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I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies

GUEST,high'an'lonesome 29 Jul 02 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,high'an'lonesome 29 Jul 02 - 01:47 PM
artbrooks 29 Jul 02 - 01:59 PM
Jim Dixon 29 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM
Jim Dixon 29 Jul 02 - 04:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Jul 02 - 04:50 PM
Liz the Squeak 29 Jul 02 - 05:43 PM
Jeri 29 Jul 02 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,high'an'lonesome 29 Jul 02 - 07:08 PM
Uncle_DaveO 29 Jul 02 - 08:11 PM
Mudlark 29 Jul 02 - 09:31 PM
Robin2 29 Jul 02 - 10:21 PM
EBarnacle1 30 Jul 02 - 11:21 AM
Mr Happy 30 Jul 02 - 12:49 PM
pavane 30 Jul 02 - 02:26 PM
pattyClink 30 Jul 02 - 04:12 PM
Barbara Shaw 30 Jul 02 - 04:21 PM
Catherine Jayne 30 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM
Steve Latimer 31 Jul 02 - 08:39 AM
Skipjack K8 31 Jul 02 - 08:59 AM
NightWing 31 Jul 02 - 03:47 PM
Mr Red 01 Aug 02 - 01:55 PM
Jim Dixon 17 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM
Jack Campin 17 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM
open mike 17 Mar 09 - 05:55 PM
Susanne (skw) 17 Mar 09 - 08:27 PM
Uncle Phil 18 Mar 09 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 18 Mar 09 - 11:34 AM
Uncle Phil 18 Mar 09 - 11:15 PM
BobKnight 19 Mar 09 - 06:33 AM
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Subject: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: GUEST,high'an'lonesome
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 01:35 PM

This weekend while spending some time with my family in the beautiful San Juan Islands I found out that I had a great Uncle who was quite the multi-instrumentalist. However, like me, he had a special affinity for the banjo, and all this time I thought I was the only one! In fact, since most American med schools were apparently quite anti-Semitic at the time, he went back and forth to Scotland to get his degree. As it was told to me, he earned money for school by playing in string bands on the cruise ships! My Grandfather made me drool by telling me about his office in his home adorned with banjos everywhere, walls, ceiling, etc... btw, I was delighted to hear a few songs from "Sugar on the Floor" who were performing in Friday Harbor yesterday. Thank you very much! delightful, I wish I could have stayed longer but da boat was leavin. next time!


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: GUEST,high'an'lonesome
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 01:47 PM

oh yeah, the point of all this was to see if you catters have the folk thing in your family too, or if you were the first to pick up an instrument. So were ya?


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: artbrooks
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 01:59 PM

Well, herself has the concertina her grandfather brought over from England in the 1890s and a photograph of her great-uncle Arthur (the violinist for the White Star Lines who missed the Titanic). Personally, the only instruments in my family were record players.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM

My wife (who was then my girlfriend) met my father only once, and that was when he was in the hospital during what turned out to be his final illness. I introduced her to him, and mentioned that she was a musician; she played the hammered dulcimer. I didn't think he would even know what a hammered dulcimer was, but he informed me that he had had an uncle who played one! I was astonished at the coincidence. No one had ever mentioned this before.

This great-uncle of mine died long ago and if I ever met him, I must have been too young to remember. No one in my immediate family was musical at all. My father would barely even open his mouth to sing hymns at church.

However, I did hear that my grandparents on my father's side were renowned clog dancers during their youth and courtship, but they quit going to dances when they began raising a family. They, too, died when I was very young. My father seemed to know very little about their dancing, and he told me even less. But apparently they danced well enough to be in demand as entertainers, but I don't know if they ever got paid for it.

