The story of the oregon old time fiddlers association

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1967 - 2000

Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association
President Fred Hardin
I want to take this opportunity to extend our thanks from all the members of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association to Roger Germundson and Lew Holt for making the history of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association available for us to read and enjoy. It all started with a thought that Roger had that we should welcome the year 2000 with the history of our association. With many phone calls, letters, interviews, twisting of arms, reading old documents and many, many hours of typing, it has become a reality. It now serves as the early history of our association and the foundation for our history that follows.
Fred Hardin, President


1999 – 2000

Copy number _________ of 300

First printing

OOTFA History


MAC Computer using OFFICE 98

by Lew Holt

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.” (John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Many important long remembered happenings occurred during this century. For Jackie and me personally, something “happened” to us that we never anticipated, nor did we ever dream of doing. In fact, we weren’t even aware of the organization we were about to join, when we were invited to the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association annual convention. Wow! I’ll never forget that weekend. We were only at Roseburg for an hour or two and I knew this was an organization I wanted to join. We were a couple of years from retirement and were looking forward to some traveling. Many of you know the “rest of the story.” We did indeed join and were immediately put to work straightening out our nonprofit status with the I.R.S. and that was followed by two years as President of the organization.

Well, our lives were definitely changed. Here we are now actually playing fiddle music and loving every minute of it and traveling all over the country to do it.

The Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association is one of the best old time fiddle and old time music groups in the United States. We have in our midst some of the top fiddlers in the U. S.

Now how did this organization get started? Who were the people who started it? Was it always a statewide organization? We had all these questions and many more. We had heard bits and pieces of the history, but thought that the turn of the century would be a wonderful time to pull our history experiences together and put them in written form. What a better way to celebrate the new century than to memorialize the old with the history of our wonderful fiddle association.

So here we are folks. I talked to Lew Holt and he thought it was a good idea (as did the general membership) and agreed to be the editor, and to compile our history in written form. Lew has compiled a great human interest type history of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association. We know you are going to thoroughly enjoy our interesting history as he has prepared it for you.
Roger Germundson

President Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association

1997 - 1998, 1998 – 1999

As told by issues of the Hoedowner from 1967 - 1999, by many members who have shared their memories and by those who left their history for us.

In 1998 Roger Germundson, who was then president of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association could see the year 2000 approaching and proposed that a history of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association should be compiled by that time. The membership agreed and authorized him to proceed with the project. How does one write the history of our association? Each district and all members were invited to contribute to the history of their district as well as some of their early memories of the association.

Individuals responded with their memories of the formation of their district and with stories. We should recognize that most people did not keep records, so turned to their memories and memories of others for their information. One person may remember something a little differently than someone else does. Dates may actually be different from the memories of people. It was difficult to arrive at some correct spellings. Was it Charley or Charlie? It was spelled differently from time to time. Is it “oldtime” or is it “old time?” The history of our association is its people. We are very thankful for their willingness to share their memories. The history has now been written as remembered by those who contributed to this document.

Without the back issues of the Hoedowners, the history could not have been written in detail . We are thankful to Ruth Loring and Donna Oldham for supplying sets of old Hoedowners starting with the first issue and up to the present. There are, also, “minutes of the state meetings” starting in 1980 to the present which furnished more information.

We are indebted to Linda Danielson for giving us permission to use her very fine articles. They tell the story of “old time fiddlers in Oregon.” We are fortunate that she did the research and writings back in the 70s and later. Many of the fiddlers she quotes are no longer with us except in her writings and our memories.

Some readers may feel that there is too much emphasis on those that are no longer with us. Maybe so, but it is done to both show that they were a part of our “fiddle family” and that we must remember those who have contributed so much to our organization. Not every passing was recognized. Some of your favorite people may have been left out.

Any written project of this nature will no doubt have the bias of the writer and of those who contributed to its writing. I recognize this and admit to it. Other times it may seem repetitious to list those who were at the early jams. This was done in writing this history to show who the active fiddlers were in those early days. They were the ones who helped get our association off the ground and contributed to its development into the fine organization that we have and enjoy today. You will recognize many of the names. Others are forgotten, so it is important that they be listed and their names become a part of our history.

