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...

Strum Machine or How to Have Fun Practicing

For most of us, the best part about playing oldtime is playing music with other people. It is a rare joy of human existence to connect with others as we sound together, recall old...

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...

Banjo Roots and Branches: Exploring the African Roots

This is post 1 of 4 in the series Banjo Roots and Branches. When I started learning how to play the banjo in 2006, I was unaware of the rich and complex history of the instrument....

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...

Review: Bartlett Fiddle Mic

Quick Summary If you're looking for the Goldilocks of fiddle microphones, then the Bartlett Fiddle Mic might just be it. There are many cheaper mics and pickups, there are many more expensive and fancier, but...

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...

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...

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...