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
 

Hear Old Illinois: The Dear Old Illinois 3-CD set

eginning a little over 30 years ago, the traditional music of downstate Illinois was carried public by those who collected it, specifically by three LP recordings made by the Indian Creek Delta Boys of Charleston in 1976-78.

Over the years since, several of the pieces on these recordings, pieces such as "Wolf Creek," "Run Down Boot," "Cora Dye," "Devil in the Haystack," "Old Kentucky Whiskey," and numerous others, have become well-known throughout traditional fiddle music circles. What is perhaps not as well-known is that these pieces are each traceable to a single downstate Illinois source.

This 3-CD set offers the unique opportunity to hear the actual source performances of over 120 pieces from the Garry Harrison collection. In addition to the pieces that are now better-known, the recordings also introduce many pieces that traditional music players will find "new" and unfamiliar. Though the focus of the recordings is on fiddle pieces, there are a few banjo and vocal performances and one harmonica number as well.

In collecting the music of Dear Old Illinois, commercial recordings of traditional music were not a target of pursuit, simply because the music they presented had already been documented. The music sought was of a rarer level; music that for the most part pre-dated the earliest commercial recordings, that had thrived in rural areas years ago and was on its last flicker by the 1970s, and that had never been recorded commercially. Documenting this music required finding and visiting the relatively few remaining primary sources.

All of the recordings on these CDs are "home" (non-studio) recordings. Audio ranges from excellent to terrible. We offer no apologies for the latter; please keep in mind that as applicable to the recordings presented here, even terrible audio is worlds better than a loss of history. You can preview a short clip of several tracks by clicking on the links below. The assortment includes examples from both ends of the audio quality spectrum, eliminating the possibility of any surprises.

It should be noted that some of the recordings in the CD set may not necessarily match the transcriptions in the book note-for-note. This is because many of the pieces are represented in the collection by several different recordings (by the same performer.) The recordings of such pieces were selected on the basis of both performance and audio quality, and the best of both wasn't always to be had from one recording. So the definitive rendition of a piece, if in fact represented by one recording, might not be the one given in the CD set if another recording offered a good rendition, better audio, and/or accompaniment at a more suitable volume. In any case, the book is to be regarded as the ultimate reference.

Thanks to Paul Tyler for providing a good copy of six of the 1950s discs presented here. Years ago, Garry Harrison gave the original discs to record collector Ron Brown and kept a tape copy. Over the years, Ron moved and Harrison lost track of him, and the tape copy deteriorated to a barely playable condition. After mentioning this to Paul once, a CD copy of the recordings showed up in the mail a short time later. Thanks to Ron for keeping these recordings in good order and to Paul for sending the copy along.

The vital information for the tracks is given below. (To minimize printing costs, the information in the tables below, minus performer ages and fiddle tunings, is the total of that given in the paper matter of the CD set itself. For further information, consult the book.) Additional personnel information is given where known. The code for this data is as follows:

MW = Mike Wilson, guitar
GH = Garry Harrison, guitar
JH = J.L. "Doc" Holliday, guitar
PA = Paul Abbott, guitar
LS = Lynn "Chirps" Smith, mandolin
DM = Dave Miller, banjo
DB = Dillon Bustin, guitar
NW = Naomi Williams, piano
KA = Ken Appleby, guitar
1 = Betty Brinkman, guitar; either Garry Harrison, Brian Hubbard, or John Bishop, guitar; Gaye Harrison, mandolin; Bud Barbee, banjo
2 = Unidentified group, Prairie du Rocher; copied from Bill Clerc's recording of the ceremony

The majority of the traditional music in these recordings was collected from older folks. We thought it would be of interest to some if we included the ages (or approximate ages) of the performers at the time the recordings were made, so this information is also given below.

The performers used alternate fiddle tunings for some pieces, and these are given in red. For more information on this, see the Tunings Page.

Special feature: Harvey Taylor video

In 1984, Harvey Taylor performed an evening of music in a concert setting at Adler House in Libertyville, Illinois. The performance was videotaped.

