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The Year of Ward Jarvis: Tomahawk

My latest Ward Jarvis tune is "Tomahawk." Jarvis learned this tune from Tommy Jackson, either on record or radio, according to the field recordings David Brose made in the 1970s. Jackson was a prominent Nashville session fiddler during the 1950s.

The tune appears on Jackson's "Square Dance Tonight" album, released in 1957. Jarvis can be heard playing it on the Field Recorders' Collective album (FRC402), from the recordings of Jeff Goehring. Brose's recording of Jarvis can be heard on the Slippery-Hill website.

Jarvis plays "Tomahawk" in AEAE tuning and is credited for making the tune old-time. There's another variant usually attributed to Missouri fiddler Bob Holt, available on the 1998 Rounder release "Got a Little Home to Go To."

I took my first crack at "Tomahawk" on June 18. Below is my first attempted recording of the tune, which is only twice through because of a major flub in the third repeat of the A part. (Here…
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Stuart Brothers Collection Now Available

About a month and a half ago, GBB reported that the Old-Time Tiki Parlour was at work producing a CD and DVD set on the Stuart Brothers. Well, that collection is now available, as you can plainly tell by the video above.

Trevor and Travis Stuart were renowned for their banjo-fiddle duets until Trevor's tragic death in March last year. The previous May, however, Tiki Parlour founder David Bragger recorded the duo for what has turned out to be the brothers' final release. The CD/DVD set contains 23 tunes played in their traditional North Carolina style.

Right now, the Tiki Parlour is running a sale, so you can pick the Stuart Brothers set up for $20.

It's also worth noting that the Tiki Parlour also recently released The Skeleton Keys collection, featuring Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains, along with Charlie Hartness on ukulele, Nancy Hartness on guitar and Brendan Doyle on banjo. The group plays 17 tunes that are accompanied by a full-color, 40-page booklet of illustrations…

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Tune Collecting

Ever since embarking on my Year of Ward Jarvis, I've made a concerted effort to collect as many recordings by him and by those who were influenced by him.

I already owned the Field Recorders' Collective release (FRC402) of tunes collected by the late Red Mule String Band fiddler Jeff Goehring in the 1970s. And as mentioned in a recent post, I received digital copies of the David Brose recordings from some charitable folks at the Fiddle Hangout. The files also included the associated albums Brose produced "Rats Won't Stay Where There's Music" (1979, Ohio Folklife OF-1003) and "Traditional Music of Central Ohio" (1979, Ohio Arts Council TALP-001).

I'm still looking to acquire physical copies of these albums, as well as "Visits" (1981, Heritage Records), produced by Ray Alden. I believe that would complete my collection of the recordings made of Ward Jarvis. I have not heard of any others.

In the meantime, I've also tried to collect …

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Icy Mountain (UPDATED)

Three months have passed since I provided my last update on my "Year of Ward Jarvis" project. As you may recall, I targeted six tunes to learn by Athens County, Ohio, resident and West Virginia native Ward Jarvis. The first one I learned was "Head of the Creek." Next up is "Icy Mountain," another AEAE tune.

My source recordings were from Jeff Goehring via the Field Recorders' Collective and from David Brose via some kind folks at the Fiddle Hangout. I also referred to the notation from the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes and a YouTube video by David Bragger.

I took my first crack at "Icy Mountain" back on April 22, but I didn't really focus too hard on learning it until mid-May. I struggled with it for weeks, but then my progress took a major leap on June 6. I feel like I finally have a handle on the full tune, though I’m still working out some kinks in the B parts.

A quick banjo note: I have also figured out both &quo…

Postcards: Just the King and a Banjo

New Old-Time Music Roundup

This seems like an especially fertile time for new old-time music being released. In addition to the Mark Olitsky and Cary Moskovitz album we featured recently, here are a few other new or upcoming notable albums.

Trevor Hammons & Benjamin Davis, "The West Virginia Way"
I recently received a copy of this album as a prize for answering a trivia question on the Banjo Hangout. It's a stunner. Trevor Hammons is the great-grandson of legendary banjo player Lee Hammons. Benjamin Davis has been playing fiddle for five years and has studied under Pam Lund and Jake Krack. Both grew up in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. They're playing fits together so well that you might be shocked to learn that both Hammons and Davis were 15 years old when they were recorded for this album. Fifteen! If I had a time machine ...

The 16 tunes include rousing renditions of "Juliann Johnson," "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps," "Last Chance" and "Falls of Richmo…

Vinyl Hunter, Part 5: The Young Fogies

Today I received a new addition to my old-time vinyl collection: The Young Fogies. This double LP compilation was produced by Ray Alden and released in 1985 on Heritage Records, based in Galax, Virginia.

The album features 41 tracks by the top old-time groups performing at the time, from veterans like the New Lost City Ramblers and Highwoods String Band to up-and-comers such as the Indian Creek Delta Boys and the Horse Flies. You have household names (well, in old-time households, at least) such as Art Rosenbaum, Brad Leftwich, Pat Conte, Alan Jabbour, Mac Benford, Bruce Molsky, Doc Watson, Paul Brown, Richie Stearns and so many more.

Perhaps what excites me most about this compilation is the Ohio connection. Between the first three sides, there are four Ohio-based performers. They are:
The Hotmud Family playing "Take Me Back to My Old North Carolina Home," featuring Rick Good on banjo and vocals. The Rhythm Gorillas playing "My Eyes Grow Dimmer Each Day," with Kerr…