Bill Peterson on Midwest Fiddling Legend Dwight Lamb

I spent 1973 on the small island of Adak, Alaska as a communications operator for the U.S. Navy. A buddy of mine bought a copy of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle...

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 the car. I...

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 Howard Rain's...

The Berlin Old-Time Scene: An Origin Myth

1. Sheriff Greyson in the Sandbox It was a typically overcast Berlin Saturday in late spring. The playground at Arkonaplatz was full of kids churning up the sand and swarming over the wooden fortifications like...

Ola Belle’s Banjo: A Banjo Story with Cathy Fink

From the early 1980’s until her passing, my partner Marcy Marxer and I paid many a visit to Ola Belle Reed and her family. Each visit included Ola Belle’s soup and big hospitality, songs,...

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...

Antisocial Media

These 19th century cowboys dancing to fiddle tunes, posted to a Facebook group, is but the latest case in point. A kindly member of our oldtime community ran across the photograph, found it interesting,...

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. This is how...

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, the film...

Finding My Tribe

Most of my life, I never felt like I had a tribe.   I was always an outlier. I was voted “Most Intellectual” in ninth grade in one of the worst schools in one of...