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Down In The Border Counties
Kate-Kaylee Breakdown (Jim Beeler) - Jeff City (Alton Jones) - Uncle Joe, Will Your Horse Pack Double? (Alton Jones) - Knock Around the Kitchen Until the Cook Comes In (Jim Herd) - Twinkle Little Star (Jim Herd) - The Branson Rag (Noel Scott) - Rabbit Where' Your Mammy (Noel Scott) - Wake Up Susan (Jess Silvey) - Home Brew Rag (H. K. Silvey) - Clark Waltz (H. K. Silvey) - Finley Creek Blues (Jim Beeler) - Old Joe In Discord (Jim Beeler) - Sadie (Alton Jones) - Mama Blues (Alton Jones) - Goodbye, My Honey, I'm Gone (Bill Conley) - Tennessee Grey Eagle/Tennessee Wagoner (Jim Herd) - Betty Lou Waltz (Jim Herd) - Sally Come Down The Middle (Noel Scott) - Old Judge Parker (Noel Scott) - Pretty Polly (Jim Beeler) - Delaware County Blues (Alton Jones) - Milk Cow Blues (Alton Jones) - Johnny Pass The Jug (Jess Silvey) - Broken Down Gambler (H. K. Silvey) - Old St. Joe (H. K. Silvey) - Cluckin' Hen (Jim Beeler) - Seabolt Quickstep (Jim Herd) - Sally Johnson (Jim Herd) - Last Train Home (Noel Scott) - Hawk's Got A Chicken and Flew In The Woods (Noel Scott) - Tar-Ria Waltz (Jim Beeler) - Lost Indian (Alton Jones) - Hold Old Bald While I Dance With Josie (Jim Herd) - Durang's Hornpipe (Jim Herd) - Old Fort Smith (H.K. Silvey)

I was very fortunate to receive several incredibly interesting CD's from a friend in California, Ro Taylor.  She reads my Sunday Bulletin and wanted to know if I wanted some CD's of old-time fiddlers, and would I be interested in reviewing them, even though they were quite old.  Sure I said, bring em' on.  And she did, thank you Ro.  I have three fascinating CD's of old time fiddlers and their music, mostly from the Ozark Mountain area of America.  All of them were put out by Rounder Records who is located in Massachusetts, some distance from the Ozarks, but a more honest and admirable representation of this kind of old time fiddling I don't believe I've ever heard before. Some of these CD's are over 15 years old, so the participants are probably all gone by now, but look what Rounder has done.  They've 'saved' this incredible musical art form that would obviously disappear from our incredible American rural culture, if they hadn't.  Rural culture is hard to describe sometimes.  Many people know it simply as 'country music,' however that 'genre' has been so altered and changed it is no longer recognizable as anything that might be considered 'rural.'  Did this happen with old-time fiddle music.  Sure it did, but not on such a grandiose scale or for the same reasons.  Old time fiddlers, almost 100%, played music by ear, meaning they didn't read music, they just listened and then they played.  There are also many different 'styles' inside this particular culture, but most notably it resides inside the musical knowledge and memory of the individual fiddler.  I should note that when I was young, I would back fiddlers of various kinds of backgrounds with my 12-string guitar, my favorite being Cyril Stennet, an astonishing fiddler from Missouri.  Some fiddlers would frown at that 12-string guitar monocle, but once they heard it played straight and even backing their every move, they tended to like it.  It's the same with the songs they play.  Many of their songs are the same melody line as other songs played the same but with a different title, and please remember fiddlers play from memory, so it was easy to transport one 'lick' from one song into another song.  It was fun too.  Once the chord changes were established, it was easy for the fiddler to change quite frequently, interspersing 'licks' from other fiddle tunes into the one he was currently playing, especially if it was a four hour dance they were playing for. (sometimes longer).  I'm so proud of Rounder Records for all they have done keeping this old-time flavor of music (I sometimes call it fiddler's ice cream) alive and well.  Listening to 35  old time fiddle tunes (with an occasional story where it came from), it was hard to find a favorite, but I did.  Perhaps not listening to the melody line as an instrumentalist, but rather by the ear of a vocalist that sings the songs.  "Last Train Home" on this CD by Noel Scott on fiddle and Gordon McCann on guitar was simply beautiful to me.  Perhaps it's because they used a minor chord occasionally, but still, it was remarkable what they were doing at that particular time on that particular day, in that particular lifetime.  I recorded six albums for Moses Asch of Folkways Records (now part of the Smithsonian), but you can be sure I surely wish I could do an album for Rounder.
for Country Music News International 

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