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August/ September 2012

view on reverbnation.com (link below) or read entire blog below!


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Howdy Friends and Neighbors! Welcome to another edition of my banjo blog or as I like to call it, “Letters from home”. Well the news is this is possibly the worst drought in the last 50 years ridiculously hot temperature day after day since early June. There have been a few pop up showers, but very small amounts of rainfall. The water table here is about 12” below normal and getting worse all the time. But the season will change eventually, but until it does we will just have to tough it out and recover the best that we can. I continue with documenting the tunes in my 500 collection and I am finally making progress. I have been getting reports and updates from The Flamingo Girls who are at Clifftop, which is the National Old Time music festival in West Virginia. Suzi and Christine piled the banjos and fiddles into the car and took off for the week. I have been hearing many a tall tale from the girls and their musical exploits, its like having journalists in the field who report on the sites, sounds and activities from this huge annual event. The weather has finally shown the first signs that the patterns are changing, we had a little rain and the temps are more moderate. So we hope that fall is just around the corner. Once again I am getting ready to take on my fall schedule and if that’s not enough to do, I will be launching my new project called The Old Time Music Collective this is a member’s only group. I will be offering exclusive video clips and tunes from the archives with new information every month on our member’s page. If any of you are interested in this new offering, go to my website www.banjobilly.net to find out more. We (The Old Time Players) will be involved in recording the last of our tunes for our new CD! So far it has been a lot of work, but if it were too easy it wouldn’t be any fun. The true value of this Old Time music is that it brings the people together and encourages them to participate. It’s the imperfections that give this music a valid character. So play on and do the best you can and remember Old Time music is always better than it sounds.

That brings us to some not so pleasant news; Garry Harrison of Bloomington, IN has passed on quietly in his sleep. For those of you who might not know of him, Garry was (and still is as far as I am concerned) one of the fiddling greats of all time. He has been one of our most grand fiddling icons, mentor and most importantly our friend of many years. The gift that he gave all of us is immeasurable. When unexpected things like this happen we immediately question our own mortality, which is like it or not a burden we all share. To fill the void of Garry’s absence will be nearly impossible, but we have to try. We all have to buck up and pull together Garry would expect no less. We love you Garry and will carry you with us always.

Well that’s all I got for now its time to get back to the business at hand, if you have any requests, questions or comments the lines are always open. So join me again next time for “Letters from home”. Keep in touch, Stay safe Billy


 
July 2012

view on reverbnation.com (link below) or read entire blog below!

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Howdy Friends and Neighbors! Welcome to the next edition of my Old Time Blog or as I like to call it, “Letters from home.” This time I am at the table in the backyard at the little white house on the railroad line in East Champaign Illinois. I travel this way several times a year for employment and general music making merriment. We have just returned from the Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering in West Lafayette, Indiana.  I have been in attendance, camping out in this lovely spot for several years. It’s always refreshing to annually be reunited with some of my greatest musical contemporaries, many of whom I have known very well for over 30 years. Sometimes we stay up too long and carry on well into the early morning hours, depriving ourselves of our precious sleep, but in the end the sacrifice is always well worth it. I have been making good use of my time, being busy recording more tunes for an upcoming CD.

Well finally, after a couple of weeks at over 100 degrees we got some welcome relief from the heat and most likely it will be short lived, but we’ll take whatever we can get. I will take advantage of the cooler temperatures and make my way back to Arkansas for the remainder of this month. I do rather enjoy getting out to meet up with some of my favorite people and have some memorable times and tunes. These are the things that are most important to an Old Time musician like myself. Happiness is always a fleeting thing, here today gone tomorrow. So grab up as much of the magic that you can find and keep it close to your heart. Well it’s time for me to pick it up and get ready to travel the long road home. So I will leave you with yet another poem from an Old Time Fiddler’s archive.

 

Home in Arkansaw

 

Sometimes I travel too far, too long and

I miss my Old Mountain Home

The memories of the Old Folks and

the little children , so dear

The animals in the barnyard

the moon in the sky, the sunshine above

The air crisp and clear

South of the Missouri line where

things are still like the olden times

where the spirits of the old days and

the old ways still roam

It’s there I built a cabin

that I call home

 

Well it’s time to finish up now and get on with the business of the day, so tune in again for the next installment of Letters From Home and the continuing story of an Old Time Fiddler in a modern age.

