Voyager Recordings & Publications

Northwest Fiddle Field Recordings - mp3 Format Selections

The U.S. Pacific Northwest has been a true "melting pot" of many fiddle styles from around the world. Fiddling was brought to this region from many places over the past 200 years. While there undoubtedly were fiddlers on some of the ships that traded on the Northwest Coast prior to 1800, the first fiddlers of whom we have documentation that they played in the Pacific Northwest were the two fiddlers who came to the mouth of the Columbia River with the Lewis & Clark Expedition - Pierre Cruzatte and George Gibson. The next to come were the fur trappers, known today as the "Mountain Men." While the documentation of their fiddling is somewhat scanty, there is a record of some of the fiddle tunes they played at their camps and the famous "Rendezvous."

The next big influx were the emigrants who came out over the Oregon Trail, starting in 1841. There was lots of fiddling and dancing on the Oregon Trail. The community dance was a very important function in pioneer settlements. The folks coming over the Oregon Trail came from all over the world. Most in the early days came from the area around Missouri, where the Trail started, the states along the Ohio River, and from New England, with a large influx from Germany, Ireland, and England. Later in the 19th century, the Scandinavians began arriving in substantial numbers. The principal occupation in the pioneer West was mining, which employed more folks than all the other occupations combined. The mining camps and towns were major centers of entertainment and dancing. WWII brought an influx of folks from the South to this region to work primarily in the timber, shipbuilding, and aircraft industries. Fiddlers continued to come to into the Northwest from all over the world to make it their home, as they still do today.

While some of the regional styles that came to the Northwest can still be found here, the need to put together a band to play dances resulted in an amalgamation of fiddle styles and a range of tunes unique to this region. Even up to the middle of the 20th century, bands for playing traditional dances most often were put together with musicians from various musical backgrounds, and melded into a musical group that could do a good job of playing tunes for the popular dances of the day. This often required the musicians to learn tunes from outside of their culture, and to simplify the tunes and playing styles so that everyone could play them and sound good together. An identifiable traditional Northwest style emerged from this amalgamation, heavily influenced by Missouri and Canadian fiddling. This style has mostly died out today with the disappearance of the community dances, which used to be common in local community centers, Grange halls, schools, churches, etc. until the 1950s with the rise of "rock 'n roll" and the use of recorded music for dancing.

For over fifty years we have been doing field recording of fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest, and have also fallen heir to fiddle field recordings made by others in this region. Here we present a sampling from many hours of these recordings of some of the fiddlers who played in the Northwest. Most of these fiddlers no longer are with us, but we believe their music should live on. The tunes are in mp3 format at 128 kbs. We have written up as much as we know of each fiddler and the circumstances under which the recording was made. This is an ongoing project and will be added to from time to time from our recordings and the recordings of others who desire to contribute their recordings to this project.. We have selected the tunes presented here from only part of our archive, and will add more as we continue to go through the rest of the archive and as others furnish recordings from their collection to add to this project. We appreciate any additional information that anyone would care to send us about the fiddlers and/or the tune they are playing. In some cases, we have not been able to identify the tune and know little about the fiddler.

Here is the list of fiddlers in alphabetical order whose playing is included in these mp3 files. The information about each fiddler is followed by the name of the tune played. Most of the quotes from the fiddlers came from interviews of the fiddlers conducted by Vivian Williams and Kathleen Oyen as a part of the Washington Traditional Fiddlers Project started by the Centrum Foundation in the early 1980's. Clicking on the tune name will start the playing of the mp3 file. This page is quite long. For an alphabetical list of the fiddlers and the tunes they play, with links to each fiddler, go to NW Field Recordings Fiddlers Index . For information on how to download and save these mp3 files, go to Downloading and Saving mp3 Files to Your Computer. We also have a number of videos of Northwest fiddlers on YouTube - www.YouTube.com/vpwillnw .

The Fiddlers:

Acocello, Mary - Mary Acocello was born in Montana in 1909, and her family came out to Burlington, Washington when she was ten years old. Her father was an old time fiddler from Iowa.

“Well, when I was a kid in school, I was lucky enough to get ahold of father's violin, which he would never allow any of us kids, and I was the next to the youngest in a family of 15 kids, I'm number 14. And he would never let anybody touch his fiddle, but by the time I was old enough to be in school and know that there were lessons and things, my music teacher walked home with me one night from school to talk to mother. And father insisted that she was wasting her time, wasting the teacher's time, wasting our money, which he couldn't make anyway, mother was doing it all, because father was too old by that time to make a living, and he hated to give up his fiddle to any one of the kids. Well then I played in the orchestra, and the four years in high school.”

In the early 1920's, as a teenager, she played for old time dances in the Burlington area, as well as for parties at the local Grange halls. They did square dances, circle two-steps, foxtrots, schottisches, the Varsouvienne, the Rye Waltz, and the Waltz Quadrille. The band was usually three pieces, with fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, or piano. At intermission they would pass the hat to pay the orchestra.

“And then after I got married, in my senior year in high school I got married and went out on the farm and milked cows, and fed chickens, and did gardening, and everything else you could think of, and raised kids, the fiddle was neglected, for years and years and years. Well, then during the war, in '44, I became a welder, I went to school for it, and came down to Bremerton to work, and - but I always carried the violin with me, but I hadn't tuned and I didn't even know if the strings were ok on it, when [Henry] McVeigh came over to the house one day, he and his wife and kids. And he said, "You got a fiddle?" And I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you play it?" And I said, "Not any more, I don't." And he opened it up and tuned it up, and decided that he'd like to hear me try. This was about '52. And I hadn't touched it since about '30, in the early '30's. And so we played a couple of tunes, and then we let it go again for a long time.”

In the 1970's she joined the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association and was very active in that organization, serving as its president for three terms.

Annie Laurie was recorded at a WOTFA fiddle show in Puyallup, Washington, October, 1974. Mary is assisted by Jim Calvert playing harmony fiddle. Memories was recorded at a WOTFA fiddle show in Puyallup in 1972.

spaceAnnie LaurieMemoriesReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Anderson, Jeff - Jeffrey Anderson grew up in a musical family in Waterville, Washington. Both his grandfathers emigrated from Norway to North Dakota. His parents, grandparents and other relatives played music at home and for dances. He remembers falling asleep at grandma's house as a child listening to fiddle tunes. When he was six, his grandma showed him how to play chords on her pump organ and taught him the importance of keeping time for dancers. At fifteen, Jeff took up the fiddle. Sadly, both of his fiddling grandfathers had passed away by then but their influence was strongly imprinted in his memory. With his father's advice that "it works better if you can figure it out yourself," he picked up his grandfather's retired fiddle. He studied old pictures to imitate the hand and bow position and, along with the tunes in his head, listened to recordings and taught himself to play. Jeff learned the old time Norwegian fiddling of his family very well and is regarded as one of the best fiddlers in this style today.

Jeff has been an active member of the Washington Old Time Fiddlers' Association, teaching workshops and winning contests since 1969. He and his wife Jane Johnson play many Scandinavian dances and concerts in the Northwest and elsewhere, often with their band "Nordic Exposure." He appears on two Voyager CDs - CD 346 and CD 364

This tune was recorded at Mr. Anderson's house near Olympia, WA, in 2005. It is one he learned from the playing of one of his grandfathers.

Tune from Grandfather (Name Unknown)Return to Field Recording Artists List

Allen, Harold - Harold Allen was born in Nebraska in 1925, and learned fiddle from his father and grandfather as a child. He played his family’s band “The Allen Family Orchestra” on radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota. He moved to Oregon, and was a heavy equipment operator in the Corvallis area. He was a charter member of the Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers Association in the 1960's and also won many contests. The fiddle he played was purchased from a blacksmith in Anthony, Kansas by his grandfather in 1883. Harold was one of the great waltz fiddlers. He wrote Red Fox Waltz, the Cornflower Waltz commonly played by fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest, Mexican Waltz, and co-wrote Black Velvet Blues.

These selections were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966.

spaceRed Fox Waltz Red Apple RagLeather Britches Return to Field Recording Artists List

Balfa, Dewey - Dewey Balfa was born in 1927, near Mamou, Louisiana, the son of sharecroppers. He learned his music from his grandmother and his father. He was a member of the legendary Balfa Brothers band who contributed so much to the popularity of Cajun music, and he was one of the first Cajun musicians to perform outside of Louisiana. Balfa was an important spokesperson for Cajun culture, and received a National Heritage Fellowship. He died in 1992. Mr. Balfa performed several times in the Pacific Northwest, and always liked to participate in jam sessions with local folks. This spawned a Cajun music scene in Seattle, which is still very much alive today.

These selections were recorded in a jam session in the Williams' living room, Seattle, in 1976. Two Step 1 and the Waltz has Rodney Balfa playing guitar, Vivian Williams, Barbara Lamb, and possibly Marc Savoy playing harmony fiddle, Phil Williams, bass. Two Step 2 probably has Dewey Balfa and Marc Savoy playing fiddles, Marc Savoy playing accordion, Rodney Balfa on guitar, and Phil Williams, bass. Don't Get Married was recorded at the Balfa Brother's concert in Seattle in 1976, with Marc Savoy, accordion, and Rodney Balfa, guitar. Thanks to Claudia Anastasio for tune identification.

spaceHip Et Taiaut Last WaltzPerrodin Two Step dDon't Get MarriedReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Barron, Myllie - Mr. Barron was born in 1910 in the Swan River Valley district of Manitoba. His father was an instrument repairman and a dance fiddler. Myllie started playing fiddle when he was about nine years old, using fiddles that were in his dad's shop as he did not have a fiddle of his own. When he was 16 years old, he sent for a set of violin lessons from the Slingerland School of Music in Chicago, which came with a free fiddle, and started to practice in earnest. In 1927 he bought a fiddle from the T. Eaton Company in Winnipeg. There were ten people in his family, and most of his brothers played music. In 1935, Myllie and his brother, Percy, played a regular show on the radio out of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In 1938 and 1938, Myllie and all four of his brothers had a weekly radio program on CFAR in Flin Flon, Manitoba. In 1949, Myllie entered his first fiddle contest, which was broadcast on CKY radio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and won. In 1950 he won the Manitoba fiddle championship in Winnipeg. In 1982 he won the Grand National Senior Championship at the National Old TIme Fiddlers' contest in Weiser, Idaho, becoming the first Canadian to win a major division of this contest. He moved to British Columbia in the 1950s. Besides being a good fiddle player, he has made over forty-five fiddles. He has a sparkling, driving style, full of improvisations on tunes that we have heard from no one else. Voyager issued two CDs of Myllie -CD 331 Fiddler on the Loose, and CD365 Riding on a Handcar.

The first three selections were recorded at a jam session in Weiser, Idaho, in 1995. Phil Williams is playing guitar, Vivian Williams harmony fiddle, and his son, Ray Barron, bass. The last seven tunes were recorded in the Williams living room, Seattle, to minidisc, with Myllie's son, Ray Barron, playing accordion

spaceFiddlers DelightOttawa Valley Reel/Kiley's ReelspaceFrenchie's Reel spaceOld Red BarnspaceJigspaceMexicali RosespaceHappy Boy SchottischespaceJig 2spaceWaltz 2spaceHoedown 2 Return to Field Recording Artists List

Berry, Glenn - Mr. Berry has had a major influence on fiddlers in Western Washington. He was born and raised in southern California, into a musical family. He learning fiddling from his father and other local fiddlers, many of whom were real "old timers" and had come to California from the "Dust Bowl" during the depression, and other regions of the country. He learned tunes from many fiddle traditions around the U.S., and played everything from square dances to foxtrots at dances. He plays a fiddle he inherited from his grandfather. After WWII, Mr. Berry moved to Washington State, then moved back to California, and then to Louvale, Georgia where he played a regular dance at a popular roadhouse there. He moved back to Washington State in 1958, settling on the Kitsap Peninsula, across Puget Sound from Seattle. He has been a popular performer at fiddle shows and local jam sessions, and has helped many fiddlers in this region learn tunes they might otherwise have overlooked. He plays in a good, solid dance style. The tunes here are ones that are now played by many fiddlers in this region. Fatback Meat & Dumplings is often played at jam sessions and fiddle shows, but we don't know where it came from. Sleeping Giant Two-Step is one of the great dance tunes written by Canadian fiddler Andy DeJarlis. While it was played occasionally at WOTFA fiddle shows in earlier years, it did not "take off" with fiddlers here until Mr. Berry introduced it, with the help of noted Northwest fiddle teacher, Stuart Williams. It is often played for contra dancing in this region. A more extensive and interesting biography of Mr. Berry, and transcriptions of two of his tunes, can be found in the book "Roses in Winter - A Celebration of Fiddlers in Washington State," published by the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association, and available from their web site - www.wotfa.org.

These selections were recorded at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Pt. Townsend, Washington, in 1998.

Fatback Meat & Dumplings spacerSleeping Giant Two-Step Return to Field Recording Artist List

Bonar, Connie - At the time of these recordings, Ms. Bonar was a young fiddler from Veradale, WA, near Spokane, who, along with her fiddler friends, brought back many great tunes from their trips to Canada. Don Gish, a founder of the Washington Old Time Fiddlers, wrote the tune Logs in the Rogue, which is a river in Southwest Oregon, where he lived at one time.

Logs in the Rogue and White River Stomp were recorded at a Seattle Folklore Society Concert in the 1970s. Cincinnati Hornpipe was recorded at the Weiser, Idaho fiddle contest in 1976.

