Category Archives: Fiddle

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 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

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

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

Rector Hicks

FRC709

About Rector Hicks

Rector Hicks was born out in the country around Chloe, Calhoun County, West Virginia in 1914. Although his father played mouth harp, no one in his immediate family was a fiddler. Rector learned from fiddlers in the area, beginning to play the instrument when he was about ten years old. Rector said that he never played for dances, a typical training ground for a country Continue reading

Dink Roberts

FRC209

By Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide

The titles of tunes this historic North Carolina banjo man recorded evoke the rowdy milieu he came out of : “High Sheriff,” “Old Corn Liquor,” “Black Annie,” “Roustabout,” “Fox Chase,” and so forth. But his importance as a link to Afro-American traditions as well as Appalachian styles means his music has been the subject of intense study by archivists and ethnomusicologists. Continue reading

An Evening with Lee Roy Stoneking, with a Few Unexpurgated and Incomplete Comments on Field Recording Traditional Artists During the Heyday of the Folk Festival and Fiddlers’ Contest Revival

FRC708

By Howard (Rusty) Marshall

On a chilly, clear evening in November 1975, I had the opportunity to record and photograph the fiddler Lee Roy Stoneking at his home in Clinton, Missouri, a few miles from the farm where he was born. Stoneking had invited his son, Fred, to come play backup guitar, but Fred couldn’t make it. But his daughter, Judy Vanderville, was handy, and the session turned out nicely, with Continue reading

A Visit with Lee Stoneking

FRC708

by Brad Leftwich and Linda Higginbotham July, 2014

From 1982 to 1986 my wife Linda and I performed at the Mountain Folks Music Festival, held for ten days every June at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri. It was a great experience, and we met and became friends with traditional musicians from all over Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. One of the musicians we got to know was Fred Stoneking, who was Continue reading

P. T. Bell

FRC410

P.T. Bell Biography

By Dan Foster

Peter Tumlinson Bell was born. February 26, 1869, near Gallinas Creek, Atascosa County, Texas. His grandfather, Jonathan Bell had come to Texas from Mississippi in 1853 and settled 60 miles southeast of San Antonio. Jonathon Bell was killed in a gunfight the following year, leaving his young son Marion “Mace” Bell to be raised on the frontier by an older brother Bill. Mace and his brothers had many narrow escapes fighting Indians and struggling to survive in the South Texas wilderness. Continue reading

Bill Owens Biographies

See Texas Fiddle Bands (FRC409) and P.T. Bell (FRC410)

From various sources

William A. Owens, a Folklorist, Author and Professor, Dies at 85

By Joan Cook Published: December 12, 1990
William A. Owens, a folklorist and author who taught at Columbia University for 28 years, died on Saturday [Dec. 1990] at the Ramapo Manor Nursing Center in Suffern, N.Y. He was 85 years old and lived in Nyack, N.Y. He died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, a spokesman for the family said. He joined the Columbia faculty as an English teacher in 1945 and became a full professor in 1966. He was director of the school’s summer session from 1959 to 1969, when he was named to the new post of dean of the summer session. He retired in 1974 with the titles of dean and professor emeritus. Continue reading