Click here to see Harvey Taylor playing "Devil in the Haystack" at the concert.

CD 1

TrackTitlePerformer(s)DateAgeClip
1Devil in the HaystackHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/79   84Hear   
2RachaelHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
3Jump in the Well, Pretty Little MissNoah Beavers10/11/7577 
4Prairie DogJess Abbott (PA)09/19/7582 
5Crow CreekStelle Elam (DM, LS)10/7573 
6Gingham WaltzJim Newton (1)10/21/7978Hear
7Goin' Across the SeaOrval Hale04/23/7766Hear
8Possum up a Gum StumpHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984 
9Run Down BootPete Priest (GH)10/7571 
10Cotton-Eyed Joe (AEAC#)Noah Beavers10/11/7577Hear
11West Virginia PolkaHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984
12Sailor SpringsCharlie Fulk (GH, LS)01/28/7659 
13Knockin' at the Kitchen DoorJim Reed06/14/7269 
14Rattlesnake JigHarvey Taylor05/06/7580 
15Nuts and BoltsOdie Griffith (GH)08/05/7660Hear
16Dusty MillerHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
17Neighbor Up the RoadCliff Pulliam (GH, LS)01/27/7664 
18Wolf CreekHarvey Taylor1950s?60s
19Pete and NancyFletcher Fulk (GH, LS)   01/28/7673 
20Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan?Delbar Tarpley10/05/7575Hear    
21Courtin' in the KitchenHarvey Taylor10/7581 
22Rush and the PepperJess Abbott09/19/7582 
23Stump-Tail DogHoward Sims (DB)03/23/7780 
24Tater RollHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984 
25Going to London (GDAD)Noah Beavers (GH)04/28/7981Hear
26Apple Knocker (original)Bob Valentine03/13/7762 
27Four and Twenty Blackbirds Dancing on a Fawn Skin   Harvey Taylor05/23/7580Hear
28Joe WingerterJoe Wingerter (LS)02/15/7764
29Oscar BettisJohn Graham (GH)11/12/7779 
30Golden GripHarvey Taylor05/06/7580 
31Dixon's HornpipeHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s 
32The Mill at HordJim Newton06/09/7978 
33Sandy BankAnthony Hill (JH)08/7874
34Come on Ma'am, Look at Sam (AEAE)Noah Beavers10/11/7577
35Lovers' First QuarrelHarry Elie05/24/7770 
36Rye Whiskey (AEAC#)Harvey Taylor (MW)1950s60s
37Rabbit in a Fodder ShockCecil Polley (JH)08/78c. 70   Hear
38Turkey RoostEverett Fulk (GH)01/11/77c. 70 
39Tater BlossomNoah Beavers10/11/7577 
40Stonewall JacksonHarvey Taylor05/23/7580 
41Wednesday Night WaltzHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s 

