A Fiddler’s Postcard

I love Tennessee’s old-time fiddle music. It’s just something people do: they sit down and play fiddle tunes together, by ear—no sheet music, no chart, no tab. The tunes themselves vary widely, but most are a simple melody, repeated in a loop until someone shouts “Last time!” or “Here!” to end it. And most of the tunes are old—maybe close to a century or more. They’re part of the Appalachian musical heritage, and they’ve been kept alive by being played, passed on.

Some of the simple tunes are a dime a dozen. Some you’ll hear anywhere you go, some only in certain places. Some are modern. Some have words. Most make you want to get up and dance, or at least tap your foot. Fiddlers play them, exchange them, collect them.

Here’s an audio postcard from Joelton, Tennessee, featuring one of my favorite old-time fiddle players, Casy Meikle. Listen to him talk about old-time music and play a couple tunes.



Recorded in Joelton & Nashville, Tennessee. 

Featured tunes:
Way Down the Old Plank Road
Brown’s Dream
Sugar in the Gourd
Devil Chased Me Around the Stump

Hannah Sassoon plays old-time fiddle and collects tunes and ballads. Send her an email at hannah.sassoon@yale.edu.

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