Tag Archives: “Sweet Mary” Hattersley

Interview story with Hattersley featured in June issue of Fiddler magazine

6 Jun


Half a century ago, Mary Hattersley went by the name Mary Butler, then a shy musician who learned to play the violin at six years old and the daughter of a choir professor at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces.

At 20 she dropped out of  college classical music courses at NMSU and ran off to San Francisco. Her adventures took her across the United States, all the way to New York, before she finally settled down in Austin, Texas in 1970.

Today, 50 years later, she’s known as just “Sweet Mary” Hattersley who has earned a reputation as an accomplished fiddler player. Her musical career spans decades of performances with celebrities of country, blues, jazz and rock and roll musicians and hall of famers. She also teaches Suzuki method fiddle lessons to children in Austin.

As a 70-year-old cancer survivor, Mary’s professional life continues to grow and her music – which has been released on both vinyl and CDs – has worn many different recording labels – without ever straying too far from her roots. Mary’s life changed forever once she stepped onto the stage of an Austin bar called “The Checkered Flag,” in 1970.

Eddie Wilson, the manager of The Armadillo World Headquarters saw her and the band, Greezy Wheels, perform and booked them to open for The Burrito Brothers. Before she played with the Greezy Wheels band, she earned her fiddle education by sitting in with Kenneth Threadgill and his Hootenanny Hoots. She went by the name Mary Egan at the time; the surname of her former common law husband.

Threadgill had a fiddler already, “Fiddlin’ Joe” Martin.  He and Mary hit it off and Martin taught her the fiddle player’s national anthem, “The Orange Blossom Special,” written by Ervin T. Rouse. The song, performed at breakneck tempos with imitative qualities of a train whistle and wheels, became the vehicle to showcase Mary’s virtuosity. Martin, a Mississippi native, died in 1975 — years before Mary would teach that very same song to other famous musicians backstage before her own shows. However, Mary has never stopped paying Martins’ favor forward.

“He (Martin) was always very kind to me as I really didn’t know anything.  Joe would just let me play along.  I truly learned most of the country songs on stage.  I never was a paid member of the Mr. Threadgill’s band.  I was sitting in with him at Bevo’s when I met Cleve,” Mary says. “I didn’t know then how to lay out and wait my turn.  I just played over everything.  It always amazes me how nice everybody was to me.”

Even before becoming known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin supported a tremendous number of music venues that catered to folk, or country and western, blues or jazz music in the 1970s. Mary played at nearly all of the locations, including Bevo’s, one of her favorite hangouts.

Mary often took additional impromptu lessons from Mance Lipscomb and Bill Neely, before they performed on stage at Threadgill’s bar and restaurant. Lipscomb, a great blues singer and guitar player and writer from Navasota, Texas earned a name for himself after blues researchers from Arhoolie Record company discovered him and published some albums. Lipscomb died in 1976 and worked much of his life as a tenant farmer and day laborer born into a family of Alabama slaves.  Author Glen Alyn wrote a book about Lipscomb entitled I Say Me for a Parable. In the book Lipscomb talks about teaching “Sweet Mary” Egan-Hattersley how to play rhythm.

“Mance had that style of picking where he played his own bass line on the guitar with his thumb.  He was legendary around here when I met him.  He influenced all of us younger pickers,” Mary says.

Neely, the son of sharecroppers from Collin County, Texas showed Mary how to bridge the gap musically between traditional country and the blues. Neely, a regular performer on Wednesday nights at Threadgill’s, often shared the stage along with Lipscomb, Janis Joplin and Pete Seeger. He influenced Mary and other musicians such as Dan Del Santo, Alejandro Escovedo, and Nanci Griffith before Neely died in 1990. Mary says she became good at what she calls “following.” She learned to listen to key notes and rhythmic changes that other musicians performed on stage, in order to learn the songs that she did not know.

“I could learn what I needed to play by listening,” Mary says. “I could pick out of the air intuitively, what the other musicians were playing, following instinctively – you hear it in your head first, then you feel it, and then you play it.” She found the experience of performing fiddle on stage “electrically-charged,” she says.

Mary’s performances drew the attention of Cleve Hattersley, who would become her future husband.

“I didn’t think of it as a romantic bond that I had with Cleve,” Mary says. “I thought of it as an electric, magical thing, music. I had music theory lessons before I could speak and he liked that about me. I liked his creativity.”

It would be years before Cleve and Mary would end up a couple; as they still had some things to learn about themselves and about the type of music that they wanted to play.

