Old Time Music and Me
For me Old Time Music has always meant more than its current definition, i.e. Appalachian Rural Music. I see it as any and all of the diverse musical traditions that come out of the 19th century and which to a lesser or greater degree, found their way onto early commercial recording or were discovered later; basically true to themselves because of geographical or cultural isolation.
As a person growing up at a time when the aural landscape was largely defined by radio and recordings while I listened to popular music and enjoyed it like my peers, I was always tantalized by elements in the landscape which pointed to much greater riches and truths the real gold amidst all the costume jewelry.
An inexplicable fascination with musical instruments led me down many paths:
First the Banjo
I loved the sound and the instrument itself. But until I heard Fred Cockerham, none of its music spoke to me. The first time I heard Kyle Creed and Fred - Fiddle and Banjo, it was like I discovered why I loved the banjo. John Burke's banjo book I lived with for years working up Irish and Canadian tunes. Finally playing a lot with Tim, I realized the banjo worked best for me as rhythm and melody. I play gut string love a thick sound, often fretless. Rolling River has been a treat.
I worked for 15 years with a wonderful man and guitar player Jack Kemp. He had grown up in the thirties near Parry Sound , Ontario, went to war, was engineer on the railroad until the end of steam and then worked as a violin repairman. All his life he'd played music: square dances, swing guitar, accompanying many great Canadian fiddlers. He was subtle, had great rhythm and a very personal style. I think he had integrated all the elements he liked in music into the way he played. This is a great achievement.
I was probably about 10 or 12 when I saw the flutes behind glass at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) in Toronto; maybe 10 years later that I finally managed to get one and thirty-five years later I am still trying to play it. Now I play an English 8-keyed flute made about 1850.
Irish music has been one focus: 18 th and 19 th century music and the flute's place in popular music making in that time a real interest. The flute deserves a larger place in old time music.
I am a bowmaker. I play the fiddle. I guess it's led me everywhere in music. I don't play much now it's too hard and I don't play well but the violin is one of the centers of my life.
~ John Sirdevan