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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: "Conversations with Old-time Perfomers" - A DVD Series

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frailin - Posted - 12/04/2014:  13:36:50

If you want to make something real, you must commit to it.  So here goes...

Beginning next month, I'm going to start filming another DVD "Conversations" Series - this time with Old-time Performers. Here's the 3 minute video to tell you all about it. 

In anticipation, I've upgraded my equipment and hope to capture many more inspiring (and entertaining) stories of community, joy, pursuing one's gifting/passion as well as these incredible folk's influences.  I know there'll be a ton of history in here... not to mention, music and fun!  

I've already booked the first 2 interview rounds and now have 30 folks lined up.  The first interviews start next month (January) but the real fun (the "rounds"... cross-country trips) start in March.  

Just so you know, I took a great deal of strength - not to mention insights and wisdom - from your joining me on the Banjo Builder thread.  I so appreciated you experiencing these incredible people with me.  Thank you for that support!  If I haven't worn you out, I'd be delighted if you'd come along on this second grand (birthday) adventure (thus, the new thread).  I know there's fun to be had.  :)

More in a bit.  Now I gotta go figure out these new-fangled cameras. 

Edited by - frailin on 12/04/2014 13:57:41

Clawdan - Posted - 12/04/2014:  14:49:45

Traveling to do this one too?

banjo bill-e - Posted - 12/04/2014:  15:07:52

Too cool, Craig!

R Buck - Posted - 12/04/2014:  15:17:32

I have conversations with them all of the time.

Danny D - Posted - 12/04/2014:  16:59:56

Looking forward to it Craig. I'm still learning from the builders set. This is an awesome thing you do for this part of American music history. Make it a safe trip!

dbrooks - Posted - 12/04/2014:  17:54:13

That's great news, Craig. With a series like his, along with your Banjo Builder series, you're a 21st century Alan Lomax. You are creating an amazing documentary of the major figures in contemporary old-time music. 


Frosty Morn - Posted - 12/04/2014:  18:16:59

Excellent! Keep us posted on your travels, Craig.

Joe Newberry - Posted - 12/04/2014:  19:35:10

I am looking forward to our conversation, Craig!

JanetB - Posted - 12/04/2014:  19:40:04

If this series is even a smidgeon as good as the Banjo Builders series you can count me in as a loyal follower and customer.  We're just beginning to appreciate all those interviews and tunes.  Way to go, Craig!

Winged Words - Posted - 12/04/2014:  20:59:56

The one I was waiting for Craig. Great news.

rudy - Posted - 12/05/2014:  05:16:58

Cool beans, Mr. Craig!

Ron Ortegel - Posted - 12/05/2014:  08:11:15

Looking forward to more great stuff from you.

hweinberg - Posted - 12/05/2014:  08:21:05

excellent!    -- Howard

RWJonesy - Posted - 12/05/2014:  08:35:42

What an awesome idea! If you need a place to stay Craig, please give me a shout. Be more than happy to have you again.

Edited by - RWJonesy on 12/05/2014 08:36:48

74rider - Posted - 12/05/2014:  12:06:50

Way cool!! David Holt was one of my big inspirations years ago. I remember a gig he did on Hee Haw, "The Cat Came Back". I see you are already on to him. This will be awesome!!

cmox - Posted - 12/05/2014:  14:25:59

I'm in.

Pine Cone - Posted - 12/05/2014:  21:49:23

Looking forward to see and hear what you come up with this time.  I've certainly enjoyed what you have done so far,.

frailin - Posted - 12/06/2014:  04:01:45

You guys and gals are the best.  Thanks for coming along with me (again).  :)

BNJOMAKR - Posted - 12/06/2014:  10:51:40

Great news!

Tom Berghan - Posted - 12/06/2014:  13:27:54

Very Cool Craig!

I'm thinking you have already figured out what I am about to say . . . but don't forget to continually prioritize the "old timers" who might not be with us that much longer.  I went on a similar adventure in 1969 to visit blues musicians who had recorded in the 1920s  . . . like Gus Cannon.

It was an adventure that I have treasured my whole life and many people have enjoyed hearing the stories over the years.  Within just a year or two of when I first set out I think tht over half of the great musicians I was able to meet had already passed away.  It was a gift from heaven and an honor to have met them.

