The Old-Time Herald Volume 8, Number 6

Here & There
Events Organizations
Artists In Our Thoughts
In Print, In School, & On the Net Congratulations
Recordings,Instruments & Labels Final Notes

•The Sixth Annual Schoolhouse Fiddling Bee took place on Oct. 13 in the old Avoca, NE schoolhouse auditorium. Info: 402-275-3221;

•Donna Hébert’s Groove Camp opens July 3-10, 2003, at Cherry Ridge Campgrounds, Honesdale, PA, offering classes in improvisation, fiddling, dancing, drumming, banjo, guitar, and bass. Info: 413-253-4058;

•David Sanderson reports that the Mellie Dunham Celebration at the Norway, ME Summer Festival was a success. Among the musicians who attended were Greg Boardman from Auburn, a Maine dance fiddler for a couple of decades, and Dudley Laufman, New England old-time dance guru for 40 years give or take.

•The Old Farmer’s Ball takes place on Thursdays in the Bryson Gym at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC. Info:; 828-299-8823.

•The monthly South-End Square Dance in Seattle, WA started its season on Sept. 20. It takes place at the Lakewood-Seward Park Community Clubhouse and features different bands and callers. Info:

•The California State Old-Time Fiddlers Association held its competition in Tehachapi, CA on Sept. 20/21. If you want info on this event call 661-823-7559 or check out their web site at

•Camp Harmony, sponsored by the San Francisco Folk Music Club, will take place in the Santa Cruz (CA) mountains on Dec. 27-Jan. 1. Info:; 510-233-5065.

•Three noontime lectures at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, VA feature author Vaughan Webb and a performance by the Paschall Brothers, keepers of the quartet tradition, on Nov. 21; archivist Jay Gaidmore speaking about the WRVA collection on Jan. 23; and the Richmond Sacred Harp Singers performing shape-note music on Feb. 6. Info: 804-692-3592.

