Fiddlin' Around: Texas
The last region that we will visit on our quick tour of American fiddle music is Texas. Just as there were overlaps between the fiddle playing of the Ozarks and the Appalachians, there are a few similarities between the fiddle music of Texas and Oklahoma and that of the Ozarks. But, there are plenty of differences as well.
The music of Texas doesn’t contain the very strong influences of English folk music that is so prevalent in the Appalachians or the Ozarks. Oh, it’s still there, just diluted a bit. It’s more of a big ol’ Texas fiddle salad with a bit of everything thrown into the bowl.
Once again, there is an African influence. I hear the influence Tin Pan Alley in many Texas fiddle tunes. I also hear something else that wasn’t in the blends we have sampled so far; an Eastern European influence. Now we know that the German, Polish, and Czech immigrants added their unique signature on the music of Texas, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find that influence in the fiddle music.
Then there’s the unmistakable sound of jazz that makes its way into much of the Texas string band tradition. It was this blend of folk music from the UK, Eastern European, jazz (mostly swing), and blues that brought forth western swing. The fiddle played the lead role in early western swing bands, just as it did with the music of the music of the Piedmont, Appalachian, and Ozark regions.
The fiddle was the lead instrument across much of America until the invention of amplification. The amplifier was the catalyst that moved the guitar from the rhythm section into melodic lead. For most of this continent’s history that spot had been held firmly by the expressive voice of the fiddle.
I first saw the Quebe Sisters Band at last year's National Folk Festival. These three young ladies sure can pull some bow! Learn more and order a CD at www.quebesistersband.com.
Y'all have a good weekend!