“Looking back now, I realize Cleve and his sister, Lissa, and even I were all Yankees,  really. We didn’t know anything about country music. Prior to that we were all aligned with The Grateful Dead, (and Austinites) Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators,” Mary says. “We used to call ourselves the Greezy Wheels ‘skiffle’ band – a term used in the 1930s that means ‘casual.’ There was a lot of folk, with old-timey gospel, and string instruments including mandolin, that we used to play. It was the mixture that made us who we were.”

The Greezy Wheels at the time also included: lead vocal and guitar player Pat Pankratz, Mike Pugh on bass,  and Tony Lair on drums. Cleve’s sister, Lissa Hattersley also sang with the band.

“Lissa (Cleve’s sister,) of course was not old enough to be performing in the bars,” Mary says. “She was only 17, very soon to be 18. She was a little shy too, so we had to get her a little tipsy to get her up there on stage to sing with us.”

The Greezy Wheels then became the unofficial house band at the Armadillo World Headquarters, playing there more often than any other group.

“We opened for ‘the Boss,’ Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters when he was doing his first tour of the United States. He had just played Houston and a bunch of people followed him down here to Austin. He was young and nobody really knew who he was,” Mary says.

Their band mirrored the changes occurring in the 70s – a blurring of lines both socially and musically in the world. The Greezy Wheels opened for other regular acts at the Armadillo World Headquarters at the time, including Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Alvin Crow, and the Asleep at the Wheel band. The performers drew a mixture of audiences from all walks of life and ages.

Greezy Wheels also opened for Doug Sahm, of San Antonio. Sahm, had led a rock band, The Sir Douglas Quintet, in the 1960s and 70s.  Sahm earned acclaim as a protégé for having played on stage at the age of 11 with Hank Williams Sr. during one of the star’s last performances.

“Doug (Sahm) was the favorite of everybody, everybody’s friend,” Mary says. “Doug was the sort of person we all looked up to.  He had been in the band, the Sir Douglass Quintet, but when he and I started playing at Threadgill’s (bar and restaurant) it was Doug who taught me to play the old country standards.”

Mary participated in some wild jam sessions with all types of famous musicians on stage at the old Austin Armadillo World Headquarters.

“I remember those nights in the 70s, when there wasn’t any air-conditioning, but there was plenty of music in the air – in the beer gardens in Austin and on the stages, and along the back alley walls,” Mary says. “The 1970s were divided among those groups of people who had long hair and those who didn’t. There were the traditional country and western singers and the blues singers and the rock and rollers. But when we performed together, we were all friends who played music.”

The Greezy Wheels opened the show the first night that Willie Nelson performed at Austin’s old Armadillo World Headquarters.

“It was a risky thing that Willie did; he didn’t know if he could cross over country into  western music with the hippies, but it worked,” Mary says.

Fiddler Mary Egan became a familiar name in the progressive country world; her name appears on the back of a number of record albums in the 70s. Jerry Jeff Walker invited Mary to play on two of his albums: Jerry Jeff Walker in 1972 and then Viva Terlingua! recorded in Luckenbach, Texas in 1973.

“We use bales of hay around us as sound walls and around the drums while we recorded,” Mary says.

Later, Walker, and the rest of his band returned to Terlingua to perform some tracks off the album live, including “I want to go home to the Armadillo,’ written by Gary P. Nunn. Sound engineers later mixed two of the live cuts from the Terlingua performance with those recorded earlier in Luckenbach. After they released the album, it went gold.

Soon afterwards, Mary Egan-Hattersley returned to Austin to play with the Greezy Wheels band. One night while waiting back stage to perform at the Armadillo World Headquarters, she saw French virtuoso violinist and jazz composer Jean-Luc Ponty. He asked Mary to teach him to play “The Orange Blossom Special” and she did.

“It was just a few notes, but he picked it right up,” Mary says. “Then Ponty went on stage and played it with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.”

In the early 1970s, The Greezy Wheels often also played at The Bottom Line and The Lone Star Café, the premiere country and western music venue, in New York City. Well-knowns like Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Roy Orbison, Delbert McClinton, Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm and Jerry Jeff Walker all played there.

They also played the same festivals as  Friedman and his Texas Jewboys and Frieda and the Firedogs (now known as the Marcia Ball band.) The Greezy Wheels band coast-to-coast became one of the brightest stars in the progressive country western and blues-blended musical universe.

They became the first band from Austin to sign with a major label; the same company that distributed records by The Rolling Stones,  London Records published their album, Jus Love Dem ‘Ol Greezy Wheels, followed by their second, Radio Radials.