Logs in the Rogue White River StompspacerCincinnati Hornpipe Return to Field Recording Artists List

Bradley, Hank - Mr. Bradley is a well known and respected old time Southern style fiddler, living in Seattle. He is also noted today for his performance of Greek and Balkan music. He was the Washington State Fiddle Champion in 1974.

The following selections were recorded at a Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association (WOTFA) show in Renton, WA, November 9, 1974

Red Apple Rag Lee Highway BluesReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Brank, Ken - Mr. Brank came to Washington many years ago from North Carolina. He lives in Winlock, WA

The following selection was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest in 1970.

Cornflower WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Bray, Wilson - Wilson Bray was born in Illinois in 1918, the first of eight children of Montie and Hallie Bray. His father was a fiddle and  banjo player, and Wilson learned to play dance tunes on the fiddle from him at an early age, and played at the many square dances his parents put on.  He also became a classical violinist and at age14 played a weekly radio broadcast over station WILL in Champaign, Illinois. At age16 he played in the first violin section of the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra and for numerous operas  for the University Theatrical Department. During this time he also taught violin at the McKinney Conservatory of Music. In later years as an adult he played in the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and Pasadena Symphony Orchestra. Wilson Bray was the brother of well known banjoist Harley Bray. In 1995, he came to Seattle to attend the Northwest Folklife Festival. Mr. Bray was one of those rare fiddlers today who was also trained as a classical violinist and could switch seamlessly from playing violin in the local symphony orchestra to playing a dance. We were anxious to meet Mr. Bray as we had been playing bluegrass with Harley and Shera Bray for some time and had learned a tune called Sam & Elzie from Harley, who played it on the banjo, but said it was a fiddle tune his brother, Wilson, played. Wilson learned it from their father. It is believed that the tune was named for Sam and Elzie Crutchfield, father and son, who ran square dances in the early 1900s near Omega, Illinois. So, when Wilson was here we had a great jam session with him and finally heard Sam & Elzie played on the fiddle. At the same jam session, Wilson played a tune he wrote, which the Brays named after their brother Darwan. Harley Bray is playing banjo, Shera Bray, guitar, Phil Williams, bass.

These tunes were recorded at the home of Harley & Shera Bray, Edmonds, Washington, May, 1995.

Sam & ElzieDarwan's Tune Return to Field Recording Artists List

Calvert, Jim - Jim Calvert’s parents were from Missouri, and homesteaded in Coulee City, Washington in 1900. Jim was born there in 1905. He got his first fiddle at age 11 when his mother, who was a midwife, received it in payment for her services. Jim first learned to fiddle from his older brother, who was a dance fiddler, but worked out most of his fiddling on his own. By the time he was 16, he was playing for dances. “We went to Southern Idaho and I played what we called kitchen sweats. And we moved the furniture out and danced till 4 o'clock in the morning.”

The family moved to the Puyallup area in 1918. “When I come out here, I had the only square dance in Pierce County. We had a dance that run 10 years. And I moved into a hall just out of Tacoma there, and we played there for eight years, and I averaged over 400 admittance, people. And I'd ask people to come to the dance and they'd say, "we can't get in". And they couldn't. It was just chuck-a-block.”

“And I run there for 8 years, and then we got into jangle - he was lettin' the girls in free, and that brought the rowdy boys. ‘If you don't need the money,’ I said, ‘we do.’ He was paying us scale, and I said -- ‘Well,’ he said, ‘they kind of want a younger band.’ Well, I think that Cherokee Jack went in there and played three dances. It took him about three dances to run 'em off. Now here I'd had 400 people come in and he run 'em off in three dances. Well, so much for Cherokee, the poor devil's gone now and I shouldn't even mention him.”

Jim’s dance band sometimes had as many as 13 pieces. They played squares, often with Jim as the caller, as well as Western swing, waltzes, polkas, schottisches, two steps, and pattern dances. He continued to play dances until the early 1960's, when recorded music, particularly modern singing square dance calls, took over the dance scene. He was once heard to say that "what they're doing isn't square dancing anymore, it's close order drill." When the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association was formed, Jim was active as a performer and an MC at many of its shows and contests. His wife Mary provided piano accompaniment for him and for many other fiddlers as well.

Pride of the Ball was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Buckley WA 1974. Cherokee Maiden, with backup by Mary Calvert, piano, and Boyce Stuckey, guitar, was recorded at the REACH Fiddle Contest, Bellevue, WA, 1974. (REACH was a senior citizen volunteer organization that helped organize the first Northwest Folklife Festivals.)

Pride of the BallspacerCherokee Maiden Return to Field Recording Artists List

Chenowith, Jim - Mr. Chenowith, originally from the Ozarks, lived in Richland, Washington. These selections were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Buckley, Washington, 1975.

Barbara's Polka spacerEast Tennessee Blues Return to Field Recording Artists List

Clem, Willard - Mr. Clem was from Clarkston, Washington. These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964.

spacerKatydid Waltz, spacerBlue FlameReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Clevens, Archie - Recorded at the WOTFA State Fiddle Contest, Buckley WA 1974. Mr. Clevens lived in Redmond, WA.

Andy's SchottischeReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Colyer, Pat - Mr. Colyer lived in Missoula, Montana. These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest in Missoula in 1964.

Foggy Valley spacerDon't Love Nobody Return to Field Recording Artists List

Cook, Phil - Mr. Cook was a Mohawk Indian born, raised, and learned to fiddle on the reservation in upstate New York near the Canadian border. When we met him in the late 1960s, he was working at the Hanford nuclear facility and lived in Richland, Washington. In the early 1970s, we made an informal recording of him at the home of Bill Pruett, a guitar player from North Carolina. We have circulated copies of CDs made from these recordings among folks very knowledgeable about fiddle tunes, but, to this day, over half the tunes he recorded remain unidentified. Here is what he told us about fiddling and dancing in the Mohawk Nation:

“I come from the St. Regis Mohawk Indian reservation, and when the Jesuit missionaries came among our people in 1565, they discouraged anything that the Indians did that was ‘Indian’ so to speak. They (the missionaries) tried to replace everything that they took away from them...they discouraged them from dancing Indian dances because the Indian dances had to do with their Indian religion and their government. So, they hired Scotch, French and English and Irish musicians to come among our people and play music and teach them to dance square dances, and I think that’s why that I’m playing the violin today. I learned from my Dad; it was a family of fiddlers. His father played the violin also, so I don’t know how ancient some of these tunes are, but that’s where they got them - they got them from the French, the English and the Scotch and the Irish people who immigrated and passed through that part of the country.”

Mr. Cook was a very good fiddler. At the Weiser fiddle contest in 1972, when the contest and camping was still at the school in town and the "hippie invasion" was on, Saturday night we packed up our tent, packed our stuff, and Barbara Lamb, who went with us, in the car, and headed out while the motorcyclists, who used to have a regular "ride" to Weiser, were tearing through the camp, and Mr. Cook was up on the steps of the school playing up a storm to a whole crowd of stomping "hippies" and "bikers."

For more about Mr. Cook, including some tunes from the 1970s recording, visit http://www.adirondackmusic.org.

The following tunes were recorded at the WOTFA State Fiddle Contest, Buckley WA 1974.

Three Reels Reel in DPortland FancyRunning Waters Return to Field Recording Artists List

Corvasier, Henry - Mr. Corvasier lived in Salmon Arm, B.C. The following selection was recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, B.C. September 21,1974.

House Party JigReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Cowin, Ellis - Mr. Cowin moved to Lynden, Washington, from Van Buren, Missouri, where he learned to fiddle. He was very active in the fiddling scene in Northwest Washington, and helped run the "Missouri Picnic" near Lynden in the 1960s. He also put on concerts in Grange halls around the Lynden area featuring traditional fiddling and the "tarheel" bluegrass from around Darrington, Washington. A couple tunes played by Mr. Cowin are on Voyager CD 302 Comin' Round the Mountain, which County Records selected as the best old time music release of the year when it was issued..

Walk Along John and Hop Up Pussycat were recorded at Mr. Cowin's house in the late 1960s. He is backed up here by Vivian Williams, guitar, and Phil Williams, banjo. I Don't Love Nobody and Yellow Flower Waltz were recorded at the Oak Harbor, WA, bluegrass festival, early 1970s, with Ellen Marx, banjo. Green Valley Waltz and Mitco Blues were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1971.

Walk Along JohnHop Up Pussycat (Stony Point) sI Don't Love NobodysYellow Flower WaltzsGreen Valley WaltzsMitco Blues
Return to Field Recording Artists List

Crawford, Steve - Mr. Crawford lived in Bremerton, Washington. He was a very well regarded fiddler in this region, with a large repertoire of tunes, all well performed. He was a regular performer at WOTFA fiddle shows until he passed away.

Corn on the Cob was recorded at a WOTFA fiddle show in Puyallup, Washington, in the early 1970s. Devil Among the Tailors and Rye Valley Waltz (which was written by Joe Pancerzewski), were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Buckley, Washington, 1975. Cock of the Morning was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1971.

Corn on the CobDevil Among the TailorssRye Valley WaltzsCock of the Morning (The Red Rooster Crows) Return to Field Recording Artists List

Dahlgren, Marty - Mr. Dahlgren was a well known Western Swing, country, and square dance fiddler who lived in Renton, Washington. In the 1950s he recorded square dance records for Seattle's "Aqua Barn" label with the "Cascade Hillbillies." In the 1960's, he was the fiddler with the "Evergreen Drifters" country band, who had a live television show over Seattle's KOMO-TV on Saturday nights. Mr. Dahlgren played on a lot of recordings by stars of country music. He has been playing square dances in the Pacific Northwest since the 1950s. He was on the faculty of the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes a few years ago.

The following selection was recorded at a WOTFA fiddle show in Renton, Washington, November 9, 1974.

Listen to the MockingbirdReturn to Field Recording Artists List

DeJardin, Wilf - Mr. DeJardin lived in British Columbia. The following selection was recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford B.C. September 21,1974.

Hummingbird WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Engstrom, Floyd - Floyd Engstrom was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1918. His father was from Sweden, and his mother was from Wisconsin. His family moved to the Duvall, Washington area, and Floyd took violin lessons in school. In the 1930's he learned tunes from a local old time fiddler and started playing for country dances. “We played for dances at an old one room school house that didn't have school in it any more, and we had gasoline lanterns for light, no electricity in the area.” The band usually included two fiddles, trumpet, piano, and Hawaiian guitar. They played waltzes, foxtrots, schottisches, polkas, the Varsouvianna, the Tuxedo, and the Circle Two-Step.

He quit playing around 1940, when he moved to Bremerton and worked at the Navy yard. He started in again in 1978 after he retired, and became active with the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association. Mr. Engstrom has two CDs on Voyager - CD361 Kitsap County Fiddler, and CD 369 Old Time Gospel Favorites.

These selections were recorded by Mr. Engstrom on jam session cassettes in 1999 and 2003.

Sacramento Mountain RagFlorence Killian's WaltzAngus Campbell Return to Field Recording Artists List

Evans, Jim - Jim Evans was born in 1920 in Maypearl, Texas, about 75 miles from Fort Worth. Although his father was an old time fiddler, he didn't encourage his son to play, so Jim learned most of his fiddling from several neighbors who were accomplished dance and contest fiddlers. Western Swing was popular at the time, and when Jim was 14, he started playing local dances along with a couple of guitars and a mandolin, sometimes a banjo. They played Bob Wills style Texas Swing and a few waltzes for the adult dances, and for the school kids' barn dances they played square dances and some of the old fashioned couple dances. "A lot of the folks worked on the farm until they couldn't see hardly. And so it was late by the time they got cleaned up and got to the dance, so you could figure things were getting underway 8:30 - 9 o'clock. And then it would go until maybe 1, 2 and then 3, and maybe all night! It'd just depend, you know. But mostly your young people, your school kids and stuff that I played, it was good clean fun, you know, and they allowed no drinking, and they had a bouncer there to see that everybody that come in the door, they sniffed [to see if there was] any booze. You didn't argue with them, boy, you went. And so they were nice clean dances, and everyone had a nice time, good clean fun. I never seen any problem at any of my dances. But that's not true of some of the adults' programs, jeepers! You get to drinkin' that old rotgut whiskey, you know, and they'd start fights, and brawls, terrible! I stayed away from those kind of places as I grew older. I couldn't hack that. There's other ways to make a buck other than rollin' out of them joints, you know."

Jim joined the CCC, and in 1942 he enlisted in the Navy, where he continued to play music. After he was discharged, he moved to Bremerton, Washington, and played on the radio with local country dj Buck Richey's band for two years. Later he played with Curly Booth and the Associated Ramblers, who entertained the workers at Associated Shipyards. For about 20 years he was too busy working and raising a family to play much music, but after he retired, he started playing more and became active with the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association. He lives in Kent, Washington.

Bear Creek Hop was recorded at a live radio show on Seattle's KRAB-FM, December 18,1996. Briar Patch was recorded at the Washington Old Time Fiddlers District Christmas party in Renton, Washington, in 1974.

Bear Creek HopBriar PatchReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Ferris, Clem - Mr. Ferris was from Calgary, Alberta. We met him at fiddle contests in British Columbia. He was a dance fiddler and sent us a cassette of dance tunes before he died that he thought we could use. He was right! These selections were recorded at the Penticton, B.C. fiddle contest, 1974.