Billy

 
April/ May 2012

Howdy Friends and Neighbors,

Welcome to another edition of my Banjo Blog or as I like to call it; Letters From Home. Once again I am remiss in my writing duties. Naturally at this time of the year there is a never ending list of things to accomplish which of course causes me a great deal of distraction. As you have probably noticed Spring has sprung very early this year and summer is already fast approaching. I have been fortunate, so far to be able to do the physical work that is required to survive out here in the woods at the homestead on the mountainside. In mid- March I traveled once again to Illinois to play some gigs with my musical buddies, The Old Time Players, Paul and Christine Breen. While I was there we started a new recording project. This time we are focusing on tunes that are rarely heard or played by anyone for that matter. Waltzes, Schottische, Rags and Cakewalks many of these tunes were very popular in their day. Most of this stuff has been put on the shelf to collect dust and has been neglected and overlooked. The problem is the people who once enjoyed this music are almost entirely gone now and with them go the memories of these tunes. It's important to give these tunes an airing and revive and reacquaint this generation with new memories of the old tunes. This way the tune will likely live on for many years to come.

I have a busy schedule coming up, with another swing through Champaign for a dance and concert, then back to The Heritage Days at Big Spring in Van Buren Missouri. A new thing coming up on Labor Day is the Mount Carroll Fiddle Camp where I will be doing beginning Fiddle and Waltz workshops, which will hopefully be a great success. I highly recommend this event for all people interested in learning to play. 

See MtCarrollFiddleCamp.com for more information. 

to get information on my 2012 schedule: click here

 

Now it's time for Billy's Corner, the part of the blog where I get to ramble on about one thing or another.

In these days of economic austerity, it's important to remember, even in a small way, to support The Arts. As in the past participation in the Arts continues to inspire our younger generation to even greater heights. I have recently been reminded of this when I witness our young people, fiddle in hand, try to scratch out a tune. It's the baby steps, one after the other that will, whether they realize it or not, eventually bring them to their destination. It takes time, but all good things do take time to grow. Fortunately, I get to help in the nurturing process and I couldn't be more delighted. Well it’s time again to finish up for now and get on with the business of the day so tune in again for the next installment of Letters From Home and the continuing story of the Life and Times of Banjo Billy. Try to keep an open mind, learn something new every day, things will be better by and by.

 "Got to go now".

Billy

 

Jan-Feb 2012

Howdy Friend and Neighbors,

This is your old pal coming to you again with the next edition of my banjo blog or as I like to call it “Letters From Home”, where I try to bring you up to date on my travels and adventures. Here it is the end of January my time has been flying by. I have been up in Illinois since New Years, I played some gigs, made a little money and had a lot of fun and that is actually what it’s really all about. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to continue down my chosen path. I have been meeting many new people in my travels lately, which certainly helps to keep things interesting. Well “The Ground Hog” says that there are 6 more weeks of winter, which seems odd, I am still waiting for winter to come. For some reason this winter season has been, so far, very mild. I haven’t seen one like this for a long time. But it ain’t over yet. Had huge fun and excitement at my 9th Annual Super Bowl Fiddle Workshop in Mountain View Arkansas. Had lots of fiddlers, they learned a bunch of new tunes and we had a couple of great jams. But the big excitement of the weekend was the new banjo workshop directed by my once banjo student and now notable clawhammer banjo instructor, Christine Breen with the extra help from the Banjo Babes, raised the level of excitement to a new all time high. All the folks there had a grand Old Time experience and I am sure they will all agree we had such a wonderful time that it won’t be soon forgotten. Next year will be the 10TH Annual Super Bowl Fiddle and Banjo Workshop. We are already planning a big tadoo for the reunion and we hope to see a lot of people coming back that have been absent as of lately for one reason or another. I have a few things coming up a dance in Springfield, MO. and a house concert April 1st at Techline in Champaign, IL and a fiddle workshop also. I am still of course working on the text and further documentation of my sources for The 500 Project. Well that about does it, to bring you up to date. New this time in the blog is a new section called “Billy’s Corner” where I have made a space for points of interest, also some ramblings and commentary about my perspective, being of course an Old Time Fiddler in a modern age. I began my young life just out of college, when I decided to seek out the mysteries of Traditional American Life, pretty much the opposite of mainstream to see what traces and remnants still existed away from the well beaten track of the urban centers. Back to the old days of self sufficient rural life style, where there was really no one to ask for directions, you pretty much had to figure it out by yourself and go on from there. I have devoted much of my life to breathe new air into the old ways and promote the good parts of the old days, community, a feeling of belonging, having wonderful friends and promote the best relations possible with everybody I meet. Your honest basic existence is all you can hope for in this life and several other people to share it with and actually if you possess these basic things, you become the most fortunate of all. I am usually broke most of the time, it’s either feast or famine, at this rate I’ll most likely have just enough to make it until I die and really that’s all anyone can ask for. Well it’s time to finish up now and get on with the business of the day, so tune in again for the next installment of “Letters From Home” and the continuing story of the life and times of Banjo Billy. “No complaining, just get on with it”.