As I write to other fiddlers across the U.S. by e-mail, I find out that none can compare to our association. The founders of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association left us with a model for many of our activities which we follow to this day. We are a close knit group of fiddlers who can get on a stage and play together as if we had practiced all week. We are not an association of “stars” but rather a group sharing the same interests.

We are making history today for those that follow us . . . . our jam last week or the one next month will someday be “our history” for members to read about in the their time.

Lew Holt

History of The Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association
(From the archives) The story of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association is typical of fiddling organizations in the United States. During the decade of the 60’s there was an awakening of interest in old time fiddling, motivated by a desire to preserve this important part of our heritage before it was gone past the point of re-capturing. Most of the state fiddling associations in the U.S., including Oregon’s, were formed during this period.

A group of fiddlers met in Waldport to perform for a show in 1964. Cliff Buker, an old time fiddler of Waldport suggested that an association of fiddlers be formed. Later that year in Hillsboro, the Oregon Old Time fiddlers Association was created, with Cliff Buker as President. The purpose of the organization, stated in the by by-laws, was to “preserve, encourage, and promote old time fiddling.”

The Association grew rapidly. It became necessary to begin a newsletter to keep members advised of fiddling activities. Cliff Buker, founder and first president, became the editor of a monthly newsletter. He called it “The Hoedowner,” and began publishing news of interest to fiddlers and their fans. Since its inception in 1965, “The Hoedowner” has regularly supplied news of jam sessions, fiddle shows and old time fiddling contests.

The Association has continued to grow, both in numbers and vitality. Today, ten years after its birth, it is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the nation. In 1973 the State Association was divided into eight districts with complete control of its affairs remaining part of the State Association. This has made it easier for people in each district to meet for the kind of informal fun and music-making that is typical of old time fiddling get-togethers.

It is not necessary to be a musician to belong to the Association. Anyone is welcome who wants to keep old time fiddling a living, vital part of our lives.

Wayne Holmes (circa 1974)


Found on a scrap of paper in the archives:

“This is a copy of the charter members. Interesting to note $1.00 was paid by each. We are often asked who the charter members were.”

Allen Rice, Cliff Buker, Dave Hilen, Harold Allen, Fred Hildebrandt, George Jenkerson, Bill Durham, Bill Yohey, Larry Modrell, Jimmy Miller, Loyd Wanzer, Ray Mack, Merv Whitmore, Dave Quinlan, Ken Brank, Verna Blaine, Agnes James, Dave Murray, L. A. “Pop” Powers, Henry Shanan, Floyd Beck, Rusty Modrell

(Editor’s note: It is unknown who wrote this information on on the back of a scrap of paper. It was written, no doubt at the meeting in Hillsboro when the fiddle association was formed.)


FIDDLING In Varieties of Hope by Linda Danielson An Anthology of Oregon Prose, edited by Gordon B. Dobbs, OSU Press, 1993
“Soldier’s Joy,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “The Girl I Left behind Me,” “Git Outa the Way Federals,” “The Last of Callahan,” “Redwing,” “Peek-a-Boo Waltz” -- these and countless other old tunes still pour from the fingers and bows of Oregon fiddlers. Some of the tunes were popular on the radio in the 1920s and 30s; other can be traced back to the fiddlers’ ancestors of Civil War Days; and still others must have come over with colonists as far back as the 1700s.

The fiddlers are quick to tell you that their music is not violin music – make no mistake, it is fiddle music. (One fiddler says that you can tell which is which because a violin is carried in a case, and a fiddle in a gunny sack. He’s kidding now, but a generation ago it was often true.) It depends on how you play the instrument. Violin music is played according to written score, with a firm conception of details dictated by that score. In other words, there is a right way to play the tune. Fiddle music is generally learned by ear, played by memory and improvisation, and tunes vary quite a lot from one fiddler to another. You could listen to a whole group of fiddlers play off their versions of “Ragtime Annie,” and you’d hear that they were playing the same tune, yet each fiddler would have his own way with the tune – his own set of details -- there are many right ways to fiddle the tune.

On almost any Sunday afternoon fiddlers gather to play old tunes at public jam sessions somewhere in Oregon. When summer starts, you can find them at county fairs, ready to provide an afternoon’s entertainment, or at occasional fiddling contests in such places as Forest Grove, Pendleton, Canyonville and Drain. Fiddling is still a lively art here in Oregon. True, there aren’t as many fiddles as there once were, and the average age of fiddlers goes up all the time. But some children and young people are becoming interested and learning the old art. An educated guess is that there are four hundred fiddlers scattered around the state. So fiddling certainly hasn’t died out here – in fact , besides New England, the South Atlantic states and the Ozarks, Texas and the Pacific Northwest are probably the hottest spots in the country for fiddling.