Twilight WaltzspacerSmash the WindowspacerUncle Henry's Reel Return to Field Recording Artists List

Frazier, Gladys - Ms. Frazier was born in Midvale, Idaho, in 1888. This selection was recorded by Art Nation at the concert given by the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962.

spacerOld English Schottische (Military Schottische) Return to Field Recording Artists List

Gagnon, Aimé - Mr. Gagnon was born in Saint-Louis-de-Lorbiniére on the St. Lawrence River southeast of Quebéc. His father, grandfather, and many of his uncles were fiddlers. He started playing when he was very young at house parties and dances. He was well known in Quebec as an outstanding fiddler in the French-Canadian tradition.. He played at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1960, and in 1996, at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. While he was here for the Fiddle Tunes Festival, he played a well attended contra dance at the best dance facility in Seattle, with the Pleasures of Home contra dance band - Vivian Williams, fiddle; Phil Katz, accordion; Arne Reinert, flute; Phil Williams, guitar; and Pat Spaeth, piano. The two selections here were recorded at that dance. In 1998, a posthumous CD of Mr. Gagnon was issued in Canada. The closing waltz of the evening at this dance closes this CD. We don’t know if it still available. Email us for information about this CD.

Selections recorded at Temple di Hirsch, June 29, 1996.

spacerReel de Ti-Jean BouribaleGood Neighbor WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Galbraith, Art - Mr. Galbraith was born in Greene County, Missouri, in 1909 into a musical family. He became one of Missouri's outstanding fiddlers. He came to the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest in 1965, where these selections were recorded. Mr. Galbraith is just one of many fiddlers from Missouri who contributed to the fiddling in the Pacific Northwest.

spacerRock Mountain HornpipeWagonerReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Gardner, Wade - Mr. Gardner lived in Richland, Washington. Durang's Hornpipe and Vermillion Waltz were recorded at the WOTFA State Fiddle Contest, Buckley WA, 1975.Logan was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1978.

Durang's HornpipeVermillion WaltzLoganReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Gates, Sadie - Sadie Gates was born on a farm in Cavalier, North Dakota in 1910. Her grandfather was born in Norway, and the community she grew up in was mostly Norwegian. Her father was a dance fiddler, and she accompanied him on guitar and pump organ, and learned a bit of fiddle from him as well. They played square dances, schottisches, two-steps, and waltzes - American as well as Norwegian tunes. Most of the dances were held in houses, but they also had what they called barn dances, on a wooden floor outdoors in the middle of a pasture. They would drag a piano out there, which her cousin played. Her father-in-law was a square dance caller.

"We went and had a contest there [in Vange, North Dakota], and I won first prize. And do you know what I got, I got a pipe and tobacco!"

In 1955 she came to Washington and worked for United Airlines for eight years before marrying and raising her children. She lived in Auburn, Washington, and was active with the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association.

Recorded at a live radio show on Seattle's KRAB-FM, December 18, 1996.

Dad's WaltzHen Cackle Return to Field Recording Artists List

Gentle, J. C. - J. C. "Red" Gentle was born into a musical family in Gentle's Cove, Limerock, Alabama in 1915. In 1934 he enlisted in the U. S. Navy, and served onboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga until his discharge in 1938. With the onset of the war in Europe in 1939, he reenlisted and served onboard the fleet minesweeper USS Gamble, which was one of the ships to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor, and is credited with shooting down one of the attacking Japanese planes. Chief Signalman Gentle saw action at Samoa, Fiji and the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, Lingayen Gulf, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima. He also served in the Korean War, and completed his naval career at the U. S. Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Md., as a Quartermaster School instructor specializing in signaling and navigation.

He retired in Wallowa, Oregon, and was know throughout the country and eastern Oregon as an accomplished old-time fiddler. He began playing the fiddle in 1937. Although basically self taught, J. C. credited his good friend and world renowned fiddler Chubby Wise with teaching him some of the finer points of old time fiddling. J. C. participated in numerous old time fiddling contests throughout the inland northwest, including the national event at Weiser, Idaho where he also served as a judge. His love for fiddle music inspired him to pursue the craft of violin making beginning in 1947. Over the next 50 years he handcrafted 24 violins. He died in 1997. Mr. Gentle appears on our very first field recording production, Voyager CD301.

Mr. Gentle learned Christmas Eve from his mother. All these tunes were recorded in the Williams' camp at Weiser, Idaho, in 1975.

Christmas EvespacerDance Around MollyEighth of JanuaryUp Jumped the DevilspacerLittle Betty BrownJC's Waltz Return to Field Recording Artists List

Gish, Don - Don Gish’s father was born in Missouri, and he and Don’s mother homesteaded near Calgary, Alberta, before moving to Idaho. Don was born in Idaho, and learned to fiddle by ear from his father. He learned to read music when he played violin in high school orchestra. With his father, his sister on piano, and his brother on saxophone, he played barn dances in the 1930's. Later he played fiddle in an old time band called the “Pekinese Pals,” with a mandolin, accordion, guitar and bass. They played over the radio for a number of years, as well as for barn dances in the Boise, Idaho, area. Their repertoire included square dances, schottisches, polkas, the seven step, and the three-step.

“Then after I got drafted, and right at the end of the war, we was on a boat, going from the Philippines to Japan, and a group of us got together. There was a guitar player, and a banjo player, and we made a bull fiddle out of a G.I. ashcan with a piece of leather, and we played over the ship intercom for 36 days. We got fresh water showers, and got to play for officer’s mess and have officer’s mess.... I don’t know what ever happened to them fellows, but they were topnotch. I never heard anything better. And after I came back, why, I just kind of laid the fiddle up for about twenty years.”

Don got married and raised a family in Idaho. In the 1960's, he took up his fiddle again, and was a principal organizer of the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers. When he moved to Spokane, he helped to form the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association, and served as its first president. Later he moved to Oregon and was active in the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers, eventually retiring to Idaho.

Yakima Waltz was recorded at a jam session at the Astoria, Oregon, Fiddle Contest, January 20, 1973. Rag in C was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1973. Scotch Schottische (not a schottische!), Over the Waves, and Old Country Schottische were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, in 1964. At that time Mr. Gish was living in Winchester, Idaho.

Yakima Waltz (by Don Gish, later recorded by him under the name Don's Waltz)Rag in C dScotch Schottische dOver the Waves dOld Country Schottische rReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Griffin, Chuck - Chuck Griffin was born in Washington in 1926, and raised in Arizona. His mother was from Wisconsin, and his father was from the Ozarks. Chuck said: "Now Mama loved to dance, she was a dancer, she was a jig dancer. She could dance all night long with her feet flyin' all over hell and her shoulders and her head would never move an inch, you know. And Dad played fiddle. And he'd learned to play from his mother who was a fiddler. And I guess they were married somewhere around 1920. Of course, 6 years later I come along, by accident undoubtedly. But I sat and listened to him play the fiddle when I was a little bitty guy and when I got big enough I'd sit on his lap and draw the bow across the strings like many kids have done. And they gave my lessons for a couple of years, but I got to where - I never did learn to read music worth a hoot. I could listen to the kids play that stuff, and picked it up that way a lot easier than I could figure out the music. So that's basically how it started, probably - I'll venture to guess probably '35, '36, somewhere in there, I started playing."

He played old time dances in schoolhouses and dance halls in the Verde Valley area of Arizona. They played square dances, polkas, waltzes, two-steps, schottisches, the Rye Waltz, the Varsouvienne, the Circle Two-Step, and the Virginia Reel, as well as the popular tunes of the day.

When Chuck was in high school, Western Swing became popular. "San Antonio Rose all of a sudden come out and Bob Wills' big band with the horns and the fiddles and all that jazz. And I started playing things like that, and then I got a little radio to put in my old Model A Ford. And I'd go out and park that thing on the hillside, and I'd play that radio till the battery was so dead I'd have to roll her down that hill to get her started to get home. And I sat there and I would listen to this band that played in Phoenix, Buster Phyte and the Western Playboys. They played over station KGY, or KOY. And the tower was at the top of the Westward Ho building which was the highest building in the state in those years, and boy, that come right up that valley and I'd listen to that stuff, you know, the Spanish Two-Step, Stay All Night Stay a Little Longer, and this kept growing and growing and man, I was pickin' up them tunes. I'd take my fiddle and I'd go up there and I'd go and get 'em down. Playing along with the radio."

At age 16 he joined the Western Playboys, playing Western Swing in dance halls in Phoenix, until his parents moved to Eastern Oregon. Here he played the more old-fashioned dances in the small town community halls. He served in the Army in Europe and the Far East, where he met several fiddlers and other musicians from Tennessee. While he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington in 1946, he played country music in the honky-tonks in Tacoma. This is where he met his wife, Pauline, who was his piano accompanist for the rest of his life. In the 1950's he played in large dance bands in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

When Chuck and Pauline were raising their family in Olympia, Washington, they played very few dances, but when the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association was formed, they participated in many shows and contests, and Chuck was a frequent contest judge. He was known for his "show" fiddling and spectacular double shuffle.

The first four tunes were recorded at the Tenino Old Time Music Festival, March, 1978, and at a Seattle Folklore Society concert, November 13, 1971. Here's to the Ladies was recorded at the Penticton, B.C. fiddle contest, 1974.

Evergreen StompOrange Blossom SpecialRoy's RagMinuet in SwingHere's to the Ladies Return to Field Recording Artists List

Gubbe, Robert - Mr. Gubbe lived in Aldergrove, B.C. The following selection was recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, B.C., September 21, 1974.

Rocky Mountain WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Guernsey, Stan - Mr. Guernsey was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1919. When he was five years old, his father made him a 1/4 size violin and started teaching him how to play it. He learned to read music from his father, who was a fiddler, and played in his school orchestra. He put the fiddle aside when the Great Depression started. In the early 1930s he saw Eddy Peabody, got himself a tenor banjo, and started playing the popular songs of the period, learning from other tenor banjo players. In his middle teens, he started playing as an entertainer in amateur and variety shows, and in taverns. His family had a band playing popular and ragtime music and other music for dancing. When Mr. Guernsey was 17 years old, a Western singer playing in his town hired him as a Western style fiddler and he became a full-time professional musician. About this time he started playing guitar also, and came into contact with "hillbilly" music from the South, which influenced his fiddle style. During WWII, he played in country dance halls in Ohio. He joined the Army in 1945 and performed on the Armed Forces Radio Service and service shows. Upon leaving the Army in the late 1940s, he decided to make a career of music and went to school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and developed his guitar techniques. He taught guitar and violin and performed with Western bands throughout the Southwest until 1957, when he quit professional music and went to work in a hospital. He started playing in the hospitals in his spare time, and also started playing church music on the violin, which also influenced his fiddle and banjo style. In 1965 he moved to Kirkland, and in 1967 started fiddling with the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association. He teamed up with singer Stan Cole and began performing with him through the Elks entertainment troupe in shows at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Veteran's hospitals. Mr. Guernsey was a very popular performer at fiddle shows and contests in the Pacific Northwest.

New Century Hornpipe was recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, B.C., September 21, 1974. Over the Waves was recorded in the Williams dining room, Seattle, with Thelma McKibben, who had been playing for dances since the 1920s on piano, and Phil Williams on guitar.

New Century HornpipeOver the WavesOver the WavesReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Halvorson, Vic - Mr Halvorson was from Ceres, California. The following selections were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1978, when he was 70 years old. He is backed up by Don Heiland, piano, and Sam Daniels, guitar.

Grasshopper PolkaOver the WavesDurham's ReelReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Hanson, Joe - Joe Hanson was born in North Dakota in 1914. His father was from Denmark, and his mother was from Norway. Although his mother played violin, Joe first taught himself to play harmonica, and when he was 14 years old he taught himself to play fiddle. He played for barn dances and house parties in the Williston, ND area, along with another fiddle, accordion, and piano or organ. They played waltzes, schottisches, polkas, hambos, and square dances. "The best square dance tunes were jigs. I tell a lot of people out here that we played jigs for square dances, well to me a jig is the best square dance tune, I mean it's got a bounce to it. And they used to accuse me of wrecking the barn when I played a certain tune, I forget what it was. It was a jig. Anyway, when they'd get all the people dancing, it seemed like the barn just a'breathin', you know, like oh, sixty, seventy couples in the hay loft, you know, and all dancing to that one rhythm. You can imagine what it'd do."

After Joe got married and moved to Washington in 1942, he put the fiddle away until 1969, when he joined the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association, and started playing again. He lived in Bremerton, Washington.

This selection was recorded at a WOTFA Fiddle Show, Seattle area, January 1975.

Old Figary O'Return to Field Recording Artists List

Holland, Jerry - Jerry Holland was a legendary Cape Breton Island fiddler. He played with the best, and was a part of the "Cape Breton Symphony," with Winston Fitzgerald on the John Allen Cameron TV show in Canada in the 1970s. He was a sensation at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend, Washington, where this selection was recorded in 1979, and responsible in large part for a great interest in Cape Breton music in the Pacific Northwest, which is still going strong today. Here he is backed up on guitar by Northwest musician Mike Saunders.

Cape Breton MedleyReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Howard, Otis - Otis Howard was born in 1887 in Fort Collins, Colorado and named after General Otis Howard of Civil War and Indian War fame. His parents were originally from Indiana, and they migrated to Pine, Idaho, on the South Fork of the Boise River, by covered wagon in 1899. His father, uncle, four brothers, and two sisters all played fiddle or 5-string banjo. Otis helped his father drive freight wagons to and from the Atlanta and Rocky Bar mines, and later drove stagecoaches between Mountain Home and Atlanta. Later he worked in the mines, shoring timber and working on the Featherville gold dredge, and also worked in ranching, logging, and farming. He played dances in the area, and played banjo and steel guitar as well as fiddle. Otis was the Senior champion at the Weiser fiddle contest in 1963. He passed away in 1981.

