August 11, 2010

The Boatman

I really like this version of the Boatman. I became familiar with this tune through the Samples Brothers, who play a version that doesn't really sound like this one. The one I know is a three-part tune out of A, and this sounds like a two-parter. I like this version too though, and the dulcimer sounds great. You don't get to hear those enough.


June 28, 2010

Robert Byrd the Musician

No matter your feelings about his politics, Robert Byrd was a towering figure whose influence shaped the state of West Virginia for over 50 years.

He was also a really good fiddler. Here he is in 1978:

June 24, 2010

Angus Campbell

Continuing on through an alphabetical list of tunes, we approach one that I actually have not heard of, Angus Campbell. It seems common enough because it was really easy to find lots of information about it, and sounds like a really great one to learn.

Here is a lesson if you haven't tried to play it before:


If you're really good and keep up, you might try following this one:


Finally, a little something different. I've gathered this is a Scottish tune, and is popular in Scottish-influenced Cape Breton. Here's a version for you if you're a fan of the pipes.


June 20, 2010

The Music of Mario

It's kind of reach to suggest that this is old-time, but give credit where credit is due. This is from BoingBoing, which is a collection of digital pop-culture.

June 13, 2010

Angeline the Baker

Continuing with my mission to post each tune from a fiddle book in alphabetical order, I have arrived (and so early on) at probably my least favorite old-time tune. How's that for an introduction? But, lots of people like it, and in the words of Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong that."

Here's Trent Wagler and the Steel Wheels during their fine rendition:


And of course, if you want to learn the tune for yourself, there are lots of video how-to's, like this one:


June 07, 2010

Twin Sisters Melvin Wine

Chance McCoy recently put the tune "Twin Sisters" on his wonderful new album. He no doubt got it from so many other great fiddlers like Melvin Wine, playing here in 1992.

June 05, 2010

Elk Creek Picnic

I'll get back to posting an alphabetical list of my fiddle book, but I ran across this and like it better for now, plus I don't have my book with me right so I don't know what comes next.

Lots of good videos in this collection, all available here.

May 22, 2010

Across the Sea

The next tune, in alphabetical order, to get to is "Across the Sea." I think this tune is also known by the name "Going Across the Sea."

The first version I came across is by the Foghorn Trio. I've said many times that I think they are among the best of the newer old-time acts. Here's their performance:


Across the Sea MP3

Another version I found that I like is by the Wahoo String Band:


And finally, these are the videos I really like, where it's just people playing at their house or at a store or something. Here's such a video:


May 17, 2010

Abe's Retreat

Well since 2008, I've pretty much exhausted all of the tunes I know off the top of my head and talked about the people I know. So, my new plan is to find versions of each tune in the "The Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes." To keep it easy, I'm just going in alphabetical order.

First up: Abe's Retreat.

I found a great live version by the Gilded Bats, played in Iowa:


Or is it the Irish influence you crave?


May 06, 2010

Cumberland River

As you know, last week was rough for the state of Tennessee where I am currently living. Fortunately for me, Knoxville really did not get the rain that middle and western parts of the state got. The Cumberland River runs right through Nashville, one of the finest music towns we have.

April 26, 2010

Frank George Gathering 2010

I wasn't really expecting to have consecutive posts about Frank George but you know... he's good. And here he's playing with, among others, Bobby Taylor. I guess Bobby's not old enough to be called a living legend yet but he's certainly one of the finest players in the state, if not the US.


April 25, 2010

New Frank George Videos

I've posted a few things about Frank George on here before. Suffice it to say he's a living legend from West Virginia. Great thing about the modern age is that we can easily document these living legends. So here's Frank playing a few tunes recently.

Arkansas Traveler


and Mississippi Sawyer


April 23, 2010

Waynesboro and Stony Point

Here's the Campbell Family Band playing two great tunes: Waynesboro and Stony Point. Any time they upload a video I'm pretty excited about it.


March 31, 2010

Miss McCleod's Reel

I've put this tune up many times before, but really I just can't get enough of it. This tune is played a few different ways, and it's also known as Uncle Joe. It's played in either G or D.


March 29, 2010

More Irish Traditional Music

I can't get enough good Irish music. Here is a really fine session.


March 26, 2010

Live from the Blue Plate Special

I am usually unable to go to the Blue Plate Special in Knoxville because it's in the middle of day during the week. I went on a fluke yesterday and much to my surprise, Chance McCoy was there playing with Old Sledge. They're really great, play a variety of styles from western swing, to Mississippi riverboat-type of music, and of course Appalachian old-time music.

The second band was one I had never heard of, the Defibulators, but they are interesting to say the least. They are high-energy, have like 8 people on stage at a time, and have a good stage presence.

the Defibulators - "Winchester" from BoB Coon on Vimeo.