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•Mike Seeger performed and held workshops in Belgium in October The programs were titled “Southern Banjo Sounds” and “Songs of the Industrialization of the American South.”
• David Hyatt will be teaching a gourd banjo making workshop at the Ozark Folk Center as part of their Ozark Folk School in March. Info: 870-269-3851;
•The Slate Mountain Ramblers string band from Southwestern VA, Mike Seeger, and Scott Ainslie will perform as part of the Carolina Roots Concert Series in Charlotte, NC co-sponsored by WNCW 88.7. Info:; 704-358-8797.
•Ken Kolodner will be the featured guest artist at hammered dulcimer and old-time fiddle workshops on Nov. 22–23 at the Sylvia Theater in York, SC. Info: Susan at; 803-628-0543.
•For information on tour schedules for Leela and Ellie Grace, and for Paul and Win Grace check out their web site at
•John Rossbach is keeping busy in November and Dec. For information on his schedule check out
•Tom, Brad & Alice performed at a fundraiser for Boston’s radio station WUMB in October
•The John A. Walker Community Center at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC has announced three concerts for the 2002-2003 season of the Hardee’s Americana Series. Donna The Buffalo will appear on Nov. 22, Jerry Douglas on Jan. 17, and Doc Watson’s 80th Birthday Celebration with Family & Friends on March 1. Info: 336-838-6260 or visit
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In Print, In School, & On the Net
•Scott Moore says that his Clarence Ashley web site is now open. He looks forward to feedback.
•The New Mexico Folk Music & Dance Society has a web site at
• Bob Bovee and Gail Heil have a new web site:
•The online version of the Cajun Life and Times Magazine can be viewed at
•Ken Waldman, “Alaska’s Fiddling Poet,” has been in the news lately. Both the August/September issue of Dirty Linen and the Feb. 15 issue of Columbia, SC’s The State featured articles on Ken.
•The Folk Project lists music events in the NY/NJ area. Info: Box 41, Mendham, NJ 07945;
•Rayna Gellert’s new web site address is
•David Hyatt, from Fayetteville, AR, has put together a web site devoted to gourd banjos highlighting builders, history, and providing some music and tabs, construction and how to info, etc.
Disc Collector, a small publication out of Cheswold, DE and run for many years by Lou Deneumoustier, ended publication with issue number 214 because of health issues and diminishing readership.
•There is a new web site for the Oregon Old-Time Fiddlers Association:
• Check out the Birmingham (AL) Country Dance Society at
•For events in and around Floyd County, VA check out For events in other areas of Southwestern Virginia check out and
•To find out what is going on in the U.K. with acoustic music (venues, reviews, and lots more), check out this web site:
•There is a recently published theme issue of Virginia Cavalcade, the quarterly illustrated magazine of Virginia history and culture. It is a publication of the Library of Virginia, and complements the Library’s current exhibition, “Virginia Roots Music: Creating and Conserving Tradition.” Articles include a piece on Bela Lam and His Greene County Singers, the Hampton Roads quartet tradition, and the Tubize Royal Hawaiian Orchestra of Hopewell. The issue also includes a photo essay about radio station WRVA and the 1929 OKeh recording session in Richmond. Info: Gregg Kimball at
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Recordings,Instruments & Labels
•Wayne Erbsen’s recording of “Southern Soldier Boy” will be on the soundtrack to the upcoming Civil War movie Gods and Generals. You can check out Wayne’s latest Civil War recording, Battlefield Ballads of the Civil War, at Native Ground’s web site
•Bruce Molsky’s Tree Frog Music is moving. The new address is Tree Frog Music, PO Box 759, Beacon NY 12508.(Phone and fax remain as before.)
•John McCutcheon has a new album on Red House Records, The Greatest Story Never Told. Info:
•An interesting note from Ed Britt on the newsgroup: Sept. 18 celebrated the 80th anniversary of the day that banjo designer and maker David L. Day walked into a small converted house on on the banks of the Thames River in Groton, CT and assumed his duties as vice president and general manager of the Bacon Banjo Company, Inc. Joining his old friend Fred Bacon, he went on to develop and introduce the Bacon & Day Silver Bell banjo.
•Bruce Molsky’s 1993 solo recording Warring Cats has been remastered to CD. Info:
•Scott Ainslie’s newest recording in the African-American blues, worksong, gospel, and rhythm & blues traditions, You Better Lie Down (Cattail 2002), has been released. Info:
•June Drucker has produced a tribute CD (From the Low Note) in honor of bassist Dave Grant, who was so tragically killed in March. All of the proceeds from the sale of the CD will go to Darlene Crawford and Ryan Marley Grant, Dave’s wife and son. The liner booklet contains anecdotes about Dave, and the centerfold is a collection of photos of Dave with family and friends. Included on the CD are: Jed Greenberg with the Overtones, June Drucker with Paso Fino, Alex Scala with The Hix, Jason Sypher, John Herrmann with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, Abby Ladin with the Monks, Paul Strother with the Chicken Chokers, Dirk Powell with Tim O’Brien, Jeff Sarli with Tara Nevins, Jim Watson, Vaughn Mairs with Mando Mafia, Bill Sluys with Man Alive, Meredith McIntosh with Ida Red, Mark Shatz with Roy Husky, Jr., Ralph Gordon with the Blue Sky Rhythm Boys, Stewart Kenney with Airdance, Joe Fallon with the Critton Hollow String Band, Dedo Norris with the Green River Revelers, Al Tharp with Beau Soleil, Dave Grant with the Guano Boys. It can be ordered from June at
•Mike Craver (original Red Clay Rambler keyboardist and guitarist) has released a new CD of his original songs, Shining Down, on his Sapsucker label. Info:
•Bill Hicks (original fiddler for the Red Clay Ramblers) has released a live album of his original songs performed solo at Chapel Hill’s Cavern Tavern, The Perfect Gig. Info:
Native and Fine Records’ third release, Alan Senauke’s Wooden Man: Old Songs from the Southern School is now available. The project “blends bluegrass, old-time, folk, cajun and blues sounds in small group settings with a supporting cast of Bill Evans and Marty Cutler (banjo); Suzy Thompson (fiddle, vocals); Kate Brislin (guitar, vocals); Eric Thompson (guitar, mandolin); Jody Stecher (mandolin) and Jon Scholle (guitar), among others.” Info:
• There is a 2-CD set Virginia Roots on Outhouse Records based on the OKeh 1929 sessions in Richmond, VA. It covers many genres but includes the Roanoke Jug Band, Buck Mountain Band, Babe Spangler, and other old-time artists. Info:
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•The Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society meets on 4th Mondays on the Watson Stage at Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro, NC.
Bodmin Folk Club in Bodmin, Cornwall is promoting an international membership scheme. For only 2.50 pounds, 4 Euros, or $4 US, you can receive their quarterly flyer, membership card, and anything else of interest. If ever in Cornwall, international members would be welcomed at the Friday meetings at half the members’ admission. This is part of an outreach program. Info: Bodmin Folk club, Yew Cottage, Rosehill, Lanivet, Bodmin, PL30 5ES, UK.
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In Our Thoughts
•Donna Hébert had breast cancer surgery in mid-June. As of September she had completed three of four chemo treatments, will undergo radiation and tamoxifen and the prognosis is good. She says, “Remind your loved women to get their mammograms.”
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•J.P. Fraley of Carter Caves, KY won the Over 60 Division of the First Annual Fiddle Contest on June 24 at Pioneer Village Ole Tyme Music Festival, Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, OH. The contest was organized by Whitt Mead of the Rhythm Rats, a resident of Waynesville.
