“The Bellow and the Bow” CD

 


1. Devil In the Straw Stack

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2. Blackberry Blossom

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3. Chicken Reel/Turkey in the Straw

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4. Lady of the Lake/Bill Cheatum/Old Molly Hare

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5. Shady Grove
6. Jawbones/Jump Jim Crow
7. 28th of January

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8. Green Willis
9. British Field March
10.Flowers of Edinburgh
11.Ebenezer/Magpie
12.Sail Away Ladies

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13.Shooting Creek
14.Pretty Betty Martin and Coralee/Fire On the Mountain
15.George Booker
16.Shoes and Stockings

Several years ago Kirk and I met for the first time at the Port Townsend Fiddle Tunes Festival.  We sat down for an afternoon music session and late that night we took a break for dinner before going back for more.  Since then we have sought out each other whenever possible to continue sharing our music and friendship. That there is a bit of magic between us may be of no surprise considering that we both learned directly from the same luminaries in the decade of the 1960’s.  And like our mentors Tommy Jarrell, Fred Cockerham and Henry Reed, we have spent a lifetime playing their tunes. For Kirk and me, these old tunes from the early 20th century are part of our DNA.

Kirk’s fiddle playing is recognized as the undisputed  reincarnation of the Tommy Jarrell style while his banjo styles are those of Fred Cockerham and Charlie Poole. Kirk is the master of the Round Peak sound which is my favorite.  So when I decided to introduce the voice of the anglo concertina to the old time fiddle world, it had to be with Kirk.

It is a little surprising that the anglo concertina has not made its way into this world of southern fiddle music  already since it is really just a bunch of harmonicas in a box with buttons. Like the banjo, the concertina can play melody, harmony and chords and, by moving from one role to the other, can really showcase the fiddle.

The tunes in this recording were chosen from the broad spectrum of the North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia fiddle repertoire to demonstrate the great potential of the anglo concertina. They include breakdowns, reels, marches, songs and minstrel melodies that span three centuries. A number of tunes were learned in festival parking lots more than fifty years ago such as Arthur Smith’s Blackberry Blossum  and Turkey in the Straw. Several of our versions are a mixture of a number of sources including the version of Bill Cheatum (named after a confederate surgeon  and fiddler from Tennessee) and versions of Ebenezer from Franklin George, Henry Reed, and Kahle Brewer.  Chicken Reel and Old Molly Hare are also found everywhere throughout the south, perhaps through the popularity of the Skillet Likkers recordings.

Other tunes were learned in living rooms such as those of Tommy Jarrell. Sail Away Ladies is pure Tommy Jarrell  while Tommy’s Devil in a Straw Stack was actually learned from Kirk’s grandfather’s great uncle Zack Payne. The version of the march Green Willis was learned from Taylor Kimble.

Henry Reed is a key source of my own repertoire. His tunes were taught to me, Tommy and Bobbie Thompson by Alan Jabbour during our years together in the Hollow Rock String Band. These tunes include: Lady of the Lake, Fire on the Mountain, George Booker, and Shoes and Stockings.  Henry Reed’s tunes draw heavily from 19th century sources, such as the British Field March which Henry learned from the fife playing of Quince Dillon. The minstrel medley of Jawbones and Jump Jim Crow was learned from Henry Reed as well.  The 28th of January was learned from Franklin George.  Magpie comes from Earl Shatterly and Vaughn Marley of Randolph CO., NC and Tinsey Clapp of Guilford CO., NC  and was taught to me by Alan Jabbour. The setting of the ubiquitous Flowers of Edinburgh was taken from a book of Revolutionary period dances.  Our versions of Shooting Creek as well as that of Shady Grove were learned from Oscar Wright of Princeton, WV.   I learned Pretty Betty Martin and Coralee from Kirk who learned it from Floyd “Bert” Edwards.

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Bertram Levy Music Productions
P.O. Box 218
Port Townsend
WA 98368

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