Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back from Springfield & a video

We (the rest of the Mound City Slickers and I) made it back from our road trip to Springfield, MO in the heart of the Ozarks, where we played a dance last night. Had a real good time having Chinese food for dinner and playing for a small, but enthusiastic crowd. Of course, having Debi Harp call the figures for us was a treat! Debi's called for us a couple of times before and we always enjoy working with her.

With as much good fiddling as they have in that part of the state, I can't imagine that the Slickers would be anything special. But they all seemed to enjoy the tunes and the playing. One of the nicest parts of the evening was that they asked for a polka. We don't get a chance to play polkas often at dances, but love to do. So, we gave them "John Short's"

Can't wait to go back in October to play for them again.


The band has a regular practice on Thursday evenings. Though, to be honest it's never as formal as a "practice" and usually winds up being more like an open session where friends stop by to play a few tunes and have a beer or two. This last Thursday, Jessie Evans and his wife Connie stopped by with Connie's new toy; a little digital flip camera and shot the footage I'm including below. It turned out pretty well, I think.

The players are Lindell Blackford, Mike Banvard, and Bill Stewart on fiddles, Bob Clark on banjo, me on the banjo uke, Roy Farwell on guitar, and Jessie Evans on button accordian. The tunes are an odd version of "Little Sadie" that Lindell got from the late, great Steve Mote, and "Setauket", which we think is an East coast tune that folks around here learned from either Mark Rennard or Mike Banvard. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Slickers in Springfield & St. Louis, MO

This coming Saturday night, June 20th, I'll be playing with the Mound City Slickers for a contra dance in Springfield, MO for the Traditional Music and Dance Society. The dance will be held at the Franciscan Villa, 620 W. Scott off Main St. in Springfield. They'll be dancing and we'll be playing from 7:30-10:30 pm. Should be a great time. Come on out and shake a tail feather.

And don't forget that next month, July 10th, we'll be playing at the the Focal Point in St. Louis for a benefit barn dance for the beloved Folk School of St. Louis. A small $10 donation will get you a whole evening of hot contras and squares called by Deborah Hyland and played by the Slickers. Mark it in your calendar.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Folk School on TV

Here's a video clip that ran on our local St. Louis news station about the Folk School where I teach. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Go Here!

Surfing around the interwebs, I recently found a terrific blog that anyone reading this might be interested in. It's Lisa Johnson's Appalachian Dulcimer Noter and Drone Blog. Lisa (aka: Strumelia Harmonia) is a great player in the old-time traditional noter style of dulcimer and has given a lot of thought to what she does with the instrument and why she does it. While all of the posts on the blog are good, a few of the most interesting are:

A Race to the Finish, Part One

A Race to the Finish, Part Two

and some much needed commentary on

Jamming Etiquette, Part One


Jamming Etiquette, Part Two

Go read these posts. Then browse the rest of what Lisa has put up there. It's all fun, thoughtful, and worth looking at whether you play dulcimer, fiddle, banjo or don't play at all, but are just interested in music and creativity.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slickers @ Childgrove This Sunday Evening

The Mound City Slickers old time string band, Bill Stewart and Lindell Blackford on fiddles, Roy Farwell on guitar, Dan Higgins on banjo, and Sean Ruprecht-Belt on banjo uke will be playing for the weekly Childgrove dance this Sunday 4/19. 327 Maple in Webster Groves. Open to the public and all are welcome, especially beginners! A workshop to teach beginners the steps starts at 6:30 PM and the band starts to play around 7:00.
We love playing for these guys and they seem to like having us play for them. Should be a real big time.
More info here: .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Led Zeppelwha???

Does anyone else besides me find it really strange that Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones both formerly of Led Zeppelin have become big players in the old-time/bluegrass/roots music scene? Last year saw Jimmy Page recording with Alison Krauss for a not bad foray into something that might have been decent bluegrass if not for the big bass and Page’s wailing. But for an experiment, it wasn’t gawd-awful. Your mileage may vary.

Also in the recent past, John Paul Jones produced a very good CD for Uncle Earl. I was surprised when I saw his name on the producer credit, as there wasn’t anything even resembling big sound production or epics like “The Battle For Evermore”. The production seemed to show that Jones has at least an intelligent interest in old-time music of the festival/neo-hippie sort that Uncle Earl plays and was willing to let the band do what they do best.

Then I began hearing about Jones showing up and hanging out at some festivals; Merlefest and (though this could be apocryphal) Mt. Airy.

Now there’s a new Jones produced CD from Sara Watkins, late of Nickle Creek. I’ve only heard one track from the CD, but it was enjoyable.

I’ve got to say, though that the whole “We used to be real big time rockers, but now we want to be folkies” thing makes my head hurt.

I know that when I was a young sprat in the early 1970’s it was pretty obvious that the guys in Zeppelin were pretty well versed in the blues; copping things from Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and others. So, is this present fascination with rural southern fiddle music and its contemporary forms a sign that the Zepps are mellowing in their geezer-hood, or was this interest always there?

What do you think?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kim and Jim Lansford's New CD

Late last week the mailman dropped a copy of Kim and Jim Lansford's latest recording, Keep Your Eye Upon The Sparrow, into my mailbox (thanks, Kim!) . I've only had a chance to listen to it a couple of times, but I can say, it's pretty durn good. Kim and Jim's harmony singing is top notch as always and the selection of material is, as always, full of little heard gems. And, of course, Jim Lansford remains one of the best multi-instrumentalist string players around.

So far, stand out tracks for me are "Sal's Got a Meatskin", which I've heard them perform a few times and am glad to have it committed to CD; "Your Saddle Is Empty Old Pal" from the Stanley Bros. catalog; and "Rare Up", a fiddle tune from George Reves -- a fiddler I've never heard of before -- be sure I'll be sitting down to learn this tune soon.

To be honest, there's not a tune on the whole CD that isn't a winner.

And the very handsome package design is by the Folk School of St. Louis' director, Colleen Heine.

To order this fine CD, read the liner notes, or to hear sound clips from selected tunes, surf on over to . There's a PayPal link on the page as well as snail mail ordering info.

Highly recommended.