Author Archives: frc1

The Dixie Hummingbirds

The Dixie Hummingbirds (FRC208)

by Jerry Zolten
Author, Great God A’Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music.
Oxford University Press

No group is more revered in the history of black gospel than the Dixie Hummingbirds. With a career spanning 75 years, the Birds truly embody the changes that defined the genre as it evolved across the decades of the 20th Century. From a cappella spirituals to guitar-driven gospel to mainstream pop – the Dixie Hummingbirds have always operated at the leading edge Continue reading

Dewey Balfa

Dewey Balfa (FRC207) and Balfa Brothers & Nathan Abshire (FRC111)

Dewey Balfa was born in Mamou, Louisiana on March 20, 1927. Balfa was one of nine children in a family of sharecroppers such; when not picking cotton, he learned to play the fiddle from his father, and taking early inspiration from the music of Leo Soileau, Harry Choates and Bob Wills. Playing fiddle and singing with the Balfa Brothers (which included Dewey, Rodney, Continue reading

Ashby Family History

John Ashby and the Free State Ramblers (FRC108)

By Ms. Nancy M. Sessions

Here is my personal Family History, and memories that have been told to me, by my Mother, Mrs. Agnes Adelia Ashby Sessions, as well as her Sister, my Aunt, Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Scott Ashby Small, as well! I have a good, and a long memory! I am only very happy that it serves a wonderful purpose; to give out history about my Dear Uncle John C. Ashby! Continue reading

The Ashby Family and Friends of Fauquier County Virginia

John Ashby John Ashby and the Free State Ramblers (FRC108)

By Sandy Hofferth (original article appeared in the Old Time Herald)

Skip Ashby, a winner at the 2005 Appalachian String Band Music Festival at Clifftop, WV, is the latest in a long line of fiddlers going back several generations and a link in a chain of musicians in the Warrenton area of Fauquier County, VA, that goes back a century and a half. The Free State Ramblers, one of the longest running bands ever, started in the 1930s and are still active Continue reading

Esker Hutchins plays Cumberland Gap (Listed as “Unknown Tune #2”)

Esker Hutchins (FRC107)

by Jody Stecher (Fiddler Magazine)

Esker Hutchins.  What a great name; sounds like someone taking a bite out of a fiddle.  His music did have a lot of bite and crunch actually, and when he had a good band behind him,  Esker Hutchins of Surry County, North Carolina played some of the most exciting music I’ve ever heard.  Playing solo he was more relaxed but still he had that powerful and incisive bowing arm. Continue reading

Rambling Reminisces of How I Came to Play Old-Time Music

Chirps Smith (FRC608)

By Lynn “Chirps” Smith – November 15, 1995

I was born October 11, 1952 in Pekin, IL. I am the fifth generation of my family in Illinois. My great-great grandfather Mervill A. Smith moved to southern Illinois, from New York state, in the late 1830’s and settled around Mt. Vernon in Jefferson County. When I was very young our family moved to Granite City, near St. Louis, MO. I lived there until 1963 when we moved to Continue reading

The Complete History of the Plank Road String Band and the Lexington, VA Music Scene

Plank Road (FRC606)

By Brad Leftwich, Al Tharp and Odell McGuire

Brad Leftwich’s Memories

In the early 1970s it seemed like communities of people who loved and lived old-time music and dancing were popping up like mushrooms all over the country. One of the most vibrant was in Lexington, Virginia. I ran across a bunch of musicians from Lexington at the 1972 fiddlers convention in Independence, Va. (Wade Ward’s stomping grounds) and had such a great time Continue reading

The Hurricane Ridgerunners

The Hurricane Ridgerunners (FRC604)

Mark Graham

Mark Graham has been playing old-time music on the Marine Band harmonica for over 30 years. In that time he has played hundreds of concerts and dances and performed with many of the luminaries of Southern old-time and bluegrass music including Tim O’Brien, Laurie Lewis, Dirk Powell, The Horseflies, The Chicken Chokers, Tom Sauber, Pete Sutherland, Bad Livers and Continue reading

The Chicken Chokers

The Chicken Chokers (FRC603)

The Chicken Chokers were an old-timey string band from the Boston area who intersected their roots influences with reggae, punk, and rap. Fiddler Chad Crumm and multi-instrumentalists Paul Strother, Taylor Smith, and Jim Reidy released two albums on Rounder, 1987’s Shoot Your Radio and Old Time Music in 1990. But when Crumm departed for New York City, the group Continue reading