CD 2

TrackTitlePerformer(s)DateAgeClip
1Lost Indian (AEAC#)Harvey Taylor (MW)1950s60s Hear   
2Round Up the YearlingsHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
3Billy Butler (a/k/a Swinging Limb)Noah Beavers (GH)04/28/79   81
4Five Miles from TownJess Abbott (PA)09/19/7582
5Brownie's ReelCliff Pulliam (GH, LS)01/27/7664Hear
6Cora DyeJim Reed06/14/7269
7Bell CowHarvey Taylor (JH)04/28/7984
8Dog Treed a Possum Up a White Oak TreeHoward Sims (GH)09/09/7680
9Bean Walker's MileCharlie Fulk (GH)10/18/7660Hear
10Jump That Log (AEAC#)Noah Beavers03/21/7678
11Ox in the MudHarvey Taylor1950s60s
12Crooked RoadStelle Elam10/7573
13Pacific SlopeHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
14Dance, Boatmen, DanceHarvey Taylor05/06/7580
15Pretty Little WidowArlin Dietz (JH)08/78c. 70   Hear
16Pennyrile TeaOrval Hale04/27/7968
17White's PolkaHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984
18Durang's HornpipeJim Newton (1)10/21/7978
19Rolling RiverDelbar Tarpley (LS)12/30/7575
20Six Pounds of Feathers in a Cuckoo's NestHarvey Taylor (GH)04/23/7782
21Bacon and SausageEverett Fulk (GH)01/11/77c.70
22Flint Rock RiverNoah Beavers (GH)08/02/7678
23Rummy TumHarvey Taylor04/30/7580
24John Graham (original)John Graham (GH)11/12/7779
25Best TimberHarry Jones (MW)1950s50sHear
26Tennessee Backwoods StompHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984
27Sims One-StepOdie Griffith (GH)08/05/7660
28LitchfieldPete Priest10/7571
29Hop-Scotch PolkaHarvey Taylor04/30/7580
30Little Brown Jug (GDAD)Hurley Bennett06/14/7693
31Bound for the Hills (original)Fletcher Fulk (GH, LS)   01/28/7673
32Big Brown JugHarvey Taylor10/7580
33Old Kentucky WhiskeyNoah Beavers10/11/7577
34Forked DeerHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
35Sliding EightHarvey Taylor05/06/7580
36Dry and DustyOtis Reynolds12/03/7778
37Old MissouriHarry Elie (GH)03/18/7972Hear
38Old PlantationHarvey Taylor05/06/7580
3940 Miles from Georgetown Without any Whiskey   Ben Woods (GH, LS)03/21/7689
40Red BirdHarvey Taylor05/06/7580
41Nonsense (original)Jim Newton (1)10/21/7978
42Goin' Down to CairoNoah Beavers (GH)04/28/7981

CD 3

TrackTitlePerformer(s)DateAgeClip
1Hell Among the YearlingsHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
2Old Mother FlanniganHarvey Taylor05/06/75   80
3Give the Fiddler a DramNoah Beavers (GH)04/28/7981Hear
4Rollin' the Logs (original)Cliff Pulliam (GH, LS)   01/27/7664
5Straw BonnetHarvey Taylor (GH)04/28/7984
6Eagle CreekJim Reed (GH)02/05/7774Hear
7EvalinaJohn Gibson (GH)03/19/7770
8Humpback MuleHarvey Taylor (GH)07/03/7883
9Fox Chase (GDAD)Noah Beavers (GH)04/28/7981
10Old Gray HorseHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
11Bonaparte's MarchHarvey Taylor05/23/7580
12Little Bird in the Ash Brook (AEAC#)   Jess Abbott05/23/7784
13Jackson County (original)Noah Beavers (NW)02/25/7880
14Shell CornHarvey Taylor (MW)1950s60sHear
15Old MoseHoward Sims (DB)03/23/7780
16Sal's Got a Wooden LegArlin Dietz (JH)08/78c. 70   
17Sugar in My CoffeeHarvey Taylor (GH)04/14/7984
18Wild GooseHarry Jones (MW)1950s50s
19Blind BullOdie Griffith12/01/7660
20None of Your BusinessNoah Beavers (GH)04/28/7981Hear
21Ground HogHarvey Taylor (GH)04/14/7984
22Old Joe ClarkOrval Hale04/28/7968
23Rocky BluffNoah Beavers (KA)04/29/8991
24Lost Indian IIHarvey Taylor (GH)04/14/7984
25Sugar FootHarry Elie03/18/7972
26Green Valley WaltzMike Wilson (hca/gtr)1950s?Hear
27Lone PrairieHarvey Taylor10/7581
28Pond Creek BottomOtis Reynolds12/03/7778Hear
29Fox ChaseVince Uselton05/20/7773
30Scotland YardHarvey Taylor (GH)04/23/7782
31BentonJim Reed (GH)02/05/7774
32Winter Night WaltzEverett Fulk (GH)01/11/77c. 70
33Butterfly SchottischeHarvey Taylor (GH)04/14/7984
34GrottsStelle Elam10/7573
35Leather BritchesNoah Beavers (GH)04/23/7779
36Ida RedHarvey Taylor1950s60s
37Pompy Stole a HogDave Spaugh197278
38Bear Pen HollerHarry Jones195757Hear
39La Gui-Annee(2)c. 1950var.