This page is devoted to comments people have made about the book and CD set. Some were sent directly to us, others were posted to discussion groups and brought to our attention. Some of them are posted around the site, as well as here, in either complete or abbreviated form. There is no significance to the order in which they are presented below.

All of the comments are presented by permission of those who wrote them. Here at Dear Old Illinois, all correspondence, regardless of how casual, is confidential unless the writer consents otherwise.

If you would like to comment on the book, CD set, or website, we would very much enjoy hearing from you. Of course if you would just like to drop us a line without endorsement in mind, we welcome you to do that too.

"I have heard you and "the Boys" play these tunes for many years, and now I get to hear them played as you learned them. Thanks for all the hard work and love that went into the book and CD set.

With respect, appreciation, and admiration,"

-- Brian Smyth, traditional fiddle and banjo player
St. Charles, MO

"I just want to thank you for your work on the book and CD. I know you've been working on it for a long time. The end result is a monument to fiddling in general and dear old Illinois in particular."

-- Lee Guthrie, traditional fiddler and maker of fine violin bows
Hudson, WI

"Very impressive work. I'm glad you were able to follow through on the research and put it out for public consumption. Bravo on getting it done."

-- Peter Rolland, Ph.D, Mesa, AZ
Director, Rolland String Research Associates
Field collector, champion fiddler

"I have just spent a pleasant hour thumbing through Garry Harrison and Jo Burgess' Dear Old Illinois (Bloomington: Pick Away Press, 2007), a compilation of [752] versions and variants of songs, ballads and fiddle tunes recorded over two generations in southern Illinois.

In my opinion, this is a sterling anthology or cross-section of traditional material gathered by David S. McIntosh from 1932 to just after WW II, and by Harrison and friends after 1970 to the late 1980s. Harrison is keen to reintroduce these songs and tunes to the revival; his text has detailed notes on appropriate guitar strums for each song, on capo-ing up the neck, etc.

At the same time, he and his co-author are explicitly faithful to tradition, and to the highest standards of scholarship -- albeit there are no headnotes to any of the songs. In a sense, the nicest part are the many, many photos of the singers and players scattered through the text. Seeing these largely older and now dead folks is like a link to older generations, to people who loved these songs as we do, who share a sense of their importance, no matter how silly the stage song "Dunderbeck" (No. 73 here) or "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago" (No. 143) might be.

There are some rarities here to be sure: "Constitution and Guerriere" (No. 51), and the cumulative song, new to me, "The Wildman's in Town Tonight" (No. 332).

In all, this is a volume that should satisfy both singer and scholar -- sometimes the same person, sometimes not.

Pick Away Press is to be commended -- as you will appreciate."

-- Ed Cray, Santa Monica, CA
Ballad scholar,
Professor of Journalism, University of Southern California,
Author, Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie and more than a dozen other books

(click on title to see this book)

"Love the book and CDs! Great work -- I'm discovering some excellent tunes."

-- Dave Reiner, Lexington, MA
Traditional fiddler,
Co-author, Oldtime Fiddling Across America,
Author, Deluxe Anthology of Fiddle Styles

(click on titles to see these books)

"Wow, I got my copy of "Dear Old Illinois" and the CDs last night. I'm already so impressed with the book and all the work and depth of personal devotion to the music. I think this publication is going to be a milestone in Midwestern old-time music, and traditional music research in general.

I also want to thank you for the extra generosity in making the song melodies available (I'm not strong on standard notation--I'm a banjo player), and this makes your project even more valuable.

Thanks for all your work,"

-- Erich Schroeder, PhD.
Traditional banjo player
Curator, Learning Center
Illinois State Museum GIS Lab

Click here to visit Erich's website, where you can hear him play the minstrel banjo he built.

"Thanks for doing all this, we all will benefit from it."

-- Kerry Blech, Gainesville, FL
Fiddler, traditional music authority

"I am so happy and proud to see this collection published. I am proud to have had a small part in the process as well. I have been showing folks my copy everywhere I go- somewhat akin to a missionary. I hope that people will take the time to come to the website, order book(s) and CDs and peruse the information at the website itself.

This book covers a large swath of time by including materials from both the David Macintosh and Garry Harrison (Indian Creek Delta Boys) collections. I am sure that all will appreciate a volume that includes song melodies, complete sets of lyrics, fiddle tunes as played by traditional fiddlers, chord suggestions, a guide to how to perform this material, photos, etc., and then, to top it off, three CDs of original field recordings. Not to mention that it was put together by a great Illinois fiddler too. I'm sure this will become a much used & referenced book. Thanks so much Garry & Jo for taking on this task and thanks to all others that helped."

-- Lynn "Chirps" Smith, Illinois old-time fiddler

"PS: I hope folks will enjoy hearing my mandolin playing from some thirty years ago as well."

"This is really a superb collection of field recordings. What a treasure trove of beautiful and interesting tunes. I have something of a mania for field recordings and have a pretty large collection, but there is nothing quite like these Illinois pieces. It compares favorably with the rich traditions of Eastern Kentucky and Central West Virginia, but with nuances and melodic figures all its own. This is the best and most important work to appear in a long time. Everyone who loves fiddle music must own these CDs and book."

-- David Allen, traditional banjo/fiddle player, Pig Ankle String Band, Dallas, TX

"We are truly fortunate to have had an exceptional musician, Garry Harrison, bear witness to the vanishing musical treasures of southern Illinois. Luckier still, we are, that Garry and Jo devoted themselves tirelessly to making this mother load of tunes and songs available to us, and the coming generations, in such an accurate, concise, understandable and accessible form.

This thing feels like a living document to hold it in your hands. It's just beautiful. Even more amazing is to have this come to us through not only a stellar performer of this music, but also someone who grew up in the culture from which this music sprang. Just think of it, sheet music which actually sounds like the source fiddler when played! Astounding!"

-- Rick Martin, traditional fiddler, Troublesome Creek String Band, Crozet, VA

"Thanks for putting together all this music and making it available. I've listened to it almost constantly since receiving the CDs. It's really inspired; must have been great to hang out with the likes of Pappy Taylor."

-- Mark Ritchie, traditional music performer
Houghton, MI

"This is truly a work of art, and it reflects the love you have for Midwestern music and way of life. I am learning tunes as we speak and putting them on the mandolin and hopefully doing them justice. Thank you so much for all the hard work you have done on this project. I will be learning tunes from this music for years to come and hopefully pass them to others and my children."

-- David Stabbe, traditional music performer
Madison, WI