My mother's family owned a parlor pump organ, and some of the kids learned to play it, but my mother never did. I guess there were just too many kids--eleven, to be exact.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 04:29 PM

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I am not very musical myself. I tried to learn guitar once, but never got good enough to perform in public. I have been known to sing occasionally, and have even infiltrated gatherings of Morris dancers for the purpose of singing with them at parties. (I don't dance.) My "performance" consists mainly in giving encouragement to my wife and son (He's learning rock 'n' roll bass guitar.) and in using my computer skills to find and post lyrics in the Forum.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 04:50 PM

The sad thing is, so often you only find this stuff out when it's too late. My father couldn't play an instrument, but he used to like to pick up an old zither and strum it and sing, and I never really listened.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 05:43 PM

Allegedly my father sang.... but only as a boy. My mother learned piano but has crooked little fingers (bearing in mind my family tree hasn't spread far from one village, it could have been an extra digit altogether!) so couldn't really hit the right notes.

Otherwise, that's it. Not a sausage. Or a bagpipe.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 05:55 PM

Must be something about great uncles. I was a little kid when I met my great uncle Charlie, and he was old. He lived in a cabin with one electric light bulb and cooked and heated the place with a wood stove. I remember the one time my family went there, he'd just baked an apple pie. There was a fiddle hanging on the wall. I asked him to play it, but he just showed me his hands, all knarled from arthritis like the roots of an old tree. He died when I was perhaps 10 years old - maybe younger. When I was about 20 and decided to learn fiddle, I asked my mom to find out what happened to Uncle Charlie's. Another relative had it, and was learning how to play. I was happy someone would be caring for it, even if it wasn't me.

I wish I'd had a chance to hear him play. He was part of the tradition of Adirondack fiddlers, and I would have loved to have learned fiddling from him.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: GUEST,high'an'lonesome
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 07:08 PM

thanks everybody, I'd love to read more!


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 08:11 PM

I realized my musical talents at an early age. My mother gave me a drum and told me to beat it!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Mudlark
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 09:31 PM

Both parents liked to sing...30's/40's pop ballads...and my mother wanted desperately to be a concert pianist, but never had the time/money (and maybe talent) to realize that dream. My dad didn't play an instrument but, especially in his cups, could be "persuaded" to do wonderful sentimental allout performances of such golden oldies as Dear Old Girl...

No musical talent beyond that on my dad's side, but my mother's mom sang on the stage as a youth, and my mother told me her dad could hear whole concertos in his head, tho I believe just as audience, not performer. He was a drunk, and my mother was very embarrassed by him as a child, reeling home from the local boozer conducting vast orchestras in his mind....

All gone now...gone before I had a chance to talk to any of them much about such things....


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Robin2
Date: 29 Jul 02 - 10:21 PM

Ah, high'an'lonesome, you touched a chord with me about great Uncles!

I can't write songs, but I always wished someone would write a song about my great uncle Elwin Reynolds.

Born in Larue County Ky with a serious handicap, Uncle Elwin became a railroad bum, or hobo if you wish the kinder word. He followed a set route on the rails thoughout the year, and always came into town and stayed with us in the summer every year. I always knew when he was coming as a little girl, because Mom and Dad and Gran would start whispering about him.

He called me "Little Bright Eyes", and played an open back banjo with tiny dancing girls on the head. He played Uncle Dave Macon style, and when he rapped his hand on the head of the banjo, the dancing girls would kick their tiny legs into the air. My best memories are sitting with him on the front porch, mesmerized by the little dancing girls. I remember Soldier's Joy, and Angeline the Baker.

I know he would borrow money from my mom and dad, and then give a quarter to me!

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 11:21 AM

One of my favorite family stories is that my grandfather earned his way from Odessa to Hamburg by playing piano in bars. That's also how he got the money to get to the US. Later, when he and my grandmother had a little tailor shop in Manhatten, they would sew for Polly Adler's girls and the public. It seams there were a lot of repairs as well as new work. The business eventually failed because he spent too much time at the piano and too little at the sewing machine.

I had his piano accordion until the basement flooded and it started to grow rust and mold. At that point, it joined the discard pile.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Mr Happy
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 12:49 PM

me too! Too late to meet/know musical forebears.

i knew my mum could play piano & she sang a lot- we all sang a lot a family gatherings. my auntie, mum's sister played piano & sang too. untie josie's husband uncle fred sang too, whimsical songs mostly.

i didn't find out until i was learning the melodeon that my great grandmother had played piano & piano accordian.

maybe my taking up squeezebox too is gene memory?


