"Music of the frontiers"
Thinking about that slogan, adopted years ago after doing Oregon Trail concerts and a few other historical forays, it's okay but not complete. If not a special lecture/concert, the fiddle sings a wide mixture: lively, sure; and exquisite and slow; happy, sad, tunes, ballads, quotes from other cultures and styles. A more accurate title: "Fiddle Music That Leaves You Feeling Good" --
Hi! Truman plays a variety of folk music, usually on fiddle with vocals, solo or with the True West Band, and calls old-time square dances. Here are calendar notes, a little about the people; and links to some videos, two CDs, tunelists, and related pages including a little essay on the Mexican Dances for Guadalupe.
Truman often plays solo, with fiddle and voice. The True West Band plays authentic music(s) of the frontier, from Appalachian fiddle tunes along the Oregon trail into the West; influences along the way -- bringing in ancient ballads, blues, Scandinavian fiddle tunes, Norteno polkas, swing, etc., more below. We also do old-timey dances, including the dance calling.
The core of True West for years has been Truman Price, fiddle, and Wes Messinger, guitar and banjo. We often perform as a trio: Truman, Wes, and either Don "Taco" Austin, Tim Crosby, or Paul Clements (see "Some Folks" below). Or a quartet. Or with other good musicians. Including sometimes my son Adam Price, from Seattle, on banjo (see youtube bits below).
We don't advertise. Performances are due to word-of-mouth encounters, but we've done hundreds (and thanks to everyone for passing the word!): outdoor festivals in the summers, weddings, libraries, for years a second-and-fourth Saturday of the month 3-hour gig at the Old World Deli in Corvallis. It was good practice. A list of some of the gigs that turned into multiple repeat performances is shown below the calendars. I've called over a hundred programs of oldtimey (square) dance. We don't tour, although we occasionally play in Washington.
(Tru and/or True West have played three to many repeated performances at each of these:)
In process: currently sticking photos with the past calendar pages - |
one or two each, so far
General jam: Guthrie Park, 3 miles south of Dallas at 4320 Kings Valley Hwy, has been running every Friday night, 7-10 pm, for 25 years (I never missed a Friday in the first ten years or so). A very large jam - over 20 musicians each week, a large and faithful audience and people dancing. It follows a strict rotation around the circle of musicians around the floor, although there is a dominant group who sit on the edge of the stage. Music includes country-western, older pop, folk, fiddle tunes and waltzes. If the weather is nice the old-time-fiddle musicians may move out to the porch, away from the accordions et al.
Appalachian fiddle tunes: There is a very nice Appalachian fiddle tunes jam in Keizer on the first Sunday of each month. Inquire here, or of Roger Applegate. A smaller group gets together twice a month, first Sundays in Keizer, third Sundays at our house, to practice fiddle tunes, primarily Appalachian fiddle tunes. Of the core group of about 12-15 musicians perhaps half show up at any particular practice. Here's a couple of recent tunelists. Inquire.
Early on, Truman's father assigned him to learn to play fiddle like his great-uncle, a one-room school teacher in the mountains of Georgia. This began an extended process of trial and error including a few years of childhood violin training, a few years residence in Appalachia, etc. On his father's 90th birthday, he played Ol' Dan Tucker and was rewarded with, "That's pretty good" (after years of "Nope"). In between, he had studied traditional fiddle styles, played hundreds of tunes and songs, forgot lots of them, made up some, etc. He has been most influenced by J. P. Fraley, Woody Guthrie, Western Virginia fiddle conventions, Highwoods String Band, the Rounders, dreams of Grappelli ... and "Pa" Ingalls as described in Laura Wilders' books. Tru's pursuit of frontier fiddle techniques has enabled him to fiddle and sing, or even call dances, at the same time, and he loves getting people involved. The collection, Songs and Tunes of The Oregon Trail , with Jane Keefer, sold 1000 copies as a cassette tape, and is now on CD at Amazon. Truman also calls oldtime dances, squares, etc., and has been artist-in-residence for 60 weeks in Oregon schools, teaching square & circle dances with live fiddle music. He taught at least 5 dances each to about 14,000 children. He is an antiquarian bookseller, with specialities in children's literature (with Suzanne's expertise) and folk music, and maintains a small farm with a few Jersey beef. A more or less accurate newspaper feature about Truman's Fiddling was published in the Salem Statesman-Journal 9/28/08.
John Wesley Messinger has rambled the Great American West most all of his life, but came of age in Dare County, North Carolina. This is where he had his first and only banjo lesson (what WAS that girl's name? She sure had a nice banjo...). The style is oldtime southern clawhammer. I've heard no one better at it. Wes also performs strange ancient ballads, traditional songs of the American West, and is a fine, reckless, rhythm guitarist. Interesting stuff. He is a field botanist by trade.
