Liner Notes

DUDLEY HILL - GUITAR: FROM A NORTHERN FAMILY

VRCD 317

This is an album of Dudley Hill’s very personal, special and beautiful guitar music. It was recorded in the early 1970’s and issued on Lp. It was one of the first recordings of fiddle tunes being played masterfully on the guitar, and became an “underground” classic, encouraging many flattop guitar players to start playing lead on fiddle tunes. This album reflects the many different styles, sounds and personalities in the Pacific Northwest that influenced Dudley at that time.

Dudley started playing the guitar when he was very young, first on an acoustic and then rock on an electric. When he got out of the Navy, Dudley was back to playing country music again, and this time he started meeting more people in the Northwest who played “traditional” music of various types: Bluegrass, Western Swing, Old Time Southern, Canadian and Texas fiddle styles. This album reflects Dudley’s involvement with these people and their music.

Dudley’s biggest involvement at this time was with Benny Thomasson. He first heard Benny’s fiddling on a County record. As soon as he heard the first tune on that record he knew that this was the style of music he had been searching for. One can imagine Dudley’s amazement when he heard the news that Benny Thomasson had moved to Kalama, Washington, less than one hundred miles away! He tracked Benny down at a local fiddle contest. Dudley was nervous. He leaned over to a friend and said, “Gee, this is kind of like meeting Babe Ruth.” Finally, there was a pause and Dudley asked if he could play along on a tune. So they played “Bitter Creek” and Benny was very impressed when he heard his tune being played on the guitar with so much good feeling. This was the beginning of a long and warm association between Benny and Dudley, and it is very fortunate that some of the music that grew out of that friendship can be found on this album.

Dudley also had been performing with Frank Ferrel and Mark Graham in the “Irish-American String Band,” and, from time to time, with Ellen Marx and Jeff Thorn of the “Old Hat Band,” and with Northwest fiddlers Vivian Williams and Barbara Lamb, and their band, “Tall Timber.” Dudley wanted to play a few tunes with each of these musicians, resulting in the fascinating mix of fiddle styles found on this recording. The one constant factor, however, is Dudley’s stunning lead guitar playing!

1. Leather Britches. “I always get that earthy dry and dusty feeling when I hear this tune.” In open G tuning.

2. Spotted Pony. “Benny calls this one ‘Snowshoe.’ When you hear him play it, you’d swear he has fifty feet of bow!”

3. Buffalo Gals. This one was worked out so that the last time through it is played as a ‘round.’

4. Off She Goes. “This is one of the many tunes I’ve learned from Frank Ferrel.”

5. Fisher’s Hornpipe. “This is a fine old dance tune that’s a lot of fun to play.”

6. Weber’s Drift.“This was the first tune I ever heard Benny play. He called it ‘Dry and Dusty’ on his County record, but that’s yet another tune, so in the confusion we renamed it after the name of the place where Benny and his wife Bea lived, Weber’s Drift. It is played in open D tuning, a trick I picked up from Benny.”

7. Bitter Creek. “This was the first tune I ever learned of Benny’s. It has that irresistible Texas beat.”

8. Panhandle Rag. “I like to play different styles of music, not the least of which is a good ‘hot’ one like this.”

10. Sally Ann. “I like to get lost in this tune. It is so simple, but it brings a lot of nice images to me.” Done in open G tuning.

11. Whiskey Before Breakfast. “I first learned this tune from Tall Timber.”

12. St. Anne’s Reel. “I first heard this in Canada.”

13. Downfall of Paris. “Benny says that he was well into his fiddling years before he learned that this tune was also called ‘Mississippi Sawyer.’” In open D tuning.

14. Marching Jaybird. “This was an old banjo piece that I heard and reworked for the guitar.”

15. Herman’s Hornpipe. “Benny showed me this tune while sitting around his place one night.”

16. Cotton Patch Rag. “This is a good old Texas rag. Benny and I played this one a lot.”

17. South. “Well this is my music folks. Thank you very much and good night.”

Musicians: Benny Thomasson, fiddle, Jerry Thomasson, tenor guitar, Phil Williams, bass, on Spotted Pony, Bitter Creek, Herman’s Hornpipe, and Cotton Patch Rag. Ellen Marx, clawhammer banjo, on Sally Ann and The Downfall of Paris, along with Jeff Thorn, rhythm guitar on Buffalo Gals and Weber’s Drift. Frank Ferrel, fiddle; Mark Graham, harmonica; and Ellen Marx, piano on Off She Goes and St. Anne’s Reel. Barbara Lamb and Vivian Williams, fiddles; Phil Williams, mandolin; Barney Munger, banjo; Dick Marvin, rhythm guitar; and Lou Harrington, bass on Whiskey Before Breakfast and Fisher’s Hornpipe. Scott Smith, piano; Vivian Williams, fiddle; Jeff Thorn, rhythm guitar; and Phil Williams, bass on Panhandle Rag and South.

Engineering by Phil Williams, Richard Ponshock, Ellen Marx.
Lp Cover Design: Kathy Martin.

© 2002 Voyager Recordings, 424 35th Avenue, Seattle WA 98122
(206) 323-1112, FAX (206) 329-2416, www.VoyagerRecords.com

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