Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs  from the 1930’s by Harry Bolick and Stephen T. Austin




View Video Introduction/Book Trailer.

While in the Mississippi State Archives tracking down Abbot Ferris’s beautiful photographic portraits of musicians from 1939, author Harry Bolick discovered, to his amazement, a treasure trove of earlier fiddle tunes in manuscript form. Since then he has worked to understand how this collection came to exist and be set aside. With Stephen T. Austin, Bolick has transcribed the subsequent 1939 audio recordings. Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s presents the history of the collecting work, with over three hundred of the tunes and songs and a beautiful selection of period photographs.

In the summer of 1936, over one hundred fiddle tunes, many of them unique, along with thousands of songs, were collected and notated throughout a large part of Mississippi. Roughly 130 novice field workers captured beautiful tunes and tantalizing fragments. As a body of work, it is an unparalleled and fascinating snapshot of vernacular music as heard in Mississippi in the early part of the recorded era. However, this music was unpublished and forgotten.

In 1939, building on the contacts made three years earlier, Herbert Halpert led one of the last and best executed of the WPA folklore projects which recorded audio performances in Mississippi. Some, but not all, of those distinctive fiddle tune recordings have been published. Additionally through cassette tape copies passed hand to hand, some of these distinctive tunes have regained currency and popularity among contemporary fiddlers. In Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s, this great music is at last widely available.

Now Available from Amazon and the University Press of Mississippi. 

Featuring over 300 tunes collected as sheet music in 1936 and transcribed from the 1939 WPA field recordings along with beautiful photos and bios for most of the 1939 sources. Including a tantalizing number of tunes collected from African-Americans playing in the Anglo Southern fiddle style. Also included is an in-depth essay on the history of the WPA collecting in Mississippi.

Video of two 1936 tunes from the book performed with Brian Slattery and Nathan Bontrager.

The 3-CD-set from Document Records of the complete 1939 WPA Mississippi fiddle and banjo field-recordings.

Harry has recorded a new cd of tunes from the 1936 manuscripts and it is now available: “Tunes from the Book

All 180 of the tunes in the book from the 1936 manuscripts, as played by the notation program will be posted over the next few weeks in installments at : mississippifiddle.com


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One Response to “Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs  from the 1930’s by Harry Bolick and Stephen T. Austin”

  1. Daniel Foster Says:

    Harry Bolick will be performing in Austin, Texas on June 11, 2016

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