Truman Price / True West String Band

Music of the frontiers

Thinking about that slogan, adopted years ago
after many Oregon Trail concerts and other
historical forays: it's okay but not complete.
The fiddle sings many ways: lively, sure;
exquisite, slow; happy, sad, songs and tunes,
ballads, quotes from cultures and styles...
anyway, it's fun --

Hi! Truman plays fiddle and sings, solo or with the True West Band, and calls old-time square dances.
Below are calendar notes, a little about his play-mates; and links to videos, CDs, tunelists, and related pages
including a little essay on the Mexican Dances for Guadalupe.


Dec 12, Thursday: (Tru & Pablo Orozco on guitar) with the Native Mexican Dancers, Guadalupe Day celebrations: at St. Patrick's Church, Independence; possibly 7 pm, but check! Maybe later.

  • About the Dancers for Guadalupe and similar Celebrations [Description, 2-3 photos, a tune or two]

    In process: currently sticking photos with the past calendar pages -
    one or two each, so far

    2014 Calendar

  • Jan 11, Saturday, 7 pm: Guthrie Hall, near Dallas: Square Dance, Tru calling, Cash & Company music
  • Jan 16-18: the big Portland old-time gathering, much fiddling with old friends
  • Jan 19, Sunday. Jam at our House
  • Feb 16, Sunday. Jam at our House
  • Mar 23, Sunday. Jam at our House
  • Apr 11, Friday, 1:30 pm: "Fiddle for violinists" my Workshop. at Oregon OTFiddlers Convention, Rickreall Fairgrounds
  • Apr 11, Friday, 7:30 pm: brief set at Oregon OTFiddle Convention, Rickreall Fairgrounds
  • Apr 12, Saturday, 7 pm: Guthrie Hall, near Dallas: Square Dance, Tru calling, Cash & Company music
  • May 10, Mission Mill, Salem, 1 pm, with Silver Creek Band
  • May 10, Mission Mill, Salem, 3:30 pm, set, solo or with friends
  • May 17, Saturday, 7 pm: Dance in the Park, Independence, Run for Cancer... Tru calling, Cash & Company music
  • May 6 Monday, NW Folk Festival, Seattle; Fisher-Green Stage, 4:30; Music of the Oregon Trail; with Adam Price on banjo
  • May 23, Friday at Bush School, Seattle, "Music of the Oregon Trail" (private)
  • May 26 Monday, NW Folk Festival, Seattle; Fisher-Green Stage, 4:30; Music of the Oregon Trail; with Adam Price on banjo
  • June 28; World Beat Festival, Salem, 5:30-6:15, set
  • June 28; World Beat Festival, Salem, Fiddle circle, 6:45-8:15
  • July 4 Newell House at Champoeg, a Patriotic Fourth Celebration - repeat of last year's; late morn thru afternoon
  • July 22, Tuesday at Champoeg State Park, for "Echoes in Time" - at sunset.

    2013 Calendar

    I lost the Calendar~ Gosh! This is all done with rough data, folks, machine language... and while moving stuff I lost the Calendar for 2013.

    There were several nice things, too, I think. A program for the Salem Historical Society in February... a radio interview/show in March... seven square dances called, I think including the annual one for the Sign Language school (always a kick), two at Champoeg, two or three at Guthrie; I probably forget some. Adam and I did a father-and-son concert at NW Folklife Seattle in late May, which can be heard on NWFolklife's page: Truman and Adam at Folklife (search their page for "Truman", return buttons to come back). All the songs had to do with birds in one way or another. There was a two-person concert + square dance with Tim Crosby at an immense church in Corvallis- Old Time Night Out, fun for us... Set List.

    And the Art Rendesvouz Sept 7 - about 60 folks at a studio high in the hills behind Sheridan, 7 different types of mainly graphic artists described their thing to a large gathering. I got to mop up, the only fiddle player. I loved it. the same Set List page. Regular monthly gig for the Monmouth Senior Center. A few others, probably.

    also in late 2013:

  • Dec 12, Thurssday: (Tru & Pablo) with the Native Mexican Dancers, Guadalupe Day celebrations: 8 pm, at St. Patrick's Church, Independence. 8 dances practiced up, two hours worth; I can smell the incredibly good feast after already.
  • Dec 21 Saturday: with Wes and Paul, Saturnalia for foresters; wild music & stray dancing, maybe a reel or square.

    some 2012...

