2015 Taste of Scotland and Celtic Festival and Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games!
“Highlights from Scottish and Celtic Festivals 2015”
“Wild Mountain Thyme”
“Lads O’ The Fair”
“Bonnie Scotland, I Adore Thee”
“Home To The Kyles”
2014 Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games!Here are some video clips and photos from our shows at the Scottish Festival!
“Bonnie Scotland, I Adore Thee”
“Hill Of Thieves,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” and “Heather and Eilidh”
Scottish Fiddle Tune Set: “James F. Dickie,” “Punch In The Dark,” and “Dashing White Eejit”
Scottish Fiddle Tune Set: “Torridon,” “The Velvet,” “Pretty Peggy,” and “Brumley Brae”
“Jock O’Hazeldean,” and Fiddle Tune Set: “Jock Brown’s 70th,” “Blue Reel,” and “Road To Errogie”
“The Rolling Hills Of The Borders,” and Fiddle Tune Set: “Charleston,” “Gaffo’s Ball,” and “Frank’s Reel”
We look forward to next year’s festival!
Raven and Red
Barry Dudley is a violin maker in Georgia who specializes in building five-string fiddles.
Traditionally, the violin or fiddle has four strings that are tuned to G, D, A, and E, but a five-string fiddle also includes a lower C string. This combination gives the fiddle a tonal range of both a violin and viola. Although the five-string fiddle is allowing musicians to have a new approach to their playing, historically, bowed instruments with five strings are not a new invention. Jerald Franklin Archer compares five-string violins to similar instruments used in the past in his article 5 String Violins: The Black Sheep of the Family? “The instrument a violinist is familiar with evolved from the viols and some other instruments like the Pardessus de viola, or Quinton, a five-string hybrid instrument, in use during the 18th century, that combines characteristics of the viol and the violin. Its body resembles a violin’s, save for the sloping shoulders; but its neck is fretted like a viol’s. It was tuned g-d’-a’-d”-g”. A fifth string was also included on cellos. “J.S. Bach wrote his last solo ‘cello Partita for an instrument known as the piccolo cello, which was smaller than the normal size of a ‘cello and possessed an added high E string.” The pardessus de viole is the smallest size of viola da gamba, which is the ancestor of the modern double-bass, and it was created around 1690. It started out as an instrument with six strings and then was modified to have five and four strings. The quinton is a variation that has a body similar to a violin.
Barry Dudley began building five-string fiddles sometime between 2004 and 2005. He became inspired to build instruments as a guitar player in the early 1970s when he visited Diapason Guitar Shop in Decatur, Georgia, and saw Wade Lowe, a guitar maker and the owner of the shop, carving the headstock of a classical guitar. Wade Lowe became Dudley’s mentor and muse. He did not start building instruments until about twenty years later when he bought a book and taught himself how to build guitars. He took his first guitar over to Wade Lowe, who had been making violins at this point. Lowe told Dudley, “You need to make violins!” Dudley responded, “I can’t play a violin. I don’t know anything about them. I don’t wanna do that.” Wade Lowe was persistent and convinced Barry Dudley to try building violins. After he finished his first violin, he admitted that he was hooked. By 2004-2005, David Blackmon, a fiddle player from Athens, Georgia, visited Dudley’s shop and convinced him to make a five-string violin. He decided to try it and was very satisfied with the results, so he built a few more. He took one of his five-string violins to a venue in Athens, Georgia, where The Duhks were playing. Their violinist, Tania Elizabeth, played his fiddle and ended up buying it from him. Tania Elizabeth was recently seen on the David Letterman Show playing the same violin she bought from Dudley.
Barry Dudley acquires his materials for building fiddles from a few suppliers that he has developed over the years. He buys woods from a supplier in Oregon. His tops come from a company in Missouri that supplies tops for Collings mandolins and guitars. He buys maple in lots of thirty or forty sets at one time directly from Bosnia. Then, he brings it into the shop, measure the moisture content, and puts it up on a shelf to acclimate and age. On average, it takes about 130 to 150 man hours to build one fiddle, and he spends about eight to ten hours a day building. Barry Dudley prefers the sound of Guarneri violins over Stradivari violins, so he has always used Guarneri patterns for building. The first pattern he ever used was Guarneri’s King Joseph. After making a few violins from that pattern, he changed to a pattern from the violin that Niccoló Paganini made famous, The Canon. He bought a set of prints and expanded them about 110%, and that became the pattern he uses for five-string fiddles.
