Preliminary workshop descriptions – last update 20 January 2018
Patt and Possum
Patt’s Accompaniment Workshop (Patt Plunket and Charlie Walden) I remember a few years back at the Clifftop festival out in WV we were running Patt’s piano from a car battery so she could play in the campsite. A long-time fiddling friend sat down to play and Patt accompanied him. He stopped in mid-tune and said, “Hey, she’s why you sound like that!”
So the secret’s out folks. For us fiddlers it’s all in the accompaniment. Come to the workshop and Patt with give you a glimpse into how she selects chords, uses bass runs, and generally makes me sound better than I am.
You don’t need to play the piano to get something useful from this workshop. I’ll be on hand with the guitar to muddy the water for you, too.
Little Dixie Fiddle Tunes (Charlie Walden) While most people consider Missouri a Midwestern state, the roots of Central and Northeast Missouri culture are definitely southern and comprise a region known as Little Dixie. When I was learning to fiddle as a youth back in the 1970s, there was still plenty of “southern” in the fiddling and reminiscences of the older generation of players.
In this workshop I’ll show you some indigenous Little Dixie tunes I learned from the great players from that area including Jake Hockemeyer, Pete McMahan and Taylor McBaine.
Fiddle Music of Nile Wilson (Charlie Walden) One of the best fiddlers I ever met in Missouri, and one of the least known and appreciated I think, was Nile Wilson of Bucklin. Nile was an unassuming man, grew up farming and later operated a road grader building roads all over the Midwest. The first time I recorded him Nile played tune after tune, which I had never heard, learned from his father and other local fiddlers. He also had a few gems he attributed to the “tie-hackers”, itinerant railroad laborers who helped construct the railway across northern Missouri in the late 1800s.
In this workshop I’ll show you some of Nile’s tunes and also attempt to demonstrate the way he bowed them, which is integral to the sound he produced.
Tips for Improving Tone, Timing and Execution of Fiddle Tunes (Charlie Walden) The phrase “Tone, Timing and Execution” is attributed to the great Missouri Valley fiddler Bob Walters as related to me by Dwight Lamb. It’s one of the most easily understood concepts of what makes for good fiddle playing, so much so that we made these three terms the basis of the Missouri State Old-Time Fiddlers Association contest scoresheet for the past 40 some years.
In this workshop I’ll walk you through what makes for good tone, timing and execution, breaking the concept down a little further and giving you some ideas you can use to improve right away.
Betse & Clarke
Ozark Heroes: Fiddle Tunes (Betse Ellis) Dig in to famous and under-the-radar Ozark fiddle repertoire with this session. Tunes from Violet Hensley, Emmanuel Wood, the Goforth Brothers, Cecil Snow… taught with notes and bowings together, highlighting iconic bowing elements. May be all standard tuning, or some in cross-tuning, depending on interest.
Fiddle Expression and Tone Coloring (Betse Ellis) Want to get more of yourself out there in your fiddling? Looking for ways to enhance the character of your music? Explore your potential and use specific techniques to get the sound you want.
Stage Ways: How to Be Your Best Self! (Betse Ellis) Tips and ideas for owning it when you’re on stage from a (seemingly) fearless, seasoned performer. Get a jump-start and pep talk for your next stage appearance and leave with tools to use in future endeavors.
Old Time Finger-Style Banjo: Right Hand Techniques (Clarke Wyatt) Using tune and song examples, we’ll start with the basic cadences of thumb lead two finger style. Then we’ll explore a bit of index lead style. As we begin to interchange these two approaches, here comes (old time) three finger style…
Banjo is the Fiddle’s Best Friend (Clarke Wyatt) We will explore the myriad ways of accompanying our fiddlers. We will dissect a simple fiddle tune into melody and chord forms, then learn some techniques to vary our playing to compliment what we hear from our fiddler.
The Barn Owls
The Ballads of Ola Belle Reed (Katy Harris, Kate Lichtenstein, Brittany Newell, Hanna Traynham) Ballad singing is the sharing of a story through song. Ballads are usually long, and there are many more words to recall and stamina to be demonstrated by the singer. The language is often simple, and there is room for the listener to bring an imagination and interpretation to the story. With all of our folk songs, we’re often reminded by the lyrics that music does not exist in a vacuum. Singing old songs is one of the many ways we can reflect on the aspects of our society’s economic, psychological and ecological historical relationships. In this workshop we’ll focus on the a few ballads from the repertoire of Olla Belle Reed, including some of her original songs, “You Led Me to the Wrong,” “Undone in Sorrow,” “Springtime of Life,” and “High on a Mountain.
Hazel and Alice Songs (Katy Harris, Kate Lichtenstein, Brittany Newell, Hanna Traynham) We’re inspired by the pioneering singing of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, and over the years we’ve spent time learning and singing lead and harmony parts of a number of their songs. Hazel and Alice’s music draws from Carter Family songs (“Who’s That Knocking?,” “Let That Liar Alone”) and other early string band pieces (“Train on the Island, “Walking in My Sleep”) as well as their original compositions (“Won’t you Come and Sing for Me,” “A Few Old Memories,” “Working Girl Blues”). We know and love a variety of these songs, both accompanied and unaccompanied. In this workshop we’ll focus on learning a few of these songs, exploring ways to become stronger singers, and finding ways to use our voices to hone a southern country singing style.
Fiddling Waltzes (Brittany Newell) This workshop will focus on a instrumental waltzes in a variety of keys. We’ll look at techniques to bring your waltz fiddling to life, including double stops. A few waltzes we could learn include Festival Waltz (A), Margaret’s Waltz (A), Lonesome Moonlight Waltz (F), Wednesday Night Waltz (D), Roxanna Waltz (C), Magnolia Waltz (C), Over the Waves (G) and Saturday Night Waltz (G) are all sweet gems of the fiddle repertoire.
Old Time Claw Hammer Banjo – Intermediate (Hanna Traynham) This workshop will cover some intermediate banjo techniques including drop thumb, strum roll, and a few modal tunings. Hanna will teach a few of her favorite banjo tunes and highlight techniques to help bring out your best banjo playing.
Fiddle-tune back up on the guitar and bass (Katy Harris, Kate Lichtenstein) Kate and Katy will lead you through the basics of backing up old time fiddle tunes. You’ll learn or review strumming patterns and runs for back up, as well as a grounding in playing bass runs that connect chords. It’s essential when playing rhythm in a band to listen to your fellow musicians and to be able to react to what you’re hearing in order to create a solid groove. Katy and Kate will shed some light on this role in the old-time stringband setting.
Steve and Joanie Green
Two Step Workshop: This is a learn-by-doing workshop for all levels of experience. Come out and learn the dance for the first time, or learn some “cool moves” to add to your repertoire. Both the old-time waltz and two-step are danced to similar music as the ballroom waltz and country western two-step, but are easier to learn. These dances are common at square dances and you will be dancing before you know it! Partners not required.
Beginning Old-Time Fiddle: This workshop will focus primarily on bowing as a root of old-time fiddling. We will focus on simpler tunes and break them down based on student need. Standard tuning and some alternate/cross-tunings will be covered. There will also be discussion on listening and practicing.