“London Records put us (The Greezy Wheels) up in Bogalusa, Mississippi in a wonderful recording studio out in the middle of nowhere. We all lived in the house and recorded there,” Mary says. “I remember the smell from the paper mill.  There was this paper mill in the same town and if you’ve ever been near a paper mill, you’d know, they stink. They smell like Brussels sprouts. So the smell was part of the deal, a funny part of our experience.”

After finishing their first album, the Greezy Wheels hit the road in an antique Flexible Flyer bus.

“I made curtains for it (The Flyer.) Inside we could set up a card table and there were places to lay down our instruments and store our equipment,” Mary says. “But then we ended up having too much equipment for the bus. Things got crowded.”

With Cleve and Tony Airoldi, the Greezy Wheels now had three guitarists, including Pankgratz, as well as a mandolin player; a drummer, plus a new conga player, Madril Wilson, and of course, Mary on fiddle and Lissa, on vocals. The group disbanded in 1978.

It took 25 years for the Hattersleys to get the Greezy Wheels rolling again. In 2001 Mary and Cleve, and his sister, Lissa, reunited the Greezy Wheels to release the CDs: Millennium Greezy, HipPOP, and StringTheory. Then Cleve and Mary also released a duo CD entitled, Totally. The Hattersleys returned to the spotlight by joining The Band’s drummer, Levon Helm, at his “Midnight Ramble” at The Barn in Woodstock, New York regularly beginning in 2009. Helm died in 2012.

Last year Mary and the Greezy Wheels released their album, Gone Greezy, on their own label, MaHatMa Records, earning them a spot in the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2012 and their hometown’s top ten list of albums recognized by The Austin Chronicle. Currently, their newest album, Kitty Cat Jesus, which released this past May, features two hit songs: “I Cry Myself to Sleep,” and “I’ll Get Away With It.” Both have received lots of radio station airplay.

Other current Greezy Wheels members include: lead vocalist Lissa Hattersley and other band members: vocalist Penny Jo Pullus, drummer Johnny Bush, bassist Brad Houser, and trombone and harp player, Matt Hubbard. Both Bush and Houser previously played with Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians in the 1980s. Hubbard also performs with Willie Nelson.

Mary recalls that Cleve told her once that as a little boy he had always dreamed of becoming Roy Rogers.

“I had always wanted to be Dale Evans,” Mary says.  “Dale had a tomboy element to her, but she was very feminine. I still put on my Dale Evans boots and dresses to wear whenever I perform.”

Evans still serves as Mary’s role model. Mary never forgot the song that Evans wrote and sang with Rogers, entitled “Happy Trails to You.” RCA Victor Records released the song in 1952 as a 78-rpm and then a 45-rpm vinyl single. Later the song became the theme for the television show, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

“I always wanted to be part of a pair like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans,” Mary says. “Cleve and I think of ourselves today as a dynamic duo.”

This past June marked the couple’s 39th anniversary, as common law husband and wife, legally registered in Travis County. Cleve is 66 and Mary just celebrated her 70th birthday June 8, 2013. Doctors diagnosed her with vulvar cancer and removed all her affected tissue July 2, 2013.

“They found out I had it right when we were in the middle of my (Blazing Bows) summer fiddle camp. I decided we would do camp anyway. The doctors went in and found the cancer all in one place and got it out. The surgery went well. There’s nothing else required,” she says.

Some might consider that the Greezy Wheels time has passed, but the band’s fan base reveals that their sound as always, remains one roll ahead of its time.  Once referred to as “progressive country” 40 years ago, the Greezy Wheels’ sound today represents an amalgamation of country and western, blues, gospel and jazz.

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June2014coverwithmystory This interview story ran in the June 2014 issue of Fiddler magazine. http://www.fiddle.com

The Broken Spoke hosts The Blazing Bows ‘Fiddle Fest 2013’

19 Jul

by Donna Marie Miller

About 30 elementary age boys and girls and a half dozen adults – all fiddlers – tucked their instruments under their chins to perform some good old time string classics of folk and country music July 15 at The Broken Spoke.

Little girls, some as young as 5 years old, with braids pulled up on top of their heads and dressed in their best embroidered dresses or ruffle skirts and lacy tops, stood beside little boys wearing plaid shirts and Wrangler jeans. Most all wore cowboy boots.

They donned Texas Resistol straw hats in white and red and a few wore western scarves tied around their necks Lonesome Dove style. Meanwhile, parents shot video from the side porches along either side of the bandstand or upon the dance floor, with their digital camcorders, cameras, and smart phones.

