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Ramblin's from a Ramblin' Mind

Posted by FretlessinTexas on Monday, August 25, 2008

I don't know if music calms the savage beast, but playing banjo sure does make me feel better. I've been spending more time with my music lately -- downloading tunes on my hangout homepage and playing with other musicians, which is always a treat.

On Saturday, I drove up to Kendallville, Ind., about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne, where I met Terry Thacker, a fiddle player there with roots from eastern Kentucky. He is also a cousin of the late great fiddle player Art Stamper.

Terry and I had never met, but I knew from a telephone conversation that he felt that old-time fiddle tunes were in his DNA. He said he needed to be "pushed" by someone to bring these old tunes out of him. I told him that I would be glad do the pushing.

So we met under a pavillion at Bixler Lake. It was a regularly sceduled jam of local folks, with many bringing lawn chairs to listen. Most of the musicians were seasoned citizens singing old country and western, so it must have been a little bit of shock when Terry and I started playing some old-time fiddle breakdowns, he on fiddle and me on banjo.  Leave it so say, we had a balll.

Afterward, he took me over to the radio station where he hosts a bluegrass show on Sunday afternoons. He said he trys to play as much old-time music during his show as he can. He wanted me to email in a request on Sunday during the show but I was unable to as my wife had me cleaning the house all morning (after church) in preparation for an old-time music jam that we had outside my house. Go figure.

I host a monthly jam on the fourth Sunday of each month, as we are trying to build an old-time music community in and around Fort Wayne. It starts at 2:30 p.m. Appearing for the first time at our jam was Matthew Kattinsky, who recently moved to Indiana from Vermont. Matthew is an accomplished guitar player and at the beginning level with fiddle, which we desperately need at our jams.

So I got to play music both Saturday and Sunday and am starting to  feel more positive about the old-time music scene in Northeast Indiana. I think we have the makings of something good.

On Thursday, after work, I leave for Pikeville, Tenn. for what is called "Gil-fest." It's a private party on a 300-acre spread on beautiful surroundings in the Sequauchie Valley.

Gil Sewell, my friend and an accomplished fiddle player, throws this party on the Saturday before Labor Day every year. More than 100 old-time musicians from Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia will be camping and playing music on Gil's property. I am driving eight hours to be there. It's about the most fun I can have with my clothes on.













2 comments on “Ramblin's from a Ramblin' Mind”

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Monday, August 25, 2008 @10:58:18 AM

If you weren't 190 miles away, I would be tempted to come to your jam.  For now, you in your small corner, and I in mine.  Keep up your good work and your networking and it will certainly bare more fruit as time goes by.

I have learned that those who are into old-time, traditional folk music must network with each other for the sake of cross-pollenation and to preserve the music and culture for the next generation.  Thank you for doing your part, here at the Banjo Hangout and in the field.

FretlessinTexas Says:
Monday, August 25, 2008 @4:35:07 PM

Well, thank you Mr. Faddler or should I call you Fiddler? LOL. You make a very good and important point about cross pollenation and preserving this music. As you well know, much of the tunes we play date back to the minstrel era and earlier. I feel lucky and honored when I am in the presence of a musician or musicians that play the old fiddle tunes. I do feel the history in it all and sometimes it makes me shiver. I hope our paths cross.

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