Bill Burke: firstname.lastname@example.org
6786 Mariah Dr.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Fred Coon: email@example.com
PO Box 50099
Phoenix, AZ 85076-0099
Warren is my second cousin. It was his father, Otis Green, who taught my father how to play the style of banjo I now play. I have some wonderful stories to tell but the best part is that I have some of these on MP3 files and will upload them and share theme with you over time. It all starts with Warren’s cornbread recipe. Hands down, his cornbread is to die for. So, with that said, I’ll put his recording of how to make this delicious bread on this website. That way, you can learn from the “master” himself how to make it. It starts with a very seasoned skillet. Get up right now and go find one so you too can make the best cornbread in America.
Burl Farley lived in a little from the mouth of Dry Branch Road, Lincoln County, West Virginia. I first met Burl when I received a grant in college to collect stories and songs and was making my way into the mountains surrounding my home. Burl was a community leader who introduced me to many people in the Dry Branch area and these stories are about my wonderful times at Burl’s house and with his friends.
My friend of nearly 50 years, Doc Watson passed away today. I took Bill to Doc’s house about three years ago and Doc asked to play Bill’s mandolin. After a song or two Doc said, “You know son, there’s not a fierce note in this thing.” The compliment caused Bill to smile great big and I believe that Bill still has that instrument at the house. I will put up some stories about Doc when I get my thoughts and feelings collected. I will miss him sorely and to use Doc’s expression, “He was a good old boy.”
Fred was nervous about his first meeting with Frank. He had been told that Frank was recognized as one of the best clawhammer banjo players, fiddlers and bagpipe players in West Virginia. Fred was young, learning to express himself on his chosen instrument, untried in public settings and had never really played with anyone who was “famous.” — well, famous in West Virginia terms. Another daunting fact was that he had been told through the grapevine that Frank George had a repetoire that exceeded a thousand fiddle tunes. No doubt about it, Fred was intimidated. It was a hot August day in Ripley, West Virginia, at the Cedar Lakes Arts and Crafts Festival when Fred pulled into the fairgrounds. There were more people here than a Billy Graham crusade and they all were having a good time. More to come…
Who Was Johnny Hilt? – For many years, John Fitzgerald Hilt (Johnny) was employed as an iron worker in the coal mines of West Virginia. He lived a hermit’s existence in the family homestead on the south side of Clinch Mountain in the Poor Valley section near Tannersville, Virginia. He was a man of nature and he had a wild bird, a titmouse, named Alexander (picture below) who used to visit him daily. Fred is trying to find the picture he took of Alenander sitting on John’s fiddle while he played. Johnny’s fiddle style was truly wonderful. It was a strong, driving style and when Fred took Johnny to meet Doc Watson at Doc’s home, Doc and Johnny played together for an afternoon, just sharing and enjoying the spirit of old-time mountain tunes – a jam session to remember. More on this an other stories to follow…
Who Was Aunt Jenny? Born in 1900, she grew up in Henlawson, West Virginia, which is near Logan, where Fred taught school 45 years ago. While in college, he visited and stayed at Jenny’s house and spent hours listening to her stories, collecting her unique ballads and banjo tunes and learning about times past. She played a true double-thumb clawhammer style that was driving and strong. Her gravely voice delivered honest and true songs from the long-ago Child Ballads to more “modern” tunes as sung and played from the 18th and 19th centuries and which were passed down from generation to generation in Logan County. She was one of a kind and Fred’s stories about her will appear here soon. Here is a short clip of Aunt Jenny playing Georgie Buck, as taken from from the collection Fred gave to the Field Recorder’s Collective.