Voyager Recordings & Publications

Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes Books Tune Composers

Volume 1, 151 Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes

Joe Pancerzewsi - Joe was born and raised on a homestead in North Dakota just north of the Missouri River near White Earth. The four Nelson brothers, who all were fiddlers, lived on Dry Creek just West of his family's place. When Joe was a kid he would go to the dances in the schoolhouses around the area where the Nelson brothers were playing and sit in a corner playing a "make believe" fiddle - a stick for the fiddle and another stick for the bow. Soon, however, he was given a fiddle and started learning tunes from the Nelsons. By the time he was twelve years old he was playing dances with the Nelsons, riding on horseback to the schoolhouse where the dance was being held. He talked about the dances lasting all night, with the traditional midnight "lunch," the kids put to sleep around the hall, breakfast in the morning, and the families all leaving in their buckboards to return to their farms. When Joe was seventeen year old and "the snow was up to the hay door on the barn," as he described it, he decided he was tired of trying to be a farmer and left for Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where he joined an old time dance band. Joe said that when the foxtrot became popular in the 1920s, "the old time dance band was dead overnight." He then moved to Bellingham, Washington, and got a job on the Pantages Theater vaudeville circuit as what he said was called a "rube" act. He dressed in coveralls, put a straw in his mouth, went out on the stage with a banjo player and played tunes like "Turkey in the Straw." He soon learned that there was more to the violin than fiddling, and, by learning to read music and violin technique, he could get a job with the Pantages Theater Orchestra. He did learn violin technique, how to read, and how to play the hot fiddle styles of the late 1920s, and did get the job with the orchestra. In the 1930s, with the Great Depression reaching his peak, he went back to North Dakota to visit his brother, who told him he should seek employment on the Great Northern Railroad, which was hiring then. Joe got a job, initially doing maintenance, then as a brakeman, moved up to fireman, and finally to engineer. He retired in the 1960s as the engineer of the Empire Builder. In the late 1960s he saw Vivian Williams on a local country TV show and was surprised that old time fiddling still was around. He called her, found out about the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association, got out his fiddle and entered the state contest in 1970. He didn't do too well, but by the next year he won this contest, and many more, and started a second career as an entertainment fiddler. Joe wrote many great tunes and was a masterful fiddler. He played in many fiddle shows, festivals, and contests throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He passed away in 1991.

Vivian Williams - Vivian started fiddling in bluegrass bands and for dances around 1960 and is one of the best known fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest. She was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Her father taught her fiddle tunes on the harmonica when she was a young girl. She is the owner of Voyager Recordings and Publications, and collected and set all the tunes in the Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes series. Vivian has written many fiddle which are being played for dancing in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. She, and her husband, Phil, have been playing square, contra, old time, and ballroom dances for over fifty years. She played fiddle in bluegrass bands for about forth years, including with Bill Monroe, who said "Vivian is the best woman fiddler I have ever met, and is better than most of the men, too." While she is familiar with many of the fiddle styles of North America, she plays and writes tunes primarily in the Pacific Northwest old time dance style. Even though she does not play "Texas" or "contest" style, she has won many fiddle championships, including three times Washington State Open Champion, seven times Washington State Senior champion, the 1999 Senior champion at Weiser, four times West Coast International champion in Canada, and won the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Fiddle Contest in Washington D.C. For more about Vivian go to "Vivian and Phil Williams" on this Web site.

Frank Ferrel - Frank Ferrel was both and raised in the Pacific Northwest, moved to Boston to work in radio many years ago, and currently resides in Maine. At the time of writing and contributing his tunes to this series he was the Program Coordinator for the Centrum Foundation, Pt. Townsend, Washington, and a founder of the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. He is well known as a master of "Down East" fiddling and has been featured on many radio shows from New England. He also has won a number of fiddle contests, including Washington State, Northwest Regional, Western Regional, and British Columbia. Frank's tunes are written in "Down East" style and many of them are great for contra dancing.

