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...

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,...

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,...

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...

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...

The Bones and Musical Repatriation

Dom Flemons, quoted frequently in last week’s article by Timothy Jones on rhythm bones and old-time music, here tells his story of discovering bones, and how he has integrated them into his vibrant and...

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...

First Annual Queer and Trans Oldtime Music Gathering: an interview

“A shared vision.” “Healing and transformative.” “Exceptional togetherness.” When Clive North and Willi Carlisle talk about the First Annual Queer and Trans Oldtime Music Gathering, it’s easy to see this event has the potential to...

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...

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...