Stranger on a Mule



“Stranger on a Mule – 31 Traditional Fiddle Tunes from the Southern Appalachians” by Bruce Greene (fiddle) with Don Pedi (mountain dulcimer)


Born in New York City in 1951 and raised in New Jersey, Bruce Greene would seem an unlikely person to become one of the finest old time southern Appalachian fiddlers of his generation. As did many of his peers, he began to learn folk music as a teenager during the folk revival of the fifties and sixties, mastering the guitar and banjo. His interest drifted into the fiddle music he began to hear, and by the time he was twenty years old, he was “hooked” thoroughly enough to move to Kentucky in search of the source of the music he had come to love and identify with.

Bruce attended Western Kentucky University, intending to become a folklorist, but his interest in fiddling was stronger than his scholarly ambitions, and he soon made the transition from learning about traditional fiddling to learning fiddle music in a traditional way. His travels around Kentucky led him to a number of old time fiddlers, and the next several years were taken up with informal apprenticeships with these old timers. In the process of learning from them, Bruce also recorded a great deal of their music, preserving a rich, often previously unknown part of our pioneer musical heritage.

One of Bruce’s greatest discoveries was the family of John Salyer of Magoffin County, Kentucky. Salyer was a true giant of a fiddler whose distrust of the commercial music industry had kept his music a secret from the outside world. However, the Salyers had home recordings of their father, which they let Bruce listen to and learn from. For a number of years, the old time music revival community was treated to these tunes through Bruce’s playing without ever getting to hear the true source. But Bruce’s long term friendship with the family has recently paid off for the rest of us, since the family gave permission to the Appalachian Center of Berea College to issue a cassette album of John Salyer himself. The music of the Salyer Family has been Bruce’s greatest inspiration over the years.


This CD is a selection of fiddle tunes, most of which come from fiddlers who were born in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds in Kentucky and Western North Carolina. We have been stubbornly carrying them on for the better part of a lifetime in our rural communities, where we have had the pleasure of playing at local dances, weddings, funerals, birthdays, potlucks, ramp festivals, and sorghum makings – all the places where homemade music has long been a part of everyday life. It is a joy and a privilege to be part of the mule-paced and timeless graciousness of this living memory and to carry it into the twenty-first century.

Tune list
Boogerman – Old Red Rooster – Nancy Dalton – Pretty Little Widow – Roosian Rabbit – Grey Squirrel Eating Up the New Ground Corn – Twine Mid the Ringlets  Little Boy Working on the Road – Ten Steps – Stranger on a Mule – Christmas Eve – Little Lizee Anne – Laurel Lonesome – John Henry – Hog Eyed ManFrolic of the Frogs – Sleeping on a Corn Cob Bed – Run Johnny RunCome Along Terrapin – Three Forks of the Cumberland  – The Old Folks Played and the Young People Danced Say Old Man I Want Your Daughter  – Betty Baker – John Salyer’s Shady Grove – Shady Lane – Lee Sexton’s Shady Grove – Old Aunt Jenny with Her Night Cap OnMcKinley Waltz – Old Beech Leaves – Hello John D
Old Tobacco Hills

Available here.


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