Voyager Recordings & Publications

VRCD 361: FLOYD ENGSTROM: KITSAP COUNTY FIDDLER

Phil and Vivian WIlliams are well known to Victory readers and lovers of acoustic music everywhere as peerless musicians and performers, and as important preservationists who seek out and capture the music of bygone ages for coming generations. Their record label, Voyager, plays a large roll, as the Williamses have the freedom to carry out their own work but also preserve the artistry of folks who would never be recorded otherwise. At this turn of the century, we find ourselves at another important time: just as the 1930s afforded WPA writers the last chance to capture the memories of the Civil War generation and the Lomaxes one shot at recording the blues of the Reconstruction-era sharecroppers, we are now in the twilight of the Depression generation. The musicians that came of age in the 1930s bear a vast musical legacy - the last to learn folk songs directly from people of the 19th century (but also the first to swap songs via record and radio), the last to have musicians grow up in the relative vacuums of Appalachian hollers and far corners of the Prairie (but also the first among those folks to venture out to the big cities.) The 1930s generation gathered the bricks of Tin Pan Alley, Ragtime, Dixie land, the Blues, shape note singing, square dance music, and traditional ballads and built the foundations for Jazz and Country as we know them today. So it is enormously important that the Williams have sought out, helped promote, and saved on CD members of this most crucial generation. Floyd Engstrom played fiddle in dance bands hereabouts during the Depression, when Washington was still the very far corner and life got "downhome" in a big hurry outside city limits. On Kitsap County Fiddler, Engstrom recreates those days with a romp through 29 tunes that reflect the mix of old traditional melodies, like "Lost Indian" and "Cricket on the Hearth," and the emerging radio far from Grand Old Opry stars like Bill Monroe and Bob Wills. Engstrom is backed by his crack band, giving the CD a full sound without drowning out the star. Kitsap County Fiddler slips right into your stack at your next dance, and is a great piece of preservation as well. (Tom Peterson, Victory Review)

*****

Floyd Enstrom's story is very much like that of many other fiddlers born in the early part of the last century. This native of the state of Washington started to play the violin at the age of eight. When the Depression hit his family could no longer afford lessons so he was taught to play by ear by another local player. After high school Floyd played in a dance band, began mining and later joined the army. After World War Two, he worked t the local shipyard and gave up the fiddle until 1978. He began to play once again at the age of 70 and began learning many more tunes from players at local events and contests.

Floyd is not a remarkably flshy fiddler but he selects lovely tunes, some, presumably, from the Northwest. Unfortunately there are no tune notes included with the CD. The listener must bear in mind that Floyd was 85 years-old in 2003 when these recordings were made for the Washington State Traditional Fiddlers Project!

"Monoma County" and "Lumberjack Special" are mixed in with such classics as "Lost Indian" and "Walking in my Sleep." Particularly sweet is "Hollow Poplar" the tune that concludes the recording. Floyd is very ably accompanied by a group of friends from the regional old-time music and dance scene including guitar, banjo, piano and electric bass. Once again Phil and Vivian Williams and their Voyager Company have introduced a fine traditional fiddler to an entirely new audience. (Sing Out)

Return to CD Catalog Return to Voyager Home Page