The world needs great documentary artists like you Craig!  (I am a big fan!)  So, hurry up and talk to those old folks before the young-uns  . . . if you can!!!!  

wink  Best Wishes, Tom

Porchgirl - Posted - 12/06/2014:  14:00:46

Exciting!  It's great to be able to enjoy and learn through your work -- thanks, Craig!

pjxndvm - Posted - 12/08/2014:  09:54:23

All Aboard!!!!! I think this will be great! Looking forward to it and you can count on my support Craig.

Yanni - Posted - 12/08/2014:  14:09:34

Really looking forward to this one!  Unlike you guys across the pond, I may not have heard of a lot of the people you are going to interview.  What a delight and an eye opener this will be for me :)


frailin - Posted - 12/16/2014:  17:21:02


There's a great discussion about living old-time banjo performers here:

frailin - Posted - 01/10/2015:  13:58:16

First Labors.

T'was a very cold winter's day yesterday (-2 degrees).  None-the-less, I drove 5 hours (both ways) to meet with two delightful old-time performers at this warm, beautiful old four-square home outside of Whitewater, WI.  The home was charming, the coffee strong and the conversations lively, interesting and sometimes irreverent... and now are captured for posterity.  Here are the first two programs for the Conversations with Old-time Performers Series.  :)

Finder and keeper of Midwestern tunes/songs and incredible fiddler for the Volo Bogtrotters, Lynn (Chirps) Smith.  

And his Volo partner in harmony, the irascibly fun banjo performer, Steve Rosen.

You might also know Steve for his commonly played "G" tune, "Nail that Catfish to a Tree."  Yup.  He's performing it here. 

And got some great examples of how Steve and Chirps play together.  If you clawhammer banjo players really want to know how to back up a fiddle, Steve tells his secrets.  

It's nice to be back in the saddle.  :)

Up next, Stephen Wade.  


dbrooks - Posted - 01/10/2015:  15:39:58

What a great start, Craig.  A wonderful blend of traditional and modern.


pernicketylad - Posted - 01/10/2015:  15:46:48

Looking forward to it! Best of luck on your travels Craig.

Porchgirl - Posted - 01/10/2015:  17:17:07

Wow!  Can't wait to see these!

JanetB - Posted - 01/10/2015:  19:53:53

Stephen Wade--ooo-eee!  I don't mean to hurry you, Craig, but we're already on Volume 3 of the Banjo Builders Series, so we're anxious for the next set of DVDs to surface.  In the meantime, we'll watch them all again....

Danny D - Posted - 01/13/2015:  03:17:34

Steve Martin
Dwight Diller
Mark Johnson

Only three? That's tough.

RWJonesy - Posted - 01/13/2015:  08:55:32

Stephen Wade!..... This is going to be one exciting ride.

frailin - Posted - 01/14/2015:  17:39:26

I'm learning that, unlike Banjo Builders, interviews with entertainers sometimes don't always go as planned.  Here's a preview of my conversation with the Volo Bogtrotter's Steve Rosen.  


Clic on pic.


RWJonesy - Posted - 01/14/2015:  18:09:20

 I am loving every minute of this blessed journey you are on Craig. I look forward to every post you enter......It is as close as I  am going to get to riding shotgun alongside with you.wink

Danny D - Posted - 01/15/2015:  07:08:32

Love it. Keep the out takes in!

Viper - Posted - 01/15/2015:  07:49:40

Well, that's just kind of a mean tease. WHAT WAS HE THINKING? A few of us were just playing that tune last Saturday. 

westsideryan - Posted - 01/15/2015:  15:41:34

Maybe you could have a little section with each player walking you through a favorite tune (like a quick lesson)?!?

Anyway, I am so happy you are making more documentaries! I can't wait!

hweinberg - Posted - 01/16/2015:  12:41:15

Excelsior Frailin'!  Filmin' and Frailin'.  Great combination.  Amazon should talk to you about some streaming videos...  --Howard

frailin - Posted - 01/16/2015:  14:35:44

Gosh it's fun to be back in the saddle!  

I've spent the last 5 days editing and indulging in Chirps Smith and Steve Rosen's programs.  I'd forgotten just how much fun it was to hear and connect the stories of the Banjo Builders.  Conversations with Old-time Performers promises to be more of the same... but perhaps a bit edgier.  

After finishing with Steve's stories of catfish, giant groupers and brown recluse spiders earlier today, I can see where some of the performer's life experiences might be a bit more, ah varied... but who knows! And now that I've two rough cuts in the can, I can't help but want to share.  

These stories are too good to sit on a shelf or at least until their in DVD form.  So... for a limited time (over the weekend), later on today I'll be posting one for your viewing pleasure.  