It’s hard to tell why this should be so, but maybe the reasons go something like this: most of the people who play the fiddle and live in Oregon came here from somewhere else (a quick spot check among area fiddlers shows the score running about twenty-six non-natives to four native Oregonians). When people emigrate, the culture and the memory of the old home sometimes becomes extra-important – and maybe that’s why some people cling to the old ways. Then, too, in lots of places fiddling was until very recently the only available dance music – just as it was for past generations. It really hasn’t been that long since Oregon was frontier, and in the 1960s, at least fiddlers were still playing square dances in school houses and grange halls in isolated parts of eastern Oregon. Besides, fiddling is just plain good music – it’s fun to play, to hear, and to dance to.

There was a time when it seemed like fiddling was about to be forgotten, though, right after World War II, in the wake of the Big Band sound and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Then in about 1960 people began to notice fiddling again, perhaps under the influence of the folk music revival. Contests brought fiddlers together; many an ex-fiddler went home after going to a contest “just to listen” and hauled out the old fiddle case. Bows were rehaired, broken stings replaced, and the ex-fiddler started playing again.

In 1965 the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association was founded by a dozen people on a Sunday afternoon in Waldport, and it’s been growing ever since. Oregon fiddling has been changing too. It used to be that fiddles played mostly for dancing – now, more often the fiddlers’ audience is there to listen. At the old-time dances fiddlers had to play hard and loud to be heard, with no amplification – so sometimes the sound was harsh. Now fiddlers strive for a sweeter sound since they have the help of amplification to make themselves heard. In times and places when many folks lived on land and their parents or grandparents had farmed, each region had its distinctive fiddling style and characteristic stock of tunes. Now, most Oregon fiddlers actually started playing somewhere else and then moved here, bringing with them developed styles from other parts of the country. Too, fiddlers travel to distant contests, tape record each other’s playing, and buy records of fiddlers from the other end of the country. Their playing becomes technically better, more sophisticated, more cosmopolitan.

In fact, many young people who are taking up fiddling don’t even learn from the local old-timers anymore. Many of them prefer to learn the style of their favorite fiddler from some other part of the country. These days that is often Texas. Texas has produced a particularly elaborate and sophisticated, sweet, bluesy style of fiddling that is currently a good bet for winning the regional and national contests. So there is a kind of generation gap among the fiddlers. On one side are the older fiddlers who learned from grandfathers, mothers, or neighbors, then never passed the art on to their children (who were listening to Glen Miller, and later to Elvis Presley). On the other are the crop of new young fiddlers, mostly under thirty, who learn their fiddling from a variety of sources and regions. They are generating new, homogenized blends of fiddling that have ties to Texas fancy contest style, western swing, jazz, bluegrass and Canadian prime-time television show-style fiddling.

Because most older fiddlers are emigrants to Oregon, it appears that we don’t really have an Oregon style of fiddling. That’s true, but we do have a characteristic cluster of styles, brought from homes in other states by those older fiddlers. Probably the greater number of Oregon fiddlers come from the upper plains states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska. Another group comes from the Arkansas-Missouri-Oklahoma region. Still others come from Canada and from nearby states – Washington and Idaho. Most of the tunes are from the British Isles – English, Scottish, or Irish. But the North Plains also give us a stock of tunes from Scandinavia, Bohemia, and Germany. The fiddlers of British background often prefer to play hoedowns – the fast moving square dance tunes, with lots of action and rhythm from the bow. By contrast, the European-descended fiddlers play a smoother, sweeter style, and prefer the polkas, waltzes, and schottisches. These ethnic, regional, and individual styles never completely blend, but the movers and travelers who are now Oregon fiddlers do grow to appreciate each other’s diversity, and pick up a tune here and there from each other.