Dudley uses a variety of woods for building violins. He explains that traditionally, violins have always been made out of maple. The backs, sides, and neck are usually maple, and the top is always some type of spruce. Since he began building instruments as a guitar maker, he became curious about using popular guitar woods for building violins. He tried building some with traditional guitar woods such as rosewood, mahogany, black walnut, bubinga, which is an African wood, and ebony. He has also built fiddles from cocobolo, ziricote, imbuia, and shedua. Dudley noticed that many professional or proficient fiddle players became interested in the different types of woods for fiddles. Since these players usually already have good instruments built from maple, many are open to trying a unique fiddle made out of a different type of wood. The main difference between the types of wood he uses is the density, because certain woods are denser and heavier, but he said, “the harmonics and the overtones that are produced from those denser woods are a little more refined, and you get a little more separation between the fundamental, and the secondary, and tertiary harmonics.” Dudley said that he gets the most requests for fiddles made out of bubinga, but it is also the most difficult to work with because the wood is really hard. His favorite wood to work with is ebony because it is more fine and easy to carve. Dudley mentions that he has an idea of how a fiddle is going to sound based on details in the wood while he is building it. During different stages of building he holds up the wood and taps on it to listen to the tone that it produces. He listens for resonance, sustain, and a lively sound. Even early in the building process, these factors determine if the fiddle is going to be outstanding or just good.
Here are pictures of a violin made from East Indian Rosewood:
Here are pictures of a violin made from Cocobolo:
These are pictures of violins made from Bubinga:
This is a Rosewood fiddle that Barry Dudley made for Bobby Hicks:
These violins are made from Ebony:
These violins are made from Black Walnut:
This violin is made from Ziricote:
This is the Barry Dudley’s signature design for the f-holes:
These are some of his patterns for building:
Here are pictures in the shop and one from IBMA with Bobby Hicks playing one of his fiddles:
Most of Dudley’s sales come from Europe and Canada, but he has also done business in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Holland, and in the United States. He decides how much to charge for his fiddles by basing the price around what is affordable for working musicians. Dudley explains some of his values, “Believe it or not, I really do — part of the joy of making the instruments is not just the money. I need the money to pay my bills just like everybody else, but it’s the music that people make with the instruments. And so, being able to put the instruments in people’s hands that are — that are actually gonna play them, make music, and make people happy — that’s important to me. You know, that’s a valuable thing to me.”
Barry Dudley states that there is a growing demand for five-string fiddles, and about ninety-five percent of the instruments he builds are five-strings. He states that five-string fiddles have more playing options and the lower C string offers fiddle players a different tonal range that is great for improvising and backing up singers. “I’ve had a lot of fiddle players tell me that they can play licks kind of like a saxophone player, you know — that it allows them to do a lot more things that — that they just never really thought they could do before.” Dudley thinks the five-string fiddle is unlimited in what it can do in contemporary music. He has even had customers that are strongly rooted in classical music use their five-strings to play chamber music.
Barry Dudley believes that there is a growing demand for five-string fiddles, and about ninety-five percent of the instruments he builds are five-strings. Five-string fiddles have more playing options and the lower C string offers fiddle players a different tonal range that works great for improvising and backing up singers. He has even had customers that are strongly rooted in classical music use their five-strings to play chamber music. Dudley thinks the five-string fiddle is unlimited in what it can do in contemporary music.
When asked what style of music most of his customers play, he explains “Most of them play — I hate to say bluegrass — because the term bluegrass is – has changed so much. Contemporary bluegrass and country has melded together. It has a lot of jazz in it, and it has — I think because there’s so many young players now that have come out of classical training — you know, they’ve had school where they’ve been trained as classical players. They bring a lot of that — a lot of that technique and discipline and, the ear for classical music — they bring that to the world of bluegrass or country or Americana, Celtic, all of these genres. Those are the ones that everybody seems to love.”