Both are really good (Chirps was a botany major.  So how did HE end up in Old-time?).  But the Steve Rosen teaser I posted earlier this week posed a cliff-hanger.  So I thought it would be kind to let know see how it ends.  I can tell you, there's more insects and animals involved than just catfish.  But no more nails and none were harmed... well, as far as I know.  

Stand by.  Back soon.  


Edited by - frailin on 01/16/2015 14:48:34

westsideryan - Posted - 01/16/2015:  15:24:41

SWEET! smiley

frailin - Posted - 01/17/2015:  10:41:04

Haven't heard back from Steve regarding some questions in his program so I decided to post Chirp's interview.  It will only be up for free for a coupla days. So if you'd like to preview a segment from the Conversations with Old-time Performer's Series, here 'tis!

Clic on Pic

Chirps is a beautiful example of a musician driven by a desire to learn from the source.  Chirp's mentor, Garry Harrison and their band, the Indian Creek Delta Boys did an amazing job in pursuing old fiddlers across the Midwest to hear, learn and capture their tunes for posterity.  As Chirps says, in passing this music along, it "connects you to the past, it's interesting and it's "home made."  Check out the Dear Old Illinois collection of fiddle tunes (the fruits of their labors).  

Thank you, Chirps!!  

Edited by - frailin on 01/17/2015 10:54:42

srrobertsiii - Posted - 01/17/2015:  12:05:35

Wonderfully done Craig! Listening to the interview with Mr Smith and hearing his music, as is the case when I listen to old time music always, just makes me happy! Thanks so much for posting.

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/17/2015:  15:12:42

Nicely done, Craig.  Of course, you had a charming guy as your subject, and talking to him, listening to him, must have been a pleasure for you.  Thanks for sharing

ramjo - Posted - 01/17/2015:  15:30:29

Watched it. As good as it gets. Congrats Craig.

TheLastWord - Posted - 01/17/2015:  17:57:41

Thanks Craig, that was great!! Count me in on the DVD's.

JanetB - Posted - 01/17/2015:  21:36:32



Very nice of you to share Chirps' interview, Craig.  One of my favorite fiddlers is Rhys Jones and he often refers to Chirps Smith, so you've helped satisfy my curiosity about him.  Chirps mentions many historic musicians and groups, making your video a valuable educational resource for me.  He showed the Dear Old Illionois book, which I hope becomes available again.  He played the biggest gourd banjo I've ever seen and you show his 2-finger picking up close.  I'll be looking forward to more from your adventurous interviews.

westsideryan - Posted - 01/17/2015:  21:42:43


Originally posted by JanetB



Very nice of you to share Chirps' interview, Craig.  One of my favorite fiddlers is Rhys Jones and he often refers to Chirps Smith, so you've helped satisfy my curiosity about him.  Chirps mentions many historic musicians and groups, making your video a valuable educational resource for me.  He showed the Dear Old Illionois book, which I hope becomes available again.  He played the biggest gourd banjo I've ever seen and you show his 2-finger picking up close.  I'll be looking forward to more from your adventurous interviews.

I just received an email stating that the book will be available this summer.

bettygailadams - Posted - 01/18/2015:  19:55:33

Craig, I know you included Dwight in the banjo builders project, but shouldn't he be in this project instead?

frailin - Posted - 01/18/2015:  20:01:10

I may include "encore" programs by performers that were featured in the Banjo Builder Series. Among those artists:  Dwight Diller, Adam Hurt and Taj Mahal. 

frailin - Posted - 01/19/2015:  06:54:16

Ok.  I'm giving in and posting Steve Rosen's interview for free viewing (for a coupla days) as well as Chirps.  :)

As with Chirps and the rest of the performers being included in this series, history will record and list their accomplishments.  But the person is so much more than a list.  Personally, I want to see, hear and learn what these people are all about.  I'm doing this series precisely to record the "people" that love and live this music.

BOTH Chirps and Steve represent so much of the good in traditional music!  Chirps is driven to capture the music's history... to preserve the tunes and their character.  While other performers (ahem) personify the "character" (and emotion) many of us feel when we play these great old numbers... joy.  Pure and simple, Steve Rosen lives this joy better than most of us.  

I hope this conversation brightens your day.  It sure does mine.  Here's the one and only Steve Rosen (right before he snorted in laughter).  

CLIC on Pic to see video. - Steve Rosen!  The Man.  The Banjo Legend!


westsideryan - Posted - 01/19/2015:  11:21:07


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