See ya Billy

 

Happy Thanksgiving Blog November 27th, 2011

Howdy Friends and Neighbors,

This is your old pal Banjo Billy once again with the next edition of the Banjo Blog or as I like to call it, letters from home. “Happy Thanksgiving!” Well I am here at home, back at the Old Homestead way back up on the mountain. I’ve been here a little over a month now, trying to reclaim and resurrect my lifestyle after spending four months recuperating

from my illness. I want to say “Thank you” to all the people; you know who you are, for sending cards, making phone calls, and sending messages to my e-mail. I really appreciate it. That’s probably the reason I recovered! Well it seems like winter is finally upon us. The days are short and dark. The nights are long and cold. A good way to spend some time when all is quiet is the optimistic contemplation of futures and the creative possibilities. There is never a better time to figure how you might proceed when the year comes to an end. I have been working on my schedule for the New Year. I plan to be back in Ole Champaign again at Strawberry Fields in January the 21st & 22nd and maybe a dance. Then onto my 9th Annual Super Bowl Old Time Fiddlin Workshop at the Inn At Mountain View, Arkansas on February 3,4 and 5th. Christine Breen noted Clawhammer Banjo Instructor from Champaign, IL will join me Super Bowl Weekend doing a banjo workshop of her own. So don’t forget space is limited, register early. The link is on the Inn’s website www.innatmountainview.com or you can call (501) 259-7637 for more info.

I am happy to announce the arrival of Grandson #2. His name is Sawyer born 10/24/2011. He is born to my youngest daughter Molly. Maybe I can teach him to play the banjo? I have also been working on the documentation for the 500 collection but it is still pretty slow going right now, but I’ll get there. Still too many things to get done, but I still keep working from the top of the list which changes all the time. The things further down the list will be creeping up on me probably when I least expect it. The thing will eventually make it to the top of the list, but for now just dealing with the overwhelming complexities of modern American Life is a huge job in itself. I continue to try to settle into some kind of a routine, if such a thing exists?

The holiday season is gaining fast; soon 2011 will be just a memory. Things are tough right now for allot of people, but eventually circumstances will change as they always do. So hold out if you can, things will get better, so until they do might as well play a tune, it always help to make time go by.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all you folks, the key word for the Holidays this year is Hope. You can’t eat it, but it will get you by. See you next year.

“Peace”

Banjo Billy.

HH

 
October 2011

Howdy friends and neighbors. Welcome to another addition of my Banjo Blog, or as I like to call it; letters from home, where I try to bring you up to date on my travels and adventures. I am in long neglect of my writing duties. I have been delayed by a terrible case of pneumonia and I went down fast and have been out of commission since the Fourth of July. This episode is what I now refer to as my Midlife Medical Makeover.

Thanks to a gallant effort by the medical community, I have recovered back to as good as I use to be, maybe even better, only time will tell. The recording of the Five Hundred Project is now complete and available online (exclusively @ www.banjobilly.net). There is still much to do, for the present I am working on the documentation of my sources for these tunes and the compilation of the text in book form, which will be available first on disc and then in hard copy. The second part of this project described here is not quite as demanding as the first part and I hope to have it ready by Summer 2012. I am currently back to work to fill out my fall schedule and hopefully will collect enough acorns to pack it in for the winter. Wish me luck cuz I’m probably gonna need some and remember; “Times with no money is never as bad as times with no music” Play on!

