- OLD SCHOOL: Adding fiddlers.
There’s bluegrass music to be found all over the state this weekend, from a festival in Pocahontas to the long-awaited Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival near Ozark (see “More Picks” on page 24).
In Central Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 23, the Old School Bluegrass Band reprises its “Evening of Bluegrass” show from last year at Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus, with fiddler Timmy Crouch and Arkansas fiddle champion Chanley Painter in tow. The show begins at 7 p.m.
“He’s unbelievable,” the Old School’s Danny Trawick said of Crouch, an native Arkansan who’s now at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. “He played with Dolly Parton on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ and they called him to replace the Grand Ole Opry fiddle player who is retiring. He’s unbelievable to watch and listen to.”
Crouch opened for Doc Watson in August at the Eureka Springs Bluegrass Festival, where the OSBB also played, and a backstage conversation evolved into Crouch agreeing to do Saturday’s show.
“Tim shared that there was something magic about our show that Saturday evening,” Trawick said. “You can’t explain it, but sometimes the music just comes together, and brother did it ever come together that evening. I hope we can deliver another show with the intensity that we did at Eureka.
“Tim’s tasteful backup licks, his flawless execution of instrumentals, raises the bar for us when he joins the OSBB. Tim Crouch is the most humble individual I have ever met. I just want to put Tim to the front and let Arkansas see how great a fiddler he really is.”
The OSBB, in its 16th year, is made up of bluesy guitarist Trawick, banjoist Bill Anderson, Bill Nesbitt on mandolin, and multi-instrumentalist Glenn Waldo.
“I have been very fortunate to play with a bunch guys that are some of the best pickers in the state of Arkansas,” Trawick said of the band. “I have never thought that I was ever as good as a picker as these guys. I compare myself with the line that Biscoe Darling coined on the Andy Griffith show, ‘Grab a claw hammer G and hang on.’ I can surely do that. I have learned a lot from these guys.
Trawick added, “Bluegrass and old-time music is not complicated. It is simple. It speaks to the young and old alike.”
The Old School’s repertoire includes the traditional bluegrass catalog of Flatt and Scruggs and Ralph Stanley, but the band will reach backward for some old folk tunes such as “Froggy Went a’Courtin’,” “The Fox,” “Katy Daly.”
Nesbitt said Crouch “is a real magician on the fiddle. His ad libs are extraordinary; he’s always full of surprises and always makes people smile. It’s no wonder so many big-time entertainers have asked him to play on their albums and TV shows. We’ve been amazed by his playing since he was a kid. We play with him every chance we get, which isn’t very often, since he’s so busy. He really does Arkansas proud.”
Painter won the Arkansas State Old-Time Fiddle Championship a couple years back.
“Whereas Tim has more of a bluegrass and swing style, Chanley’s style is more old-timey,” Nesbit said. “Last year, she brought the house down, especially when she and Tim did twin fiddles on a couple of tunes.”
Trawick said, “We had almost 300 people last year, and we’re hoping we’ll have over 500 people this year. We know we’re going up against the Mulberry Bluegrass show, but that will be a whole different crew of people going for that.”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students with ID.
For more information visit www.oldschoolband.com.