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: pavane
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:26 PM

My grandmother played piano, and my grandfather apparently had a fine tenor voice. The only performances I heard about were that they used to entertain the elderly! Strange coincidence, as that is what Mrs Pavane does now.

My grandfather died of lung cancer when I was 12, and as his chest was bad, I never heard him sing. I did hear my grandmother play a little on the piano, but she had arthritis by then.

My wife's family have produced several singers (one of them world-famous and a chart-topper). Comes of being Welsh, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: pattyClink
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:12 PM

Grandpa tried to teach all my siblings step-dancing and pipes, and it didn't 'take'. I arrived year after he died, way more musical than them. I have the goofy notion sometimes the musical spirit left him and came down to me.

Similar stories as those above--finally learned at "nonmusical" Dad's funeral that A. he used to call set dances and play fiddle but as the old aunt said 'I wouldn't grant him a degree in violin, if ya know what I mean'. and B. That a stash of Grandpa singing was hidden away in the Folk Archives.

Mom played parlor piano, and got too busy to keep it up, I wish I had coaxed her into becoming an active musician again.

Anyway, it does seem to pay to ask silly questions of and about the old timers in the family, you never know what you might discover.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:21 PM

My grandfather used to play guitar and sing songs in the evening, with his brother (my great uncle) who would play banjo. My husband and I now sit around playing guitar and banjo and singing songs. On the other side of the family, my uncle played violin. I fiddle around a bit. My father played piano by ear, I used to play piano with music only.

Seems like little tunes and licks fill my head from time to time, and I'm convinced they got passed down through my genetic memory. Never heard the grandfather, but his music is surely coming out in my songs.


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM

I didn't think anyone in my family was musical, my mum is tone deaf and my dad well he's my dad and like to listen to music not play it. I then found out that my Uncle, through marriage, is a composer, my grandma plays the piano, my grandpa used to be a singer and all their families played the piano or sang. Well, I picked up the fiddle at the age of 4, I then went on to play the piano, flute, clarinet, organ and saxophone. My brother and I sang in cathedral choirs and all my cousins either play and instrument or sing. We always used to have a mini concert at Christmas which was the only time we could all get together. Sadly it's a family tradition which has faded out. We very rarely get the whole family together at one time due to work commitments and also as we all grew up we moved away and some even moved out of the country! Happy memories.

Cat


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 08:39 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 08:59 AM

Although my father played trumpet at school, and mother was a four-tune pianist, they spawned six musical children, seventeen grandchildren, and currently three great-grandchildren. Now in their mid-eighties, it is their great delight to order music to be made at family parties. Well over half of the family plays something, and when we all hit it, the craic is furious.

My father's claim to infamy was shooting an accordeon left by an open window with his air rifle, and reckoning that the inevitable thrashing was worth it. I keep mine out of his way!

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: NightWing
Date: 31 Jul 02 - 03:47 PM

My father's family was not musical, and Dad's voice shows it *G*.

However, my mother's family was rather. My great-grandfather played cornet with several bands, both professionally and later as introduction to his missionary meetings. His wife was an accomplished organist. All four of their children were good singers. The four girls recorded a disk once that I once heard: excellent voices. My mother (eldest daughter of the eldest daughter) has a very good voice and loves music. Also plays piano, organ, guitar, and bits and pieces of several other instruments. She gave her love of music to me.

BB,
NightWing


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Subject: RE: BS: I learned somethin neat this weekend!
From: Mr Red
Date: 01 Aug 02 - 01:55 PM

recesive gene?


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM

One of my great-grandfathers was an Irishman from Mayo who joined the British Army at 14 and went to fight in Afghanistan. He came back knowing how to play the melodeon and flute. He died before I was born and I've never seen any more of him than his Afghan campaign medal - not even a photo.

And no I'm not proud of him for what he did back then, any more than I'm proud of the stupid and vicious fuckers in the British Army who've been turning Iraq and Afghanistan into hell for the last generation. It can't have been that difficult to desert, with the whole of British India to get lost in.


