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Billy Wilson

Posted by ChuckJo, written by Bill Owens


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- Play count: 222

Size: 1,083kb, uploaded 12/25/2013 6:36:03 PM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Unknown/None Chosen

This recording of Bill Owens was sent to me by Joel Shimberg. Joel reports that the recording was made by his friend Fred Coon, who recorded Owens in 1968 at the Athens, AL fiddlers' contest. Bill Owens, from Athens, Alabama, won the 1966 fiddling contest held at West Limestone High School before the contest was moved to the campus of Athens State. Owens got his first fiddle at 15, when his father swapped a calf for it. He and his brother formed a band, the Elk River Drifters, playing on occasion with the Delmore Brothers. It was Owens’ rendition of “Gray Eagle Hornpipe” that won him the 1966 title. He continued to attend Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention virtually every year until his health precluded it in the 1990s. The 2001 contest was dedicated to Owens, who died shortly thereafter. The TVOTFC takes place in Alabama. Joel writes, "Eck and Owens each played two-part versions of Old Billie Wilson, with one common part. I took the other two parts and played them all together as a three-part tune. As far as I know, that's where everybody's three-part version comes from.

2 comments on “Billy Wilson”

rgoad Says:
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 @7:22:14 PM

This is good history. One of the things that I like about Old Time music and its relatives is how people will recite a short history of the tune, its author or best known source and the lineage of that version and the teachers who taught it. Of course it is not quite that long, but in code: "I learned this from Riley Baugus who plays it as they do in Surrey County, NC and he learned to from Tommy Jarrell." This stuff is golden and why I like the banjo camps. Thanks for this, very much.

JanetB Says:
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 @7:32:58 PM

I agree. I keep hearing about players in regions that are new to me, but always with someone familiar in the story. It makes me thing I'm part of the "unbroken circle" that's ever-growing.

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