Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi
Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920-2018
270 musical examples plus biographies and photographs completing a vibrant picture of Mississippi's fiddle tradition
In 2015 University Press of Mississippi published Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s by Harry Bolick and Stephen T. Austin to critical acclaim and commercial success. Roughly half of Mississippi’s rich, old-time fiddle tradition was documented in that volume and Harry Bolick has spent the intervening years working on this book, its sequel.
Beginning with Tony Russell’s original mid-1970s fieldwork as a reference, and later working with Russell, Bolick located and transcribed all of the Mississippi 78 rpm string band recordings. Some of the recording artists like the Leake County Revelers, Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers, and Narmour & Smith had been well known in the state. Others, like the Collier Trio, were obscure. This collecting work was followed by many field trips to Mississippi searching for and locating the children and grandchildren of the musicians. Previously unheard recordings and stories, unseen photographs and discoveries of nearly unknown local fiddlers, such as Jabe Dillon, John Gatwood, Claude Kennedy, and Homer Grice, followed. The results are now available in this second, companion volume, Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi: Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920–2018.
Two hundred and seventy musical examples supplement the biographies and photographs of the thirty-five artists documented here. Music comes from commercial recordings and small pressings of 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and LP records; collectors’ field recordings; and the musicians’ own home tape and disc recordings. Taken together, these two volumes represent a delightfully comprehensive survey of Mississippi’s fiddle tunes.
"Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi: Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920–2018 is the obvious complement to Harry Bolick’s previous collection of Mississippi fiddle tunes. Bolick and his confederates have conjoined archival materials, newspaper articles and such, and interviews in a digestible, intriguing way. Those who loved the first big book on Mississippi fiddling will love this one too. "- Chris Goertzen, professor of music history and world music at the University of Southern Mississippi and author of George P. Knauff’s "Virginia Reels" and the History of American Fiddling and American Antebellum Fiddling
"In Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi, Harry Bolick, a master fiddler and longtime champion of the fiddle repertory of his native state, has teamed up with famed music historian and author Tony Russell to produce the definitive volume on fiddlers and fiddle music of the region. Stunningly detailed and comprehensive, the volume showcases older and contemporary musicians who have contributed to the repertory. The copious tune transcriptions capture the vernacular with uncluttered yet nuanced accuracy and are complemented by biographical information, insights, and concordance notes. The scholarship is impeccable, the layout beautiful, and it is a work to be treasured. "- Andrew Kuntz, writer of Tune History column for Fiddler Magazine for twenty years and curator and contributor to the online resources The Fiddler’s Companion and The Traditional Tune archive
"With the publication of another hugely impressive book, indeed a labour of love that is the culmination of over ten years of research, Harry Bolick, with the aid of his distinguished coauthors, has taken another big step forward in his aim."- Julian Marshall, Old Time News
"The wealth of information here is simply mind-blowing. It is a volume that the seeker will return to time and again."- Bob Buckingham, Fiddler Review
"Non-playing fans of the music might hanker of the book’s visual and textual content, which is most impressive and valuable, but this is still very much a working document for old time players, and in some of these hands, I’m guessing, it will soon get pretty dog-eared."- Ray Templeton, Blues and Rhythm
"The book is valuable for those interested in folk and roots music in Mississippi. It also is a major contribution for researchers in surrounding states who wish to explore wider regional connections to a variety of musical genres."- Gregory Hansen, The Journal of Southern History