I have always liked reunions, those occasions that bring all your friends and relations together in one place to feast and to share. And as a kid in Hoagland, Indiana, I was always intrigued by stories about the Payne Fiddlers Reunions, held, just across the state line, in a nearby town. So here I bring together the multitude of fiddlers and other traditional folk musicians I have known through a half century of tune collecting. I invite you to feast and share.
Here is some guidance on how to navigate and use this website. Most importantly, use the blue menu bar that appears at the top of every page!
Many people will want to go straight to the recordings. To do this, use the Recordings menu. I started out by organizing my recordings of approximately 300 fiddlers into six pages. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, I think about these pages as a . . .
From the start, I intended to organize the recordings by individual musicians, rather than by tunes. I further sorted the fiddlers into regional groupings that I have long used in my collection database at home: Indiana (my home state), the Great Lakes (the four other states of the Old Northwest Territory), and Here & There (everything beyond the Old Northwest). Even then, one more division was called for, so I made a separate page for Chicago (my home for the last 36+ years). I also constructed individual pages for my mentor Lotus Dickey, and for my friend, Arto Järvelä, to mark an especially rich and intense experience some years ago.
Each of the regional pages contains several hundred tunes recorded from about 75 fiddlers. The biggest portion are field recordings from fieldwork projects, or event recordings, made at public programs. In all these cases, I knew and interacted with these fiddlers and musicians face-to-face. For another large portion, there exists only a degree of two of separation, as friends shared with me field recordings they had made or home recordings that had been given to them. The final portion contains historic and rare recordings of the earlier generation of musicians that populated my scholarly and professional research.
Then there is the rich body of other folk and ethnic musics that I encountered in my life as a folklorist in Indiana and Chicago. More representative samples will be added soon to the pages devoted to Folk Musicians and Ensembles. To know more context behind these performances, about the communities and traditions that nourished these musicians, I recommend exploring the Events menu. Extending my mixed metaphor, I think of it as . . .
My own travels have been rather limited, but much of the whole Earth has traveled to and resettled in Chicago and the Midwest. I have had the good fortune to rub shoulders with musicians, dancers, families and cultural ambassadors from many corners of our planet. My experience has not been globally comprehensive, but it sure has surpassed anything I could have imagined during my small town Hoosier boyhood 60 years ago.
The Events menu links to several Event Rosters that outline the musical occasions and serendipitous interactions that led to the Field Recordings presented here. These occasions fall into three groups: 1) Grant Projects, covering my scholarly and contract research over the last 45 years; 2) Folk Schools, comprising the public programs I led or worked on at the Adler Cultural Center and the Old Town School of Folk Music; and 3) the informal occasions at which I could be a Tune Catcher. The Event Rosters will contain links to my field notes and final reports, to scholarly writings and public commentary, or to stories and memoirs I plan to share on DrDosido's Blog.
Flowing from the historical research that occupied much of my working life in the '90s and the 'aughts, is a page devoted to compilations of Old 78s, recordings from the era of 78rpm phonodiscs. Cover art and liner notes for these compilations are available now, as are recorded selections scattered throughout the Fiddlers pages. My intent is to upload the full playlists with commentary and links on DrD's Blog. In time, I will further supplement this presentation of Midwestern folk music with selections curated from my collection of Midwest Albums: LPs and cassettes by Midwestern folk musicians.
Folk music always comes with Stories &c.
When teaching and performing, I always talk about the players I learned from and the traditions and historical periods I have researched. Presentations of my writing about music are linked under the Stories &c. menu. Field Notes includes biographical sketches and event reports from my fieldwork. Words About Music is an illustrated bibliography of my scholarship and public commentary, with links to downloadable files of some articles and papers. Stories is a catchall for the memories of people, places and encounters that often spill out in tales I've told to friends and students. I plan to use DrDosido's Blog to capture these memories as written narratives.
-- Paul L. Tyler, PhD (aka DrDosido)