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: open mike
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 05:55 PM

i have heard that my great uncle...what is it about great uncles??!!
used to play fiddle for dances...

my parents both played piano and dad was in a wind symphony..
not folk music, but music. clarinet, oboe, bassoon

i inherited a fiddle from my mom who said she got it from her brother.

I met a cousin who was involved (and still is) in music in Minnesota.
He helped to start the Cedar Cultural Center, was and/or is on the board of directors...http://www.thecedar.org


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were fol
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 08:27 PM

Not a folkie, but my great-great-uncle Ludwig apparently was a violinist at the last Czar's court (or maybe last but one's).


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 08:47 AM

Three of my mom's siblings are retired musicans – one sister was a choir director, her brother sang both church and cowboy music, and her youngest sister was a Las Vegas lounge singer. A favorite memory is the three of them singing together at mom's 90th birthday party. Mom used to play straight harp, by the way, though she never mastered cross harp. We gave her a new Marine Band a couple years ago, hoping she might take it up again. One of my brothers, long since deceased, played horns and conducted.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 11:34 AM

Is it genetic? I was adopted as an infant and raised by wonderful people who were very unmusical. My father would occasionally sit down at a piano. The sound was like an off-key upright on Saturday night at the old folks home. No one else had any particular interest in music, yet I was driven toward it all my life. At the age of 61, I finally met my biological Mother who, it turns out, had played piano and had loved music her life long, as had all of her brothers and sisters. Both my boys love it and one has had his own band for nearly ten years. Nature, or nurture?


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 11:15 PM

More likely both nature and nurture. Part of it is being born with good hearing, maybe nice resonant vocal apparatus, and whatever wiring you need to tap out a rhythm and keep good time. However you'd still need exposure to music, or better yet training, to use whatever abilities nature provided.

Mom's whole family is musical, but no one in my Dad's family is musical. My four brothers and I were reared with similar exposure to music. Two brothers can't carry a tune in bucket, one was a very accomplished musician, and another brother and I are somewhere between those extremes. We all had the same musical opportunities so I believe that our musical differences can only be due difference in the physical abilities we inherited, in differnt proportions, from one very musical and one unmusical parent.

It is an interesting question. Anyone else have an opinion?
- Phil


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Subject: RE: I learned somethin neat(relatives who were folkies
From: BobKnight
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:33 AM

Music in the family - where do I start? Maybe with my father who only sang when he got tipsy at Hogmanay.(New Year's Eve) He sang only one tune, but economically, used it for every song. His thing was recitations - but only when drunk and in male company - mostly very risque. The rest of the year he was shy and retiring and couldn't be persuaded to recite anything.

My mother's family - well that was a whole different world. My great-grandfather, Donald Stewart, was a champion piper. My granny used to have a huge full-length photo of him with his bagpipes. He had a ZZ Top kinda beard, and his entire chest was covered with medals he'd won at competitions. He taught most of his son's and daughters to play as well. My Grandmother, Jane,(but always called Jeannie) was a singer, but sadly I only have one of her songs - more of that later. My grandfather was a piper too, and most of my uncles learned to play the pipes as well, although some went towards the fiddle.

One of my aunts married a musician, Thomas "Curly" mcKay who played the accordian and recorded for the Beltona label in the 1930's, and also broadcast for the BBC. He was a big influence on me as a child, they only lived across the road, and he always played his accordian at family get-togethers.

In the late fifties, I remember some of my cousins appearing at the house with guitars - the skiffle thing was in full swing. I never learned to play anything until I was fifteen. I asked my mother to get me a bass guitar for Christmas, "A what?" she replied, but got me one anyway. That's when the tradition was lost, and that's why I only have one of my granny's songs. I was too busy with the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

My extended family is like a who's who of scottish traditional singers, but more of that some other time. To conclude - yes I was brought up with a family steeped in music - it has been a big influence, even though I didn't realise it at the time. I never knew any better, I thought everybody had that back ground.


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