•The winners of the competition at the Clifftop (WV) Appalachian Stringband Festival in August were: Fiddle: Rhys Jones, Mark Simos, Jake Krack, Lester McCumbers, David Smith; Youth fiddle: Zack Fanok, Amanda Morrison, Jared Nutter; Senior fiddle: Lester McCumbers, Junior Spencer, J.P. Fraley; Banjo: Brian Fain, Bob Smakula, Marvin Gaster, Tom Sauber, Joe Newberry; Youth Banjo: Seth Swingle, Joanna Hartness, Trinity Kronk; Traditional Band: Big Medicine, Cliffhangers, No-Seeums, Rhys’ Pieces, Reed Island Rounders; Non-Traditional Band: Snych-a-Therapy, Ice Water, Mando Mafia, Don Knotts the Buffalo, Hula Cats; Flatfoot Dance: Sharon Leahy, Andrea Edmonstone, Sarah Owen; Youth Flatfoot: Ed Carson, Rock Howland, Charlie Burton.
• Rebel Records, County Records, and County Sales owner and president Dave Freeman was inducted into the Hall of Honor at the IBMA awards in October. A highly respected historian, collector, and businessman, his foresight and work in reissuing, in LP form and now on CD, the music of The Skillet Lickers, Charlie Poole, Grayson & Whitter, The Possum Hunters, Uncle Dave Macon and numerous others, has preserved the wonderful music of these artists when they might have remained available only to a privileged few collectors. Many artists such as Kenny Baker, Tommy Jarrell, Ralph Stanley, The Lilly Brothers, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, and others, had their first significant recordings on the Rebel or County labels. Since 1965 County Sales, in Floyd, VA, has been well-known for its stock of hard-to-find and obscure titles. Info:
•The winners of the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention competition in August were: Old-Time Fiddle: Barbara Kuhns, Richard Bowman, James Burris, David Bass, Eddie Bond, Edd Michael, Nick McMillian, Jerry Correll, Kirk Sutphin, Betty Vornbrock; Youth Old-Time Fiddle: Elizabeth Cessac, Monroe Lowe, Jana Fowler, Erika Godfrey, Allen Rutherford; Clawhammer Banjo: Nancy Sluys, Brian Fain, Tina Trianosky, Joey Burris, Marsha Bowman, Michael Motley, Tim Sauls, Ken Inoue, Adam Beshears, Seth Boyd; Youth Clawhammer: Sarah Garbade, Patrick Hill; Old-Time Bands: Tune Town, Cool as Grits, Slate Mountain Ramblers, Man Alive, Southern Pride, Old-Time Tradition, Dry Hill Draggers, Grayson Highlands Band, Blue Ridge Mountain Ramblers, Katie and the Bubbatones, Blueridge Mountaineers, Wild Turkies, Wolves a-Howling, Smokey Valley Boys, Backstep.
•The British Bluegrass Music Association announces that the special Honorary Membership recently offered to Tim O’Brien, in recognition of his dedication to the world-wide community of bluegrass music, has been accepted. Plans are currently underway to finalize formalities and to present Tim with a certificate commemorating his membership.
•The National Heritage Fellowship recipients for 2002 include Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard, New England contra dance musician and composer Bob McQuillen, and Appalachian musician and songwriter Jean Ritchie. The awards were presented in a ceremony in Washington, DC in September.
Carole Outwater won first place in the autoharp championship at the 12th Annual Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering.
•Longtime OTH cover designer David Lynch was married to Jill Zimmerman in Swannanoa, NC on Sept. 21.
Ron Kane and Meghan Merker of Utah’s Bunkhouse Orchestra were married on Sept. 20 in Elko, NV.
• Winners of the 2002 State Fair of Virginia Contest were (first three places fiddle): Bo Bradham, Mark Campbell, and Ellen Vigour; (first three places banjo): Jimbo Cary, Brent VanDevender, and Jim Anderson.
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Final Notes
•Old-time fiddler Leland Hall passed away on Sept. 30 at age 87. Leland was a regular at the Augusta Heritage Center’s Old-Time Fiddler’s Reunion and he always played at the huge Birthday Concert held every year for Melvin Wine. He is one of eight fiddlers who appeared on a cassette recording produced by Gerry Milnes on the Augusta label, Old-Time Fiddling in Braxton County West Virginia.
Joe Birchfield, the leader of the legendary Tennessee string band The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers died June 19 at the age of 90. Joe was the last of the real authentic Tennessee mountain fiddlers who played “sawmill” style. He and his son Bill (guitar) and other members of the family were fixtures at festivals and celebrations from Washington to Nashville. They made one CD and appeared in numerous documentary films. At a time when too much “old- time” fiddling is precise, well-noted, bloodless noodling, Joe was a kick-ass oldtimer who felt the job of the fiddler was to make good dance music, and to make people feel good. His music was to modern old-time music as is country cured ham to an Arby’s pasteboard sandwich. He will be missed.
—Charles Wolfe
• Luthier and musician Bob Crump of McMinnville, OR passed away Sept. 30. Bob specialized in 5-string fiddles and everyone who knew him admired him for his fine craftsmanship and as a caring and generous person. He will be sorely missed at future Oregon Old-Time Fiddlers Association events. —David Barton
Alan Lomax, 87, died in a rest home in Florida, on July 19. He made tremendous documentary contributions to the world of traditional “folk” music, discovering or bringing to greater attention such luminaries as Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, and Woody Guthrie. We at the OTH are as indebted as anyone to the enormous contributions Alan Lomax made to the whole field of traditional music. He appeared at a time when traditional music was so totally underground as to be unremarked and unacknowledged by “high” culture. Huddie Ledbetter would have, in a sense, sung his songs in silence without Alan Lomax’s intervention. But like many people, Mr. Lomax in a sense outlived his context. As well as receiving a front page obituary in the New York Times, Alan Lomax was criticized in death for his elitism, for his wearing the cape of high culture and presuming to anoint those he deemed worthy, while at the same time placing beyond the pale others for whom a case might have as well been made. In fact—for example—Leadbelly didn’t sing in silence. In fact—for example—a person like Elvis Presley could, without help from an Alan Lomax, find his voice in the music of Arthur Cruddup and burst onto the scene with “That’s All Right, Mama” needing no intervention from academe. Outsider art, in other words, turned out to be more vital than the high culturists knew. Nonetheless, with the passing of Alan Lomax, a great tree has fallen. His like will not pass this way again.
Marcel “Tex” Grimsley passed away on Oct. 3. Tex was 85 years old, a veteran fiddler and violin maker. Tex began fiddling as a child and met Arthur Smith when he traveled to Tennessee as a teen. He became friends with Smith and learned a lot from him. Grimsley was a professional musician for many years, playing on the radio with both Arthur Smith and Molly O’Day. He played the first fiddle tune on the Louisiana Hayride on it’s opening night in May, 1948. Tex stopped playing professionally in 1950 and settled down to raise a family. He won the Louisiana State Championship in 1974. His wife, Mary Grimsley would love to hear from any folks who knew Tex. Her email address is
•Old-time music said goodbye to one of its great pioneers on August 17. Ola Belle Reed, singer, banjo picker, guitar player, mother, grandmother, wife, and community leader, lived the messages in the songs she chose and wrote. She was born Ola Wave Campbell in Lansing, NC in 1916 and grew up on a steady diet of old-time singing and dance tunes. In the 1930s her family moved north to Baltimore. She married Bud Reed and had two sons, Ralph and David. In 1954, together with her husband, Bud, she founded the popular music venue, The New River Ranch. Ola Belle met all of country music’s great performers as they toured through her venue. She originally performed with her brother Alec Campbell and eventually with her husband Bud, himself a fine singer, guitarist, and yodeler in the Jimmy Rogers style.