Postscript 1992. Since this essay was written fifteen years ago, many of those older fiddlers who brought developed styles and repertories from other places have stopped fiddling or died. With them have gone unique tunes and distinctive stylistic features. Meanwhile, the rest of us have gotten older. Now Oregon, and perhaps the whole Pacific Northwest, seems to be developing a kind of a common denominator style. Today we play fewer hoedowns as a rule, and more of the older popular songs. More of Oregon’s currently active fiddlers have learned to play here, both young people and retirement-age beginners, so we sound more like each other, although a two-caste system does seem to be developing as contest and “strictly old-time” fiddlers seem more and more distinct from each other. Nowadays, most of Oregon’s champion fiddlers are young people who play the nationally influential Texas style. Fewer small contest can be found today than in 1977, but many grange halls are opening their facilities to Association members, who once again are playing for dances in rural communities. The traditional art of fiddling is simply finding new ways to fit into a contemporary Oregon life.
(Thanks to Linda Danielson for permission to use this article.)

Oregon Fiddling: “Where’d you come from; where’d you go?”

They came from all over; Germans and Ukrainians and Poles and Scandinavians from Minnesota and Wisconsin, others from the South, some from Canada. They assembled in Oregon – an Oregon Trail story set to music. By Linda L. Danielson (Lane County Historian, Summer 1996 p. 34 – 39)

Fiddlers always seem to represent a link between past and present, history and contemporary life, modern technology, and pioneer ingenuity. For instance, there’s the story Hugh Samples of Central Point, Oregon, used to tell, from back in the 1930s, when he lived in Kinzua, “ten miles from Fossil over the hill.”

We got a hold of a Packard-Bell record player and a radio, and we got an outfit that went with it, that you could broadcast for about, oh, eight or ten miles. And every Sunday a bunch of these musicians there – there was quite a few around there – would come home and we’d have a regular jamboree up there and we’d broadcast this stuff. And we started getting all kinds of people writing in, for us to play this and play

that and we’d get a stack of letters six inches high every Saturday for our Sunday program. Some of ‘em’d sing, some of ‘em played a banjo, some of ‘em played a guitar, some of ‘em fiddled and some of ‘em played a steel guitar, and , oh, we had a variety, you know. And we put on quite a show there. It was a lot of fun.

Or there’s Al Delorme of Medford, who used to tell about a World War II scene involving a solution to a shortage of women dance partners, the same custom documented in more than one pioneer journal:

We were in the barracks in the evening, and they were all blacked out, you know, and there was not air conditioning or anything in there. And it was might, mighty hot in there. But anyhow I had a fiddle and there was somebody else with a banjo. . . . I just started to play the fiddle; pretty soon the banjo player come over and then somebody come over with a guitar, and we started to play these old hoedowns, one thing and another, and there comes a great big guy and he starts calling: pretty soon we had a square dance going. . . . (Some of the guys) tied handkerchiefs around their arms and they were women. . . . We had quite a few sets going. Pushed all the beds out on one side. . . . and we had the whole floor, and boy, some of those guys could really (square dance).

Some of the stories link both time and places, as when Earl Willis, in the midst of playing for the grand opening of a Springfield neighbor’s restaurant in the mid-70s, began reminiscing about the time in 1929 when he played for the unveiling of the new six-cylinder Chevrolet back in Boone County, Missouri:

The mayor of the town had the Chevrolet dealership there. And I was raised with him. . . . he was the mayor, and he had the Ford agency, then he had the Chevrolet agency. And ‘course, when he got ready to have this big deal (to) unveil this new car, he wanted me to play it. Which I was happy to do, got paid for it, whatever pay was then; you know, in ’29 things (were) pretty tough.

These and other stories from Oregon’s old-time fiddlers come from the Oregon Old Time Fiddling Project which I directed in the mid 1970s. With the help of several sound engineers and in collaboration with photographer John Bauguess, I recorded interviews and music with 30 old time fiddlers in Lane, Douglas, and Jackson Counties. The project was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Library of Congress, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association, and by the historical museums of the three counties involved.

At the conclusion of the collection phase, the interviews were transcribed, edited, and retyped. (Among those who helped were a number of Lane County Historical Museum volunteers.) Copies of the whole collection, tapes and transcripts, are now in the Library of Congress and in LCHM. Douglas and Jackson Counties also received copies of in-county material.

In collaboration with Visual Arts Resources, we mounted an exhibit of photos, text, audiotape and artifacts, which toured for several years. Thirteen of John’s photos were recently exhibited in New York’s Grand Central Station; I have published several articles and essays based on the material.

