A Glimpse into the Parlour – by David Bragger
My life has basically been an obsession with old-time music for a decade and a half. I learned at the feet of master musicians, listened to tens of thousands of recordings, decoded the bow strokes and mysterious intervals of legendary fiddlers and I woodshedded for years. I still do. Eventually I began teaching old-time music, out of the sheer love of the music itself and the desire to pass down what I’ve learned to others. Apparently, I have a knack for teaching the elusive art of bowing so I spend everyday of the week teaching just that. Throughout this obsessive time period I’ve wondered what it would be like if we had extensive footage of many of my favorite dead musicians. To see, up close, hours of playing from Fred Cockerham, Marcus Martin, Joseph Spence, John Lusk, etc. would be astounding. To see their body language, the nuances of hand movement and even their faces while performing can give great insight to the curious musician and student of old-time. As a player and teacher, I’m very interested in the physical dimension of music.
So I started thinking about my favorite musicians of today. Even in the digital smartphone age, there is a serious dearth of beautiful, archival quality footage of today’s living masters. Even today’s touring musicians quite often have only shaky smartphone footage on YouTube and maybe a couple well-produced music videos shot in Europe that were essentially performed to a pre-recorded track. In a past life I was a filmmaker and amateur folklorist recording the folktales and music of itinerant street magicians in India, the last vestige of medicine show performance. Naturally I decided to bring the documentation of folk art back into the fold and start recording the best of the best in old-time. By establishing the Old-Time Tiki Parlour, I set forth on this very path. I’ve assembled a team of artists, graphic designers and producers for my team. One requirement: the team must all be old-time musicians. That way, everything from close-up angles to the liner notes are all presented, recorded and composed by musicians that know the music inside and out.
In the last couple years, I’ve produced and recorded twelve old-time music releases on CD and DVD. So far, Dan Gellert, Rafe & Clelia Stefanini, Eric & Suzy Thompson and my solo fiddle CD “Big Fancy” are available. All releases feature music, first and foremost. These are not documentaries or hipster music videos. These releases showcase great musicians, in a room alone, doing what they do best. No fancy effects or studio tricks permitted. I’m currently editing footage and recording more musicians. I recently put together a video that highlights some of the musicians I’ve shot to give you a glimpse into the past, present and future of Tiki Parlour Recordings. Enjoy!