International Women’s Day
(Cross-posted from Josh’s blog.)
In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s a post about women who play old-time music. There’s a perception that old-time is a genre mainly for and by old white men. I’ll grant that the old-time scenes I’m aware of are awfully white, but a lot of musicians I respect are women. Here are some of them, with the only selection criteria being that they’re living and they’re the ones I thought of during my commute this morning:
Brittany Newell, Hanna Traynham, Kate Lichtenstein, & Katy Harris: The Barn Owls
Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer
Anna and Elizabeth
Gabrielle Macrae, Joanna Macrae, & Marian Macrae Herrmann: The Macrae Sisters
Mary Z Cox
I can’t find any videos of Maya playing, but she’s a fine musician in addition to being the archivist of the Canotes’ string band class.
Sandy Bradley was a real presence for me, growing up in Seattle in the ’80s and ’90s. She was a big part of Seattle’s square dance revival in the 70s, and her “Potluck” variety show on the radio informed a lot of my musical tastes (and I hear a lot of the Canotes, who were the house band, in my playing now). My first fiddle and bass were bought at the instrument auction she ran at Folklife. She dropped out of the scene around the late 90s, and recordings are hard to find now. Finding a used copy of Hollow Rock Legacy is probably your best bet. Here’s the first part of a more recent three part interview with her:
A great collection of tunes Josh. Spent an hour listening instead of practicing… but enjoyed it!
As you know, very few women fiddlers in the historic record. One such was Viola Ruth of Arizona, a contemporary of Eck Roberts, John Salyer, etc. A contest and dance fiddler raised in rural Arizona, she became a nationally recognized expert on square dance tunes and in 1948 published a tunebook of trad tunes she had collected since childhood. I posted a brief biography, video and link to her tunebook on the Facebook page “Old Time String Band Jam Tunes” Email me for more info.
This is lovely. A friend turned me onto this. I haven’t ever been to slower than dirt–hopefully I can make it sometime. Such a great job on this!