In the course of the interviews I confirmed my belief that most then-active Oregon fiddlers had moved to the state as adults, in the wake of either economic hard times during the Great Depression, or prosperity during the World War II years; with these fiddlers came styles, repertories, and social contexts forged in earlier times and other places. They had begun to encounter each other during the 1960s revival of interest in traditional music. The arena of this encounter was the Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers Association, founded in 1965. Here was a time and setting during which mutual influence, creativity, and adaptation might potentially lead to the development of a new regional style. This was a special moment that needed to be documented.

During the fieldwork with 30 fiddlers, a large majority of those then active in the three counties, I found six native Oregonians. The fieldwork with the 24 non-native fiddlers suggested that four main cultural and style regions have contributed to Oregon’s current fiddling community.

From the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin came Scandinavians, Germans , Poles, and Ukrainians. In Oregon, Midwesterners from these ethnic cultures have tended to identify with each other’s tunes as “music from back home.” A case in point is my Dad’s Polish Wedding Waltz, which I learned from Stan Gonshorowski, a Lane County fiddler of Polish ancestry from the North Dakota/Minnesota border. The waltz started life as an urban popular tune in Scandinavia. Probably, then, Stan’s father learned it at rural community hall dances in the early years of this century, where overlapping neighborhoods of Swedes, Bohemians, and Poles occasionally congregated. Perhaps the tune would then be played at a granary dance, as Stan describes it:

You know what a granary is? Where they keep the grain? Clean one of those up, that’s where all the weddings were held on a farm. You never rented a dance hall. . . . the wedding was held at the bride’s place, home. There was a granary – or hayloft. Played lots of hayloft dances.
In the last 25 years, Stan has taught the tune to many beginning fiddlers in Lane County.

Some tunes that fiddlers have brought to Oregon are regionally unique; others are more universally known. Like the widely known tunes, certain stories resonate in the experience of fiddlers from many parts of the country. These commonalties of experience have helped Oregon’s diverse fiddlers to find connections with one another. Stan’s story of getting a fiddle of his own exemplifies one such theme. Like many other young fiddlers, he began by surreptitiously borrowing his father’s instrument:

My dad found out that I was using his fiddle. He said, “Well, you might break it.” Which, the way I treated it, I could see. . . . We were in Grand Forks, North Dakota, one time and we went to a little hock shop next to a bridge and I got a fiddle for a dollar seventy-five cents. . . . No strings, nothin’, so I made strings out of package string. . . . I made a bow. I was the only one I the neighborhood who had black bow hair, ‘cause we had black horses.

Later, Stan said, to earn money for a better fiddle, he sold salve and neckties, then hunted gophers and saved the tails for the bounty money. Finally the stink of gopher tails in the smokehouse convinced his long-suffering mother, who said, “Why don’t I just buy you a fiddle and be done with it?”

From Nebraska and south Dakota, Anglo-American descendants of New England fiddlers brought plain-spoken versions of Celtic and English-descended tunes, and home-grown tunes that revealed traces of their Anglo-Celtic ancestry. But the stories of the tunes are stories about what the fiddlers made of the tunes. Delores Lakey, of Drain, used to tell about her Aunt Lila from back in the Rapid City area of south Dakota in the 1930s. Aunt Lila must have been a natural entertainer:

Well, Aunt Lila used to play one called The Turkey’s Tail. And don’t ask me where she got it, where it came from, or what it is because – well – it was kind of a funny song. . . . And us kids would just go into hysterics every time she would play it, because she’d go into the biggest antics – she was a clown. And I remember her sitting on this wood box that was up against the side of the house and . . . . she’d sit there and play the fiddle and she’d start on this Turkey Tail and she’d have us absolutely in stitches. We couldn’t do dishes or anything else (because) of all the antics that she’d go into with that fiddle and bouncing around on that wood box. . . My aunt could sing and play the fiddle at the same time.

In that region, as in rural Oregon of the 1930s, one could attend small local fiddle contests all summer. Judges would be picked out of the crowd. One time Delores’s Aunt Lila won a big white goose as a prize: “I never will forget that goose. It chased us kids all over the yard.”

