Sunday, March 26, 2006

The pride of Surry County

Tommy Jarrell was, perhaps, one of the most influential of the early fiddlers in Old-Time music. Born in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the Round Peak area of North Carolina in 1901, Tommy Jarrell was born into a musical family. His father, Ben Jarrell played fiddle with Da Costa Woltz and his Southern Broadcasters. But it wasn't his father that taught him to play. The Jarrell family had hired Baugie Cockerham to help on the farm and it was he who taught young Tommy to play banjo. He soon started playing his dad's fiddle and at the age of 14 bought his own fiddle. That fiddle is the one he played until his death in 1985, and it is now part of the collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Tommy Jarrell married Nina Lowe and later they moved to the community of Toast, North Carolina, where Tommy got a job operating a road grader for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. He worked for the NCDOT for 41 years, beginning work in April of 1925 and retiring in 1966.

Tommy Jarrell's fiddle playing sounds deceptively simple upon first listen. Aside from unique tunings (EAEA or EADA - open key of E or D, instead of the usual EADG), his bowing is quite complex if you give a good listen.

Mount Airy, North Carolina celebrates the musical talents and influences of their native son with the Tommy Jarrell Festival.

He is joined on these tunes by another Surry County native and old family friend, Fred Cockerham on fretless banjo.

Tommy Jarrell & Fred Cockerham - John Brown's Dream.mp3

Tommy Jarrell & Fred Cockerham - Big Eyed Rabbit.mp3

County Records has a good supply of Tommy Jarrell's recordings.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed good choice for a Tuesday a little fiddling always does a body good. It's also good to be back on
the bus The beach was to cold

Joey

March 28, 2006 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

I agree with Joey, you can't go wrong with a lil' fiddling... any day of the week. Good job, Ed.

March 28, 2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I don't know fiddlin' from diddlin' but my toe is tappin'-that ain't no rappin'!

March 28, 2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Good tunes to down a few cold ones to after the seal hunt, eh Beer?

March 28, 2006 10:27 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Seal hunt? That's polite. That's like calling shooting turkeys on a turkey farm a hunt. In this country we hunt elk, bears, deer - all kinds of shit. We slaughter seals. Vive la difference.

March 29, 2006 9:08 PM  

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