Mississippi fiddle music has long fascinated me. Early in my playing, I learned many of the tunes and searched out the old recordings. My appreciation and focus on these quirky tunes has only increased over time.
In addition to my weekly Garrison Arts Center class, I teach workshops in Vintage Mississippi Fiddle tunes.
Sources for Mississippi fiddle tunes. Please feel free to suggest any I have left out!
From the late 1927-36 white Mississippi fiddlers were represented on approximately 150 78rpm records. Though the number of bands and fiddlers recorded was small as compared to other southern states, the quality was high and a wide variety of styles were captured. Some of the recorded musicians were the Carter Brothers and Son, Narmour and Smith, The Leake County Revelers, Hoyt Ming and his Pep-Steppers, Freeny's Barn Dance Band, Mississippi Possom Hunters, Ray Brothers, The Newton County Hillbillies and The Nations Brothers.
In 1923, Arthur Palmer Hudson began his ballad collecting in Mississippi, which culminated in his 1936 publication of Folksongs of Mississippi. Although his focus was on documenting the Mississippi textural variations of the classic Scots and English ballads, his fieldwork documented other songs and folkways. Unfortunately, only a handful of the songs were documented with musical notation.
In the Summer of 1936, the WPA Music and Writers' Project in Mississippi, inspired by Hudson's work, began collecting songs in the state. I am currently at work on a book about and containing the sheet music for the 200 fiddle tunes that were collected.
The state office of the Music and Writers Project arranged the recording schedule for the Library of Congress field recording expedition of 1939. During that summer, Herbert Halpert's 300 field recordings in Mississippi documented ballad singers, children's songs and games, blues, gospel singing and fiddle and banjo players. Some of the musicians Halpert recorded were John Hatcher, W.E.Claunch, Stephen B. Tucker, Enos Canoy, Thaddeus C. Willingham, and John Brown.
Alan Lomax's five LOC fieldtrips from 1936-1959 focused on the black music traditions. Fiddlers that he recorded include Son Sim's and Sid Hemphill.
In lp record era there were 4 recordings of interest:
Hoyt Ming and his Pep-Steppers - New Hot Times -1973 a modern recording of the family band that made the classic 78's
The New Leake County Revelers I have yet to hear this one but I understand it to be by the children of the original band members, they made a brief appearance in the movie "The ballad of BIlly Joe"
Mississippi Sawyers - 1980 - living fiddlers playing in a variety of state styles. Bluegrass, Old time, Celtic and Cajun
Great Big Yam Taters -1985 - a fantastic source of information and recordings from the 1939 Library of Congress trip to Mississippi
Mississippi music on my own recordings:
Carroll County, Mississippi, based primarily on the recordings of Narmour and Smith.
-Jake Leg Rag
-Sweet Milk and Peaches
-Where the Southern Crosses the Dog
-Captain George, Has Your Money Come?
-The Sunny Waltz
-Carroll County Blues
Someone I Love
-Charlestons No's 3, 2 and 1
-Kiss Me Waltz
-Gallop To Georgia
Dry Gin Rag
-Little Black Moustache--Gene Clardy and the Ray Brothers.
-Blessed Be The Name- Mississippi John Hurt
-The Last Shot Got Him - Mississippi John Hurt and the Mississippi Possum Hunters.
Come On Over And See Us Sometime - with Brian Slattery
-Poor Little Mary / Roll them Simmons
-Little Black Train - played in Mississippi as late as 1936
-The Shadow of the Pines - played in Mississippi as late as 1936
-Louis Collins - Mississippi John Hurt
-Lincoln County Blues - Nations Brothers
-Good Fellers - Leake County Revelers
Watch this website for news of the upcoming recording/book project based on the 1930s field recordings with at working title of "Rediscovered"