Beneath the glow of neon signs advertising well-known beer labels, dozens of families came together inside one of Texas’ oldest — if not Austin’s most well known honky tonk. Without drinking a drop of alcohol, adults clapped and raised some revelry for their children. Mothers with infants in their laps and fathers with babies on top of their shoulders turned The Broken Spoke into a romper room of “G”-rated fun.

Mary Hattersley and her Blazing Bows Suzuki-style music students performed within just a week from the day that she underwent cancer surgery. “Sweet Mary,” as folks call her, smiled, sang, danced and played fiddle like nobody’s business from a set list that read an awful like a music history lesson.  “Fiddle Fest” provided the finale to a Blazing Bows two-week summer camp that has culminated at The Broken Spoke annually for nearly 20 years.

However, for the first time in as long as some fans can remember, one of The Broken Spoke’s original owners, James White, did not attend the performance.  Instead, White rested at home following surgery July 3. Doctors have placed a Defibrillator inside the left side of White’s chest to regulate irregular heart rhythms. He also broke his foot recently walking on the Town Lake trail.  White has worn an orthopedic “boot” or removable cast since mid-June and he has a few weeks to go before his bones heal.

Mary Hattersley’s husband, Cleve Hattersley, accompanied the group on guitar, and fiddler Kay Mueller helped lead the fiddle performance along with another fiddler, Catherine Van Zanten.  Together the four Suzuki teachers have represented “Fiddle Fest” since around 1994.

“It is important that we do the show at The Spoke because it is a show about the history of fiddle in Texas and all the songs we play have been played and danced to right there for years,” Mary Hattersley said. “And it’s where the famous Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys often performed.”

The Hattersleys along with Mueller and Van Zanten also bring their students together at the Austin Suzuki Academy on Saturday mornings for group and theory lessons.

Blazing Bows’ former campers have returned every year to perform their finale at The Broken Spoke as part of the Hattersley family tradition.

“It gives me so much joy to play music. You can get all bollixed up in music with the practicing and the playing, but it’s all about the joy,” Mary Hattersley said.

The Blazing Bows perform at the Old Settler’s Bluegrass Festival in Dripping Springs each April and at the Austin Art Festival in July and previously performed at the Pioneer Farm May Pole celebration. They cancelled all other summer shows when doctors diagnosed Mary Hattersley with vulvar cancer last June.  In December every year they perform at the Austin Armadillo Bazaar. They plan to also take their Blazing Bows shows to local celebrations, nursing homes, and schools as well in 2014.

“It’s so important to me and the Blazing Bows to play at The Broken Spoke because of the music history. People remember going to The Broken Spoke when they were kids. A lot of times, it was a family place,” Mary Hattersley said.

Ironically, while their Blazing Bows have played The Broken Spoke regularly for nearly two decades, while the band, Greezy Wheels, never performed there.

The Greezy Wheels – 2013 Texas Music Hall of Fame

The Hattersleys reunited the band, Greezy Wheels in 2001 and it became the first in town to sign to a major label. The band has since formed its own label, Mahatma Records, and made The Austin Chronicle’s top ten list in 2011 for their album, Gone Greezy. 

Some might label the past few years as Greezy Wheels “heydays,” but the band’s fan base knew the group’s sound as one ahead of its time – once referred to as “progressive country” 40 years ago. The Greezy Wheels created the sound as an amalgamation of country and western, blues and jazz music.

Cleve Hattersley played mostly solo one-night gigs around Austin before forming the Greezy Wheels band in the 1970s.  Its members convinced Mary Egan to leave Kenneth Threadgill’s band, the Hootenanny Hoots, and to join the Greezy Wheels. Not long afterwards, Threadgill’s restaurant proprietor Eddie Wilson and co-founders of the old live music venue, Austin Armadillo World Headquarters, caught their show.  Wilson jumped at the chance to book the Greezy Wheels as a back up band for the Flying Burritto Brothers and the band’s reputation just took off after that.

The Greezy Wheels played the Armadillo World Headquarters more often than any other band and backed up the most national music stars regularly.

“We backed up ‘the Boss,’ Bruce Springsteen at Armadillo World  Headquarters when he was doing his first tour of the United States. He had just played Houston and a bunch of people followed him down here to Austin. He was young and nobody really knew who he was,” Mary Hattersley said.

The Greezy Wheels backed up other regular acts at the Armadillo World Headquarters at the time, including Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Alvin Crow, Asleep at the Wheel, and Doug Sahm before the group disbanded in 1978.

Twenty-five years later, Mary and Cleve, and his sister, Lissa Hattersley, reunited the Greezy Wheels in 2001.