Dudley compares his fiddles to other popular five-string builders today by stating “I believe that I make quality fiddles and that’s — I think that’s brought out by the fact that I have a good clientele of professional players that could play other people’s instruments, but that’s not to say that my violins are the only good ones out there. Instruments are like our significant others in our lives, you know, you — you find one that you love, and — and you — others that you really like, but they’re not quite that one that you really love, you know, and so — there are other makers that make outstanding instruments that other people may like better than mine. I just hope that I can find more people that like mine the best.”
Barry Dudley currently shows his instruments at two events per year. He travels to IBMA and to Barcelona, Spain. He has been invited to come to Merlefest and is considering traveling there next year.
This video shows two jazz violinists playing on Barry Dudley’s five-string fiddles. Oriol Saña is a jazz professor in Barcelona.
Here is a video of Darol Anger playing a five-string made by Barry Dudley:
Brittany plays a Barry Dudley rosewood 5-string fiddle, made in Monroe, Georgia (no.75) and Robert Kain fiddles, made in Campbelltown, Pennsylvania. She travels with her Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor Acoustic-Electric Guitar. Her mandolin is a Kentucky KM-675 F-Style. She also plays a banjolin from the 1800s.
Bow: M. Francisco
Strings: D’Addario Kaplan, Evah Pirazzi Gold and Thomastik Dominant, medium gauge
Rosin: Liebenzeller Gold I
Shoulder Rest: Kuhn, Artino, Everest
Mitchell plays a C.F. Martin CSN (Crosby, Stills & Nash) Gerry Tolman Tribute Edition Dreadnought Guitar, serial number 1237354, made in Nazareth, PA in 2006. He travels with a C.F. Martin Custom Jumbo Rosewood Performing Artist Acoustic-Electric Guitar, serial number 1802846, made in Nazareth, PA in 2014. He also plays Taylor Acoustic-Electric 6-string and 12-string Guitars.
Picks: Dunlop Gator Grip 1.14mm flat picks, Red Bear flat picks, Dunlop Calico Large thumb picks
Strings: Martin Lifespan SP acoustic guitar strings, medium gauge (.013-.056)
Raven and Red uses Fishman LoudBox Mini Acoustic Instrument Amplifiers, AKG, Audix, and Heil microphones on stage through the Bose L1 Model II Portable System.
I gathered information from Laura Risk’s website: http://www.laurarisk.com/research.html. Laura Risk is a PhD candidate in musicology at McGill University, and one of her projects is researching the spread of chopping into various North Atlantic fiddling genres.
Laura Risk’s definition of chopping: “The chop is a percussive technique specific to bowed string instruments. It consists of first dropping the bow vertically onto the strings to make a crunchy, percussive noise and then picking it up off the strings with a forward motion to make another sound. This latter sound is pitched, though in practice it is possible to play it without pitch by muting the strings with the left hand. The chop is always played at the frog, or the lower end, of the bow. The sound of the chop echoes percussive techniques on other instruments and, in fact, chopping began as a violin imitation of the muted backbeat hits commonly used by bluegrass mandolin players as an accompaniment technique.”
The chop was invented by bluegrass fiddler, Richard Greene, in 1966 while playing with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. He originally called it “the chunky chop.” Richard Greene explains that he created the chop by accident, “I just was exhausted so on one of those downbow accents, I just couldn’t lift the bow up again. My hand just stayed there, and that was the first chop… It was just like a collapsing of the bow onto the string.”
This is a video of Richard Greene teaching his chopping technique.
Around 1975, Richard Greene taught fiddler, Darol Anger, how to chop. About a decade later, Darol Anger co-founded the Turtle Island String Quartet, which was an alternative, non-classical string quartet. The quartet used chopping to imitate the sounds of a jazz rhythm section and developed it into a comprehensive accompaniment technique.
This video shows a clip from Darol Anger’s DVD “Chops and Grooves.”
Darol Anger added a horizontal motion to the chop in which the bow moves back and forth along the line of the string. This motion is now a fundamental component of chopping for many players and has paved the way for other innovations such as Casey Driessen’s “triple chop.”
Casey Driessen has a series of downloadable video lessons for teaching his chopping techniques called “Techniques and Skills.”
