In the Field: Bluff Country Gathering

Each year BobnGail (aka Bob Bovee & Gail Heil) put on one of the friendliest and funnest old-time music events anywhere–the Bluff Country Gathering–in one of the prettiest and welcomingest small towns you’ll find: Lanesboro, Minnesota. Held the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, the Gathering is four days of workshops, concerts, jamming parties, great food, easy laughter, enduring friendships and an old-time square dance. Once you’ve been, you’ll want to come back every year, so keep these links ready to register for the 2009 Gathering once it’s announced next winter.

The 2008 Gathering boasted a stellar lineup of fiddlers, banjoists and other old-time musicianers. Because I canoed the Root River from Lanesboro to Whalan with my kids and our friend, bowmaker Lee Guthrie, I missed a highlight of this years gathering. Fortunately, Lynn Garren had a recorder going for the fiddle showcase on Saturday afternoon. It featured six of the finest exponents of traditional American fiddling from my generation and the next. Tom Sauber, Brad Leftwich and Alice Gerrard (of Tom, Brad & Alice), Mac Traynham, Chirps Smith and Stephanie Coleman. All have respectfully studied with elder (more or less) masters, and all have found their own comfortable places within the deep streams of tradition.

Tom, Brad & Alice (six tunes)

Mac, Chirps & Stephanie (six more tunes posted on

Lynn generously shared sound files of the showcase with the Fiddle Club (read Lynn’s take), recorded on a Zoom H2 from the audience in the rustic Sons of Norway Lodge on May 17, 2008.

All the tunes posted here are used with the gracious permission of the artists. Please download responsibly.

The artists have CDs and other product available. Follow the links on the tune pages for more information.

Paul Tyler, convener

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