It is impossible to list all of Ola Belle’s accomplishments. She wrote over 200 songs, many of which have become standards in bluegrass and old-time music. Del McCoury made the first recording of “High on a Mountain” which has since been recorded by literally hundreds of performers. Marty Stuart recorded his own country rock version of that song in 1992, which brought greater attention to Ola Belle’s extensive catalogue of songs. Among her many awards was the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1986. The IBMA and Banjo Newsletter also recognized Ola Belle with special awards. She toured the country at folk and bluegrass festivals and concerts.

Ola Belle believed in the power of music. She was not interested in changing her music in order to have a commercial hit, but was pleased when other people sang her songs. She had an open mind and an open heart. She was equally at home performing at the Brandywine Old-Time Music Festival as she was at Washington D.C.’s women’s music festival, Sisterfire. While her home was open to jam sessions, it was also always open to young musicians who needed some mentoring and many a young person who needed a home. Thirteen years ago, Ola Belle suffered a severe stroke. Her husband Bud and sister Thule Reynolds took care of her with love and grace. Friends stopped by to visit or to sing. I was there just a few weeks before she passed on, and at Ola Belle’s bedside, Bud, Marcy Marxer and I had a good old jam session of her songs and old-time tunes. For more than 50 years Bud was by her side. She has left us not only her songs, but the inspiration to use our music well in the world. Ola Belle will be well remembered if we simply sing.—Cathy Fink
“Sing Me A Song”
by Ola Belle Reed © 1996
Sing me a song, sing me a song
When I come to the end of my journey
And I know it won’t be long
Till I cross death’s silent river
Don’t cry—just sing me a song.
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