There is a CD of his playing, called “Idaho Old Time Fiddling by Otis Howard,” made from a tape recorded in 1963, produced by Slim Chance Music, Nampa ID, in 2009. For more information, go to http://www.bonafidaho.com/OtisHowardProject.html

Century 21 Hoedown was written by Mr. Howard, and was recorded from the audience by Art Nation at the performance of the Idaho Fiddlers at the Century 21 World's Fair in Seattle in 1962. The remaining selections were recorded at the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest in 1963.

Century 21 HoedownOld White MuleBlue Valley Waltzspace Cripple Creek Return to Field Recording Artists List

Hughes, Lena - Lena Hughes lived in Ludlow, Missouri. She played banjo and finger style guitar. In 1965 and 1966 she came to the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest with her husband, Jake, and fiddlers Cleo Persinger and Cyril Stinnet, whom she backed up on banjo in the contest. She also entered the contest as a fiddler. She issued a limited Lp pressing of finger style tunes on the guitar, some of which may be found on several "parlor guitar" CD compilations. Marmaduke's Hornpipe and Forked Deer were recorded at Weiser in 1966. Southern Roses Waltz, Adrian's Reel, and Durang's Hornpipe were recorded in Missoula, Montana, in 1964. In these selections she is backed up by her husband, Jake, and Mrs. Cleo Persinger. At that time she was living in Carlton, Missouri.

Marmaduke's Hornpipe space Forked DeerSouthern Roses Waltz space Adrian's Reel Durang's Hornpipe Return to Field Recording Artists List

Jarrell, Tommy, - Recorded in the Williams' living room in 1975 when Mr. Jarrell was playing concerts in the Seattle area and stayed with them. He is backed up by Blanton Owen on fretless banjo. Mr. Jarrell was here for a week as a part of Mike Seeger's American Traditional Music tour, presented by the Seattle Folklore Society. After the Saturday night concert, Jarrell and Owen sat on the couch in our livingroom to play informally for a group of folks sitting on the floor. This session was recorded on an Ampex 350-2 stereo recorder using a pair of Sony C37FET condenser mikes in spaced stereo configuration. Mr. Jarrell lived in Toast, N.C. There are two selections from this concert, John Brown's Dream and Cluck Old Hen. The entire performance, talking and all, running about two hours, follows these two selections, broken up into thirteen segments to permit easier downloading. These segments are designated Jarrell 1, Jarrel 2, etc. and are in the order as played at the performance. These are large files and will each take a few minutes to download with a broadband connection.

John Brown's Dream (banjo)Cluck Old Hen (fiddle)Entire Jarrell & Owen Performance, divided into thirteen mp3 files in order of performance: Jarrell 1Jarrell 2Jarrell 3Jarrell 4Jarrell 5Jarrell 6Jarrell 7Jarrell 8Jarrell 9Jarrell 10Jarrell 11Jarrell 12Jarrell 13 Return to Field Recording Artists List

Jenkins, Edna later Grice - Ms. Jenkins lived in Orofino, Idaho. In the 1960s she was a regular participant in the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest. She is credited with writing a Black Velvet Waltz, different from the Canadian tune of the same name which is played by many fiddlers in the Northwest.

This selection was recorded by Art Nation, from the audience, at the concert presented by the Idaho Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962.

Goodnight WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Johnson, Charles - Charles Johnson was born in Longton, Kansas in 1896. In 1899 his family moved to Blackfoot, Idaho where his father became superintendent of schools. When Charley was in high school in Couer D’Alene, he learned to play the violin and played in the high school orchestra, and continued to play in the orchestra at the University of Idaho where he studied engineering. About 1930 he started playing for dances with various bands, including the Colfax Danceland Sycopates and the Oregon Blazers. Charley was a machinist by profession and worked for the WPA. and in the shipyards, playing for dances to augment his salary. For twenty-two years he played at Jantzen Beach Park in Portland, Oregon every Sunday afternoon. In 1965 he joined the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association, and served as its president. He won several trophies in State and Regional contests in the Northwest. The following tune was recorded at the Longview, Washington, fiddle contest put on by Benny and Dale Thomasson in 1993.

Down in the Cane Break (Nancy Till) Return to Field Recording Artists List

Johnson, Harry - Harry Johnson was born in 1921. His father was from Norway, and his mother was from Wisconsin, and they moved to a farm in North Dakota, where Harry was raised. When he was 11 or 12, he learned to play guitar, and backed up his cousin who played fiddle for dances. Back then they played waltzes, schottisches, and polkas; no squares. Harry took a couple of years of violin lessons when he was a kid, but didn’t play violin much after that. He mostly played guitar and sang.

“Back in that country, you know, when I was in my teens, hey, you could have your choice of maybe two or three dances on a Friday night. Same thing on a Saturday, and two that I can think of on a Sunday night, so you could go three nights a week. And little dance halls, a lot of fun.”

In 1953 he moved from North Dakota to Washington State, got a job in a machine shop, and later got a real estate license.

He didn’t play fiddle until 1968. “Old Al Sanderson, he's the guy got me started. I was selling real estate, and stopped in Kirkland one day, and I could hear a fiddle someplace. So I followed my nose, or ears, whatever you want to call it. And here was Al in the barbershop playing his fiddle, and a guy on the piano, and old Ralph Gillenwater on the old guitar. And Al didn't know a lot of tunes, and after I got to know him I stopped in there every once in a while and I started humming tunes. He was from Minnesota, a Norwegian, you know. I don't know how in the heck he must have figured it out one time that I maybe had played a fiddle once. And he hands me his fiddle and says "You play." And I didn't know what to do with it, it sounds like the strings were still on the cat. But he talked me into it, and I didn't even have a fiddle, and one day he had a fiddle, and he says "Here's a fiddle for 25 bucks." It wasn't great, but anyway, he's the guy that I have to give all the credit to.”

Harry worked out some of the tunes his cousin had played, and learned many new tunes, playing them in a distinctive Norwegian-American style. He did quite well in the contest scene, especially in the Senior division. He passed away in 2010. The Washington Old Time Fiddle Association has issued a 2 CD set of his music, available at http://www.wotfa.org/publications.html

Casey's Old Time Waltz was recorded at the fiddle contest in Longview, Washington, put on by Benny and Dale Thomasson, where the fiddlers judged each other and there were "no rules." The next three selections were recorded in the campground at the National Old Time Fiddle Contest, Weiser, Idaho, in 1995, at a session in which Vivian Williams, who is playing guitar, was having Harry try to remember and play tunes from his youth. Year of Jubilo and Red River Two-step (written by Alberta Slim) was recorded by Roy Caudill at a gathering at his house in Seattle in the late 1960s on his consumer tape recorder. Mr. Caudill plays banjo in a style he learned as a boy in North Carolina. He was in his 70s when this recording was made. He appears on Voyager CD302, Coming 'Round the Mountain.

Casey's Old Time WaltzTwo-StepJohnny Green's CakewalkWaltz Year of Jubilo Red River Two-step spaceReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Johnson, Herman - Herman Johnson was born in 1920, on a farm near Sparks, Oklahoma. His grandfather, father, and two uncles were fiddlers. He learned to play when he was eight, and performed with his brothers in a group called the Johnson Boys. At age 12 he entered his first contest. He was a great admirer of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and played in various western swing dance bands for several years.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946, and in 1947 became a machinist at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, retiring in 1974. Starting about 1960, he began entering fiddle contests around the country. In 1969, 1973, 1977, and 1978, he won the Weiser championship, and is the only person to be undefeated in that contest. In addition, he won the 1974 Grand Masters in Nashville, Tennessee, the Oklahoma State Championship five times, and in 1997 was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame.

Jeanine Orme has published a book containing 39 transcriptions and a CD of Herman’s tunes, entitled “Herman Johnson Master Fiddler,” which is available from Mel Bay Publications.

The following tunes were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1968. He is backed up on guitar by Ralph McGraw.

Tom and Jerry I Don't Love Nobody Herman's Rag Fisher's Hornpipe Return to Field Recording Artists List

Johnston, Neil - Mr. Johnston grew up in a musical family in Sutherland, Nebraska. His grandfathers, uncles and his father all played the fiddle. At age nine, he took up the button accordion, and at age fourteen, he switched to fiddle. Soon he was entering amateur contests and was in demand to play at the house parties that were popular along the Platte Valley in the mid 1930s. From the mid 1930s until the early 1940s, he played for dances. He enlisted in the army at the start of WWII. After the war, Mr. Johnston moved to the state of Washington, married, and went to college. He became a teacher in Tenino, Washington, and seldom played the fiddle for about 25 years, when he picked up his fiddle again and started playing the tunes he learned from his grandfathers, and new ones, at house parties and dances. In 1970, he organized the Tenino Old Time Music Festival, which became a major annual festival in Western Washington until it was discontinued in 2009. Voyager issued an Lp of Mr. Johnson in 1974, now in press as their CD 314, in which he is back up by a host of Puget Sound area musicians, including many of his students from Tenino High School. Mr. Johnston was known for the variety of tunes he played, and especially for his blues fiddling.

The selection was recorded at a fiddle show in Southeast Washington in 1976.

Possum up a Gum StumpReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Kahana, Charles - Mr. Kahana was born on San Juan Island, Washington, in 1865. His father was Hawaiian, who had jumped ship from a whaling vessel in 1860, near present day Victoria, B.C. His mother was Lummi Indian, who had a farm on San Juan Island. He learned his fiddling on San Juan Island from people of French heritage who were descendants of Hudson’s Bay Company employees. He began playing for dances in the Puget Sound area, and later he entered and often won local fiddle contests, including the contest at the 1930 Puyallup Fair and a big contest in Tacoma the same year.Both selections were recorded on June 18, 1956, at Kahana’s home in Marietta, Washington, when Kahana was 91 years old. The person doing the recording (and interviewing) was Whatcom County historian Howard E. Buswell. These are probably the earliest field recordings of fiddling made in Washington, and among the earliest in the Northwest.

The recordings of these tunes are in the Buswell Collection at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Western Washington University and are provided her for non-profit educational purposes only. If we receive notification that posting these recording are an infringement of copyright, privacy or other reasonable concers, we will remove it expeditiously from our web site.

Campbell's March Buffalo Gals/The Girl I Left Behind Me/Prettiest Girl in the County

Keller, Jim - Mr. Keller was from Centralia, Washington. This selection was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1965

Rabbit in the Pea Patch Return to Field Recording Artists List

Kemble, Clarence - Clarence Kemble was born in Roseberry, Idaho in 1911. He started playing on a little tin fiddle when he was four, and by the time he was nine he could play his father’s fiddle. He played left-handed. For thirty years he played dances throughout the Western states. He lived in Orofino, Idaho, and was a charter member of the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers. He won the Weiser fiddle contest in 1954.

This selection was recorded by Art Nation at the concert presented by the Idaho Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962.

Whistling RufusReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Kessinger, Clark - Mr. Kessinger was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1896. He came from musical family, and was performing on the banjo with his father when he was seven years old, and then switched to fiddle to play dances. In the 1920s he performed with his nephew Luches Kessinger and the “Kessinger Brothers.” They performed on the radio and made several recordings. Kessinger put his fiddle away in the early 1940s, but was “rediscovered” in the 1960s, made several recordings, and became a popular performer in the fiddle and “folk” scene. He won many fiddle contests playing in his easily recognizable, driving style. In 1966, he came to the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest with Gene Meade, an incredible backup guitarist for Kessinger’s style of fiddling, who came from North Carolina. The recordings we made of Mr. Meade’s jamming with Byron Berline at this contest was the impetus for us starting Voyager Recordings as we figured this informal and dynamic fiddling needed to be heard. Selections of Mr. Berline jamming with Mr Meade can be heard on Voyager CD301 Fiddle Jam Sessions. There are several recordings of Mr. Kessinger presently available.

The following selections were recorded at jam sessions and performances at the National Old Time Fiddle Contest, Weiser, Idaho, in 1966.

Turkey in the Straw, Blackhawk Waltz, Turkey Knob, Over the Waves, Leather Britches, Richmond Polka, Flop Eared Mule, Sweet Bunch of Daisies, Ragtime Annie, West Virginia Hornpipe, Sally Ann Johnson, Billy in the Lowground, Poca River Blues, Listen to the Mockingbird, Goodnight Waltz, Salt River, Forked Deer, Sally Goodin, Chinky Pin, Durang's Hornpipe, Sally Johnson, Sandy River Belle

Return to Field Recording Artists List

Kiesecker, Gil - Gil Kiesecker was born in 1916, in Anatone, in the extreme southeast corner of Washington State on a spur of the Blue Mountains overlooking Oregon's Grande Ronde valley and the Snake River just before it joins the Clearwater River at Lewiston, Idaho. His family, and many of his neighbors, were of German ancestry, and were wheat farmers. He went to business college in Lewiston Idaho.

When he was in the second grade, the school orchestra leader picked him to play drums for a dance band that traveled to different towns and played on the radio. Later his father taught him how to chord on a reed organ which was carted around to play for dances. When he was ten years old, his father taught Gil how to play fiddle.

While he was in high school, Gil would ride horseback for many miles to play dances in Idaho and Oregon. “It was such a long ways to go, it could take all day to ride in there. But during the time it was pretty hard then you know, and go out and have a little job to do, you could get some spending money, you know. That was one thing you kind of looked forward to, go play for the dance, why they'd just pass the hat, you know you'd get whatever they could, and they'd turn out pretty good crowds there once a year, you know.

