Pioneers of Oldtime Music

In 1922 the record industry encountered this phenomenon and tempted them into their recording studios. In 1922 and 1923 the first records were produced with artists as Eck Robertson and Fiddling John Carson (citation: I’ll have to quit making moonshine and start making records). A boom began with groups as Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers, Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers, Henry Whitter, Uncle Dave Macon and many more reaching high sales numbers. It was a happy music often called Good-Time Music. In addition to the traditional fiddle and banjo mandolins and guitars were subsequently added. With the beginning economic depression at the end of the twenties the high time of the Oldtime Music declined. A few artists like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were the only guests in the recording studios and Oldtime Music returned to its origin in the rural regions and was only further documented by recordings of the library of congress.

Oldtime Music had its first revival in the fifties with three young New Yorkers who gathered to form the New Lost City Ramblers and re-play the of recordings. Mike Seeger (born in 1933), brother of Pete Seeger, his brother in law John Cohen (1933) and the professor for mathematics Tom Paley* (born in 1928, later replaced by Tracy Schwarz) recorded numerous records for the Folkways label and sold them in their shows. the tragic circumstance for these musicians was the fact that many of the listeners would have preferred the originals rather than having their imitation. Thus, the old recordings were newly pressed by the County and Rounder label and sold with big success. At the festivals Musicians like the fiddler Tommy Jarrell and banjo players as Fred Cockerham and Kyle Creed performed, which had had retired for a long time. However, the Oldtime community was not satisfied with listening to old scratched records but wanted to have a lively music. Thus, in the seventies groups like the Highwoods String Band, the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, the North Fork Rounders and the Red Clay Ramblers gave a new spirit to the Old-Time Music with previously unknown precision and dynamics. With the trend back to the acoustic music the Old-Time Music enters its third springtime. Young artists as Dick Powell, Bruce Molsky and the Freight Hoppers offer Oldtime Music in prime quality, which can now be listened to in digital recordings.

* actually, Tom Paley was a participant in the first Oldtime Music Meeting held in Wippenhausen.

Oldtime music today

Young people increasingly discover their love to traditional handmade music. Often it begins in an Oldtime music session, possibly also because it is superb to play along and practice while everyone unisono plays the same tune for quite a while and only change key upon a dozen tunes.

Some of themare completely absorbed with this and cultivate traditional Oldtime music. Others sally forth on their own way to interpret this music. This results in wonderful new styles, which always stay connected with the tradition but also adopt Bluegrass, Folk, Americana, Rock and own songs. One cannot describe this – but hear and experience it.