Your pal,

Banjo Billy

 

 
                    March /April 2011                            
Howdy there friends and neighbors, its your old pal Banjo Billy with a long over due blog or as I like to call it "Letters from Home."  Well, I haven't written anything since Christmas.  I spent the first part of January in the cold north country of Illinois and then I made a detour over to Des Moines, Iowa to see an old friend of mine and then home to the Ozarks.  Seems like this year Old Man Winter has really caused a lot of disruption once too many times to suit me.  We've been hit with several Icelandic Blasts, one after another for almost a month, which of course has had a considerable  impact on my day to day operations, so needless to say, I am still recovering.  So, ever onward we go. The groundhog said that spring is coming early this year.  So, of course we are depending on that, but for now we just hope that the worst part is over.  Days are getting noticeably longer and optimism is finally on the rise. 

I am finally just getting started on the last installment of my 500 Fiddle Tunes Project.  The tune counter is beginning to move again toward my goal. I am hoping to wrap it up by summer time and and have the whole collection recorded, produced and ready fore sale. 

That's about all I know at present.  Hope all is well in your world.  Let the joys be many and the burden be light.  The water is a boil, so join me in a cup of your favorite beverage!  Better get back to it.  Got to go.  Billy
 
    November / December 2010  


 
OCTOBER 2010  


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August 2010

Howdy Folks!

Well its way past time for another installment of my blog or as I like to call it, “Letters from Home.” This summer season has so far been way to buy, scheduling has been erratic and the weather has been outrageously hot and humid. Survival has been difficult under extreme circumstances. Just a few weeks ago we were on the front lines at the Fiddlers’ Gathering at Battleground, IN. The weather, of course, did not cooperate, but every one else did. We had some great tunes and some great times. Sometimes adversity can bring out some of our best humanity.

I then spent three weeks in Illinois; played a dance and a couple gigs then ended my trip with a great concert with Colin Blair at Music Folk. We do have a recording and some video clips that we will be posting when we get to it, so watch for that in the near future.

The recording of the concert is available only through the website for $10.00.
To order go to:
http://www.banjobilly.net/web_exclusives1.htm

I have now finally found some time to continue work on the 500 Project. The tune counter is now at 396. So, I am slowly closing in on 401, at which time I will, of course, get the discs printed and the next volume ready for sale. “Cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath!”

While I am at it, Thanks again to you folks for your orders and continuing interest in keeping Old Time Fiddling alive.

Well finally, the drought and crazy heat wave of summer is over and Fall is upon us. Again, I am on my way to Champaign, IL for a dance on the 17th and the
Folk and Roots Festival on the 25th.

I had a great time just this past weekend at Ozark Celebration on the campus of MSU in Springfield, MO. I’ve been doing the event for the past decade as a storyteller. When you live like I do you end up with all sorts of stories of people, tunes and events that take place in the life of an Old Time Fiddler.

Right now, I am planning the production and release of the next 100 Fiddle Tunes. I reckon that success is being allowed to continue to do what you love to do. That’s my story and I am stickin’ to it.


Keep Fiddlin’, Be Happy.
I’ll be back sooner than you think! ~ Billy

 
                        

6/21/10

Howdy Folks,

Once again it is time for the next installment of my Banjo Blog or as I like to call it, Letters from Home.

Well, summer is definitely upon us. Record high temps not to mention the heat index of way over 110º with huge thunderstorms one after another rolling across the entire Midwest. It is a wonder that we survive these extremes and yet we keep rolling along.

We have decided through the thick and thin, the good times and bad, it’s the tunes that are the medicine we need to push on. The tunes are what keep us a goin’.

The Fiddler’s Picnic in Alton was big fun and a great success. We played tunes non-stop all day Saturday and Sunday with lots of musicians joining in. There is even a short video clip of the scene which you can view here:   Check my my other videos at
http://www.banjobilly.net/videos.htm

Presently, I am in Champaign, IL playing lots of tunes with my partners Paul and Christine Breen. We are now calling ourselves The Old Time Players. They have even prompted me to sing a few times, we're having fun now! Oh boy!

This week, we are off to Battleground, IN for the Annual Fiddler’s Gathering.  I am working on some new things; video clips, new tunes and of course a new recording in the works.  A new web release coming up pretty quick as well,  so visit the website for new developments.

For the 500 Tunes Fiddle project, the tune count is now at 349 tunes!  We will also begin translating the tunes to standard notation for the upcoming book.

