The Old-Time Herald Volume 13, Number 3

“King of the Folks:”
R. P. Christeson and his Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory
By Howard Marshall
l - r, Henry Schroeder (guitar), Bob Walters (violin), R. P. Christeson (behind his Army chaplain’s surplus portable reed organ), William “Banjo Bill.” Lohridge, Nebraska, 1956.
courtesy R.P. Christeson Collection, State Historical Society of Missouri.

2010 and 2011 were good years for publications about vernacular music in Missouri and the Midwest—with Dan William Peek’s “Live! At the Ozark Opry” (Old-Time Herald February-March 2011), Drew Beisswenger and Gordon McCann’s Ozark Fiddle Music, Charlie Walden’s Missouri Fiddle Tunes Volumes 1 & 2 – Fast & Slow for Learning, and the much-anticipated reissue of R. P. Christeson’s classic collections, The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory, from the University of Missouri Press. All these books add to the shelf of published fiddle research and collections by people with Missouri roots and Missouri experiences, ranging from Francis O’Neill’s 1869 north Missouri transcriptions (yes, that Francis O’Neill), to other names such as Vance Randolph, E. F. Adam, W. H. Morris, Ira Ford, John Hartford, Barry Bergey, Julia Hager, Julie Henigan, Bill Shull, Jim Nelson, and, most recently, Walt Koken and Clare Milliner.

For Missouri fiddle enthusiasts, R. P. Christeson of Auxvasse, Missouri, is a celebrity. He was fondly known as “the dean of Missouri fiddle music.” This essay began as a routine book review – but it soon locked my memory and typing fingers into tracing a bit more of the saga of this fascinating character and his achievements.

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