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Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler

Jack Blandiver 26 Dec 07 - 10:24 AM
The Sandman 26 Dec 07 - 10:34 AM
The Villan 26 Dec 07 - 10:39 AM
Mark Ross 26 Dec 07 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Dec 07 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Arkie 26 Dec 07 - 05:12 PM
RangerSteve 26 Dec 07 - 06:34 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 26 Dec 07 - 06:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Dec 07 - 08:07 PM
Bob Bolton 26 Dec 07 - 08:26 PM
Charley Noble 26 Dec 07 - 09:34 PM
Sorcha 26 Dec 07 - 09:38 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 26 Dec 07 - 09:39 PM
Jack Blandiver 27 Dec 07 - 04:18 AM
Bob Bolton 27 Dec 07 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Neil D 27 Dec 07 - 08:43 AM
Arkie 27 Dec 07 - 01:00 PM
Gurney 28 Dec 07 - 03:29 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Dec 07 - 04:44 AM
Bob Bolton 28 Dec 07 - 06:03 AM
Tradsinger 28 Dec 07 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 28 Dec 07 - 08:56 PM
Stringsinger 29 Dec 07 - 05:54 PM
Goose Gander 29 Dec 07 - 10:55 PM
DannyC 30 Dec 07 - 01:25 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Dec 07 - 02:51 PM
Goose Gander 23 Jan 08 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 23 Jan 08 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Mr L. urker 24 Jan 08 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Another Friend 11 Jul 11 - 11:54 AM
The Sandman 11 Jul 11 - 12:03 PM
The Sandman 11 Jul 11 - 12:11 PM
The Sandman 11 Jul 11 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Mr Red 12 Jul 11 - 10:28 AM
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Subject: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 10:24 AM

Somewhere I've got a book of traditional Australian songs which includes a picture of an old one-armed fiddler; one-and-a-half arms anyway, with his bow attached to a wooden block at the erstwhile elbow joint. Doing a search on line I came up with this.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SYmqC5XznEw

Any other examples of such disabled musical ingenuity?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 10:34 AM

Walter Greaves,one armed singer,who used to cycle to his gigs using one arm.,and who was a champion one armed cyclist
www.cyclingnews.com - the world centre of cyclingWalter Greaves: The most unpopular record breaker of all? It's been held by General De Gaulle's ... Walter Greaves had reason to think little of the world. ...
www.cyclingnews.com/features/?id=2006/woodland_greaves - 24k .
Dave Brady, one armed concertina player.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 10:39 AM

Not music, but a few years ago at the Golf Club I was a member of, I used to play occasionally against a man who had only 1 leg. If I remember correctly he had a handicap of about 22.
He used a crutch to support one side of his body and used his one arm to hold the crutch. The other arm, he used for holding the golf club.
He was an incredible guy and it was amazing to watch him play some unbelievable shots.
Such a nice man.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 11:10 AM

YouTube has a video of a one-armed fiddler holding the bow between his knees and moving the fiddle upp and down. Amazing to watch.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 04:35 PM

Pardon the intrusion of a horn into the mix, but the story is good. A late friend, and great drummer, Dick Lopez, was fond of musicians' practical jokes and tales of same. One was heard from a bandmate at "Mickie Finn's," a San Diego night spot of fame in the 1960's. This fellow had played in big bands in the late thirties and forties. He told of how "Wingy Manone," a noted one-armed trumpet player of the era, had offended his road roommate by coming in drunk once too often, waking him with loud and boorish behavior. The fellow waited until "Wingy" was asleep, then packed his bags and went to another room. When the trumpeter awoke next morning, he was astonished to find his prosthetic arm had been sawn in half and left on the floor. Fighting both a monumental hangover and a towering rage, he stalked the floor, contemplating his next move. Suddenly, a knock at the door revealed a bellman with a small, carefully gift-wrapped item, which was proffered to "Wingy." He thought to himself, "Aha! The bastard's trying to get back in my good graces!" He opened the little box and found...ONE cuff link!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 05:12 PM

Leonard Smith, a fiddler from southern Missouri played fiddle with one arm in the manner described above by Mark Ross. It was amazing how he could make music.   He was a frequent judge of fiddle contests in Missouri and Arkansas.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: RangerSteve
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 06:34 PM

Lowe Stokes, the Georgia fidder who played with numerous bands in the 20's and 30's, including the Skillet Lickers lost his bowing hand, and used a special attachment to hold his bow.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 06:42 PM