The continuing pursuit of happiness is happiness itself.

Don’t forget to be thoughtful of those around you and be thankful they are there in the first place.

The most worthwhile investment you can make is in the future potential of those you love; they are truly your greatest asset.

More later, Billy

 
                                                         

May 9th 2010
Happy Mothers Day

It is time again for another installment of my blog or as I like to call it, Letters from Home. I was and still am very fortunate to have such a wonderful mother. She has been gone now for many years, but even at my age when odd questions arise, I find myself thinking, “Now what would my mother say?” and consider what she might have thought. So fortunately, she is still there to advise me when necessary and for that I am grateful.

We had a great time fiddling and carrying on in Mountain View at the Arkansas Folk Festival. The weather cooperated for once, which is nice. The Festival this year was smaller, attendance was down quite a bit. The stage in front of the courthouse had a great lineup of Old Time Fiddlers going on all day Saturday. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Martin Darrell who helped organize this year’s event. Also, thanks to the Chamber of Commerce and all you good folks in Mountain View for making this year’s Festival a special one indeed!

My long time fiddling buddy Suzi Vause and I played our Annual Arts Fest in Springfield, MO. We set up on Historic Walnut Street with over 100 art vendors and of course the doggie parade and throngs of fair goers. Lots of fiddling excitement with the addition of Sonja Areal Swiss Miss from Switzerland and her new found love of American Old Time Fiddle Tunes.

Coming up next, we all meet at Alton, IL on Memorial Day weekend for the Old Time Fiddlers’ Picnic where we celebrate over 200 years of fiddling on the Mississippi. For more information about this event, click on the link to www.folkjam.org.

Not too many people know this, but it was actually Thomas Jefferson who started this whole business by sending Lewis and Clark on the expedition across the frontier which employed two fiddlers, Pierre Cruzatte (see photo above) and George Gibson. We find it quite fitting to continue the fiddling tradition that started so long ago.

I’ll be in Arkansas next week working on recording more tunes for the collection. Once again, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support in the 500 Fiddle Tunes project, your patronage is much appreciated. If it wasn’t for you, it wouldn’t happen!

Well, it is time to finish up now and get on with the business of the day. So, tune in again for the next letter home and the continuing story of the life and times of Fiddlin’ Banjo Billy. It is a way for me to keep in touch with you and continue our ongoing conversation about some things we have in common. Come and visit www.banjobilly.net anytime, we are always open 24/7. There is always something going on around here.


Oh, I would also like to send out a big hello to Trudie Cook, “the best baby-sitter a little boy could ever have” Love you always. Got to go, see you again in Alton.
Like my mother would say “Any thing worth doing is worth doing well.” Later, Billy

April 4, 2010

Howdy Folks!

Happy Easter 2010! Well another month has gone by and once again its time for another installment of my blog, or as I like to call them “letters from home”. I was never that good at writing letters, so I guess this is my chance to hone whatever literary skills I might have. My mother would send us boys (me and my brother) off to camp when we were young. I was maybe 8 or 9, my brother a couple of years older. Anyhow, mother would send us off with self addressed, stamped post cards so that we could write home from camp, all the news. She’d put us on the bus and say, “Now, don’t forget to write, I’ll be waiting to hear from you!”

Now last year if you remember, from my blog, we waited for spring so long and hard that it hurt! This year, spring happened so fast that it was almost a surprise. So on we go.

I am just now getting ready to pack up and heard for the Arkansas Folk Festival on the square in Mountain View—Always the 3rd full weekend in April. So, I am once again looking forward to that for the 34th time. Lots of folks, fun and fiddlin’.

I have had lots of great input about my 500 Fiddle Tunes Project. I have begun work on the next 100 and hope to have it available by summer. If any of you people who have read this have any comments, questions or thoughts, you can always email my website for may address and send me a letter from your home. Regular mail still works, as far as I know.

I think I finally figured out why the accumulation of wisdom is so important! You’re supposed to use it to stay out of trouble when you get old. As my mother used to say, “As long as you’re awake, you might as well pay attention.”

That’s all I got for now. Happy Spring! Keep Fiddlin’

Later Billy

 

 

Howdy,

Well, Old Man Winter has finally let go his grip on us folks here in the Ozarks and the promise of spring is renewed once more.