Richie Stearns’ Autobiography

See The Horse Flies (FRC602) and The Renegades (FRC605)

Banjo Player with “the Horse Flies” and “the Renegades”

I got into playing music at 14 in junior high, with a pack of like-minded hippie kids. (A typical beginning, eh?) Except the kind of music we were exposed to was string band and jug band music. Locally there were some very active bands in these genres, while on our record players we had Lou Reed, Bob Marley, the Beatles, the Stones, Doc Watson, Jimmy Rogers, Hank Continue reading

Reviving the Revival: The Ithaca Music Scene

The Horse Flies (FRC602)

By Luke Z. Fenchel
Ithaca Times -11/14/2007

In the late 1970s and early 80s, bands like Joy Division, Talking Heads and Public Image Limited dared to take punk and pop and “rip it up and start again.” While those groups were reworking Anglo-American popular music, another group of artists were exploring the sonic possibilities of an even more established genre: old-time fiddle music. The Ithaca area was a focal point in this Continue reading

The Horse Flies

The Horse Flies (FRC602)

By Judy Hyman

The Horse Flies came together in 1979 in Ithaca, NY. The initial lineup (Judy Hyman and Mike Scott fiddles; Jeff Claus, guitar; John Hoffmann, banjo; and Molly Stouten, bass), played fiddle tunes and old songs at regional festivals and square dances. By the early 980s they settled into a 4-piece quasi-traditional old-time string band with Judy Hyman on fiddle, Richie Stearns on banjo, Jeff Claus on guitar and banjo uke, and John Hayward on upright bass. Continue reading

The Cajuns, Balfa and Abshire

Balfa Brothers and Nathan Abshire (FRC111)

By Dan Foster

A Brief Cajun History

Singing in French. A fiddle adds plaintive drones and harmony. A boisterous accordion, all staccato attack and ornate rolls, provides lift and bounce. Beneath this trinity of voice, fiddle and accordion, a rhythm guitar and a great iron triangle jangle out a rude chanky-chank. The result is the quintessential sound of the South Louisiana prairies and bayous, Cajun music. The Continue reading

The Nee Ningy Band

FRC610

By Bob Hudson

If a band is defined more by its sound than by its songs, then the Nee Ningy Band was in a class by itself. Most old-time or blues bands, while unique in their own way, sound at least a little like every other old-time or blues band. While the musical influences on the Nee Ningy Band are easy to distinguish—blues, Cajun, Celtic, and so on—they just didn’t sound like anyone else. Not then, not since. Continue reading

The Music of Walter Raleigh Babson (1900-1987)

FRC313

By Andy Cahan

Walter Raleigh Babson was among the few banjo and fiddle players from coastal North Carolina still living in the late twentieth century. Originally from Ash, in Brunswick County, he lived at Wrightsville Beach for about the last 25 years of his life. He worked for many years as a carpenter and was a skilled woodworker as well. In earlier times he worked in various trades Continue reading

Dock Boggs in Concert 1966

FRC312

Recorded Live at Appalachian State University – November 11, 1966

by Wilson Roberts

Following is a transcript of the spoken part of the concert. Speaking are Dock Boggs, his guitarist, Kate, and Dr. Cratis Dearl Williams, founding Dean of the ASU Graduate School, Now the Cratis Williams Graduate School, who arranged the concert. The major editorial license I took in transcribing Dock Boggs narrative was in deleting a number of “and, ah” constructions he used to Continue reading

Tommy Jarrell

FRC211 and FRC212

By Ray Alden

Thomas Jefferson Jarrell was born in 1901, the son of Ben and Susan Jarrell. His father was the fiddler for Da Costa Woltz and his Southern Broadcasters, a string band that recorded nine 78 rpm records for Gennett in 1927. Just as his father eclipsed his brother Charlie as a well known fiddler, Tommy would surpass all of his ten siblings in music. Oddly enough, Ben did not push Continue reading

Tommy Jarrell at Pinewoods Camp

FRC211 and FRC212

By Jerry Epstein

I first went to Pinewoods Camp Folk Music Week in 1965 — a life changing experience in more ways than I can count. It was the first time I had an opportunity to live with source traditional artists, and I had enough sense to realize that there was something special here that would not be found on the coffee house circuit. I met Jean Ritchie in 1965, Louis Killen in 1966, and Norman Kennedy in 1967. Continue reading