“When I first started out... well, a lot of times two fiddles would play for a dance, if you could get two. You didn’t have a guitar. I started playing guitar for these two - my father and this other fellow occasionally, and once in a while we'd just be one fiddle and one guitar. Well, somebody went though the country there selling Hawaiian-style guitars, you know, they had a finger-board with all the notes, charts pasted right underneath the strings. We got that and I got to learning that, you know, and we'd pack that. We used to strap these things on our backs and get on the saddle horse, you know, and carry them like a gun.” At the dances they played squares, polkas, the heel and toe polka, schottisches, foxtrots, and the stomp.

In 1938 he and his brother built an outdoor dance platform near the present Field Springs State Park, “And then I had these dances every Saturday night, and I'd give five cent dances, you know, I had it roped off so you'd play a round and then kick them off, and start taking tickets again. Oh, I run that for two summers. I took the stuff up, took all the boards up and saved them and put it back the next year.”

In 1940 Gil went into the army, and in 1946 he moved to Seattle, where he ran a grocery store. He gave up the fiddle until 1975, when he joined the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association. He has been a featured fiddler at many shows and dances, and has two CDs available on Voyager - CD356 Dance Fiddler from the Blue Mountains, and CD360 Blue Mountain Memories.

These selections were recorded at a live fiddle show on Seattle's KRAB-FM radio in December, 1996.

Blue Mountain WaltzMississippi Sawyer Return to Field Recording Artists List

Knause, Carl - Mr. Knause lived in Polson, Montana. These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964.

Scandinavian Waltz Rakes of Mallow Silver Bells Return to Field Recording Artists List

Koppel, Russell - Mr. Koppel lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was visiting in British Columbia and entered the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, B.C., 1974, where this selection was recorded.

Peek-a-Boo WaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Kronkite, Floyd - Mr. Kronkite was from Miles City, Montana. The following selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest in Missoula, Montana, in 1964.

Hoedownspace Schottische Return to Field Recording Artists List

Lamb, Barbara - Barbara Lamb was a well known fiddler in the Pacific Northwest, living in Seattle, before she moved to Nashville to embark on a professional fiddling career. She started playing fiddle at an early age in Seattle's large Scandinavian dance community. When she was 12 years old, she started taking lessons from Vivian, and moved into bluegrass fiddle. At the time she was taking lessons from Vivian, she was teaching fiddle to a young beginning fiddler, Mark O'Connor. Barbara was, and is, a very good fiddler and early on she was recruited by bluegrass bands in the area. She started out with the Tennesseans, Harley Worthington and Hank English, who had moved to Washington State from Tennessee. She played with several other bluegrass bands, and for some years with Ranch Romance, before moving to Nashville and playing fiddle in several nationally known touring bands. In 1974, she and Vivian recorded Twin Sisters, a twin fiddle recording still available as Voyager CD 316. Barbara also has several CD releases of her own on several different labels, which can be located by an online search.

Ceilito Lindo and Swedish Walking Tune were recorded at the 1976 Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest. Twin Sisters was recorded at a concert in Seattle, 1994, with Vivian Williams, 2nd fiddle; David Keenan, mandolin; Chris Cioppi, banjo; and Phil Williams, guitar. Thanks to Robert Palasek for finding the Swedish name for the Walking Tune.

Ceilito LindoSwedish Walking Tune (Te budum och sommarens glädje)dTwin Sisters Return to Field Recording Artists List

Lamb, Dwight - Mr. Lamb was born in Moorhead, Iowa, in 1934. His father and mother came from Denmark, and his father and grandfather were fiddlers. From them he learned fiddling and the button accordion. He is one of the best known fiddlers playing in what is known as Missouri Valley style. He has several recordings available. He came to the contest at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966, where these tunes were recorded.

Adrian's HornpipeComin' Down to DenverMiller's ReelGranny Will Your Dog BiteSteamboat Round the BendCheatham County Rag
Return to Field Recording Artists List


Lamb, Grant - Grant Lamb was born in Manitoba in 1915. His family was musical, and his parents played for a lot of dances in Ontario and Manitoba. His mother had an organ and he played with that as soon as he could sit up close to it. Then he got a banjo in the early '30's and played it for eight or ten years, and then picked up the fiddle. He had no formal training. “There wasn't anybody close to give lessons and no money to pay anybody then if there had been. During the 1930's there wasn't much money with the depression on. I learned listening to the radio and listening to my folks.”

Grant entered and won his first fiddle contest in 1939 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. “You had to play a waltz and a breakdown in three minutes. They usually had somebody ring a bell, but most of the fiddlers didn't know for sure whether they were to stop when they rang the bell or finish the tune.” He was Manitoba fiddle champion in 1953, 1954, and 1955. He also played a lot for old time dances starting in about 1932.

In the 1970's Grant made annual spring visits to Seattle. He would drive across the country from his home in Portage la Prairie and appear unannounced at our doorstep, and when we asked him how long he was planning to be around, he would say that he had "no plans, no plans." Then he would stay with us until it was time to go back home to Manitoba and take care of the farm.

Frank Ryan's Hornpipe and Loggerman's Breakdown were recorded in 1975 at Weiser, Idaho. The unnamed Reel was recorded at the R.E.A.C.H. fiddle show in Bellevue, WA, in 1973. The unnamed Reel #2 was recorded at the Williams, Seattle, WA in 1973 with Gordon Tracie, guitar; Vivian Williams, piano; Stan Guernsey, tenor banjo; and Phil Williams, bass. Repasz Band March, and the unidentified Schottische were recorded at the Williams also in 1973. Voyager released a CD of Mr Lamb, CD312.

Frank Ryan's Hornpipespacer Loggerman's BreakdownSpacer ReelSpacer Grandfather's Reelspacer Repasz Band Marchspacer Schottische Return to Field Recording Artists List

Ledford, Lily May - Lily May Ledford was well known as the banjo and fiddle player with the Coon Creek Girls, who started playing on the radio in 1937. Her career, both the the Coon Creek Girls and by herself, lasted until her death in 1985. She was born in Kentucky in 1917. These selections were recorded at a concert in Seattle in 1976, with Mike Seeger accompanying on banjo and guitar, and Phil Williams on bass. In the early 1980s Lily Mae came to Seattle to record with Vivian and Phil a record, also incorporating selections she recorded with Mike Seeger, issued on the Greenhays label, "Banjo Pickin Girl." Saturday evening after recording, she talked about a great fiddler named Bob Simmons, who played with the Coon Creek Girls, when they played on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. She didn't know where he was and would like to find out. We knew him as, at the time, he was living in Granite Falls, Washington. Later we recorded a record of him, now on Voyager CD334. Unfortunately, what we didn't know was that on that very Saturday night when Lily May was wondering where he was, he was winning a fiddle contest in Pioneer Square, Seattle. Had we known we could have taken her downtown for a reunion with him.

spacer Cacklin Henspacer Ragtime Annie Return to Field Recording Artists List

Lieber, Alex - Mr. Lieber was from Long Beach, California. He was in the senior division at the Weiser, Idaho fiddle contest, where these selections were recorded in 1968.

Daly's Reel Sunset Polka Return to Field Recording Artists List

Long, Bill - Bill Long was born in Texas in 1929, and learned fiddle from his grandfather and other Texas fiddlers. He moved to Montana at age 15, and played many square dances. In 1966, 1967, and 1968 he was Montana State Champion. He wrote Bill’s Waltz which is well-known among Northwest fiddlers. He was a truck driver, and a great fiddler. Stone's Rag, Still on the Hill, and Hell Among the Yearlings were recorded at Weiser, ID, in 1966. Durang's Hornpipe and the unnamed Waltz were recorded at Weiser in 1967.

Stone's RagStill on the HillHell Among the YearlingsDurang's HornpipeWaltzReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Manes, Almon - Mr. Manes was living in Stites, Idaho, at the time this recording was made. He was a great fiddler, especially of "cowboy" waltzes, and one of the fiddlers Vivian credits with showing her how waltzes should be played. We met him at the Missoula, MT fiddle contest in 1964. His wife, Virginia, was the "National Ladies Fiddle Champion." The Manes were featured at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966, along with Clark Kessinger, Tex Logan, and others, and appear in the film made at that festival.

His grandparents came to Idaho in 1887 from near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Members of his family were noted Appaloosa horse breeders. Almon was born in 1923, at Clearwater, Idaho. He was a rancher, a fiddle maker, and a pilot, and was Idaho Fiddle Champion in 1968. He passed away in 2009.

Harvest Home was recorded by Art Nation at the concert presented by the Idaho Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Ozark Moon was recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964.

Harvest HomeOzark Moon Return to Field Recording Artists List

Manes, Virginia - Virginia Manes was the wife of Idaho fiddler, Almon Manes. She lived in Stites, Idaho when these recordings were made. She performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966, and won the National Ladies Championship at the Weiser fiddle contest in the mid-1960s. The following selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana in 1964. She learned the Crystal Schottische from her husband, Almon, who learned it in Calgary, Alberta.

Smoky Mountain WaltzCrystal Schottische Durang's HornpipeReturn to Field Recording Artists List

McGee, Dennis, and Courville, Sadie - Mr. McGee was born near Eunice, Louisiana in 1893. He started making recordings of his Cajun music in 1926, and was one of the major figures popularizing this music. He teamed up with Mr. Courville, who was born in 1905, in the late 1920s, and they became noted for their twin fiddling. Their visit to Seattle in the 1970s helped fuel the Cajun music scene in the Pacific Northwest. They stayed with us for the week they were touring in the Seattle area, along with Tommy Jarrell, so every night was jam night!

These selections were recorded at the Old Time Music Workshop at the Seattle Folklore Society's "Clubhouse" in 1975, hosted by Mike Seeger.

WaltzCourville Breakdown Return to Field Recording Artists List

McGrath, Del - Delbert McGrath was born in 1918, and grew up in the Ozarks of Missouri. His parents and a grandfather played the fiddle. Del took up fiddle at age nine, entered his first contest two years later, and by 15 was in great demand to play square dances for miles around. One venue was a dance hall run by his future wife’s father. In 1942 he was recorded by Vance Randolph for the Library of Congress, and later that year he and his wife moved to California. He lived in Sacramento for many years, was active in organizing the California Old Time Fiddlers Association, and won the State Championship in1967, as well as many other contests. He died in 2003. These selections were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966.

Possum and Sweet TatersAlligator Rag Return to Field Recording Artists List

McVeigh, Henry - Henry McVeigh was born in Spalding, Nebraska in 1915. His dad was a farmer and an old time fiddler, and his mother played classical violin. Both parents were born in Nebraska. When he was fourteen, he started to play violin in the school orchestra. “Back in the Dust Bowl, you know. Brought up during the Depression, and that’s the reason that I started playing the fiddle. There were no jobs or nothing, and you could make fifty cents by playing for a little barn dance.” He played for “the little dance in the country school house, and then in the barn, kitchen parties, and whatnot.” The band often included another fiddle, guitar, drums, and clarinet. They played mostly square dances, as well as waltzes, two-steps, polkas, and jigs for clogging.

He served in the Army from 1937 to 1940, and then moved to the Puget Sound area to work in the Bremerton Shipyard. He played for a few dances in local nightclubs, but didn’t like that scene much, and mostly played for friends at home. He joined the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association and played in their contests and shows. Henry died in 1999.

The Soldier's Plea was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Buckley, Washington, 1974. Old Dan Tucker was recorded at the WOTFA fiddle show in Puyallup, Washington, in 1974.

The Soldier's PleaOld Dan Tucker Return to Field Recording Artists List

Meltzer, Howie - Howie Meltzer is a well known old time fiddler living in Bellingham, WA. Over the years he has fiddled many dances in Western Washington with several bands.

“Most of that time I played for square, contra and Irish ceili dances. While there are many fiddlers I love listening to I never tried to copy anyone else’s style, guess I was lucky enough to play with people who didn’t mind me playing my own way.”

These tunes were recorded at a jam session in the Williams' tent at Weiser, ID, in 1997. Polecat Blues has Howie playing lead fiddle; Vivian Williams, harmony fiddle; Lori Meltzer, banjo; Phil Williams, guitar. Texas Gallop features Portland mandolinist Greg Clark, with Howie and Vivian fiddling; Lori playing old time banjo; Harley Bray playing bluegrass banjo; Barry Brower, rhythm mandolin; Phil Williams and Shera Bray, guitars. More music by Howie and Lori Meltzer is on Voyager CD 355, “Eat and Run.”

Polecat BluesTexas Gallop Return to Field Recording Artists List

Miller, Sonny - Mr. Miller, born in North Carolina and living in Delaware, was one of the best breakdown fiddlers in the Southeast. He played with Charlie Monroe in 1952, recorded with the Stanley Brothers, as well as Alex and Ola Belle Reed. When he was in Seattle with Ola Belle Reed in the early 1970s, he called us around 10:00 pm after the concert and said he wanted to come over and play fiddle tunes with us. So, we called a few friends, Sonny came over, and we jammed half the night. These selections were recorded at that jam session in our house. Vivian is playing piano, Phil is playing mandolin, Jeff Thorn, guitar, Ellen Marx, banjo, Darrel McMichael, bass, and Barbara Lamb was there to request tunes and play a little fiddle. Mr. Miller is on County's Lp 705, Virginia Breakdown.

Twinkle Little Star Bill Cheatum fSmith's Rag Return to Field Recording Artists List

Mitchell, Bill - Mr. Mitchell lived in Tupelo, Mississippi. At the time we first met him, Weiser, 1965, he was the dog trainer for the police department. The next year he came to Weiser, 1966, he was the Sheriff of Leake County, Mississippi. Mr. Mitchell was a great player and we would jam with him all week. He taught Vivian how to twin fiddle. Farewell Blues was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966. Lee Highway Swing and Cacklin' Hen were recorded at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend, Washington, in 1979, with Dick Marvin, guitar, and Phil Williams, bass.

