Various Artists - Along the Eastern Crescent: Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks: Volume 1

Along the Eastern Crescent
Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks: Volume 1

Various Artists

Rounder CD 0435

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, Ma 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Zimmerschied

If you love to hear square dance tunes played old time style on a fiddle, Rounder Records has something just for you!

Along the Eastern Crescent is Volume I of a three part encyclopedia of fiddle music, containing forty traditional tunes from the Ozarks of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. All of it is music played by traditional old time fiddlers from that region. The 3 CD set, Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, was produced by Gordon McCaan and Mark Wilson with the intent to capture and preserve a tradition in fiddle music as handed down father to son, mother to daughter in that region of the country. Nine fiddlers are recorded on this volume, each contributing several tunes. The accompaniment is simple: a guitar or maybe a bass or a banjo instead of a guitar. The focus is on the fiddle. While the performers are not professionals, they are very good musicians who have learned the tunes over the years in an aural tradition.

Here are some highlights that caught my attention:

  • Big 'Taters in the Sandy Land played by Stan Jackson could also be called Sally Ann or Sail Away Ladies since it is very similar. Nicely played and accompanied.

  • Plantation Medley played by Bob Holt has a Celtic flavor.

  • Bob Holt plays Sourwood Mountain. There's another variation on the album by Stan Jackson. It is interesting to compare the differences. You might have heard the words that go with this tune sung somewhere.

  • New Five Cents, played by Cecil Goforth, is a lively square dance tune.

  • Mason's March played by Sam Younger is an upbeat funeral march like those done in New Orleans.

  • Sam Taylor Tune, played by Stan Jackson, sounds like Take Me Back to Tulsa.

  • For a change of pace there is Drowning Creek Blues, played by Audrey Handle.

A couple of the tunes feature fiddle strumming or plucking - Arkansas Hop, played by Howe Teague has him strumming on the fiddle strings like a guitar, very unusual. Jericho features melodic plucking by Violet Hensley.

I haven't touched on the many other fine songs on this CD collection. You will have to listen to appreciate them. I am sure if you like old time fiddle music you will want to add Along the Eastern Crescent and the other two volumes of Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks to your 'play a lot' stack!

Edited by: Tammy Moon

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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