This is a video of Casey Driessen singing while chopping.
Laura Risk has interviewed over one hundred fiddlers and cellists across North America and Great Britain for this project. She created a mapping of the diffusion of the chop.
I think the chop would be found on the Front Porch and in the Kitchen of Cantwell’s house in “Upstairs, Downstairs, Out In The Kitchen.”
When the chop was originally invented, it was authentic and fell under the definitons of “Original, not Fake” and “Real, not Imitative.” With all of the material that can be found through the internet and technology about the chop, more fiddler players are beginning to imitate this technique.
The Steeldrivers is a contemporary band that is labeled as bluegrass, but they do not consider themselves to be strictly bluegrass. They created a unique sound by blending bluegrass with dark lyrics and bluesy vocals. Some of the band members were bluegrass musicians before joining the Steeldrivers, and others played different genres of music.
Their Fiddler, Tammy Rogers, grew up listening to bluegrass music and performed with country musicians Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McEntire. Their original lead singer, Chris Stapleton, is a blues singer and songwriter. He was not an experienced bluegrass musician when he joined the Steeldrivers. Two of the original members, Chris Stapleton (lead singer and guitarist) and Mike Henderson (mandolin and slide guitar player), left the band between 2010 and 2011 and were replaced by Gary Nichols (current lead singer and guitarist) and Brent Truitt (current mandolin player). Like Chris Stapleton, Gary Nichols is a blues and soul singer and songwriter, so he continued to add bluesy vocals to the band. Gary Nichols has been a fan of bluegrass for a long time, but the Steeldrivers is the first all-acoustic band that he has played in. Since Gary Nichols and Brent Truitt joined the band, they have more lead instruments with the guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle each taking breaks evenly. The breaks on their past albums were split more heavily between the banjo and fiddle.
From a Wall Street Journal Interview at Bonnaroo in 2009, Mike Henderson (original mandolin and slide guitar player) described their musical approach as, “Instead of trying to play each song as though it were a bluegrass song, we just say we’re going to use these instruments and do what’s best for the song.” From a Country Fried Rock Radio Interview, Mike Fleming (bassist) explained, “We aren’t a bluegrass band in the typical sense. Instead of the lead vocals having the high lonesome sound of Bill Monroe, it’s a gravelly, blues singer.”
In 2006, they played at a showcase at IBMA, and in 2009 they won IBMA’s award for Emerging Artist of the Year. Since then, the Steeldrivers have been nominated for three Grammys, four IBMA awards, and the Americana Music Association’s New Artist of the Year. They played at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival at IBMA this year in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although the Steeldrivers do not describe themselves as purely a bluegrass band, they play at many bluegrass festivals and events. This relates to Peterson’s “Credible in Current Context” definition of authenticity, because the “authentic” centers on being believable or credible to the contemporary general observer. The “authentic” changes with time, and that is why more contemporary bands are being invited to perform at IBMA and other events labeled “bluegrass.”
Many of the Steeldrivers’ songs have dark themes, and they have a new, modern sound to their murder ballads. This song is called “If It Hadn’t Been For Love,” and these are the original members with Chris Stapleton singing.
They received some attention in the popular music world, because British pop singer, Adele, covered this song.
When Gary Nichols became the lead singer, he brought this song to the band that he wrote about a stalker called “I’ll Be There.”
The Steeldrivers’ music has been described as “uneasy listening.” According to Peterson’s “Authenticities,” many of the attributes in their music, such as instrumentation and stage presentation, would be described as “hard country” over “soft country,” but it does contain some elements from both categories. Their singing style and lyrical content are a mixture of “hard country” and “soft country.”
The definition of authenticity that fits this type music is “Real, not Imitative.” This definition is commonly used for contemporary music. The Steeldrivers’ music is created from their own personal styles, expressions and experiences and is not artificial or imitative.
According to Cantwell’s article “Upstairs, Downstairs, Out in the Kitchen,” the Steeldrivers’ music fits into the categories of the “Front Porch” and the “Kitchen.” “Kitchen Bluegrass” is music played by professional musicians in the recording studio where they commit their music to recordings and then to a commercial market. “Front-Porch Bluegrass” refers to live performances where a musician or band is most fully realized in concert.