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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith
Ben Smith is the founder and editor of Oldtime Central. As an ethnomusicologist, applied anthropologist, luthier, and oldtime musician, he is particularly interested in nurturing the oldtime community worldwide.


Myth and Reason in Oldtime

I have played old-time fiddle for a very long time. In 1970 when I was twenty years old I moved from an industrial city in northern New Jersey to an eighty-acre farm in the hill country of central West Virginia, twelve...

George Jackson – interview + tunes

I grew up about as far away geographically from the regions where old-time music originated as you could imagine, but American culture was all around me in my home country of New Zealand, in terms of a cultural fascination with food,...

Liza Jane – banjo lesson with Hilarie Burhans

In this video, Hilarie Burhans of Athens, Ohio teaches the tune "Liza Jane" on clawhammer banjo. This is a fairly standard "festival" version of the tune, and one that she's been playing for more than 40 years. The lesson is suitable for...

Missouri Rules of Harmony?

For over 20 years I played guitar in the Hoover Uprights, with Bill Schmidt (fiddle), Dave Rice (harmonica), Kate Brett (banjo), and Kevin Enoch (bass, ukulele, or 2nd guitar). Since Kevin and I both played chord instruments, communication was essential. What...

Decolonizing the Music (Room)

Brandi Pace is an African-American music educator, now teaching elementary music in Fort Worth, Texas for almost a decade.  She is also an accomplished instrumentalist and singer focusing on jazz, oldtime, and "the Black roots of American music." Recently, Brandi launched a...