Skip to main content

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Tune Collecting

-photo source-
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 Ward Jarvis tunes played by others, most notably Goehring and the Red Mules. On the Field Recorders' Collective release (FRC601) "Jeff Goehring with Friends & Family," he plays Jarvis's "Head of the Creek," "Sally Coming Through the Rye" and "Pretty Little Indian."

Over the course of the last couple months, I've secured two more Jarvis-inspired Red Mules tunes: "Tomahawk" and "Icy Mountain," both recorded for compilations released in the 1990s. "Tomahawk" came from "Old Time Music in the 90s, Volume 1" produced by the Indiana Fiddler's Gathering. "Icy Mountain" came from "Young Fogies, Vol. 2" (1995, Rounder Records), produced by Alden.

I also came across recordings of "Tomahawk" played by another Ohio-based old-time musician, Lynn Frederick, who played in numerous bands over the years, including the Red Mules. The recordings were part of a workshop Frederick conducted for the Chicago-based Fiddle Club of the World. "Tomahawk" just so happens to be the next tune on my list.

All these recordings have been helpful in picking up Ward Jarvis's style, and it's been an adventure tracking them down and building my tune collection.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Getting Blitzed with Tom Collins

A little more than a year ago, Salem, Massachusetts-based banjo player and teacher Tom Collins embarked on a yearlong project he called Banjo Blitz. The weekly YouTube series provided short banjo lessons on technique. Each video is about five minutes long, give or take, and presents a short pattern — or “ostinato” — designed to teach and improve a specific aspect of banjo playing.

The mission was to get the audience “to practice clawhammer in discrete chunks every day without the burden of trying to memorize tunes,” Collins says. He wanted to build skills rather than repertoire.

“Let’s take the tune off the table,” says Collins, who has been teaching banjo for 11 years. “Let’s focus on a simple, mantra-like ostinato that can train your body how to execute a technique properly, while training your ears how to hear it properly. Let’s also make it so that you can do this every day without it sucking every spare minute from your life. The big dirty secret about learning how to play an ins…

Clawhammer Picks and You: A Review

Clawhammer picks are a useful tool for increasing volume or to overcome fingernail challenges, such as broken, too short or weak nails. There are all sorts of commercial and homemade solutions available for banjo players, but it can be difficult to decide which options to choose. Thankfully, I've already done some of the work for you.
Just to be clear, I prefer my natural fingernail for frailing. However, there was a time when I experimented with regularly using a pick, and there are instances now where I find that a pick is necessary. Today, I'll take you through the five options I've tried. These are all available online at prices ranging from about $1 to $13.

Reversed/Reshaped Dunlop Pick ($0.75)
This was the most common suggestion before other companies started addressing the gap in the clawhammer pick market. Take a bluegrass pick, flatten it out and wear it backwards. The problem is that it's hard to get the fit right. While Dunlop picks are cheap and readily avai…

Erynn Marshall, Mark Olitsky, Doug Unger: An Old-Time Smorgasbord in Peninsula, Ohio, for Music on the Porches, Sept. 23

Old-time music and banjo fans alike would do well to aim their GPS units toward Peninsula, Ohio, the historic village nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. This Saturday is Music on the Porches, which features a number of musical acts playing all around town, starting at 11 a.m. 
The showcase event is Saturday night at the G.A.R. Hall, an evening concert that will feature fiddler Erynn Marshall and multi-instrumentalist Carl Jones, the married old-time duo based in Galax, Virginia; followed by Sean Watkins, formerly of the progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek; and finally headliner Tim O'Brien, who has recorded with everyone from Steve Martin to Dirk Powell, including the excellent "Songs From the Mountain" album with Powell and John Herrmann (one of my all-time favorites). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with Marshall and Jones set to start at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online via Eventbrite
But wait, that's not all! 
Marshall wi…