Coming up this month, I will be traveling again back across the Mississippi River to Champaign and Urbana, Illinois from my annual Early Spring Fiddling Workshop that I present at a place called TechLine (right close to the U of I campus).

Fiddle Workshop is March 14th

I will also put on a small 2 hour concert on Saturday March 13th at Strawberry Fields
(a small acoustic venue). Saturday  night (March 13th), I will be LIVE on WEFT Community Radio Station to play an old time music show with my long time friend, Uncle John Coleman. You folks can get this show online –LIVE From 7 to 8pm. So, check it out and I’ll see you on the radio!

The folks in Champaign-Urbana have quite an established Old Time Music Community, they dance twice a month and have a weekly Old Time Jam. I have been going there for over 6 years now and I always feel right at home. Illinois is one of the few places that is steeped in the Old Time Fiddling Tradition. Their heritage runs deep and is well preserved. More and more players are showing up all the time, even the kids are doing it!


The shadows are growing longer and the sun has gone over the mountain. It gets dark just a little earlier down here in the holler. I’ll have to light a couple of lamps to be able to see long enough to finish writing this. Supper is on, got to go.

Keep Fiddlin’

Stay in Touch


Billy

 
                                          January/ February 2010


Seasons Greetings!

Well, here we go for another year. It’s January and I am holed up in Reeds Spring. Got 7 inches of snow still on the ground. Last week was deathly cold with temperatures down to -10° and then add the wind blowing at about 20 mph. Weather not even fit for a dog outside! Pretty slow to go this year. Many unexpected events took place in 2009 and the only degree of satisfaction that I can glean from it was I was not alone in my plight. 2009 could have been worse, I guess.

Fortunately, I survived and hopefully, we will see some improvement in 2010.

Some good news: The 3rd Volume of my 500 Tune Collection collection is now available in a new up-graded format. All 3 discs are now in 1 compact box. They are selling well and I am already ordering up some more to try to keep up. I have received lots of favorable input from project patrons who are making progress learning many of the tunes. I have just begun work on Volume 4 and that should be ready by summertime.

Meanwhile, I have to run off to St. Louis and play for the Child Grove Country Dancers, something I have been doing now for over 16 years. And then, on my way to the 7th Annual Fiddle Workshop at the Inn at Mountain View, Arkansas.

Hope to see you soon!  Keep a tune in your heard and a tune in your heart. Also keep a tune in your pocket, cuz the last thing we need is to run out of tunes.

Later,

Billy

 
 
 SPRING 2009

Original Poem by Banjo Billy Mathews

This is about many instruments that I made that have re-appeared in my life in the last few years.
A reunion of sorts between me and my banjos.

Ode to The Banjo
9/26/06
Oh where, oh where do my lovely children wander?
So long away, so far from home.
What a joy, your return after all these years.
A lifetime in the hands of a minstrel boy.
All will finally find a place and roam no more.
Let the music serve the redemption of your soul.
Touch as many hears as possible, lovingly with patience and care.

The wandering minstrel back to the fold once more.
The ancestors will be pleased with a heavy sigh of relief,
In anticipation of renewed affirmation of all we hold dear.



 




 
FALL 2008

Greetings,

There is a cool breeze blowing up here on the mountain this evening which for sure means that fall is here.  I finished off my summer with a great workshop at the Inn in Mountain View, Arkansas.  My musical cohort, Colin Blair, and I put on a medley of workshops for 2 days; Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo and Fiddle.  We had about 30 people from many places; Little Rock, Dallas, St. Louis.  It was a huge success and we hope to offer this event again in August 2009.  The specific dates will be on my schedule. 

I am looking forward to going back to Urbana, IL for a couple of gigs and a Fiddle Workshop.  Our annual workshop is the first full weekend in March in Champaign, IL.  There are plenty of good players over there and more of them turning up all the time! 
 
We are now taking orders for the next installment of my 500 Fiddle Tunes Collection.  The Tune Tally is 201.  This offering should be ready to go by November 1st.  I want to sincerely thank all of you folks for your continued interest and patronage in my 500 Tunes Project-- I couldn't do it without you!

Well, I will be going back out on the trail to the Annual Bean Festival in Mountain View where they cook up a 1/2 ton of beans to feed all the visitors right there on the Court House Square. 

