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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...

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...

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...
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Fiddlin’: an interview with the makers

Fiddlin' (2019) is the first full-length documentary about one of the greatest oldtime festivals around: The Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Virginia. Directed and produced by two sisters local to the area,...

What is oldtime anyway? Heresy and Orthodoxy

The joke goes something like this: Two Old-Time oldtimers are taking their sweet old time on a morning constitutional through the sunny glades of Clifftop. They pass a tent with a...

What fiddlers like in oldtime backup guitar – in their own words

You might get the impression that oldtime backup guitar doesn't get a lot of attention. But once you start asking questions, you find there are plenty of opinions. Several thousand people read...

The Functional Art of Old-Time Back-Up Guitar

One thing I love about playing old-time music is that a good tune or a good session is a collaborative effort. Each individual plays a part in creating the overall sound....

Digging through to the sky: rhythm in oldtime music

Before anything, there was the rhythm.  I was a high-school student in Ithaca, N.Y., classically trained on the violin, when I first saw fiddlers play on the dusty...

Vernon Spencer & the Spencer Family of Big Springs, KS

Vernon Douglas Spencer was born September 22, 1921, on the family farm in Big Springs, Kansas. He was the baby of 11 children born to his parents Harley and Cora and around...

Can Old-Time Community Save the World?

The staff door popped open as I careened in to work two minutes late with bean skins still stuck in my unbrushed teeth from the drive-through burrito I’d gulped down in...