-minute presentation. This was recorded to an Ampex 350-2 recorder using a pair of Sony C37FET studio microphones in spaced stereo configuration. This entire performance, talking and all, can be found on our web site at www.voyagerrecords.com. Click on the microphone or ‘Northwest Fiddle Field Recordings Selections MP3 Format’ at the right top of the home page to navigate to the fiddle field recordings page. Scroll down to ‘Jarrell’ and you will find the links to the concert mp3 files. To facilitate downloading, the performance has been broken down into thirteen segments, titled ‘Jarrell 1,’ ‘Jarrell 2,’ etc. These files are large and may take several minutes to download on a broadband Internet connection. The files can be reassembled in order in an audio editing program if desired, to have the entire performance in one file. Incidentally, if your computer is running virus scans or the like while trying to play the files, they may sound distorted and noisy, depending on the hardware resources in your computer.”
Missouri Valley Music has released a DVD of the playing of left-handed Andrew County, Missouri, fiddler Cyril Stinnett. It includes black-and-white footage of Stinnett playing more than 100 tunes, recorded by Dwight Lamb in 1979 and 1980. The disc can be ordered for $18 (including shipping) from Missouri Valley Music, 511 South Pleasant, Canton, South Dakota, 57013, or via PayPal by emailing Bill Peterson.
The Mostly Mountain Boys—Paul Brown, Terri McMurray, and John Schwab—have released a self-titled CD, their first album. The 13 songs and tunes are from varied sources, especially highlighting the old-time music traditions of Virginia and North Carolina. Visit mostlymountainboys.com for ordering information.
Producers Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Joseph DeJarnette have released The New Young Fogies, Volume One, “a collection of music from some of the finest young musicians in the tradition, a varied cross-section of sounds and perspectives: square dance music, gospel numbers, duets, ballads, and moments of solitude on the banjo and fiddle.” The musicians include Andy Edmonds, Seth Boyd, Wes Clifton, Nick McMillian, Kelly Breiding, Mark Freed, Andrew Norcross, Ben Nelson, Sarah Jamison, Brett Ratliff, John Waywood, Seth Folsom, Karly Dawn Higgins, Sarah Wood, Jesse Wells, Nikos Pappas, Don Rogers, Joseph Decosimo, Emily Schaad, Rosie Newton, Jesse Milnes, Emily Miller, Andy Fitzgibbon, Hannah and Aviva, Mary Jane Epps, Elizabeth LaPrelle, Adrian Powell, and Julie Shepherd-Powell. The album can be ordered at www.newyoungfogies.com.
East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies Program publishes newsletter in PDF format, The Buckle Buster. Issue Number 2 included an article about fiddler G. B. Grayson, singer and ETSU student Amethyst Phillips, editorials and humor writing, links to archival recordings of old-time music, and a calendar of East Tennessee traditional music events. The newsletter can be requested by e-mail.
Karin Morra Magno has launched an archival initiative called the Greg Hooven Archives Project, to preserve recordings, video, photographs, and stories of the late old-time fiddler and banjo player Greg Hooven. She invites Old-Time Herald readers to learn about the project and contribute their own materials and memories. Visit http://greghooven.org to learn more.
The Mountain Music Project has released an audio CD and documentary film entitled The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya. The project that resulted in both releases “follows the journey of two traditional musicians (Tara Linhardt and Danny Knicely) from the hills of Virginia to the mountains of rural Nepal, where they explore the extraordinary similarities between the Appalachian music that is now known as bluegrass and old-time and the Nepali Himalayan folk music and culture, particularly focused on the traditional musicians of the Gandharba caste.” The CD and DVD, as well as ongoing coverage of the project, are available at www.mountainmusicproject.com.
Paul Gifford has created a website, www.giffordmusic.net, featuring recordings that he made of Michigan fiddlers between 1971 and 1985, as well as recordings of songs and dulcimer playing, photographs, and other materials. Gifford writes, “I hope the selection here is comprehensive enough for the listener to get a good idea of the Michigan fiddling tradition, of the Great Lakes Region hammered dulcimer playing tradition, and of lumberjack and other kinds of traditional song from the state.”
Phil and Vivian Williams and Terry Wergeland have released a new recording, Tunes from the Haynes Family Manuscript. The 26 tunes included are drawn from handwritten nineteenth-century manuscripts from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. See www.voyagerreocrds.com for ordering information.
A new website, www.rabeca.org, highlights the traditional Brazilian fiddle, the rabeca and the Guarani ravé or rawé. It features audio recordings, videos, and photos, and an interactive map. You can also follow the site on Twitter by following @rabequeiro.
Old-Time Herald author Cary Fagan has announced the publication of his children’s book, Banjo of Destiny. It tells the story of a boy growing up in a mansion and attending patrician private schools, whose greatest aspiration is to play clawhammer banjo. The book is available on Amazon.com.
The Mississippi Development Authority is producing a series of historical markers in its Country Music Trail program, and recently unveiled a marker commemorating the Leake County Revelers. The occasion was marked by a festival in Sebastopol, Mississippi (Revelers fiddler Will Gilmer and guitarist Dallas Jones’ hometown), on October 30, and was attended by many descendants of the Revelers. The Mississippi Old-Time Music Society and Alan Sibley and the Magnolia Ramblers performed, and community members mounted an exhibit of Revelers memorabilia. The marker’s permanent home will be in front of the Sebastapol City Hall, which will also be the site of a future exhibit about the Leake County Revelers. The Country Music Trail will in time include 40 sites commemorating Mississippi musicians and songwriters. You can find out more about the Trail at www.visitmississippi.org/music.