Farewell Blues fLee Highway Swing Cacklin' Hen Return to Field Recording Artists List

Modrell, Rusty & Yohey, Bill - Rusty Modrell was born in Filer, Idaho in 1916. His father was a farmer and a fiddler, and the family later moved to Pendleton and Redmond, Oregon. Rusty owned an upholstery shop in Redmond, Oregon, and lived on a small ranch at Terrebonne, Oregon. He was the Oregon Old Time Fiddling Champion. Here he is playing with fiddler Bill Yohey, listed below.

This selection was recorded by Art Nation at the concert presented by the Idaho Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962.

Til We Meet AgainReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Monroe, Bill - Bill Monroe came to Seattle in 1967 to play a couple concerts. He brought Doug Green with him to play guitar. Vivian Williams played fiddle, Paul Wiley, banjo, and Phil Williams, bass. At a party at the Munger's in Seattle, Monroe decided to record some of his "Uncle Pen" tunes for Vivian to learn. This was done very informally to a cassette recorder by Phil Williams. These tunes are from that jam session.

sWhite Folks Ain't Treating Me RightsDead MarchsWatson's BluessCandy GalsRachelsPaddy on the TurnpikesBlackberry BlossomsTurkey in the StrawssReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Montgomery, Bob - Bob Montgomery was born in 1920. He started playing the violin at the age of 10, taking some lessons from a Rawleigh and Watkins salesman who visited the family homestead near Minnedosa, Manitoba every few months. He was a popular competitor in fiddle contests in British Columbia, and won most of those he entered. Just before his round was called, he would take his fiddle out of the case, tune it, and walk on stage and play a perfect round with no warm up. We asked him how he did it. He answered that in World War II he piloted a De Havilland Mosquito twin engine fighter/bomber for the RCAF, and, after that, nothing could faze him. Those of us who attempted to compete against him in fiddle contests in the 1970's were aware of his nerves of steel, which made him unbeatable. He lived in Prince George, British Columbia for many years, later moving to Oyama.

These selections were recorded at the Abbotsford, B.C. fiddle contest in 1975.

Ward's WaltzRick's JigConcert Reel Return to Field Recording Artists List

Morgan, Chuck - Mr. Morgan, originally from the Ozark's region of Missouri, lived in Benton City, Washington. He came to Seattle in 1973 to perform in the Granada Fiddle Contest. This was a contest put on by the senior citizen volunteer organization, R.E.A.C.H, at the old Granada Theater in West Seattle, where these selections were recorded. Playing guitar is Bill Pruett, Marysville, Washington, who came here from North Carolina and was a popular backup musician in this area. Whistlers Waltz was widely played in the Pacific Northwest in earlier times. A tune of the same name, which is often heard at fiddle contests today, has no relation to this tune, which is the one we learned here forty-seven years ago.

Up Jumped the DevilWhistlers Waltz Return to Field Recording Artists List

Norberg, Clarence - Mr. Norberg lived in Centralia, Washington, and performed at many fiddle shows in Washington.

The following selection was recorded at a WOTFA Fiddle Show, Puyallup, WA, early 1970s.

Lone Star RagReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Osborne, Ray - Mr. Osborne came to Washington from Kansas, where he was born in the 1890s and learned to fiddle. He lived in Tacoma, Washington. He was a popular and lively performer at many fiddle shows in Washington. Backup is by Jeff Thorne, guitar, and Ellen Marx, banjo.

These selections were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1970. Seattle, and a Seattle Folklore Society Concert, Seattle, 1971.

Dill Pickle RagDown on the FarmCacklin HenReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Pancerzewski, Joe - Joe Pancerzewski was born in 1905. His family homesteaded near White Earth, North Dakota in 1909. As a boy he learned to play from his neighbors, especially the four brothers in the Nelson family. As Joe put it, "that area was plastered with good fiddlers". When he was a teenager he rode horseback for miles to play for local old time dances. The repertoire consisted of mostly square dances, waltzes, polkas, and schottisches. In 1921 he went to Regina, Saskatchewan, where he met violinist and band leader Frances Kelly who told him "Kid, you're a pretty good fiddler but you'll never amount to nothing until you know how to read music." Joe said "I never amounted to nothing anyhow, but he taught me how to read music, and it was a godsend to help. I found out that there were a lot of places on the fiddle I never knew about." He joined the dance band and began playing "hot" foxtrots, traveling all over Western Canada. At this time he also started to learn the Canadian fiddle style for which he is known. When he moved to Bellingham, Washington in 1924, he continued to play the popular music of the day with large dance bands. He also played with the theater orchestra at the Pantages, and occasionally performed a "Yankee Fiddler" novelty solo act.

In 1927 he went to work for the Northern Pacific Railroad, which drastically cut into his fiddling, and when he was promoted to engineer in 1939 he put the fiddle away in a trunk. When he retired from the railroad in 1970, he dug out his fiddle and went to the State Fiddle Contest sponsored by the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association. Within a year he became virtually unbeatable in local fiddle contests and in the Senior division of national contests. As Joe put it, "I kept up practicing for a year, and I fooled a lot of people." He became an important stylistic influence and an inspiration for many fiddlers in the Northwest and in other parts of the country. In 1976 he represented Northwest fiddling at the Smithsonian's National Folk Festival in Washington D.C.

During his long musical career, Joe absorbed tunes and techniques from every fiddler and violinist he heard, drawing from such varied styles as traditional North Dakota dance tunes, Western Canada, early jazz, classical, bluegrass, and Texas contest fiddling. But he managed to make everything he played his own. His is basically a dance-oriented Canadian style.

Joe emphasized the importance of good timing and of giving every note its full value. He was also a master of expression, and said that a waltz should be played as if it were a love song, or to tell a story. What Joe called the "critical notes" of a tune are the notes that define that tune and distinguish it from other tunes. He said that these notes should be emphasized, and never totally obscured by variations. He had strong opinions on the subject of improvisation. "You've got to know where to do it. Joe Venuti was a master at it. He was a great violinist. A few hot licks and a little run, and it got right back into the melody."

Joe Pancerzewski passed away in December, 1991, leaving an unfillable void in the old time fiddling scene. We all miss his ebullient personality, his beautiful playing, and his fascinating stories about railroading, fiddling, and playing pool. Voyager issued three Lp records and one cassette of Joe. Tunes selected from the three Lps are on Voyager CD341. The cassette, of tunes written by Mr. Pancerzewski, was selected by the Library of Congress for their Select List of Traditional American Recordings, but has not been reissued on CD. Many of Joe's original tunes can be found on Vivian's "Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes" book series, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, and a unique historical document - tunes collected at the jam sessions in the barbershop of Alvy Osborne in Minot, North Dakota, in the 1930s, entitled "Pleasures of Home," all published by Voyager.

The following tunes were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1970. Enumclaw, WA, and the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, B.C., 1974.

Arkansas RagBride of the WindReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Persinger, Cleo - Mr. Persinger was a well known Missouri fiddler from Columbia, Missouri, who came to the Northwest to play in some of the national fiddle contests. He won the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest in the mid-60s. He was born in 1909, grew up in Boone County, Missouri. He played in "Little Dixie" style, and was a noted dance fiddler. For more detailed information on Mr. Persinger, written by Dr. Howard Marshall, please go to Fiddler Histories.

These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964.

WaltzBoone County Rag Return to Field Recording Artists List

Pruden, Stan - Mr. Pruden lived in Prince George, B.C. This selection was recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford B.C.1974, where he entered the Senior Division.

West 14th JigReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Rader, Grant - Mr. Rader, a well known Montana fiddler, lived in Columbus, Montana. These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana in 1964.

Sweet Bunch of Daisies Rochester Schottische Return to Field Recording Artists List

Ringo, Ernest - Mr. Ringo lived in Shelbyville, Illinois. This tune was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966.

The Devil Shook HisselfReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Robichaud, Gerry - Mr. Robichaud was born and raised in Saint Paul, New Brunswick. He learned to play fiddle at an early age from his mother and four other fiddlers in his immediate family. In 1955, he moved to Waltham, Massachusetts, became active in the French Canadian community there, and started playing on weekends at the local French Club. He was influenced early on by the fiddling of Don Messer. In 1973, Voyager had a recording made of Mr. Robichaud in Wellesly, Massachusetts, engineered by Mark Wilson and Frank Ferrel, which was issued on an Lp record, presently available as a CD, Voyager CD 310.

Abigeit Reel was recorded in the Williams' dining room, July 7, 1980, during a visit when Mr. Robichaud was on the faculty of the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Pt. Townsend, WA. He is accompanied by Vivian Williams, piano, and Phil Williams, bass. Buddy Knell's Jig was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1973. High Level Hornpipe was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1974.

Abigweit ReelBuddy Knell's JigsHigh Level Hornpipe Return to Field Recording Artists List

Rogers, Lyman - Lyman Rogers was born and raised in Whatcom County, in Northwest Washington, in 1907. He and his family logged and farmed there in the early 20th century.

"My father received a telephone call on a Saturday morning, when I was 13 years old, and I had been playing fiddle for two years, taking lessons, formal lessons, with a violinist in Bellingham. So I had a little working level of musical expression on the fiddle, and he got a call that said that there was a dance being held at this Grange hall, and that the man that was coming to play fiddle was ill and couldn't make it. And would my father give permission for me to come up and see if I could help, because there was a lady playing piano, and she had some man on drums, and a man with a banjo, and she wanted to have a fiddle and wanted to know if he would let me go up there and see if I could sit in with them, and do something in the way of providing a little fiddle music. So he said yes, he would take me up there. So he did, and she welcomed me and she said "We want you to play with us." So I said "Well, I don't know if I can, but I'll see if I can." So they began playing the pieces that they were working with, and I didn't know them very - I'd heard my father whistle some of it and my mother sing some of them, and had played a little bit at 'em with the fiddle. But then I had to get right in and see if I could play along with them. And in only about half an hour I was playing the music right along with 'em."

In high school he continued to play dances, learning popular music from the radio, sheet music, and other musicians, earning enough money to continue to take music lessons, buy sheet music, and maintain his instruments. The dances that his band played included waltzes, two-steps, squares, foxtrots, mazurkas, polkas, schottisches, the Circle Two-Step, the Rye Waltz, and the Varsouvienne. He learned some traditional square dance tunes from a local fiddler, Johnny Hawkins, who was originally from Tennessee. When he played with Hawkins' band, "they had a habit up there of stomping and whistling when they threw a dance, you know, and they'd stomp and the dust would fly - god, they'd tear a floor apart. I don't know why they had the idea that they had to stomp their approval when they finished the dance, but that was their reaction. And it was just like a bunch of rowdies. But they were having a grand time. And when they were stomping, you knew you were clicking. Everything was going good, because when they were stomping they were relating to what you were doing. And they were approving. And it was a sense of satisfaction to know that they were accepting what you were doing. It made fun out of it, you know, made a lighter task of what you were doing. But it was hard work. God, we worked hard, because we had no amplification, you know and we had to get that out there to them, and we'd just bear down."

After Lyman graduated from high school in 1926, he worked in the fishing industry in Alaska, and then came back and continued to play dances in the local Grange halls. A few years after moving to Seattle in 1934, he gave up playing music until 1969, when he became active in Washington Old Time Fiddle Association.

Hell on Buck Creek was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Enumclaw, WA,.in 1971. The Old Time Waltz Medley (Bicycle Built for Two, After the Ball, unidentified waltz, and I'll Be All Smiles Tonight, with backup by Harold Buis, guitar; Mary Calvert, piano, and an unidentified accordion player, was recorded at the WOTFA Puyallup, WA, Fiddle Show, 1974

spacerHell on Buck Creek spacerOld Time Waltz Medley Return to Field Recording Artists List

Sanderson, Alvin - Mr. Sanderson came to Seattle, Washington. from Minnesota. At the time of this recording he was the Weiser Senior Division Champion, which he won several times and was never beaten. Mr. Sanderson played in primarily Scandinavian/American style. He was a very good fiddler and a major influence on young fiddlers in this area in the early 1970s. Mr. Sanderson always was quite popular at fiddle shows.

The following selections were recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1970.

Do-Si-DoOld Schottische in CMinnesota WaltzOld Two-Step in CReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Setran, Bill - Ben Setran was born in 1903, of Norwegian parentage, and was a well-known violin maker and repairman in Billings, Montana. He died in 1999. His version of Alex & Maureen’s Two Step was the source for the written version in Phillips “Traditional American Fiddle Tunes” Volume 2. These selections were recorded in Weiser, Idaho, in 1978. He is backed up by Don Heiland, piano, and Kathy Picavet, guitar

Pushee's HornpipeReginald's WaltzAlex & Maureen's Two-StepReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Sexsmith, Llewellyn (Max) - Llewellyn McPherson (Max) Sexsmith was born in 1917 in Saskatchewan. He started playing fiddle when he was six years old. He grew up in Canada's Peace River country, and played dances there throughout the 1930s. After WWII, where he served in the Canadian Air Force, he moved to Prince George, British Columbia, and played a half hour radio program with his group, the Rhythm Ranch Hands, on Prince George radio for a few years. He played for years in the Prince George area with the Caribou Old Timers. Mr. Sexsmith wrote many tunes and recorded a fine Lp of some of them on the "Maple Haze" label. For many years he wrote tunes for well known Canadian fiddler Don Messer. When we met him in the 1960s, he was living in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. We saw him at many fiddle contests in British Columbia. Victory Breakdown was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1968. Our Last Waltz and Big John McNeil were recorded at the Penticton, B.C. fiddle contest, 1974.

