American Fiddle Tunes
From the Library of Congress, Archive of Folk Culture


cd cover Finally available again this is simply the best survey collection of the traditional music styles of the United States. The choices are culled from non-commercial recordings made in the late 1930's that have since languished in the vaults of the Library of Congress.

The fiddlers are uniformly terrific, able to deliver the lilt and rhythms necessary for the best of traditional dance. The Southern representatives learned from 19th Century sources, and so represent the pre-banjo accompaniment solo tradition of the instrument. All are played solo, so this can be a great learning tool and a window into old old-time styles.

The album begins with obvious British roots with the Wisconsin-dwelling (but Canadian born) Leizime Brusoe's "Soldier's Joy" and an untitled schottische and quadrille. Fabulous stuff awaits in the Southern cuts. Finally, you don't have rely on fifth generation tapes to hear the superb Bill Stepp ("Bonaparte's Retreat," "Ways of the World," "Drunken Hiccups," etc), John Rector ("Old Dad" etc), Luther Strong ("Hog Eyed Man," Cumberland Gap, etc) and Marcus Martin ("Sugar in the Gourd," etc). They sound great.

A scholarly 72 page booklet of instructive notes written by an acknowledged expert, Alan Jabbour, is included. It is filled with historical background and hypothetical musings that is rare relating to American traditional fiddling.

28 cuts and absolutely essential to anyone interested in traditional music. The only question is, when is the rest of the marvelous recordings in the Archive of Folk Culture going to become available to the general public? After all, it belongs to us. - Stacy Phillips

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