Fiddlin' Around: The Ozarks
The music of the Ozarks has always played second fiddle (pun intended) to that of the Appalachians. During the great Folk Scare of the 1950s and ‘60s, most of the emphasis was on the Appalachians and the Delta. The Ozarks received not much more than a sidebar mention.
I am not as well versed in Ozark tradition as I am with the Appalachians. Of all the places in North America that I have lived, I have never spent any time in the Ozarks. Sure, I’ve driven through plenty of times, even spent a couple nights in North Arkansas, but I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as familiar with the music as I would like to be. Perhaps I should plan a trip to the Ozark Folk Center.
I have gathered a few examples of Ozark fiddling. Give them a listen and see if you hear the same influences I do.
Dr. Henry Harlin Smith was a surgeon for the Missouri Pacific Railroad who lived in Calico Rock, Arkansas. On his travels with the railroad he encountered plenty of people who had a backward view of his home region. To counter the negative image and promote tourism, Dr. Smith held a fiddle contest in Calico Rock. From the winners of that 1926 contest, he organized a band and took them to the popular resorts at Hot Springs. Dr. Smith deserves to be remembered for his promotion of the Ozarks, and for coming up with the most whimsical, yet appropriate, name for his band of champion fiddlers.
Update - Audio links fixed. Thanks Lynne.