Musicians Barbara Collins, Brad Pinkerton, and Eileen Pinkerton perform old-time fiddle music in the traditional style on fiddle, mandolin and guitar at a free presentation — “Chautauqua of American Fiddle Tunes” — at the Westport Timberland Library on Sunday, Jan. 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. The performers will also pass along the history of this living American folk art as they demonstrate hoedowns, waltzes, reels, hornpipes and other styles.
The audience will learn how American heirloom music evolved as it traveled across the ocean into the southern Appalachian Mountains. They’ll also discover the difference between old-time fiddle and bluegrass as they hear music by artists like The Carter Family and Bill Monroe. Songs on the playlist include “Billy in the Lowground,” “Dreadful Wind and Rain” (a song from the 1600s), “Barbry Allen,” “Angeline the Baker” and “Mole in the Ground.”
American-style folk fiddling can be traced to John Utie, a professional fiddler from England who sailed up the James River in 1620 and settled in Virginia. When families from England, Scotland and Ireland sailed to America, they were lonely for their families and homes. The women sang ballads and passed them to their daughters. The men played instruments, mostly fiddles, since they were easily transported, and played these tunes with other men at dances and get-togethers.
A lot of songs have kept their integrity for hundreds of years. Some have evolved. One example of a song that has changed over time is “Sally Anne”. The musicians will perform three different versions during the program.
Barbara Collins is a professional musician and instructor from Olympia. She was classically trained at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and has come to believe in promoting the violin in all its diversity. Over the years she has expanded her abilities to include many genres and some other instruments as well. She has performed throughout the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Hawaii.
Brad Pinkerton is an amateur music historian and has been playing mandolin since 1970. He has played backup rhythm tenor guitar and doghouse bass (the double or upright bass) at many old-time fiddlers contests, including the national contest at Weiser, Idaho, and the state contest at Hallettsville, Texas. He created and managed the North Cascades Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Winthrop for 14 years. He owns his grandpa’s fiddle.
Eileen Pinkerton is a vocalist who became interested in old-time traditional music while living in the mountains of central Idaho 30 years ago. She learned to play guitar in 1974 and plays rhythm backup while her husband plays mandolin. The Pinkertons live in Westport.
This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Westport Timberland Library. The library is normally closed at this time and will be open only for the program. The library is located at 101 E. Harms Drive, Westport. For more information, contact the library at (360) 268-0521 or visit www.TRL.org.