A third source of Oregon’s immigrant fiddlers centers in the Ozarks region of Missouri and Arkansas, but on account of tastes, commonalties of repertory and approach to playing that I observed among Oregon immigrants, I think of fiddlers from Oklahoma, Northern Texas, and Southern Illinois as also belonging with this group. The approach to bowing from this region often involves syncopating so as to imitate the banjo and fancy bow lick that Earl Willis called a “Missouri whipped bow.” The use of ornamental slides testifies to the influence from African-American fiddlers – mentioned frequently by Oregon Immigrants from the area.

From the Ozarks as from other regions of the country come stories of playing for dances – the thrill of the first time, the sheer labor of playing for hours with no sound system, the temptation of the jug of “white lightning” hidden by a fence post, and the frequently heroic adventure of getting there at all. Guy Kinman of Roseburg described the particular challenges of dance playing in Texas panhandle country in the early 1930s?

I remember my brother and me, we’d take that old banjo and play for dances, and it would get damp and we’d hold it over the lamp to dry it out so it would be louder, and a lot of times only way we had to getting to the dance – it was so sandy. . .so you couldn’t hardly get out in the car. So we put a tongue in a old two-wheel trailer with rubber tires and hooked a team of mules to it, and, man, we’d go all over the country in the sandy hills with those mules, playing for those country dances.

With an equally ingenious mode of transportation in a difficult landscape, Wally Bloom’s story of getting to dances represents a fourth major thread of tradition in Oregon fiddling – Canada. Wally recalls traveling to dances in Saskatchewan, just about at the north edge of settlement:

Uncle Henry had a team of oxen, and he had a four by four . . . . little house, or caboose, we called it, built on the front of a bob sled, and we carried the feed in the back end, and the wood, and there was a little stove. . . . so we were nice and warm in there, and the lines came through the caboose, so we drove in behind these oxen. It took us three hours, I think.

Besides meeting fiddlers who moved from Canada, other new Oregonians heard Canadian broadcasts of fiddling shows on radio and television. In the 1950s and 1960s, fiddlers occupied the same position of popularity there that Lawrence Welk did here.

In the 1990s, we cannot yet speak of an “Oregon Style.” But Oregon fiddlers have formed a community. Distinctive elements of regional style have weathered away as many of the fiddlers who came here with developed styles have become inactive or died. Many unique tunes have disappeared. But a larger proportion of tunes played seem to be known by everyone. The community seems now to include two large groups: contest or progressive fiddlers, and old time fiddlers, general designation that now spans widely differing regional and geographical backgrounds.

One of the themes expressed in contemporary Oregon fiddling culture, a theme again common to the various regions from which they came, and a value that has helped blend this assorted lot of people into a community, is the idea of responsibility for providing entertainment – service to the community. In the 1990s members of the Fiddlers Association devote many hours to providing entertainment for community events and for nursing home patients. “Slim” Schaefer’s account of a dance he played in Prineville, Oregon in 1924 illustrates a similar sense of responsibility for community entertainment, as well as a familiar self-depreciating modesty about his own achievement:

I came down to buy a ton of hay for my saddle horse – had him up there in a canyon up at Grizzly Butte, so I was just about ready to leave, and I noticed that hacks and wagons and horses were comin’ from all directions; some of ‘em had been comin’ for a hundred miles. It was Saturday night. So I said to Ed Raglin, the foreman, I said, “Ed, what’s goin’ on around here, anyway?”. . . .”Oh,” he said, “there’s gonna be a shindig here tonight, Slim,” he said, “but I guess we can’t have it. The fiddler never showed up.”. . . . “Well,” I said, “I used to fiddle for a few backwoods shindigs up in the woods of Michigan,” I said. “Maybe I could help you out if you can find a fiddle; is there any fiddle around the neighborhood?”

So sure enough, he sent one of the cowboys, and he jumped on his horse and pretty soon he came back with a fiddle. So I put my horse back in the barn, and by jinks we got in there and – there was this Texas cowboy, Frank Oliver. . . . Frank said, “I can play chords on the organ, Slim. . . . and I can even fiddle a tune or two.”

I don’t hear such old-timers’ stories much anymore. But the stock of shared tunes and values crossed time and space to form the basis of an ongoing traditional musical community blended, like much of the rest of Oregon’s story, from stories that began elsewhere.

(Again our thanks to Linda Danielson for allowing us to use her two articles.)


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