I've played with a one-armed guitarist a few times at bluegrass festivals in Florida and Georgia. He plays a Gibson ES-335 electric guitar tuned to open D tuning. Since open D rarely requires use of all four fingers to make common chord shapes, he's able to pick with his pinky and, sometimes, ring finger. He also uses lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs, as you would expect.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 08:07 PM

One of the responses to that clip summed up what it said to me: "If he can do it I have no excuses. Thanks for getting my tail in gear."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 08:26 PM

G'day Sedayne,

Your "book of traditional Australian songs which includes a picture of an old one-armed fiddler" is, presumably, Folk Songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them, John Meredith and Hugh Anderson, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1967 (et seq). The fiddler was frank Adams of Windeyer, near Mudgee, new South Wales - and area in which Meredith did much of his pioneer collecting as it was within a reasonable train trip from Sydney and Meredith had made a lot of contacts through the body of folk musicians in that area.

Adams, born 1882 - and a popular, proficient dance fiddler by the age of 16 - had lost his left arm below the elbow in a chaff cutter accident at 18. Rather than sell his fiddle, he restrung the fiddle 'left-handed', strapped the bow to the cup fitted over the stump of his left arm - and played for local dances for the next 60 years!

Unfortunately, Meredith was unable to get recordings on his early, main-driven, tape recorder. The first visit, he found that Frank's hut had no mains power ... the second visit, with a local friend whose land-Rover had a 240 volt inverter, he found that Frank had gone away to Lithgow for the weekend ... and, on the third visit, 3 months later, he found that Frank had died!

BTW: A different photo of Frank playing is in Real Folk, John Meredith, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1995 - a collection of Meredith's photographs of his folklore informants. It is accessible on the National Library of Australia's "Music Australia" web site: Frank Adams - one-armed fiddler.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 09:34 PM

The video, linked in the first post, is well worth watching. It certainly is a great example of determine to play on, despite one's disability.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 09:38 PM

Can I say Django here?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 09:39 PM

There is a Public Service Announcement on Cdn TV which shows a young man playing a very fast classical sequence, and he has one arm. He has a bow attached to his right arm, where the hand would be. Amazing fellow. Don't recall if his name was ever shown. The PSA was for the War Amps program in Canada.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 04:18 AM

Cheers, Bob - thanks for the info & link; that's the book right enough, currently in storage, alas. There's another picture in there that's always fascinated me - someone playing a home-made stringed instrument (oil can & broom shank if I remember right) with a steel. Do you know anything about that?

In this context I might mention Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who, after suffering a stroke, rebuilt his tenor saxophone so he could play it with one hand.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 06:49 AM

G'day Sedayne,

That one is Cyril Abbott's home-made instrument that John Meredith rather oddly called the "kerosene-tin dulcimer".

Kerosene (possibly 'rock oil' to early America?) was widely used as a power source for lighting, portable cooking, early tractors and refrigerators. Both its distinctive square 4-gallon tins ... and the wooden boxes in which four of them were packed ... were extensively re-used in a variety of ingenious ways. Cyril Abbott made up instruments that had 3 steel guitar strings tunes: two in close unison ... plus one slightly sharp.

These were played with a steel ... a la Hawaiian guitar - and Cyril eked out a living in the Depression years busking around Mudgee with his instruments. He still had several, which he played along with local dance musicians, in the 1950s when Meredith was collecting in that area.

I have a replica out in my back shed ... made not with a kerosene tin (long vanished from the Australian scene - kerosene now comes in 5-gallon / 22.5 litre round drums) but with a tin scrounged from outside a nearby Italian restaurant (I live in Leichhardt - Sydney's "Little Italy") previously filled with 18 litres of tomato puree! Strings are tuned by turning metal screws via a wing-nut brazed on ... and tightening a second wing nut to set the pitch.

I note it with a finger steel on the left index finger and play the string with a stiff plectrum. This was made up for a presentation I did at Sydney's "Powerhouse Museum" on 'Instruments from recycled materials'.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 08:43 AM

The drummer for Def Leppard's only got one arm.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Arkie
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 01:00 PM

The fiddler in the video is Leonard Smith.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Gurney
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 03:29 AM

There was a guy in Swan Arcade who made a good fist of playing a duet concertina with 1.5 arms, but a one-armed fiddler, playing with a fixed bow? That would be an impressive feat!

Be much easier to switch to trumpet, or bowed psaltery.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 04:44 AM

Cheers, Bob - thanks for the info on the KTD. Any recordings of Cyril's playing?

