Liner Notes

VRCD 312 Grant Lamb - Manitoba Fiddler

I was born in Manitoba in 1915, the 10th of September, in a little district called Wilson Glen. It's a few miles northwest of Treherne, Manitoba, which is west of Winnipeg. My family was musical, nearly everyone in it played. There were a few oldtime fiddlers around besides my family, but not many. My parents played for a lot of dances in Ontario before moving to Manitoba, and played quite a few there. They did pretty well all oldtime dances - square dances, four steps, three steps, seven steps, and sometimes clogs or step dancing for entertainment before the main dance would start.

My mother had an organ and I played with that as soon as I could sit up close to it. One of the first waltzes I could play on it - I was about five years old - was the Missouri Waltz. Then I got a banjo in the early '30's and I played banjo for eight or ten years, and then I picked up the fiddle. This was in about 1935. I didn't have any formal training at all. There wasn't anybody close to give lessons and no money to pay anybody then if there had been. During the 1930's there wasn't much money with the depression on. I learned listening to the radio and listening to my folks.

I entered my first fiddle contest in 1939 in Portage la Prairie. At that time there had been a few contests around, but not too many - not like there are now. They used to have them in Winnipeg and in Portage. There was a while during the war there when they didn't have any, but after the war was over, they started picking it up a little bit and now they're getting to be quite a popular thing. I won my first contest in Portage in 1939. They had judges that were well qualified for oldtime music because they knew oldtime tunes quite well, as that is all there was. You had to play a waltz and a breakdown in three minutes. They usually had somebody ring a bell, but most of the fiddlers didn't know for sure whether they were to stop when they rang the bell or finish the tune. I played a lot for dances starting in about 1932.

1. Vivian's Polka This is a tune my folks played for which I have no name. Vivian liked it, so that's what I'll call it.

2. Webb's Hornpipe Wilbert Lamb - "Webb" for short - used to play this tune. I think it is one of his own compositions.

3. Davy McDonald's Jig Davy McDonald farms out of Portage la Prairie. George Neddery used to visit him a lot. He lived near a lake where there was lots of hunting. He liked hunting and was a great listener of oldtime music. His dad was a violin player. Neddery used to go hunting with McDonald and in the evening play the fiddle. I had no name for this tune so I named it after Davy McDonald. I learned it from my folks.

4. George Neddery's Clog George Neddery is an uncle of mine. I can't remember where I got this tune. His dad was a great oldtime fiddler.

5. Grant Lamb's Breakdown I wrote this in 1952. Don Messer recorded it and it is on sheet music.

6. Flatiron Jig My dad played this tune as long as I can remember. I don't know where he got it. He was not a note reader and it is not in any books I know of.

7. Gerrald's Favorite I learned this from a fiddler named Carl Elliot in 1969 in a jam session at Shelburne, Ontario. Gerrald is Carl's brother.

8. Wilfred Hately's Waltz This tune came from down in Ontario. My grandmother's name was Hately. Wilfred Hately was a violin player.

9. Bruce Lamb's Jig This is a jig Bruce Lamb likes and asked me to play a lot. My mom and dad played it as long as I could remember. I never heard anyone else play it.

10. Darkie's Dream I learned this from my mother who used to play it on the organ. It came from Harding'Collection of Jigs & Reels for Organ & Piano, which my mother got when she was nine years old.

11. Mountain Hornpipe This tune is in several books and old arrangements for piano and fiddle.

12. Bagot Two-Step This originated with fiddlers in the Portage area - Jim Smith, Bob Leader, Walter Machan, Norman Voss played it, among others.

13. Phil's Clog I've known this tune for a long time; can't remember where I learned it.

14. Durang's Hornpipe This is an old, old tune found in Harding's book. My folks played it differently than in some books, and that is the way I play it here.

15. Dry River Waltz This is supposed to have come from down East. I learned it from Don Messer.

16. Johnny's Jig Don Messer used to play this.

17. Opera Reel This is an old, old traditional tune. My parents played it and I play it the way I learned it from them. I've won many fiddle contests with it.

18. Elsmith Four Step There was a district in our area called after a family of Smiths. I went to many dances there and they always played this tune.

19. Turkey in the Straw Everyone knows that.

20. French Minuet This is an old, old tune always played at all the old halls and schoolhouses around the country over the years. Hardly a night went by when it wasn't played. It was a dance you waltzed to partly and then sort of two-stepped.

- Grant Lamb, March 1974

The preceding selections, recorded in 1974, were originally issued as VRLP 312. The following tunes were recorded in 1978, during one of Grant's annual spring visits to Seattle. He would drive across the country and appear unannounced at our doorstep, and when we asked him how long he was planning to be around, he would say that he had "no plans, no plans." Then he would stay with us until it was time to go back home to Manitoba and take care of the farm.

21. Little Black Hen

22. Jack Cross Two Step

23. The Tarr Waltz (J. Mooring)

24. Rock Valley Jig

25. Three Legged Milk Stool

26. Waltz Quadrille An old pattern dance with a singing call, a waltz step, and square formation.

27. Reel in A We have tried, with no success, to find out the name of this tune. Grant didn't know the names for a lot of the tunes he played, and often named them for his friends.

28. Bob Leader's Two Step

29. Norwegian Waltz

30. Atkins Polka No. 4 This tune is in the Don Messer tunebook. Grant called it "Cinnamon."

Produced by Phil & Vivian Williams

Vivian Williams, piano; Gordon Tracie, guitar on selections 28 and 30; Richard Marvin, guitar on all other selections; Phil Williams, bass, Stan Guernsey, tenor banjo.

Engineering: Phil Williams, Robin Marvin, Richard Ponshock. Cover Photo: Bob Parguell. Recorded in Seattle, Washington in March 1974 and March 1978.

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