Victory BreakdownspacerOur Last WaltzspacerBig John McNeil Return to Field Recording Artists List

Sharp, Mary - Mary Sharp was born in Strasburg, Saskatchewan, Canada, about 70 miles north of Regina. Her father was from the states, and her mother was from Scotland. Her father played the fiddle for dances, and when Mary was little her mother would let her play her father’s fiddle without his knowledge. When he found out she could actually play a tune, he said “Okay, if you learn to play, that fiddle is yours.” Later the family moved to Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, and she took up accordion and banjo as well as fiddle.

When she played for dances, she aimed to “make the dancers comfortable on the floor.... I pick the best dancers on the floor, and I follow them buggers all the way around.” Her parents were good dancers, and Mary herself danced while she played. Don Gish said “If somebody would step on her toes and hold them down so she couldn’t move, then she couldn’t fiddle a lick.”

The following selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest in Missoula, Montana, 1964.

Ragtime AnnieWilson's Clog Return to Field Recording Artists List

Shaw, Manny - Manny Shaw was the driving force behind the founding of the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers Association, the first such association in the U.S. He lived in Corral, Idaho, just at the north edge of the Snake River plains, where he ranched. In 1963, in celebration of Idaho's 100th anniversary of statehood, the Governor asked Manny Shaw and Blaine Stubblefield to organize some fiddlers for centennial events. They organized the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers at a meeting in Weiser, Idaho, home of the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest. He came to Idaho from Washington in 1919, when he was eleven years old, traveling in a covered wagon. He was playing dances by the time he was 18 years old. Manny played at two World's Fairs, toured Europe, was a judge at many fiddle contests in the U.S., and was the recipient of the Idaho Commission for the Arts Governor's Arts Award.

Here is Manny playing two schottisches. Twinkle Little Star started out as a schottische, but now is more often heard in fiddle contests played more like a rag. This was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1965. Old Schottische was recorded at Weiser in 1978.

spacerTwinkle Little Star spacerJust an Old SchottischeReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Snead, Fay - Mr. Snead was originally from Arkansas, and moved to Midvale, Idaho, where he was living when we met him in 1965. He came to our camp often and played a lot of great tunes, many of which he did not know the name of. Mr. Snead appears on Voyager CD301 Fiddle Jam Sessions.

The first unidentified hoedown and unidentified polka were recorded by Art Nation at the concert by the Idaho Fiddlers at the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. East Tennessee Blues was recorded at the Weiser fiddle contest in 1967. The rest were recorded in the Williams' camp at Weiser in 1973 with Vivian playing guitar and Phil, banjo.

Unidentified HoedownEast Tennessee BluesspacerUnidentified Hoedown 2Unidentified Hoedown 3Unidentified Hoedown 4Monkey on the Dog Cart
Do Do Do a Day
Polka (Unidentified)

Return to Field Recording Artists List

Spiecker, Bill - Bill Spiecker was born 1884 in Berlin, Germany, and came to the US with his parents at six months of age. They lived in Lake View, Minnesota, for several years before moving to Cheney, Washington, and then to Waterville, Washington, in 1901. In 1909, Bill moved with his family to Wenatchee, Washington, then to Seattle in 1927 and back to Wenatchee in 1934. He was a lifetime member of the Plaster and Cement Masons Union. In 1967, he joined the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association and was very active in that organization. Paddy on the Turnpike was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, Buckley, Washington, in 1975. He is backed up by Beryl Thomas, guitar, and Bill Roland, steel guitar. Spiecker Special was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest in 1971. Mr. Spiecker was in a special division for fiddlers over 75 years of age.

spacerPaddy on the TurnpikespacerSpiecker Special Return to Field Recording Artists List

Stephens, Monte - Mr. Stephens came to Idaho from Missouri. He lived in Winchester, Idaho. He was popular fiddler in Idaho and participated in a lot of fiddle shows and contests in the region.

Buffalo Girls was recorded at the Washington State Fiddle Contest, 1970, where Monte was a judge. Still on the Hill was recorded at the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest in 1978

Buffalo GirlsspacerStill on the Hill Return to Field Recording Artists List

Stinnett, Cyril - Cyril Stinnett was born in 1912 near Savannah, Missouri. He played left handed without restringing the fiddle. Mr. Stinnett started playing on his father’s fiddle when he was about eight years old, and went on to become one of the most outstanding Missouri fiddlers of the 20th century. He was able to listen to Canadian radio, being in Northern Missouri, and picked up a lot of Canadian style tunes from fiddlers like Don Messer, who had a long running radio show on the CBC, and the recordings of Ned Landry. He also learned from other Missouri fiddlers, such as Bob Walters and Casey Jones. Mr. Stinnett had a vast repertoire covering several fiddling styles and was noted for his sprightly, original interpretations of tunes. He won the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest in 1966, where the following selections were recorded. Mr. Stinnett is one of the fiddlers included in the book and CD set Now That's a Good Tune by Dr. Howard Marshall, available from Voyager. Other common names for the tune Mr. Stinnett calls Bennett Reel, a name by which it is known in Missouri, are Silver Spire and Great Eastern.

Five Miles Out of TownspacerCanary WaltzspacerBennett ReelspacerAngus CampbellspacerCowboy Waltz Return to Field Recording Artists List

Stripling, Lee - Lee Stripling was born in Alabama in 1921. His father was Charlie Stripling, who played in the “Stripling Brothers” band, one of the most recorded and most influential string bands of the period. Lee learned a lot of tunes from his father. He joined the Army Air Force in WWII and was stationed in Seattle, WA, where he lived after the war. In the 1990s, he was “discovered” by Seattle’s folk and old time music community and had a substantial influence among old time fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. These tunes were recorded at a concert in our house in Seattle in the late 1990s. Lee passed away April 20, 2009. He is backed up by W. B. Reid on guitar. We recorded and issued a CD of Mr. Stripling, Voyager CD 349. All these tunes are on a video we made of the concert and are posted on YouTube under our YouTube username, "vpwillnw." The video of each tune can be reached on YouTube by clicking on the "YouTube Video" link after the name of the tune.

Big Four YouTube Video spacerKennedy Rag YouTube Video spacer Lost John YouTube Video spacerWolves Howling YouTube Video spacerReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Thomasson, Benny - Mr. Thomasson was raised in north-central Texas. His family was quite musical, many of the members of his family being fiddlers. His father was a good fiddler and entered fiddle contests in Texas when Benny was young, often winning them. At that time the fiddlers around him were playing mostly in old time dance style. Benny said that when he entered his first contest he felt he was real “hot,” but he got beaten. This made him think that he should “work the tunes out” and try improvisations and variations. He was influenced heavily by Major Franklin, Eck Robertson, and other Texas fiddlers playing contests. Benny developed his own approach to playing the tunes, building on the foundation he picked up from other fiddlers, and soon was virtually unbeatable at fiddle contests. He is credited with being one of the major developers of Texas style fiddling and what has become known today as “contest style.” Benny played a wide variety of fiddle music, including Canadian, jazz, and some classical. When he said he was going to play a tune in “old time style,” that always meant on a cross-tuned fiddle. He also held firm to the position that a fiddler could not elaborate and improvise on a tune without first knowing how to play the basic tune. He would play for us the very simple version of a tune, the way it was “written,” and then show how he “worked it out” to be able to beat all comers at a contest.

When he retired in the early 1970's, Mr. Thomasson moved to Kalama, Washington, to be with one of his sons. He put his fiddle away, believing that there was no fiddling in the Pacific Northwest. When the first Northwest Folklife Festival was being put together in 1972, John Burke remarked that he had heard Benny was living somewhere in Washington and suggested we find him and bring him to the Festival, which we did. He walked into a room full of fiddlers who knew about him, and started a “second fiddling career” in Washington. He won the Washington State championship, and then went on to win both the National Senior and Grand National titles at Weiser in 1974.

There are many recordings of Mr. Thomasson now available, and lots of information about him on line. Voyager has issued two CDs of him - CD 309 “The Weiser Reunion," and CD 345 “Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle." He was, and still is, one of the major influences in traditional fiddling in North America.

Song of the Wanderer (thanks to Raymond Selby for identifying it) and Mother's Reel were recorded at a jam session at the Astoria, Oregon, fiddle contest, January 20, 1973. River Road Stomp and Sally Goodin were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1973, with Dudley Hill, guitar, and Jerry Thomasson, tenor guitar. Festival Waltz was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1974, the year Benny won both the National Open and National Senior contests.

Song of the Wanderer Mother's ReelRiver Road StompSally GoodinsFestival Waltz Return to Field Recording Artists List

Vanoy, Henry - Mr. Vanoy, originally from North Carolina, lived north of Arlington, Washington, just off the road to Darrington, Washington. He was in his 80s when these selections were recorded. He is backed up by Roy Caudill, also from North Carolina, who lived in Seattle, was in his 70s. They got together often, and sometime Mr. Caudill would record them on his tape recorder. Some of these selections can be heard on Voyager CD 302, Comin' Round the Mountain. Mr. Caudill played a Bacon Silver Belle banjo in a thumb and finger picking backup style he brought from North Carolina. These selections were recorded at Mr. Vanoy's home by Irwin Nash in 1963.

spacerIda RedSpacer Old Dan Tucker Shout LuluReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Vogt, Mabel - Mabel Vogt was born in 1942 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and currently lives in Potlatch, Idaho. She is a third generation Idaho fiddler: her father was a traditional fiddler and her mother played accordion and guitar. She has worked to pass on the musical traditions she learned from her family, teaching fiddle to many young folks for over thirty years and promoting the fiddling of the region. She also participates in contests, having won the Idaho State Championship and the Northwest Senior Championship several times and judged over 40 contests. She taught German at the University of Idaho and Washington State University for 35 years.

We have enjoyed jamming with Mabel at the Weiser, Idaho, fiddle contest for many decades. Being a true Northwest fiddler, she plays a broad range of fiddle tunes that have come into the region over the years. The following tunes were recorded in camp at Weiser, Idaho, in 1989 with Phil Williams, guitar, Vivian Williams, harmony fiddle, Barry Brower, mandolin, and Daryl McMichael, bass

spacerKathy Belinda WaltzSpacer Bright's Blues Ray Simmons PolkaReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Wanzer, Loyd - Loyd Wanzer was an excellent traditional old time dance fiddler and a formidable contestant, who played left-handed. He was born in Oklahoma, and played in a Canadian country band while serving with the US Army Air Force at Fort Pepperrell, Newfoundland, in WWII. He eventually made his home in Caldwell, Idaho. Loyd won the Weiser contest five times between 1957 and 1967, and was one of the founders of American Heritage Records which issued several Lps of Northwest fiddlers. Mr. Wanzer played left-handed. Mr. Wanzer appears on Voyager CD301, Fiddle Jam Sessions.

Mississippi Sawyer and Fire on the Mountain were recorded in Weiser, Idaho, in 1963, with piano backup by his daughter, Cheryl. Sweet Bunch of Daisies and Sugar Tree Stomp were recorded in Missoula, Montana, in 1964, his daughter, Cheryl playing piano. Romeo's Last Chance and Down From Denver were recorded in a jam at Weiser, Idaho, in 1973, with Lyle Powell, guitar, and daughter Carla Wanzer on piano.

spacerMississippi SawyerSpacer Fire on the Mountain Sweet Bunch of DaisiesspacerSugar Tree StompspacerRomeo's Last ChancespacerDown From Denver

Return to Field Recording Artists List

Wear, Charley - Mr. Wear was from Whittier, California. These selections were recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964.

spacerCattle Call Waltz Spacer Texas Schottische Return to Field Recording Artists List

White, John - Mr. White was born in a farmhouse near Ethel in Macon County, Missouri, in 1936. His family had been in Missouri for a long time. One of his ancestors was on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and another came to Missouri with Daniel Boone. He grew up in a musical family and started playing fiddle at an early age. He is a well known square dance fiddler in Missouri. He moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 1960 and became an Agricultural Engineer in the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri, Columbia. He retired in 2005, but certainly kept up with his fiddling. He recorded a CD for Voyager, CD 372, in Missouri in 2007, backed up by the bands he plays dances with there. He visited us in Seattle in 2006, and we had a jam session, from which these selections came. Also at this jam session were Vivian Williams, Stuart Williams, Bonnie Zahnow, and W.B. Reid, fiddles, and Phil Williams and W.B. Reid playing guitar.

spacerBoys Around the WorldSpacer Peek-a-Boo Waltz Money and Corn g Aunt Mary's Hornpipe Return to Field Recording Artists List

Widner, Jimmy - Jim Widner was born in Weiser, Idaho. His dad was a fiddler, and they used to have “kitchen sweats” at their house, where the kids would fall asleep to the sound of fiddle, guitar, harmonica, and dancing feet. As a teenager he listened to country and western music on the radio. He served as a medic in World War II, and while on troop ships, he was able to get together with other “hillbilly” musicians. When he came back home to Weiser, he formed an old time western band, the “Snake River Outlaws,” that played in bars and dance halls in Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, and California in the early 1950's. Later he worked for the railroad, and also did well in the fiddle contests that were starting to happen in the mid 1950's. He won the Idaho State contest several times and was twice the Northwest Champion. After he moved to Montana, he won the Montana State Championship as well. He still lives in Darby, Montana.

