H.K. (Hubert K.) Silvey is one of the last old-time Ozarks ﬁddlers of his generation, raised in the milieu where ﬁddling and square dances were a part of everyday life. Born in 1933 on a farm near Longrun in Ozark County, Missouri, H.K. grew up hearing his uncle Jess Silvey play for music parties and dances and learned to back him up on guitar. At age 15, H.K. himself began to play ﬁddle in the traditional manner—that is, by sneaking his uncle’s ﬁddle out of the case while he was gone. Soon after the secret was out, he joined his Uncle Jess and other local musicians at dances and music parties. Another musician who inﬂuenced H.K. was Lonnie Robertson, from Theodosia, MO, who played professionally on radio stations across the Midwest. In 1953, H.K. went to work as a mechanic in the aerospace industry, a career that took him to Louisiana, New Mexico, and Colorado, playing in contests, and with country and bluegrass bands. He returned home in 1973 and resumed farming and ﬁddling around the community.
I met H.K. 25 years ago at a Monday night music party in the home of Aileen and Lester Adams in McClurg, MO, and right away I noticed his energetic, smooth bowing and his repertoire, which varied from what some of the other ﬁddlers played that night. It is our hope these 2016 home sessions capture the feeling of what I heard that evening long ago. – Jim Nelson