What struck me with both of these bands (Chance McCoy himself excluded) was the confirmation of what I have commented on here often. The people in the bands are from Vermont, Brooklyn, and California; places that are well outside the traditional hub of old-time music, especially the style they play. Not a criticism, just an observation.

That's the direction old-time music in America is moving. It's increasingly played by young people who come from urban areas out West or in the northeast. They're good, and give the music a new kind of sound that is distinct from what came before it. In the same way, the people playing in the 1930s sounded distinct from those that came before them. It's really interesting to see how the music is evolving, both demographically and geographically.

If you're looking for some modern twists to traditional styles of music, I recommend looking up both of these bands.

March 15, 2010

St. Patrick's Blue Plate Special

If you're local, or even if you're not, this should be a good celebration on Wednesday. You can tune on on the web if you want to hear it at

The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens.
- Irish proverb

WDVX Spring Fund Drive
March 17 to 28

Matt McNeely Four Leaf Peat Cutthroat Shamrock Shamrock Road
March 17th
for an all-Irish, all-local
Blue Plate Special
12 noon to 1:30 PM
A special kick-off party for the Spring Fund Drive

With delicious refreshments from:
Mapgies Cakes

It is time again to show your support for YOUR independent, commercial-free station... WDVX-FM

Don't you feel fortunate to have WDVX as a part of your life? Everyday you know you can tune in and hear quality music, without all the commercials and other distractions. You can always count on WDVX to be your connection to the newest, hottest in bluegrass and Americana, as well as some of the classics you love. And where else can you hear so much quality live music?

WDVX counts on listeners like you to keep the music going. So call us, write us, email us, go online, or just come on by... and make your donation today!

After all "The most beautiful music of all is the music of what happens" when you support WDVX!

Your friends at WDVX

March 13, 2010

More Lunasa to Get Ready for St. Paddy's

Yesterday I posted on Damien Rice, a fine Irish musician. To continue honoring all of the great music out of Ireland as we get closer to St. Patrick's Day, here are some of the finest musicians playing Irish music these days, Lunasa:


March 12, 2010

Not Exactly Old Time, But....

Well, this is not really old-time at all, but one of the best acoustic performers in Ireland not doing traditional music is Damien Rice, and this is one my favorite songs of his. It's not on one of his two albums, but it is relatively easy to find. It's called Lonely Soldier. Though this isn't the best version of it that I've heard, it's good nonetheless.


Lonely Soldier MP3

March 07, 2010

Sandy Boys

One of my favorite YouTube profiles is fiddlinred because he always posts easy to follow tunes. He's been gone from the internet for a while, but he's back now and his most recent post is a tune called Sandy Boys.

I first heard this from the Striped Pig Stringband, which is linked somewhere in the archives of this blog if you want to use the search box.

If you want to learn the tune, here's fiddlinred's version. Pretty nice.

March 05, 2010


Frank George is a living legend in West Virginia. Here he is playing a tune I like but don't get to hear too much. I believe it's more popular in New England, and it's called Petronella.



I'm certainly more into American old-time music than Celtic music, but lately Celtic music has been kind of my thing. I still don't know too much about it, or how to play it. No matter, Dervish seems like they know a thing or two.

February 23, 2010

Liza Jane

If you're familiar with old-time music in West Virginia, you've probably come across the Samples Brothers. They bring down the house every time with their signature tune, Liza Jane.

I've never really met anyone else who plays it quite like they do, even though lots of people play a tune called Liza Jane or some derivative thereof. But then again, I haven't lived in West Virginia since the 80s and that version may just be a West Virginia rendition.

I don't really know, but here is a West Virginian, Elmer Rich, playing the same version of that tune. Here he's playing about one quarter of the tempo the Samples Brothers usually go, but it's a nice tune nonetheless.


February 08, 2010

Jimmy Tripplett

Jimmy Tripplett is pretty well known around here, though recordings are hard to find. Certainly one of the finest fiddlers around.


February 06, 2010


My current favorite new discovery is an Irish group called Lunasa. They play traditional Irish tunes and have a pretty robust web presence.

My favorite tune of theirs at the moment is called "Morning Nightcap," played here in this really great video:


February 04, 2010

The Gilded Bats

What's up everybody, it's been a while. Turns out finishing a PhD is demanding of one's time. My month-long hiatus has not been good to my music playing or appreciation.

Nonetheless, for the first time in a long time, I stumbled across a really cool band, the Gilded Bats. Like many bands, they have MP3s on their MySpace page and they are worth checking out.

They are from Iowa City, and here they are playing in their hometown:


January 02, 2010

More Chance McCoy

Still haven't moved on from a strong Chance McCoy phase, so here is some more goodness from him. This is Jimmy Johnson, and he also plays it on his album which you can easily find on iTunes.