So this week has been a strange one here at Fiddle and Creel home base. In short, a good friend and co-worker lost a spouse unexpectedly, and when stuff like that happens it makes you stop and think about stuff. For me it always brings to mind to some Howlin’ at the Moon. So this week’s Freaky Fiddle Friday ain’t so freaky as it is reflective. However if you get through Howlin, you will be rewarded some freaky fiddlin with delay and that all that tasty Sam Bushiness. Enjoy.
So take a little time this weekend for sunshine, love, cowbell etc.
This week’s edition of Freaky Fiddle Friday features a Columbus native, Christian Howes playing with a truly great guitarist Robin Ford. Howes called us 5 or 6 years ago about him sitting in with the Wagoneers but we never could get the scheduling figured out, at the time he was living in NY but was in Columbus a few week ends a month. I think he found us through the violin loft, but I can’t say for sure.
As one of the more expressive and emotional fiddle players around he really holds back at the beginning of on this tune, but dude does he unleash some freaky fiddlin at the end. Whoa – he blows the doors off of it, with some crazy distortion.
Though we’ve never heard him play Bluegrass, we know he can. And NO there is nothing April fools-ish about this, just plain old freaky fiddlin.
So this weekend marks the spring Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival featuring some of the best bluegrass the world has to offer. The Fiddle and Creel street crew hope to make it down for a few hours on Saturday afternoon to jam, hang out and generally soak up the good stuff. In the line up is always fantastic JD Crowe and the New South. Unfortunately JD recently injured his elbow and as such Jim Mills will be filling in for JD. That’s not a bad substitue if you ask me.
I don’t think Ron Stewart is playing with the band currently, but I thought it would be a good idea to post a Ron Stewart fiddle tune for Freaky Fiddle Friday because he is one of my favorite contemporary fiddle masters. Actually he can play the strings of just about everything banjo being his other main axe. Anyway, here is a tasty version of Whistling Rufus from Ron playing with the Lynn Morris band. P.S. that madnolin break ain’t half bad either.
In this week’s installment of Freaky Fiddle Friday we feature Stewart Duncan playing an amped up version of Soppin the Gravy. He calls it the Red Eye Gravy version, and we can’t agree more. No swinging texas anything about this. Its straight on down the road hauling-the-mail bluegrass fiddle and its good. Soak it up and put the hair to the gut.
Things have been really busy around the Fiddle and Creel world headquarters and this Freaky Fiddle Friday thing seems to taking up a bit too much of things lately, it looks like that’s all I do here, and we don’t want that. I really just need to get back to writing more stuff but hey, for now, its more freaky good Fiddle stuff.
This week brings us the late great Kenny Baker.
Baker was born in Jenkins, Kentucky and learned the fiddle by accompanying his father, also a fiddler. Early on, he was influenced by the swing fiddler Marion Sumner, not to mention Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. After working for Bethlehem Steel in the coal mines of Kentucky, he served in the U.S. Navy before pursuing a musical career fulltime. He soon joined Don Gibson‘s band as a replacement for Marion Sumner. Baker who played western swing, had little interest inbluegrass music until he heard “Wheel Hoss” and “Roanoke”. During a package show with Don Gibson, Baker met Monroe and was offered a job. He cut his very first recordings with Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys on December 15, 1957.
Kenny Baker served more years in Monroe’s band than any other musician and was selected by Monroe to record the fiddle tunes passed down from Uncle Pen Vandiver. After leaving the Bluegrass Boys in 1984,Baker played with a group of friends, Bob Black, Alan Murphy, and Aleta Murphy. Bob Black and Alan Murphy recorded and album with Baker in’73, Dry & Dusty. After the one summer with Black and the Murphy’s Baker teamed with Josh Graves who had played dobro for Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs as a Foggy Mountain Boy. Baker teamed with Graves until Graves’ death in 2006.
Baker is considered to be one of the most influential fiddlers in bluegrass music. His “long-bow” style added a smoothness and clarity to the fiddle based music of his boss, Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe. His long tenure with Bill Monroe included banjo player Bill Keith‘s development of the “melodic” method of banjo playing that included note for note representations of fiddle tunes on the banjo.
He was named to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1999. He recorded many albumsfor various record labels, including County Records, Jasmine, Rounder Records and most recently OMS Records. His most recent recordings include “Cotton Baggin’ 2000” and “Spider Bit the Baby” on OMS Records. It was often mentioned that Kenny Baker’s records were more popular at Bill Monroe concerts than the band’s own releases. There were, and remain, hordes of Kenny Baker students of the bluegrass fiddle.
Today Jeffrey L. Frischkorn of Willoughby, Ohio writes of his departed friend Jenny Lynn. With a dog name like Jenny Lynn you gotta think he is into some Bluegrass and we like that. Whatever the reason for the name there is a heck of a pay-off at the end see quote below. GREAT STUFF.
When that commitment is finished, you can expect me to drop two shotshells into the awaiting chambers of my Browning over/under shotgun. The Browning, with its timeless grace but aging bluing, will come to my shoulder and I will fire the two rounds — one by one, sending tokens of Jenny Lynn’s ashes out over the water.
Around my neck will be draped the duel-dog-whistle lanyard. The first and loudest of the two will summon the ghosts, all of them. The lighter-sounding whistle will echo its notes.
Only at that point will I know with certainty that Jenny Lynn and I are together once more.
Before that he even mentioned Corey Ford’s “Road to Thinkhamtown” one of our favorite essays.