Jon Hodge - Jon was raised in Seattle, Washington, and became well established as a very good fiddler at an early age. He won many junior fiddle championships while a teenager, and has twice won Superior Rating at the Metropolitan Music Educators Solo and Ensemble competition. Jon likes to play the more difficult hornpipes and other tunes from the Scottish and Cape Breton traditions. He moved to France to attend chef school, and was a chef at Euro Disney for many years before moving to Florida, where he resides presently. Jon has won the Florida State fiddle championship and is active in the Florida fiddle scene.

Volume 2, 141 Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes

Myllie Barron - Myllie Barron was born in 1910 and grew up in the Swan River Valley district of Manitoba. His father, Oliver Barron, repaired instruments, and when he finished repairing and tuning one, would play a few tunes. Myllie says “I thought it was the most beautiful, sweetest sound I ever heard.” Oliver played jigs, reels, waltzes, polkas, and schottisches on the fiddle at dances in the school house or community hall, and for weddings, anniversaries, and parties. Myllie started playing at around age nine. He did not have a fiddle then, but played on instruments belonging to friends. When he was 16 years old, he sent for a set of 48 lessons from the Slingerland School of Music in Chicago, which included a free violin. He says “I nearly drove my folks crazy. Being in a family of 10, it was a job to do any practicing, so I did my music practicing after all had retired for the night. I did hear a few remarks now and then, like, ‘that boy is going out of his mind, we talk to him and he doesn’t answer. He should stop that nonsense and go to bed.’” In 1928 he bought a violin for $75 from the T. Eaton Company in Winnipeg. His brother Percy played Hawaiian guitar, brother Phil played Spanish style guitar, and younger brother Dave played the banjo. In 1935 Myllie and Percy played for 8 months on the radio in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In 1938 and 1939 all four brothers had a weekly radio program on CFAR in Flin Flon, Manitoba. His son Ray, then age 4, was the vocalist. In 1949 Myllie entered his first fiddle contest. The contest was broadcast on CKY radio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on the “Red River Barn Dance.” He played Angus Campbell’s Reel and Sterling Castle, and won. In 1950 he won the Manitoba fiddle championship in Winnipeg. Myllie then moved to British Columbia and worked in construction. He gave up fiddling until 1977, when he moved to 70 Mile House, B.C., and started fiddling again. He won the senior class in a fiddle contest in Rutland, B.C., and in 1981 won the British Columbia Provincial Championship at Williams Lake. In 1982 he won the U.S.A. Western Regional Seniors Championship at Spokane, Washington, and also was the Grand National Senior Champion at the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho, the first Canadian to win a major division at Weiser. He learned tunes first from his father, and then from other musicians at dances, concerts, and other events. Don Messer, who had a long running radio program in Canada, was a major influence. He also learned tunes from books such as The Robbins Collection of 200 Jigs, Reels and Country Dances, the Harding Collection of Jigs, Reels and Country Dances, Cole’s One Thousand Fiddle Tunes, and the Don Messer Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes. Myllie adds his own interpretation, variations, and sparkle to the tunes he has learned from these books.

Bill Boyd - Bill has been a mainstay of Seattle's Scandinavian dance musicians for many years. He also plays Hardanger fiddle.

Hank Bradley - Hank Bradley is well known in the Pacific Northwest, initially for his mastery of Southern style old time fiddling, and, more recently for his performance of Greek and Balkan music on a variety of instruments. Some of Hank's better known tunes in "old time" style are included in this volume.

Michael Dowers - Michael is well known in the Pacific Northwest as the founder of the Wild Rose String Band, which was a mainstay of the early old time and contra dance scene in the area. He is an outstanding backup guitarist and fiddler.

Paul Elliot - Paul is well-known today as one of the most accomplished bluegrass and swing fiddlers from the Pacific Northwest. He has toured with many bands, and has been on the faculty of many music camps, including the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

Ellie Fernald - played with old time music bands in the Seattle area in the 1970s and taught guitar to middle schoolers in a private school in Seattle. Her tunes are well crafted and can be challenging to learn. Try them. They will give you lots of enjoyment!

Frank Ferrel - See Frank's write-up for Volume 1, above.

