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Foot-Notes | My Father Was a Fiddler. . .

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United States - Iowa

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Folk: String Band Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Instrumental
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My Father Was a Fiddler. . .

by Foot-Notes

Dance tunes collected in northeast Iowa from descendants of the area's early fiddlers and performed by Foot-Notes in the Norwegian-american style.
Genre: Folk: String Band
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Alfred Blagen's Hoppwaltz (feat. This Tune Begins With a Clip of an Historic Recording from the Early 1950s of Alfred Blagen (Fiddle), Ellen Blagen (Piano) and Eli Ellickson (Tuba.)]
2:33 $0.99
2. Dad's Waltz
2:58 $0.99
3. Pick the Wood/Chop the Eggs
2:07 $0.99
4. Frank Richards' Waltz
2:15 $0.99
5. Herb Geving's Waltz
2:57 $0.99
6. Å Kjøre Vatten
2:51 $0.99
7. Burt Faldet's Waltz/Ole Moe's (feat. Ellen Blagen, Piano)
4:29 $0.99
8. Johan Arndt's Polka
2:11 $0.99
9. Genette Burgess' Waltz
2:37 $0.99
10. Thea's Waltz
2:35 $0.99
11. Melvin Leiran's Schottische
1:48 $0.99
12. Bal I Karlstad (feat. Ellen Blagen, Piano)
1:38 $0.99
13. Harry Brandt's Waltz
2:00 $0.99
14. Brytva-John's Waltz
2:36 $0.99
15. Home, Sweet Home
4:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Produced in celebration of Decorah, Iowa's sesquicentennial, 1849-1999, and in honor of the area's rich heritage of music.

Beth Hoven Rotto, fiddle, viola, dulcimer, piano, vocal.
Jim Skurdal, Mandolin, lead vocal.
Jon Rotto, guitar jaw harp, vocal.
Bill Musser acoustic bass, vocal.

From the time the first white settlers arrived in the 1840s until the early part of the twentieth century, the bluff country of northeast Iowa yielded a bumper crop of fiddlers who provided music for neighborhood dances and house parties. Besides their own compositions, these musicians played tunes from the "old country" and melodies learned from neighbors with entirely different backgrounds and repertoires; and they occupied an important place in their communities until the arrival of cars and televisions permanently changed the social fabric of rural life. Today, there are few who remember the old tunes, and even fewer who play the fiddle.

Our band, Foot-Notes, formed in 1991, and we have continued a tradition of monthly dances in a rustic two-rom schoolhouse in Highlandville, Iowa, where area residents have been gathering for years. The old-time music we play reflects our ties to Norwegian-American communities, including Decorah, where we now live. In this recording we have set out to revive some of the tunes of the area's early fiddlers and to offer a glimpse of the invigorating influence of their music on community life.

Since the late 1980s our fiddler, Beth Hoven Rotto, has been collecting fiddle tunes from local residents. The music on this recording is the result of her collaboration with some wonderful people. First of all, this project would have been impossible without Ellen Blagen, the daughter of fiddler Alfred Blagen. When Beth first met her in 1995, Ellen told about an old notebook containing the opening notes of many of her father's fiddle tunes. She had used the notebook whenever she played the piano along with him. We were delighted that Ellen was willing to reconstruct many of those tunes from memory and let us record her.

Helen Ehrie gave us many tunes once played by her father, Herb Geving, and other neighbors, melodies rarely heard today. As a girl, Helen attended house parties and often accompanied or "chorded" on piano or guitar for her father. In recent years she has also taught herself to play the violin.

Bernice Clark and her daughters, Lois McCormick and Diane Preditis, have located and shared tune-books, recordings, and valuable information about their family members, Johan Arndt and Thea Arndt Clark.

Gladys Rude has been an inspiration with delightful stories and insights about her father, Harry Brandt, her grandfather, Jacob Brandt, and her great-grandfather, Johan Arndt, as well as other fiddlers from the past.

A 24 page booklet with descriptions of the fiddlers and these tunes is available with purchase of a CD. An companion tune-book with notated melody and chords for all instrumental selections is available from the band website.



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