And then on to the Raven Center for the Arts in Elsinore, MO for the Annual Old Time Music Weekend.

I will be in Springfield, MO playing a dance Presented by the Traditional Dance and Music Society.  If you can make it, come and see me before I wrap up my season of 2008. 

This year has really been a roller coaster ride---- Tornadoes, Floods, Hurricanes and even earthquakes right here in the Lower Midwest!
So hopefully, going in to the Holiday Season we can hope for some calm and peace.  If I had any advice to give at present, it would be to:
"Have Faith, Press On, and always carry a tune in your Heart."

Peace Out,

Banjo Billy
 
May/June 2008

Howdy!

Well spring has finally here and that means summer is just around the corner and at this juncture, I can safely say, from what I have seen this year in particular is , that Old Time Music in America, is alive and well.  Many of the young folk are picking up a banjo or a fiddle and hopefully are beginning a life long love affair with traditional American Roots music.  The kind of music that once made this country strong and self determined.  As the old folks steeped in the aural  tradition, we are more than happy to see new and vigorous interest in the old tunes. 

We all had a big time at the Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View, Arkansas.  Lots of old and familiar faces and many wonderful memories of festivals past, tunes played, and history shared.  A lot of things change but the music is getting better all the time.

I also traveled north to the Annual Community Folk Festival in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.  I had not been there for the last 5 years and had forgotten how much I missed going.   The festival is on Mother's Day weekend and is one of the few prime examples of a community that preserves and perpetuates American Traditional Old time Music and Dance.   I highly recommend this event.  For more info: www.gaysmills.org


I also wanted to mention our new event:  A Medley of Old Time Music Workshops coming up on August 15th and 16th held at the Inn at Mountain View.  Colin Blair (from St. Charles, MO) and I will team up once again, to host workshops for:

Backup Guitar
Mandolin
Fiddle
Interpretive Clawhammer Banjo
                            
The spaces for these workshops are filling fast and time is running ou
t!  Registration ends on July 1. 
For more information or to register:

Phone: (800)-535-1301
Email: theinnatmountainview@gmail.com

This set of workshops are interactive; besides teaching the tunes, we will be playing together each night in supervised jams.  Also, I want to mention to our mandolin players that many a great bluegrass careers have been launched with just a few fiddle tunes. 

Once again, I am out of time and space. Sound familiar? 

Peace,
Banjo Billy

 
Spring has Sprung! March / April 2008

 

Howdy!  Well, I thought I was finished talkin' about the weather for awhile, but I guess its never ending.  March came in like a lion with a big 12 inch
snowfall, but the crocus and daffodils didn't mind a bit.  So we are finally moving on. Spring has finally "sprung" and we have leaped ahead so hopefully everything else will even out. 

   I  just got back from a Fiddle Workshop and concert in Champaign, Illinois.  It was a great time with great people.  We did a tag team marathon with guitar mandolin, banjo and fiddle workshops.  This time I had a lot of help from my musical cohort, Colin Blair from St. Charles, Missouri.
Special Thanks go out to Paul and Christine Breen for the use of their wonderful facility at the Green Street Studio in Champaign and their superb hosting of this event.  We are already making plans for next year./

I am still working on the second group of 100 tunes and hope to have them "ready to go" by the end of May. 

Colin Blair and I will put on our annual concert at the Mountain Music Shoppe on the 10th of April in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. 
Then, I will be on my way to the Arkansas Folk Festival in Mountain View, Arkansas-- where I have been a prominent figure on the Courthouse Square for the past 32 years.   The festival was started by Jimmy Driftwood of Timbo, Arkansas in 1963.  It is the annual coming out spring music party, after the cold doldrums of winter, the hill folks venture down to town for a weekend of pickin' and grinnin' on the Courthouse Square. 

Besides the local hill folks, there is usually several thousand other people who make the pilgrimage from all over the the U.S.A.  The generosity of the folks in Mountain View is beyond compare.  They open up the town and throw out the red carpet for all to enjoy.  So, if you are looking to get out and about his spring, join us on the Square in Mountain View for pickin' and grinnin'.  We'll make room for everybody.  I'm a headin' for the hills, see you there! 