Mark Gapanoff - is one of the best Southern style old time fiddlers in the Seattle area. He enjoys calling and playing for square dances, and started a square dance class at the University of Washington which ran for many years. He also hosts Southern style old time fiddle jam sessions. His tune Wooden Nickel, which has become fairly widely known, is included in this volume.

Paul Gitlitz - Paul is a versatile multi-instrumentalist on fiddle, mandolin, tenor banjo, and guitar. He has a B.A. degree in Music Education from the University of British Columbia. He has performed extensively in British Columbia, where he lives.

Jack Link - Jack was a legendary Southern style old time fiddler and backup guitarist in the Seattle area. He was one of the fiddlers with the well known Seattle old time band, The Gypsy Gyppo String Band, and was a popular show and dance fiddler in the Pacific Northwest.

Cy Lovell - Cy started playing mandolin and fiddle at an early age in Canada. He stopped playing during WWII, and started again when he retired from an electronics career in the 1970s. The has won over thirty fiddle contests in Canada. Cy lived in Summerland, B. C. until he passed away. Some of the tunes he played on CBC radio in 1937 are in this volume.

Arvid Lundin - Arvid is the owner of a fiddle shop in Northern Idaho. His dad came from a Scandinavian dance fiddle background, and this is the atmosphere in which Arvid grew up and learned well traditional Scandinavian dance tunes. Arvid has entered and judged many fiddle contests, but always has remained true to the style of his family.

Berniece Lundin - Bernience is Arvid's mother and grew up in the Scandinavian dance music tradition. When she was ten years old, her father taught her to chord on the piano to his fiddling. She also plays accordion. This volume includes a great schottische which she wrote with lead and harmony fiddle in traditional Scandinavian style.

Keith Malcolm - Keith Malcolm was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and raised in Portland, Oregon. He moved to British Columbia many years ago and now lives in Victoria. He plays primarily in Canadian, American, and Scottish styles and has performed with many bands, including a Croatian band. He also has won a number of fiddle contests in Canada and has participated in many folk festivals in the U.S. and Canada.

Bob Montgomery - Bob played fiddle from an early age and became involved in fiddle contests in British Columbia in the 1950s. He won nearly every contest he entered, playing in impeccable Canadian dance style. More recently, he has been a fiddle instructor at the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp in Canada. At contests we would never see him warming up. His fiddle would be in its case backstage until shortly before his round was called. He would get the fiddle out, tune it up, walk out and play a perfect contest round, and put the fiddle back in the case. He would walk away with first place. We never saw him beaten. We asked him what he did to be so unruffled, calm, and cool, and simply walk out and play a great round. His answer was that he was a pilot for England in WWII, and that after that experience, nothing could make him nervous or unable simply to go out and do his best. He never left us, or the audience down!

Joe Pancerzewski - See the write-up for Volume 1, above.

Dan Rubin - Dan was living on Lasqueti Island, British Columbia, at the time this volume was put together. He is well known in Western Canada as an instrumentalist, composer, and performer. He plays violin, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, bouzuki, guitar, cello-guitar, pianolin, autoharp, and piano. While he is classically trained on violin, he learned traditional Canadian fiddling in British Columbia, and incorporates this knowledge into his compositions.

Patricia Spaeth - Pat has played keyboard instruments since the age of four, and makes her living playing piano and accordion. She is an extremely versatile musician, understanding many style of traditional music from around the world. She played for many years in Seattle contra dance bands, worked as rehearsal pianist for Pacific Northwest Ballet, and has done many European tours with her accordion. She recorded "Starry Nights and Candlelight," a Voyager CD, with Vivian and Phil Williams in 1985, and is the pianist on the Voyager "Salmonberry" CD release. Pat presently lives in Chicago.

Gordon Tracie - Gordon was the founder of Skandia Folkdance Society in the early 1950s in Seattle. He made many trips to Scandinavia over the years and recorded one of the largest body of recordings of traditional Scandinavian dance music ever made. He also learned most of the various Swedish language dialects. He was Folklore Consultant for the Smithsonian Institution during the American Bicentennial celebrations and helped found several ethnic organizations in the Seattle area. Gordon was a good guitar player. His composition, Tracie's Two-Step, which has become a "standard" in the Pacific Northwest, is included in this volume.