  • Feb 19, Sunday. Jam at our House
  • Mar 23, Saturday, 7 pm: Guthrie Hall, near Dallas: Square Dance, Tru calling, Cash & Company music
  • Apr 7, Sat: Private 85th Birthday Party, Mt. Angel, with Ted Hunt guitar.
  • May 12, Sat: Tru & (? Solo? ) Sheep to Shawl Festival at Mission Mill, Salem, 10 am, again 3:15 pm
  • May 25, Fri: Set at Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, Alki Stage, 3 pm. Appalachian fiddle
  • May 26, Sat: "Fiddle for Violinists", with Adam Price, a workshop at Northwest Folklife Festival, Olympic Room, 12-1 pm
  • June 21, Thurs: solo, at Albany Regional History Museum, various times in afternoon (special event: dedication of the exhibit on Albany Iron Foundry 1865-1972)
  • June 18: appraising books at the Polk County Museum, Rickreall - "and bring your fiddle!" 1:30-3:30 pm
  • June 27, Wed: with Wes Messinger for RCDHHA (sign language school) icebreaker party, (I think this is our 16th annual time for this concert/square dance!) Gentle House, WOU Monmouth, 5:30
  • July 28: Dallas Summerfest Parade, 11-1 pm, on a float with Judy and friends.
  • Aug 12: Sitting in with Old Time Fiddlers at Polk County Fair, 11 to 1 pm
  • Aug 15-18: Centralia Fiddle Campout, as usual, and maybe a little longer this time.
  • Aug 31: Oregon State Hospital, music of Oregon Trail, solo, 3 pm.
  • Sept 3, Monday: Corn Feed at South Salem Presbyterian Church, 11-1, as John Adams' friends
  • Sept 8, Saturday: calling, Barn Dance at Champoeg State Park, 6-8 pm; in the old barn near the Visitors Center, music by Worn-Out Shoes.
  • Sept 15, Saturday: danzas de Jalisco, por el Milagro del virgen de Atoche: w/ Pablo Orozco, guitar, and 20 dancers... private. - but I wrote a little essay about it which is posted here
  • Sept 29, Saturday: danzas de Jalisco, w/ Pablo Orozco, guitar, and 25 dancers... private.
  • Oct 20, Saturday: danzas de Jalisco, w/ Pablo Orozco, guitar, and 25 dancers... private.
  • Dec 12, Wednesday: (Tru & Pablo) with the Native Mexican Dancers, Guadalupe Day celebrations: 7 pm, at St. Patrick's Church, Independence
    About the Dancers for Guadalupe and similar Celebrations [Description, 2-3 photos, a tune or two]

    Two regular jams:
  • 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 fiddle tunes jam in Keizer on the first Sunday of each month.
    Inquire here, or of Roger Applegate. A smaller group gets together third Sundays at our house, to practice tunes, primarily Appalachian fiddle tunes. Of the core group of about 12-15 musicians perhaps half show up at any particular jam. Here's the tunelists as played from two sample months. Inquire.
  • Second Wednesday every month, a few friends and I perform for a very small but enthusiastic regular audience at the Monmouth Senior Center, 6:30 - 8pm; come in, welcome!

    1800's Reel at Newell House, Champoeg - Suzanne on the left
  • Busking with Gumbo, Corvallis Saturday Market - photo by Jesse Beam
  • At the Guthrie Jam, January 2010

    The True West Band

    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. Even 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: 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 evenings of oldtimey (square) dance. The biggest had 24 squares. We don't tour, although we occasionally play in Washington.

    Some Folks

    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. Truman and Wes have played fiddle and banjo together for thirty 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. Taco has also directed or done the stagecraft for literally hundreds of theatrical productions.

    Tim Crosby is often in the group. A gifted multi-instrumentalist in many styles, on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bones, grin, pick, he played with the trio Briarose for many years, and released a solo CD of original and traditional cowboy songs, "Crystal Creek" by "Slim Crosby". He also played Irish music 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 often 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... in 1976... 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)

    Truman solo or True West have played three to many repeated performances at each of these-

    1. Artist in Schools Programs (over 30 schools)
    2. Misc. programs for Oregon Historical Society (@ 40x)
    3. Champoeg Harvest Festival
    4. Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City (24 shows, 2 seasons)
    5. Gilbert House Children's Museum
    6. Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle
    7. Oregon Folklife Festival, Corvallis
    8. Portland Folklore Society
    9. Lynn & Pat Regan's Limousin Ranch 4th of July Celebrations (@ 15x)
    10. Salem Art Fair
    11. Salem Waterfront Grassroots Festival 3x, World Beat Festival 4x
    12. Silver Falls Main Lodge
    13. Silver Falls, Overnight Campground Ampitheatre
    14. Timberline Lodge
    15. Willamette Vineyards
    16. Old World Deli, Corvallis (100x +) We could go on....

    Sometime soon, maybe?: 300 tunes done in public

    Some Video:

  • Solos filmed by Josh Meredith & Bob Zybach near Corvallis 2005, part of a presentation on the old California-Oregon Trail (Oregon Trail era material):
    > Note: We had just spent two hours finding camas roots and grubbing blackberry vines out of the watershed, and were all kinda muddy!
  • 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:
  • Mississippi Sawyer
  • Wait for the Wagon
  • Frosty Morning


    Two CD's for sale:
  • Songs of the Oregon Trail CD Truman and Jane Keefer
  • Rough and Ready CD Truman and Wes
  • About the Dances for Guadelupe Celebrations

    Lessons: 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.

    Books: We make our main living these days selling antiquarian books, especially children's literature, and have a site at 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 -