One in every pocket: the rise of the harmonica in old-time music

“It has changed a lot, but it shouldn’t have changed. It should be the same all the way through, ’cause people that comes to see the Grand Ole Opry, they’re coming to see – what they...

Oldtime in the Golden Age of Instagram

When fiddler George Jackson first saw a banjo player post an Instagram video of themselves playing “Dorrigo”, an original tune off Jackson’s new record, he was flattered. He didn’t expect that three weeks later...

Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector

Congratulations on publishing your new book, “Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector” (University Press of Kentucky). Who was Katherine Jackson French? Katherine Jackson French was a remarkable woman. She was born in London, Kentucky in...

Capturing The Magic

Most every moment playing oldtime is lost to eternity, and that, perhaps, is a great part of its joy. As we sit with friends old and new, we dig into the now, riding the...

Is oldtime out of tune?

Whether we admit it or not, almost all of us have had that moment of listening to an oldtime fiddler – it's almost always the fiddler – and cringing. "Oh good Lord Almighty, that...

10+ Ways to Get Better at Your Instrument

Benjamin Smith, James Peterson and Richard Osban It's an unfortunate truth that the best musicians are usually the ones who are willing to spend some of their time consistently focusing on the things they're...

Gimme that Old-Time Rhythm

At first, as I was coming to love oldtime music as an adult, I found it curious that percussion and rhythm instruments seemed to play such a minor role. Having played the drums while...

Ten Places to Start for Oldtime Fiddle

Oldtime fiddle - The Devil's Box? Let's be straight – oldtime fiddle is not for the faint of heart. It might be scratchy and "mossy", played all kinds of ways by generations of folk musicians,...

Get Up in the Cool: Interview with Cameron DeWhitt

How did Get Up in the Cool get started? I listen to podcasts constantly, and I have for years. I got my first smartphone and then it was all downhill. It started with well-known NPR...

A Reasoned Defense of Notation in Oldtime Music

There is some controversy in oldtime communities around the use of musical notation – both tablature and standard notation – in learning tunes. What role does notation have? Is it ok to learn a...