Fiddler's Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri

Fiddler's Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri

by Howard Wight Marshall
Fiddler's Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri

Fiddler's Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri

by Howard Wight Marshall


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In this sequel to Howard Marshall’s earlier book on old-time fiddlers in Missouri, Play Me Something Quick and Devilish, the author uses oral history, archival photographs, and transcriptions of selected tunes to trace the evolution of traditional fiddle music in Missouri from the early 1920s to the abrupt changes in American society and traditional music in the 1960s. The book focuses on fiddle music in everyday life at music parties, dances, pie suppers, festivals, contests, and oprys. Marshall’s wealth of knowledge, gained through a lifetime of involvement in Missouri fiddle traditions, gives the book exceptional richness and depth.

This book includes a CD with 30 archival recordings from 1939 to 2015, produced by Voyager Records.

A Missouri Humanities Council grant helped fund the production of this book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826221216
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
Publication date: 06/30/2017
Edition description: 1
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Howard Wight Marshall is Professor Emeritus and former chairman of Art History and Archaeology, and former director of the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

After dropping out of college to join the Marine Corps in the early 1960s, Marshall took his BA in English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and then took his MA and PhD in Folklore and Anthropology at Indiana University. He wrote his dissertation based on extensive field recording of traditional farm buildings in Missouri’s Little Dixie folk region.

Then after graduate school, Dr. Marshall worked briefly as director of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and then for several years as a curator and planner at a living history museum in Indiana, and consulted for the Smithsonian Institution. He then was called to a position at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. While in Washington, he taught a night course in architectural history at George Washington University.

Marshall left the Library of Congress after five years in 1981 to teach at Kansas State University. In 1982, he returned to Columbia to establish the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center in the Graduate School at the University of Missouri, and to teach material culture, vernacular architecture, and historic preservation in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. After the closing of the Cultural Heritage Center in 1993 (due to a campus budget crisis), Marshall served as professor and department chair in Art History and Archaeology, and took early retirement in 2000.

Dr. Marshall’s books include Buckaroos in Paradise: Cowboy Life in Paradise Valley, Nevada, Folk Architecture in Little Dixie: A Regional Culture in Missouri, Missouri Artist Jesse Howard, The German-American Experience in Missouri, Barns of Missouri: Storehouses of History, and Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri. Dr. Marshall’s latest book is Fiddler’s Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri, which continues the ethnography and discussion in Play Me Something Quick and Devilish.

Marshall plays the music he studies and writes about. He credits the memory of his grandfather, Wiley Marshall, a country schoolmaster and fiddler in Randolph County, with inspiring him to want to play the old dance tunes on the violin. Later, Marshall learned tunes and techniques from central Missouri fiddle legends such as Taylor McBaine, Jake Hockemeyer, Johnny Bruce, Nile Wilson, and Pete McMahan.

Dr. Marshall confesses that the best thing about his career was the good luck to meet his spouse, the charming and irrepressible Margot McMillen. Howard and Margot live in northern Callaway County, where they operate a small livestock farm.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Transcriptions and Traditional Music xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Abbreviations xix

Introduction 3

A Few More Words on Styles and Violinistic Skills in Old-Time Fiddling 9

1 Radio Fiddlers 13

Pioneer Radio Fiddlers 14

Elmer Schmutzler, Mt. Hope 20

Generations and Violins: From Asa White to Jessie and Kellie 25

Bill White and the Blue Ridge Mountaineers 27

Carrying It On 29

AM Radio and Old-Time Fiddlers 30

Early Radio and Fiddlers Contests 33

Whitty Elmore, "Champion of Dixie" 38

Depression Years and War Years 44

2 Lonnie Robertson 51

Lonnie Heads North 54

Lonnie and Roy, a Brother Duet 56

Roy McGeorge 57

The KWTO Years 61

Caney Mountain Records 62

Changing Tempos 64

3 Music Parties 71

Bert Lewis, Local Hero 71

A Region's Hot Shots: Cassity, Teague, and Wooliver 77

Orville Cassity 78

Howe Teague 79

Pie Suppers and House Dances 84

Teague Meets Wooliver 87

Roy Wooliver: Genius, Rascal 91

4 Missourians Out West 101

Earl Willis: A Boone Family Fiddler Leaves Little Dixie 103

"Missouri Picnics" in Northwest Washington State: Ellis Cowin 111

Ishmael (Ozark Red) Loveall, Radio Fiddler 114

Ron Hughey: Mentor, Model, "People Pleaser" 118

A Fiddler with Wanderlust: Bob Fast 124

Jim Herd, from Father to Son 129

5 Contests 135

Seriously Seeking Competition 136

Fiddling Contests in the Golden Age of Small-Town Newspapers 138

Paris, 1923 142

Paris, 1926: The Rematch 150

Macon, 1924: Fiddle Contests and Horse Races 156

Salisbury, October 1929 163

6 Shows 167

The Shifting Sands of Country Entertainment 167

Is the Word "Opry" Obsolete? 169

The Ozark Opry 171

Bluegrass Fiddler Don Russell 183

Leroy Canaday: A Night at Grandma's 186

Rooster Creek: Missouri's Last Live AM Radio Opry? 193

Seth Bradley 197

7 Opry Entrepreneurs and Born Showmen 201

Evolution: "Riverways Opry" to "Ozark Music at the VFW Hall" 201

Jim Orchard, the Bard of Ink 205

Tales of a Complete Fiddler: Larry Ellis 210

Show Fiddler, Bluegrass Fiddler 215

No Time for Contests 218

The Big Creek Country Show 219

8 Jazz / Swing / Western Swing 225

Venuti 226

Farm-Town Cowboys and Uptown Hepcats 229

Warren Helton: "Between Texas and Tennessee" 233

"Ozark Cave Dweller" to "Texas Cowboy": Emmett Heath 239

Too Hot for Old-Time Radio: Zed Tennis 243

Einstein of the Double-Stop, Dale Potter 248

9 Born to Play Swing 255

Claude "Fiddler" Williams: A Jazz Life 255

The Kansas City Scene 257

The Era of Arts-and-Culture Agencies 261

Unflappable Master of Cool Jazz 262

Bobby Joe Caldwell: "Play It like You Sing It" 266

His Mentor Was His Dad 266

Bobby Joe 267

10 Bluegrass Time in the Show-Me State 275

Fiddle and Banjo, the Crux of Bluegrass 280

Lonnie Hoppers: From Four Strings to Five 282

To Be or Not to Be a Bluegrass Fiddler 286

"I Want You to Play the Old Time": Delbert Spray 289

11 Family Tradition 299

Lyman Enloe: "I Like 'Em Just as Straight as Can Be" 299

"Bluegrass Kind of Got Me Hooked": Roger Williams 309

Cecil Goforth, Shannon County Southpaw 319

The 1960s and Beyond 328

Conclusion 331

Why End Fiddler's Dream in the 1960s? 331

"Gilsaw," a Lost Tune Returned 333

Interviews 339

Transcriptions 343

Notes 345

Selected Bibliography 387

Discography 397

Index to Text 405

Index to the Voyager Records Companion CD 421

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