Tunes from the Great Lakes

I was living in Detroit when I began my career as a musician and became a die-hard traddie (a folkie devoted to traditional music). My first conscious attempt to become tune catcher (aka amateur folklorist) was on a trip back home at the end of 1976. My career in fieldwork got off to inauspicious start. Those first recordings were marred by my technological naivete.

I got better, and between 1978 and 1986, when I lived in Bloomington, I spent much time recording traditional musicians in two of the States that border Lake Michigan: Indiana and Illinois. Francis Geels, Herman Fox, and many other fascinating senior masters will both make appearances on these pages. Up in the corner is a photo of one of Herman Fox's early bands in Fort Wayne. He's on concertina.

My focus on the Great Lakes carried over when I moved to Chicago in 1986. During that time I renewed my friendship with Les Raber of Hastings, Michigan (seen here playing at a Michigan Fiddlers Association jamboree at Hart in 1996.)