Kurt Vance - Kurt, a native of Seattle, became fascinated by the Cape Breton style fiddle culture and writes and performs in this style.

Phil Williams - Phil is a co-owner of Voyager Recordings & Publications. More about him can be found on the "Vivian and Phil Williams" web pages on the Voyager Web site.

Vivian Williams - See the write-up for Volume 1, above.

Volume 3, 169 Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes

Anita Anderson - Anita is well known as a great dance backup pianist. While her background includes expertise in Scandinavian dance tunes, she is probably better known today as a performer and writer of tunes for contra dancing. Her nationally played Bus Stop Reel is in this volume.

Hoss Blackman - Hoss was born and raised in Connecticut, but moved to the Southwest where he became a noted fiddler and repairer of violins. He was a regular at the Weiser fiddle contest. Hoss has a great sense of humor and this volume includes a schottische written to commemorate one of his experiences driving his motor home to a fiddle event, Pampers of the Highway.

Barry Brower - Barry was born in Canada, raised in Michigan, and spent time in South Vietnam, California, and British Columbia, before moving to the State of Washington. He is an avid bluegrass performer and supporter, having formed and played in several notable bands, including The Fossils, which has a CD on Voyager. He plays fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and writes great fiddle tunes in traditional old time style.

Bob Butler - Bob specialized in Scandinavian music, and was a member of Allspice, a Seattle international folk dance band that was quite influential in teaching international dance music to players in the Seattle area. Besides composing fiddle tunes for dancing, Bob also composed orchestral and chamber music, some of which was performed by the Bellevue, Washington, Philharmonic Orchestra. This volume includes a Hopsa, a Reinlender, a couple waltzes, and a Hambo, all written with lead and harmony parts, and a Reinlender with parts for three instruments.

Linda Danielson - Linda is one of the better known fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest. She lives in Oregon and has taught folklore, literature, and composition at community college in Eugene. She has taught many budding fiddlers how to play and has sought out and learned tunes from older Oregon traditional fiddlers. She also plays for Scottish country dancing and contra dancing.

Harry Deeley - Harry was born in 1921 and was a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He started playing when he was twelve years old, and taught accordion, piano, and guitar for forty-nine years at his own studio, until his retirement in 1984 in Vernon, B.C. He has had several of his hundreds of compositions recorded and published, and performed with Lawrence Welk on TV. He also played on the radio in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s with performers such as Andy Dejarlis, and from 1937 to 1960 played with Art McEwing and the Farmer Fiddlers Orchestra.

Michael Dowers - See the write-up for Volume 2, above.

Paul Gitlitz - See the write-up for Volume 2, above.

Leilani Greenley - Leilani is from California and is a singer and honky-tonk piano player. She contributed Yodeler's Waltz to this volume.

David Kaetz - David is from British Columbia. He has toured Western Canada presenting musical and storytelling programs for school and community audiences and plays dances in what he calls "Franco-Celto-Klezmoid Swing."

Jane Keefer - Jane started learning fiddle tunes in California in the 1970s, and plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, and dulcimer. She then moved to Oregon, and to Michigan. Jane has a PhD in Chemical Physics, but became a librarian.

Kevin Keinlein - Kevin, from Vernon, B.C., started playing organ at age 15, and then took up guitar, fiddle, tenor banjo, mandolin, bass, piano, drums, and dobro. He has won many trophies in fiddle contests in Canada. Kevin teaches music and repairs violins.

Joe Pancerzewski - See the write-up for Volume 1, above.

Otto Smith - Otto plays piano and concertina in folk dance bands.

Patricia Spaeth - See the write-up for Volume 2, above.

Phil Williams - See the write-up for Volume 2, above.

Vivian Williams - See the write-up for Volume 1, above. This Volume 3 contains many of the tunes Vivian recorded on her CD Winter Moon, which was picked as one of his "Ten top World Music Releases of the Year," by the Sing Out Magazine reviewer, as well as some that have entered the contra dance repertoire.

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