Jimmy Widner is indirectly responsible for getting us (Vivian & Phil) introduced to the "national" contest scene. Phil's brother, Bob, was going to law school at the University of Montana in Missoula. At the end of the 1964 school year he asked us to come and pick him up to go home, and mentioned that he had been playing guitar with a great fiddler for the past six months or so in a bar in Missoula, and we had to meet him. He also said that our trip to pick him up would coincide with a National Fiddle Contest being held in Missoula that he thought Vivian might like to enter. So, that is how we met Mr. Widner, and a lot of other great fiddlers, and Vivian entered her first "national" contest. He appears on Voyager CD301 Fiddle Jam Sessions.

Possum Up the Simmon Tree was recorded at the National Fiddle Contest, Missoula, Montana, 1964. Rubber Dolly is from a jam session in the bar at the Palace Hotel, Missoula, Montana, 1964. Dreamer's Waltz, a tune written by Mr. Widner, was recorded in a jam session in the campground at Weiser, Idaho, in 1990, with Vivian Williams playing harmony fiddle, and Phil Williams on guitar. Tennessee Polka was recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1994. East Tennessee Blues and Busy Fingers were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1966 in a jam session in the basement of the Hospitality Center for the fiddle contest.

Possum Up the Simmon TreeRubber DollyDreamer's WaltzTennessee PolkaspacerEast Tennessee Blues spacerBusy FingersReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Wiles, Don - Don Wiles was born in Baker, Oregon and moved to Weiser, Idaho when he was ten. His father, his grandfather, and several uncles were fiddlers, and when Don was seven years old he started sneaking his dad’s fiddle out from beneath his bed. Two years later he was playing for dances. He played for dances, shows and contests for sixty years, and was active in the Idaho Old Time Fiddle Association. He liked to fix up old beat-up fiddles to pass on to would-be fiddlers who couldn’t otherwise afford an instrument.
Don passed away in 1993. These tunes were recorded at Weiser, Idaho, in 1967.

spacerWay Down Yonder in the Corn FieldLost Cowboy Newport Breakdown Return to Field Recording Artists List

Williams, Stuart - Mr. Williams was born in Camden, NJ. After moving to Missouri and then to Louisiana, his family ended up in a small town in Michigan. The first music he cared about he heard in Booneville, Missouri, when he was about 7 years old. His family had a collection of recorded music from the Ozarks that he listened to a lot. He started playing the fiddle when he was in his late teens, got some instruction from his father, and got involved with the folk scene in Northern Michigan. He soon discovered that there were traditional fiddlers in Michigan and started learning tunes and styling from them. He moved to Eugene, Oregon, and got involved with the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers, met many traditional fiddlers in Oregon, and started learning tunes from them. He got interested in trying to play the various styles he heard. Many of the fiddlers in that part of Oregon had moved there from Missouri and other places back East. Stuart started studying their stylings, rhythms, and playing patterns. He took classes from Linda Danielson, fiddler and folklorist at Lane College, Eugene, Oregon, and she introduced him to many fiddlers and the concept of field research. He first went to Weiser in 1974. He then moved to Seattle and became one of the foremost fiddle teachers in the Pacific Northwest. To Stuart's credit, he teaches tunes he learned from traditional fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest to his many fiddle students, and got them acquainted with traditional fiddlers of this region and the tunes they played. Stuart joined the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association (WOTFA) and became their music editor, picking and setting the "tune of the month" for their monthly newsletter, and producing books of collections of these tunes and about Washington fiddlers. These "tunes of the month" and the books can be found on the WOTFA web site, www.WOTFA.org. The recordings of "tunes of the month" in mp3 format can be downloaded free from this site. Since 1997, Stuart has been one of the primary instructors at the WOTFA week long fiddle workshop at Kittitas, Washington, which in 2010 enrolled 372 participants. He has been a major force studying, documenting, and teaching the traditional fiddling of the Pacific Northwest. He also plays a lot of dances.

Stuart learned Bandy Marse from Oregon fiddler Earl Willis, a Missouri style fiddler and one of his major influences in the early 1970s, who had learned the tune from a fellow in Missouri named Bandy Marse. He learned Fat Back Meat & Dumplings, Durham's Bull, and Old Aunt Sally Put a Bug on Me (also known as Richmond) from Olympic Peninsula fiddler Glenn Berry, who was influenced by Missouri fiddling. He learned Black Velvet Waltz from Oregon fiddler Wayne Holmes, one of the major influences on Stuart's playing. This tune was written by Edna Grise from Idaho and is different from the Black Velvet Waltz played in Canada, though inspired by the same source. (See the article on "Black Velvet Fiddling" in a past issue of Fiddler Magazine.) Windjammer came from Bob Fast, who moved to Oregon from Missouri. He learned Ten Strike from Les Raber, Allegan Michigan.

The following tunes were recorded at the Williams' residence, Seattle, over several years.

Bandy Marse Black Velvet Waltz Durham's Bull Fatback Meat & Dumplings spacerOld Aunt Sally Put a Bug On Me spacerTenstrikespacerWindjammerReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Williams, Vivian - Vivian is a well known Northwest fiddler, living in Seattle, Washington, with 303 fiddle tunes in press on CD at this time. She is the owner of Voyager Recordings & Publications, and the producer of many fiddle recordings and tune books. She is considered one of the foremost experts in the dance music of the Pioneer Northwest. She has played for dances - square, contra, and ballroom - for over fifty years and has won many fiddle contests playing in her Northwest dance style, including the Smithsonian fiddle contest in Washington D.C. in 1973. She has several recordings in press with Voyager. Vivian appears on several Voyager CDs - CD301, Fiddle Jam Sessions; CD317, Dudley Hill: From a Northern Family; CD323, Vivian Williams: Fiddler; CD333, Starry Nights & Candlelight; CD347, Vivian & Phil Williams: Live!; CD351, Waltzes; CD350, Dance Music of the Oregon Trail; CD358, Fiddle Tunes of the Lewis & Clark Era; CD367, Tenino Old Time Music Festival 1970 - 1978; CD371, Pioneer Dance Tunes of the Far West; CD373, Fiddling Down the Oregon Trail; CD374, Tunes from the Peter Beemer Manuscript; CD375, Tunes from the Haynes Family Manuscript; CD316, Barbara Lamb & Vivian Williams - Twin Sisters; CD332, Tall Timber - Encore!!; CD336, Vivian Williams, Harley Bray, Phil Williams - Winter Moon (a major reviewers "top 10 world music releases of the year" pick); and CD359, Williams & Bray - Bluegrass Hoedown.

Turkey in the Straw was recorded at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Pt. Townsend, WA, 2003. Cabri Waltz and Pacific Slope were recorded at the West Coast International Fiddle Contest, Abbotsford, BC, 1974, Finnskogen Waltz at Weiser in1966. Fortune at Weiser in 1967. Run Boy Run was recorded on Waldron Island, Washington, 2007, with Alan O'Bryant, banjo and Phil Williams, guitar. One of the many Liza Jane tunes also was recorded on Waldron Island, Washington, with Alan O'Bryant, banjo, Pat Enright, guitar, Orville Johnson, dobro, Phil Williams, mandolin, and Tony Scruton, bass. Sailor's Hornpipe was recorded at a concert in La Grande, Oregon, 1969, with Alan Munde, banjo; Sam Bush, mandolin; Wayne Stewart, guitar, and Phil Williams, bass. Katy Hill was recorded on Waldron Island, Washington, with Ralph Stanley, banjo; Charlie Sizemore, guitar; Phil Williams, mandolin; and Ron Holdridge, bass. Iles de la Madeleine was recorded at a dance at the Century Ballroom, Seattle, in 2008, with Vivian's ballroom dance ensemble, Chassez, Terry Wergeland, accordion; Phil Williams, guitar; Back Up & Push, Grey Eagle (interrupted recording), Rawhide, Roanoke, Sally Goodin were recorded at a Bill Monroe concert, Seattle, 1967, Bill Monroe, mandolin, Paul Wiley, banjo, Vivian Williams, fiddle, Doug Green, guitar, Phil Williams, bass. Sailor's Hornpipe 2, Shenandoah Breakdown, Dixie Hoedown, and Liberty were recorded from the audience at a concert at Eastern Oregon University, La Grande, Oregon, in 1969 by Poor Richard's Almanac - Sam Bush, mandolin, Alan Munde, banjo, Vivian Williams, fiddle, Wayne Stewart, guitar, and Phil Williams, bass. Sunflower Schottishe was recorded at a concert at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Pt. Townsend, WA, 1979, with Dick Marvin, guitar, Phil Williams bass. Sourwood Mountain was recorded at a jam session with Bill Monroe at Barney Munger's, Seattle, 1967. Monroe was playing some of his "Uncle Pen" tunes for Vivian to learn. Bill Monroe, mandolin; Doug Green, guitar; Paul Wiley, banjo.

Turkey in the StrawCabri Waltz Pacific SlopespacerDone Gone Finnskogen WaltzFortunes Run Boy Runs Liza Janes Sailor's Hornpipes Katy Hills Iles de la MadeleinesBack Up & PushsGrey EaglesRawhidesRoanokesSally GoodinsSailor's Hornpipe 2 sShenandoah BreakdownsDixie HoedownsLibertysSunflower Schottische Sourwood Mountain sspaceReturn to Field Recording Artists List

Wright, Ray - Ray Wright was born and raised near Big Sandy, Montana, in 1919. His mother was from Nebraska, and his father was from Missouri, and played harmonica.

When he was in the 8th grade, he played a bit of violin in the school music program, but “I would a lot rather have played marbles than I would play fiddle.” The following summer, 1935, he got a summer job on a farm owned by an old time fiddler, and learned some tunes from him. That fall he started sitting in for a tune or two at dances played by another fiddler. “I was a lot better tonewise on the fiddle than he was, but people would not dance. And I tried to figure out why.” Eventually the other fiddler told him “Ray, you’re just not leaving any holes for the dancers to put their feet.”

Some of the local dance fiddlers that Ray played with were from a German background, and others were Scandinavian. He also learned some of his father’s Missouri style tunes, and picked up some Canadian tunes from the radio. The dances took place in schoolhouses and later in community halls, and included squares, schottisches, polkas, and sometimes hambos. “A lot of times, three of us would play from, oh, 8 in the evening, 8:30, till maybe 3 - 4 o’clock in the morning, and divide sixty-five cents three ways. So it wasn’t exactly what you’d call – income tax didn’t bother you much at that pay.” “The coldest I ever played out one night, and it was forty-one degrees below zero, and this old hall, you could look up through cracks in the roof, and see the moon shining. Had one of them big old schoolhouse stoves, burned coal.... And I’ve seen that thing cherry red ... and women were dancing with their overcoats and overshoes on.”

Ray quit playing for dances in about 1955, when amplified instruments came in. He worked in construction in Missoula, and later in Vantage, Washington. In 1964 he moved to Spokane, Washington, and in 1966 he joined the Washington Old Time Fiddle Association, and started playing fiddle again. He had strong opinions on what constituted real old time fiddling: “Just about everywhere you go, everybody plays Weiser style, because everybody has copied everybody else so much, that there’s very few true old time fiddlers left.”

These selections were recorded at the Penticton, B.C. fiddle contest in 1974, where Mr. Wright did an entertainment set. He is backed up by Clair Lundin and Sheila Wright (his daughter), guitars; Hank Bell, banjo; and Helen Wright (his wife), bucket bass. The selection he calls German Waltz, which he learned from his father, is played widely around the Pacific Northwest under the name My Daddy was a Dutchman, derived from La Cachucha, a tune brought to America by dancer Fanny Elssler. In 1841 painter William Sidney Mount from Long Island, wrote down the tune she danced to and the second part, as he wrote it down, is much closer to the way it is played by fiddlers today than the published sheet music.

My Little Home in West VirginiaSweet MarieOld German Waltz (My Daddy was a Dutchman) Return to Field Recording Artists List

Yohey, Bill - Bill Yohey was a popular multi-instrumentalist in the Pacific Northwest, playing fiddle, mandolin, tenor banjo, and guitar, all extremely well. He was born at Mount Clair, Nebraska, in 1919. His dad was a fiddling bricklayer and his mom played piano. His mother gave him a mandolin before he was out of his high chair and he joined the family orchestra when he was ten years old.

“My first paying job was in Casper, Wyoming, playing banjo at the Country Club Golf Course. Square dancing was again becoming popular and my job was accompanying a local fiddler and his wife on piano. This job lasted longer than expected and the following week found employment in a restaurant and lounge singing and playing rhythm guitar with a western group. After observing the patrons quickly eat and finish their cocktails, the management asked me to refrain from singing and just play the guitar.” (quoted from the Hoedowner, newsletter of the Oregon Old Time Fiddle Association, April 1969)

He served in the Army in World War II, and after he was discharged in 1946, he moved to McMinnville Oregon and went to work at the bricklaying trade, continuing to play music as a hobby.

“Many facets of entertainment have entered in the main stream of my playing career. On stage I've followed several dog acts, junior baton twirlers, rock and roll bands, wrestling and dancing bears, pantomime acts, choirs and champion banjo and fiddle players. I've played my instruments at super market openings, fairs, rodeos, banquets, funerals, weddings, various clubs and cocktail lounges, open air dance halls, granges, barn dances, volunteer Fire Departments, and others I'd like to forget!”

Bill became a major figure in the Western fiddle association movement. A great country dance musician, he also won many fiddle contests, and appeared at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival.

Whispering was recorded at a jam session at the Astoria, Oregon fiddle contest, 1973, a duet with Benny Thomasson. Williamson's Hornpipe, which Mr. Yohey wrote, Durang's Hornpipe, and Waltz of the Angels were recorded at Weiser in 1965.

WhisperingWilliamson's HornpipeDurang's HornpipespacerWaltz of the Angels Uncle Joe Return to Field Recording Artists List