Gurney - check the video link at the beginning of the thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 06:03 AM

G'day Sedayne,

There are transcriptions of two of the local Mudgee (town in NSW's western districts) dance tunes: The Mudgee Schottische and The Mudgee Waltz, as played by Cyril ("Bunny") Abbot in John Meredith's Folk Songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them. Back in his 1950s collecting period, Meredith usually had a musical session with a number of loacl musicians at Cyril's home ... so I suspect there may be more tape of Cyril than just those two tunes. (It may well have been the Abbott house that was used for recording other passing musicians and singers.)

Anyway, it was rather remiss of me not to get copy recordings back when I constructed my replica of the "Kerosene Tin Dulcimer" as a "show and touch" item at the workshop series! I can't see any direct link to these tunes on the National Library of Australia's (or MusicAustralia's) web sites. I'll run this past a friend who works for the NLA as a field collector ... and see if I can get them as CD-R copies - from which I can extract MP3 files (or similar files) small enough to email.

regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Tradsinger
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 07:53 AM

There was the late Dick "Daddy" Richards of upstate New York who, despite losing his left hand in an accident when young, had a successful musical career playing fiddle and guitar and doing gigs into his 80s. See
http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/upnorth/masters/richards/richards.php

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 08:56 PM

Very Interesting Thread

Mr. Sedayne....I will see your arm...and do you an arm better.

Mr. Melendez has no arms, plays the guitar, and has sung for the Pope.

Wiki Connection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Melendez

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Happy to see you are also an Ex-Pat .....
Mr. GUEST: TJ....stick around a while...the Mudcat needs your style.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 05:54 PM

On a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, I heard a deaf concertina player who was able to tell the sounds by placing one side of the instrument against the bone of his ear.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Goose Gander
Date: 29 Dec 07 - 10:55 PM

Well, there's Henderson Brack the one-armed fiddler of Louisiana.

And don't forget Roy Thackerson the fingerless fiddler of Texas.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: DannyC
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 01:25 AM

'Chief' O'Neill wrote of a Patrick Cummins from near Bree, Co Wexford who "lost his left hand by a mishap while engaged in blasting a rock, but the genius of music was so strong that by reversing the strings and making some small structural alterations in his fiddle, he nullified the effect of his misfortune. An appliance of his own invention by which the bow could be attached to his left wrist enabled him to acquire a wonderful degree of proficiency and maintain his enviable reputation as a musician, although by no means a young man when the accident occurred."

From the context of O'Neill's discussion, I'd guess the time period would have been the 1870 or '80s. Yeppers, us Cummins are more than a nameplate on a diesel.

Happy New Year,

Danny Cummins


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 02:51 PM

And then there was 'the silent fiddler' (still spoken of here in Miltown Malbay in hushed terms.
He appeared in the early days of The Willie Clancy Summer School; he would sit in on a session, carefully take the fiddle out of the case, rosin the bow - then sit there throughout the session without playing a note.
This went on for a couple of years, when he appeared on the scene with a flute - and didn't play that either.
Everybody was completely nonplussed until they realised that (in those days) all the musicians were given free drinks by the publicans.
Jim Carroll
PS Cap'n - thanks for reminding me of Walter Greaves - lovely man.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: Goose Gander
Date: 23 Jan 08 - 12:32 PM

Ray Myers the Armless Musician, photograph from the website of WPAQ in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 23 Jan 08 - 01:52 PM

Very interesting thread. I had a few problems starting out on the guitar due to a permanently dislocated right elbow and shoulder. My dad introduced me to Django Reinhardt and it fired me up to develop my own style.

I recently came across Andres Godoy who's pretty nifty on the guitar despite having only one arm.

Thanks for the link to Tony Meléndez, Gargoyle. I remember seeing him playing for the Pope on TV when I was still quite small and being completely blown away.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Mr L. urker
Date: 24 Jan 08 - 03:31 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpqIpIQv0sU

A guy playing the guitar with his feet. And playing it well!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Another Friend
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 11:54 AM

Dick Lopez was also a friend of mine. I lost contact when I moved to Mexico 12 years ago. Can you tell me how and when Dick passed on?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 12:03 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYmqC5XznEw


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 12:11 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAIjrI23PrE&feature=relatedthere was also a one armed guitar player called emory martin


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 12:15 PM

and a harmonica player called big john wrencher aka one arm john


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Subject: RE: Folklore: The One-Armed Fiddler
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 10:28 AM

Mary Anderson who duetted with Ken Brown in the early 90's.

I first saw her play harp with a metal grip and triangle of metal (ish) to pluck with. In the Flying Cloud Folk Club at Tir na Nog, Toronto in the mid 80's. By the time she was touring with Ken she had a more hand like prosthetic which apparently used a a battery every performance. She lost her hand in a car accident as a teenager before she could drive.

She was very good too. So was Ken but he wasn't as pretty.


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