Truman and Wes have played fiddle and banjo together for twenty years, and bounce tunes and songs off each other without even trying. They both began with immersion in Appalachian fiddle tunes, but have been easily distracted: Western Swing and Swing, rags, Mexican polkas and folkloric tunes, Scandinavian tunes, the Rounders, anything loose and vigorous, or just plain catchy. Both sing while playing. If needed they produce old-time square dances, taught and called on the spot. Wes' banjo style is outstanding for these dances, being dynamic, rhythmic, melodic and fast, all at once, and his memory for the lyrics of obscure ballads is remarkable. True West has performed countless times for audiences of every size and kind, including many three-hour sets of authentic music of the pioneer era for the Champoeg Harvest Festival, Mountain Men Conventions, receptions and many other events, and a Saturday night show at the Old World Deli in Corvallis every week for several years..
Taco, nee Don Austin is an absolute virtuoso on the washtub. He does not thump or thunk: he plays notes, including sizzling chromatic runs; if we are in a swing number, he takes solo breaks. I've never seen anything like it, and I don't know how he does it. Neither does he, unless you count the old saw about "how do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Years ago he was a regular member of the True West Band; later he played most of the colleges in the Northwest as half of a duo, Austin & Ehart, tub and mandolin. Don makes up interesting songs, has a wonderful Brechtian voice, and is also a real nice guy. He's a farm handyman for the Olsons and in his spare time directs theatrical productions.
Tim Crosby is often in the group. He is a gifted multi-instrumentalist in many styles, on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bones, grin, pick. He has played with the trio Briarose for many years, and has released a solo CD of original and traditional cowboy songs, "Crystal Creek" by "Slim Crosby". He has played Irish music for years with The Flying O'Carolan Brothers. Since 2005 Tim has been so busy at major gigs with the hot Portland bluegrass band Phoenix Rising that it is sometimes hard to book him. Tim has played as part of the True West Band, or as a duo with Truman, for at least 50 events. They have enjoyed evenings which included a brief concert, followed by an oldtimey dance, followed by a campfire singalong, as a duo. Like the rest of us, Tim loves meeting people and gathering music lore.
Jane Keefer, despite her PhD in Theoretical Chemistry and Physics (or because of it?) and brief career as a computer programmer for NASA, made her living for eight years by teaching folk music around Salem, Oregon (try that sometime!) She plays and teaches folk styles on fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, guitar and mandolin, also plays hammered dulcimer, autoharp, pian, etc. She has transcribed music for over 2000 traditional tunes in both notation and written tablature for the main string instruments. While working on the East Coast for several years she developed the Folk Music Index, which lists and indexes all folk music on record, based on her personal collection. Jane lives in Portland, where she teaches string band classes, performs with General Strike and is active with the Portland Folklore Society. Her 50-tune collection of fiddle tunes, in fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar versions, was published by Mel Bay in 2011. We played together frequently when she lived in Salem, still do occasionally, and always love the music.
Paul Clements and Truman first played together near Blacksburg, Virginia, after raising a log cabin on Jude Deplaze's farm... 30+ years ago... Paul has been an Oregon State Forester for quite a few years, out of Eugene. He is wild and knowledgable, an exciting fiddle and guitar player, and we have been fortunate to have played several gigs together recently. An artist. Paul also plays regularly with Wes in the Eugene contra dance band, Barnstormers.
From the desk window in Early Spring . . . . . . . Same thing in June, with organic Jerseys . . . . . . . Hey, Stop Scaring My Cows! (Sept 1)
Most of these videos, and a few others, are on YouTube, some with nice comments - poke here, or just enter the words "old time fiddle" and see what comes up!
June Apple: A bit filmed by Ray Leach at Centralia Campout August 2005, trio with Adam Price and Tom Peloso (of Modest Mouse).These are with Adam Price on banjo, at the Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, Memorial Day Weekend 2007:
---Two CD's for sale:
I have given lessons from beginning violin to advanced fiddle for many years.
Several former fiddle students have become very impressive players. At our home near Monmouth, $20.
We make our main living these days selling antiquarian books,
especially children's literature, and have a site at
http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com. As a side specialty, I offer a few
hundred books containing or about folk music,
which can be searched here.
Use as keywords, folk music, or fiddle [leaves our site; return through back buttons].
We also sell some of that nice beef glimpsed in the photos above. Organically grown, mothers from a nearby
Organic Jersey dairy, raised on grass, and grass hay in the winter, supplemented in the fall by lots of apples and pears from our big old trees. Amazingly
good flavor - you cannot get better beef anywhere! (*recently found an authoritative paper from a New Zealand university which objectively established Jersey
beef as the tastiest and tenderest - and even with healthier fat than other beef. We sell by the quarter, cut and wrapped.
For more about the beef, poke here.
Books: We make our main living these days selling antiquarian books, especially children's literature, and have a site at http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com. As a side specialty, I offer a few hundred books containing or about folk music, which can be searched here. Use as keywords, folk music, or fiddle [leaves our site; return through back buttons].
Organic Beef: We also sell some of that nice beef glimpsed in the photos above. Organically grown, mothers from a nearby Organic Jersey dairy, raised on grass, and grass hay in the winter, supplemented in the fall by lots of apples and pears from our big old trees. Amazingly good flavor - you cannot get better beef anywhere! (*recently found an authoritative paper from a New Zealand university which objectively established Jersey beef as the tastiest and tenderest - and even with healthier fat than other beef. We sell by the quarter, cut and wrapped. For more about the beef, poke here.
Contact - Truprice@wvi.com