Banjo Billy
 
 
500 Fiddle Tunes - Old Time Archive 
Volume 1 - The First 100 Tunes Available For Pre-Order

February 15, 2008

In order to finance the project to release the entire 500 Fiddle Tunes , I am offering a special PRE-ORDER of the first 100 Tunes in a signed Limited Edition for only $35.00 (that's $0.35 per tune!).  
There are only 20 numbered copies, so get yours today! 
The CD should be ready for shipping early Spring 2008.   
                       PRE ORDER THE FIRST 100 TUNES!       
                            Click on the Fiddle to get to the Store  
  
          

The 2nd Phase of the 500 Tunes Project is the completion of a Book of Musical Notation that will accompany all 500 Tunes.  The Book of Notation will also include other essential information about each tune.

If you are interested in contributing to the project or want to know more, please email: contact@banjobilly.net.
Contributors / Sponsors of the project will be recognized in the Book of Musical Notation upon its release following the completion of the 500 Tunes Project.  
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Waiting for Spring
February 2008

Howdy Friends and Neighbors! Welcome once again to my virtual homestead.  You are (as always) invited to come and visit anytime and stay for as long as you like.  We have been having a wild time with the weather here this winter.  We had tornadoes in January, more tornadoes in February and the 3rd ice storm in progress as we speak.  For those of you who don't get ice storms, its when Mother Nature lays down 2 or 3 inches of ice that covers everything on the woodland, hills and hollers.  It's just Mother Nature's way of pruning all the trees in the forest and apparently, she ain't done yet! 

Now here in the Ozarks, we generally still go by the signs of nature.  The official Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter, but instead of taking his word for it, I checked with my groundhog that lives under my shed out back.   I stomped around his den and yelled in there to see if he would wake up and come out, but apparently he's still sleepin', so no luck there.   Did I mention that we're waiting for Spring?

Seems like we are always waiting for something;  waiting for spring, waiting for summer and then waiting for summer to be over, wait your turn, wait in line.  Just now, I put some water in a pot on the stove to boil so guess I'll have to wait to make the coffee.  Did I mention that
we're waiting for Spring?

I have been working on my 500 fiddle tune archive and I am pleased to announce that the First 100 Tunes have been recorded  and are now available  and for sale here at the homestead.   I am now working on the 2nd installment of 100 more tunes, they should be available by Spring, when ever that is.. April or May. 

Since this is a work in progress, it could be a while before the whole project is completed, 500 tunes on CD and the book of musical notation plus other valuable information about the tunes.  So, there is still a lot of work to be done.  I would like to mention that any of you folks that help out with a purchase of any CD's of the project will get their name and hometown printed in the book listed as: Project Patrons.    I appreciate any and all support,  I hope there are some tunes that you can use.   Did I mention that we're waiting for Spring?

I asked a neighbor lady here recently what she thought about the weather this winter, she said, "The weather's been a might particular here just lately."

 I asked, "don't you  mean peculiar?

She said, "   Well yes, like I was a' sayin',  I don't know whether to put on my coat or take off my shoes!"

I always say, plan for the worst and hope for the best, but we also have to wait and try to be patient and see what develops.  The coffee water is boiling, I got to go.  See you next time.   Did I mention that we're waiting for Spring?

Best Wishes,   

Banjo Billy
Mathews
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Happy New Year 2008
January 1, 2008

Luckily at this point in my life, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to finally post my new offerings on this site and post more information about my travels and new projects.  My mission, of course, is to preserve and promote our great American tradition of Old Time Music, specifically Old Time Fiddling.

Before I get started on new things, I would like to thank all the folks who have visited this site, which includes all the folks who have ordered recordings, books and T-shirts.  I would also like to thank all the people who have helped me with production and infrastructure costs, scheduling, logistics and tech support, because without them , none of this would be possible.  So, once again.... THANK YOU!

We are hoping to have may more things to offer in 2008.  More workshops, concerts and recordings are presently in the works. 

This past summer, I started my new project which is  recording a collection of my first 500 tunes.  I am hoping to release 5 triple discs (15 CD's in all)of my first 500 tunes with a book of musical notation to accompany the recordings.  The idea is to present a reasonable rendition of the tune; not too fast, pretty much straight up with very little ornamentation, which will be very helpful for many people who, like me, learn by ear.

So, I am embarking on yet another artistic adventure of epic proportions to truly find out how many tunes I really do know.

So, I guess we will find out!

Happy New Year 2008! 

Banjo Billy