Category Archives: Old Time Music

John Summers

See John Summers – Master Indiana Fiddler (FRC310) and John Wesley Summers: A Historical Sketch of My Father (article)

By Joel Shimberg

Mr. Summers’ old friend, Judge Dan White, had gone on vacation to a dude ranch in Colorado. He met a young couple from Los Angeles, Dan and Lorna O’Leary, who admired his fiddling. He told them that they should hear his friend, Dick Summers, and sent them these recordings. (‘Dick’ was a childhood nickname.) The tapes were given to a member of the New Lost City Ramblers (John Cohen), who gave them to Art Rosenbaum, who lived in Indianapolis, Indiana. Art later visited Mr. Summers and did extensive recording. Continue reading

John Wesley Summers: A Historical Sketch of My Father

See John Summers (FRC310) and John Summers (article)

By Rev. John K. Summers

How do you go about writing about a “master” of his profession? My father was not only a perfect farmer, but without a doubt, the finest interpreter of Irish jigs and reels and old Scottish schottisches via the violin. He was self-trained, having started when he was just 2 years old. His father, my grandfather, Simon Summers, took this small toddler on his lap, put a violin under his chin and held his hand as he pulled the bow across the strings. That lad was to grow up loving the violin and the music of yesterday.

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Obray Ramsey and Byard Ray

FRC113

By Eugene Chadbourne

Obray Ramsey is the banjo-picking cousin of old-time music instrumentalist Byard Ray, and the two worked regularly as a duo until they were “discovered” playing at an Asheville folk festival during the folk music revival of the ’60s. From that point on, the two men’s musical career took a strangely twisted path. Late-night television mongers who may have made it all the way through the strange psychedelic rock western Zachariah, may wonder who the two old-time musicians are that show up in one of this epic’s many strange musical wonders, and the answer would be Ray and Ramsey. Continue reading

Shelor Family Bristol

The Shelor and Blackard Families

FRC112

by Ray Alden

Jesse Shelor (born December, 1894) was the youngest boy of the fourteen children of Reverend William Ellis Shelor. Even though all of Jesse’s brothers played fiddle or banjo, it was not their influence, but rather a more startling event that started ten year old Jesse fiddling.
One day Jesse’s father came home, picked up a fiddle, and played “Callahan”. This impressed young Jesse greatly since he had no idea his father played! Continue reading