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Billy Womack | Down at the Barber Shop

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Country: Bluegrass Country: Traditional Country Moods: Type: Compilations
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Down at the Barber Shop

by Billy Womack

Performances by one of Tennessee's finest traditional fiddlers, Billy Womack.
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lee Highway Blues
1:46 $0.99
2. Big John
2:49 $0.99
3. Grey Eagle
1:23 $0.99
4. Scarlet's Waltz
5:07 $0.99
5. Sail Away Ladies
2:54 $0.99
6. Arkansas Traveller
2:45 $0.99
7. Li'l Liza Jane
3:38 $0.99
8. Red Bird Waltz
2:48 $0.99
9. Billy in the Low Ground
1:25 $0.99
10. Katy Hill
2:54 $0.99
11. The Lyle Breakdown
2:44 $0.99
12. Forked Deer
2:59 $0.99
13. Sopping the Gravy
1:52 $0.99
14. Reed's Waltz
1:41 $0.99
15. Durang's Hornpipe
1:57 $0.99
16. Cannon County Breakdown
2:19 $0.99
17. Dill Pickles
1:22 $0.99
18. Barber's Blues
2:09 $0.99
19. Katie Hill
1:35 $0.99
20. Billy in the Low Ground 2
1:24 $0.99
21. Tennessee Wagoner
1:43 $0.99
22. Boating up Sandy
1:43 $0.99
23. Medley: Arkansas Traveler /The Eighth of January / Snowshoes
2:40 $0.99
24. Leather Britches
1:53 $0.99
25. Billy Womack Interview
1:15 album only
26. Billy Interview
0:44 $0.99
27. Final Womack Interview
0:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
His close friends called him Hon. Some of his picking buddies called him Worm. He was known as the Cannon County Snake Skinner and as Billy the Barber. Whatever name Billy Womack answered to depended on the crowd he was running with at any particular time. The stories surrounding Billy Womack could easily fill a book. He was a champion fiddler, a mean guitar player, a master buck dancer, and a violin maker. He taught others to play the fiddle, sheared countless heads of hair, was famous for skinning rattlesnakes and for playing practical jokes, and weighed 104 pounds soaking wet. He influenced scores of young musicians who traveled miles of country roads to jam with him in his fabled Bluegrass Barber Shop. All of these talents and traits combined to make a man who was a local legend, and one of the most sorely under recorded fiddlers in Tennessee traditional music.

Billy Womack, a lifelong Cannon County resident, was born in Sycamore Creek, twelve miles to the north of Woodbury, on October 22, 1922. His parents, Joe Bob Womack, a former teacher, and Elizabeth Higgins Womack owned a grocery in downtown Woodbury, in a stone building that still stands on East Main Street today. Billy taught himself the art of barbering and opened the barbershop beside his parents' store. Billy could have easily become a professional musician but chose to remain close to his home and his family. He wanted to be a fiddling barber, not a barbering fiddler. Billy shunned what he called the professional lifestyle because he was a homebody and didn't want to get mixed up in the fast paced living that fueled many touring musicians. He was extremely proud that the pickers in his barbershop never touched a drop of alcohol or took any drugs before they walked through the doors. Anyway playing professionally couldn't make you a lot of money, it could only give you a name.

His first instrument was a Gene Autry guitar emblazoned with a picture of Champion, but he quickly became entranced by the fiddle. While his father owned and "tried" to play a fiddle, Billy learned mostly from his Uncle Delbert. Billy started playing at the age of twelve often "borrowing" his uncle's fiddle until he was run off. His uncle eventually taught Billy his entire repertoire of tunes. When it looked as though calcium deposits that formed in Billy's ears would end any chance he had of a career in music, he became a barber. After a series of operations in Memphis, Billy regained his hearing and immediately took up the fiddle again, and he played it for the rest of his life. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 69.

In the early 1970s Billy played fiddle on Magnum Banjos and Sequel to Magnum Banjos, albums that featured twin chromatic banjo playing. He cut a couple of sides for Dailey Records, a Woodbury based music label. He played fiddle with the Piney Pickers on their album The Piney Pickers Play Bluegrass. He won the Senior Division fiddler's competition at the 1976 Smithville Jamboree. He received the Heritage Award at the 1988 Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro. Considering that he had a fiddling career that extended over fifty years, this doesn't seem to be much of a resume.

What those credits do not begin to show are the feats of a fiddler who kept his considerable talents close to him, did not favor center stage and dodged the spotlight, and whose favorite thing about playing music was actually playing music-with friends and strangers, with professionals and beginners. What is truly amazing is the support Billy Womack gave to countless contemporaries and to young local musicians, and the amount of support they in turn gave to Womack and to this project. Long forgotten recordings poured in from sources, literally the world over. Musicians who picked with Billy let out a deafening roar of support. I don't know if there ever can be a definitive collection of Billy Womack's recordings; he wore so many hats. This collection is a view of Billy's hat rack.

Even better, it is a sampler of one fantastic musician, a Tennessee Renaissance Man
playing his fiddle just for the love of it. Here is Billy Womack spanning twenty odd years, messing and kidding around, surrounded by friends and fans alike, reveling in his life and love, and playing the heck out of a fiddle.



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