Bob Newby has announced the debut of a new web community, LuthierBuilt.net. The site is an all-around resource regarding luthiers and lutherie, including articles, blogs, a luthier directory, and many other features. According to Newby, “It allows players to easily contact and communicate with the luthiers they are interested in working with. Individual luthiers may present their personal backgrounds, audio and video of their instruments being played, embedded viewing and browsing of their own websites, their shop journals, and more.” The site is offering a free enrollment period for the rest of 2010, with discounts for the coming year’s membership.
The website Hillbilly-Music.com will soon be producing a new electronic quarterly magazine, Country Music Chronicles, to be issued in PDF format on www.hillbilly-music.com. The magazine, for a popular audience, will focus on the history of country music through approximately the 1970s.
Alice Gerrard is working toward recording a new CD, which will be her first solo CD since Calling Me Home in 2004. She will be working with Laurie Lewis (www.laurielewis.com) as producer on this project of original material—lots of new songs (“Sweet South Anna River,” “Bittersweet,” “Maybe This Time,” and lots more), and some old ones that are on recordings now out of print or minimally available. As she put it, “I’m joining the growing ranks of folks who are working independently of record labels and raising their own funds.” She invites readers to look through the project website for more information: http://alicegerrardrecordingproject.com.
Fred C. Fussell, author of Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle, is assembling a guidebook to traditional music venues in Alabama. Among the organizations supporting the project are the Alabama Roots Music Documentation Project, Alabama Folklife Association, and Alabama State Council on the Arts. The guidebook’s focus will be public venues and events in Alabama where residents of the state play traditional music. For more information about the book or the Alabama Roots Music Documentation Project, or to recommend a venue or event for inclusion, contact Fred Fussell.
The Country Dance and Song Society, based in Haydenville, Massachusetts, has published a new book of singing and patter squares, On the Beat with Ralph Sweet, edited by Nils Fredland. Ralph Sweet has been calling square and contra dances since 1943. He is the owner of the Sweetheart Flute Company and the Powder Mill Barn in Enfield, Connecticut, and a regular dancer and sometimes caller at the Greenfield, Massachusetts, Guiding Star Grange. The book is available for $30 plus shipping and handling, at www.cdss.org/store.
Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer’s First Hundred Years, Dick Spottswood’s new biography of old-time banjo player Wade Mainer, will be released in early August by the University Press of Mississippi (www.upress.state.ms.us). A book signing and Mainer-themed concert, with performers including David Holt, will be held at the University of North Carolina at a date to be announced. Wade Mainer, who was born in North Carolina, has lived in Flint, Michigan, for many years, and celebrated his 103rd birthday in April.
The University of Missouri Press has issued a new edition of R. P. Christeson’s The Old-Time Fiddlers’ Repertory. The book includes transcriptions of 245 fiddle tunes as collected by Christeson from 33 fiddlers in nine Midwestern and Southwestern states. The book can be ordered by visiting http://press.umsystem.edu, or calling (800) 621-2736.
A new CD anthology from Old Hat Records is scheduled for release in October 2009. Entitled Gastonia Gallop: Cotton Mill Songs and Hillbilly Blues, it documents the recordings of Piedmont textile workers from Gaston County, North Carolina, during the years 1927-1931. Musicians represented include David McCarn, the Carolina Twins, early Tobacco Tags, and Wilmer Watts and the Lonely Eagles. The CD, produced by Marshall Wyatt, has an introduction by Gaston County native Justin Robinson, of Carolina Chocolate Drops fame, and album notes by Patrick Huber, author of the award-winning book Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South. For more information, visit the Old Hat website: www.oldhatrecords.com.
Carolina Music Ways has announced the release of a new CD, All Roads Lead Home: A Heritage Sampler from North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley. The compilation features recordings by Piedmont North Carolina old-time, jazz, and bluegrass musicians. Visit the Carolina Music Ways website to find out more.
Voyager has published a revised edition of the 1989 Grammy Finalist book and recording Now That’s a Good Tune: Masters of Traditional Missouri Fiddling. The original double-LP album and book were produced by the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center, a division of the Graduate School and Office of Research at the University of Missouri, under the direction of Dr. Howard Marshall, and in cooperation with the University of Missouri Extension Division. The 2008 edition was produced and edited by Marshall and Vivian and Phil Williams. The 98-page book with accompanying 52-track CD set may be purchased from the Voyager website at www.voyagerrecords.com, or by writing to Phil and Vivian Williams (Voyager, 424 35th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122) or to Howard Marshall (e-mail, 573- 642-6226).
5-String Productions has released a two-disc box set of recordings by Ernest Stoneman, entitled Ernest V. Stoneman: Unsung Father of Country Music, produced by Christopher King and Hank Sapoznik, with designer Susan Archie. Accompanying the set is a 44-page booklet full of rare photographs, with an introduction by Patsy Stoneman Murphy. Visit www.5-string.com for information.
New from Old Hat is In the Pines: Tar Heel Folk Songs and Fiddle Tunes, a collection of two dozen recordings made by North Carolina artists between 1926 and 1936. Among the musicians represented are Charlie Poole, the Dixon Brothers, Mainer’s Mountaineers, Parker and Woolbright, and many more. The disc is accompanied by a 24-page booklet containing vintage photographs of early Tar Heel artists. Visit www.oldhatrecords.com for details.