Lost Indian

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Old-Time Herald: A Magazine Dedicated to Old-Time Music

Volume 10, Number 6 August-September 2006


Lost Indian: Fiddling on the Frontier


            "This is a collection of impeccably sourced tunes performed by veterans of the old-time scene. Chris Wig began playing old-time music in 1971, starting with the banjo. He has played in bands since the mid- '70s -- South Forty, the North Fork Rounders, and Boiled Buzzards among others. Whitt Mead also started on Clawhammer banjo in the early '70s, while a student at Antioch. He has been a member of Rhythm Rats for some 20 years, and also plays with Dan Gellert (father of the esteemed Rayna) and Debbie Posey. Joe LaRose, also a fiddler although he does guitar duty here, has played as a duo with Andy Cohen, [in the Radio Aces back in the '70s with Kerry Blech], and with the Fuller Tones among other bands. Laura Lewis is a veteran of the Fiddle Puppets and also plays fiddle, banjo and guitar. All these folks live in Ohio.

            "The musicians who are the sources for the tunes include Henry Reed, Emmett Lundy, Edden Hammons, Melvin Wine, Jack McElwain, John Salyer, and Ed Haley. I can discern no hint of the long bow, the smooth sophisticant, the double-stop, the Texican, the double-shuffling cowboy-hatted bluegrasser. Ain't no trouble in River City, in other words. There are also excursions into the variety of old banjo sounds -- Chris' gourd banjo solo of 'Dan Tucker' being an outstanding example of that ancient arcanistry.

            "Among my favorites is 'Fine Times at Our House,' for the great Hammons first part…It's good to hear 'Tippy Get Your Hair Cut' again. Back when Melvin Wine was making the rounds, I heard that he called it 'Hippie Get Your Hair Cut.' (Guess you had to be there, and it looks as if these guys were.) I was also happy to hear 'Crockett's Honeymoon' which is a nifty tune that isn't played enough…Lundy's 'Highlander's Farwell' is not so carefully played in the field recording of the grouchy old master, who complained that those who retuned their instruments were 'cheating.' The 'Farwell' shows just how to get some of those octave drones the proper way, and playing a forth finger A on the D string along with the first finger A on the G is a hell of a left-hand workout.. Finally, in a CD like this, why bother with 'Molly Hare,' except that the note on the tune is really wonderful so you'll have to get the CD just to read it.

            "This CD is a terrific source for teachers of fiddling, fiddlers and banjo players. All the tunes are clearly played and make good sense (even without the Amazing Slow-Downer) even to my chainsaw damaged ears. It's also a document to our current world of old-time music, a place where very dedicated musicians have spent much of their lives building up repertories of these fine old tunes in their hearts and fingers. The folklorist and fiddler Richard Blaustein told me some 30 years ago that pretty soon we'd not be needing to go field recording anymore, because all the music would be on tape or recording, accessible from our living rooms. This CD contributes to such a process, and in a very good sense. As Alan Jabbour has said, there was a moment in the '60s when the old tunes had dwindled down to the last grain in the glass. With CDs like this one, the glass has been well turned."

                                                                                                Bill Hicks