Currently, their newest album, Kitty Cat Jesus, which released in May features two songs: “I Cry Myself to Sleep,” and “I’ll Get Away With It,” that have received lots of local radio station air play.

Other Greezy Wheels members include: lead vocalist Lissa Hattersley and other band members: vocalist Penny Jo Pullus, drummer Johnny Bush, bassist Brad Houser, and trombone and harp player, Matt Hubbard. Both Bush and Houser previously played with Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians in the 1980s. Hubbard also performs with Willie Nelson.

The Greezy Wheels will perform again Oct. 11 at the Starlight Theater Restaurant and Saloon in Terlingua and Oct. 12 at Padres Bar and Grill in Marfa as part of the Chinati Foundation Open House there. The event includes two days of art, music and lectures and brings in visitors from all around the world.

The Hattersley hippie years

Mary’s dad, Oscar Butler, represents somewhat of a legend in West Texas music circles as he worked as a choir professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Butler put a violin under his daughter’s chin when she turned ten. Years later, she attended NMSU, but only from 1961 through 1962, before running off to San Francisco with two hippies, artist friend Chet Helms and her first husband, Leonard Soforo.

“Chet, Lenny and I all decided to go to San Francisco. We had this old Chevy, but it broke down right outside Las Cruces. So Chet hitchhiked to Dallas and was picked up by the police. In those days, it was difficult to stay out of jail looking like a hippie,” Mary said.

Mary and Leo Soforo made it as far as San Francisco where her husband took a job as a disc jockey that didn’t last long.

“I was a hippie for a long time,” Mary Hattersley said. “I had a wild spirit.”

Helms ended up in Dallas City Jail the same day that police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald for shooting President John F. Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963.

“We were all worried about Chet. Here he was sitting in the same jail as Oswald,” Mary said.

Coincidentally, Dallas police eventually released Helms from jail sometime after Jack Ruby shot Oswald. Helms later met up with the couple in San Francisco, but Mary Soforo’s problems grew bigger.

Leo Soforo, had mental problems that stemmed from years of heavy drug use, she said.

“He was one of those people who took acid and had a bad trip – he just never recovered,” she said. “He ended up committing suicide.”

Mary moved to Santa Fe, NM and married and divorced two more times after Soforo’s death and before she met Cleve Hattersley in Austin.

This past June marked the couple’s 39th anniversary, as common law husband and wife, legally registered in Travis County. Cleve is  66 and Mary just celebrated her 70th birthday June 8. Doctors diagnosed her with vulvar cancer and removed all the affected tissue July 2.

“They found out I had it right when we were in the middle of (Blazing Bows) summer camp. I decided we would do camp anyway. The doctors went in and found the cancer all in one place and got it out. The surgery went well. There’s nothing else required,” she said.

A Little Fiddle Song History

Fiddle history resounds within the Blazing Bows as much as their music. Mary Hattersley introduces each song to their audiences with a brief history.

Interestingly, “Bile em Cabbage Down” often translated to “Boil them Cabbage Down,” for Mary Hattersley’s students has been renamed “Violin Cabbage Down.” The fiddle breakdown features seven variations.

“One year we were playing this song and the electricity went out (at The Broken Spoke,) and we just kept playing it in the dark.  We were still playing when the lights came back on.  It was so cool,” Mary said.

“The other reason for playing at The Broken Spoke is that the great Texas fiddler Bob Wills played there.”

The first song the group performed, “Lil’ Liza Jane,” enjoys a long history that dates back to the early 1900s with roots in standard, jazz and bluegrass music. First recorded by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1947, Nina Simone performed it at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960, then David Bowie and his King Bees performed it in 1964, and The Band recorded a version of it in 1968. Finally, it appeared on an album recorded by Alison Krauss and Union Station, which earned a 1998 Grammy Award.

The Blazing Bow’s third song, “Rubber Dolly” made famous by Appalachian string bands in the 1920s and 1930s became a favorite performed by 1960s folk singer Woody Guthrie and then 1970s country singer Ray Price.

Next the group performed an Irish jig written in the early nineteenth century called “Swallowtail.”

“That’s one of the most beautiful songs ever to become a fiddle song,” Mary Hattersley said. “ Every fiddle tune should contain a jig.”

For their fourth piece, local fiddle player Billie Curtis performed the American classic entitled “Soldier’s Joy,” a 200-year-old song recognized as the oldest and most widely distributed tune in the English speaking language. Curtis, who plays with Lone Star Swing, formerly played with Houston’s popular Wild River Band, as well as Western Swing legends such as Johnny Gimble and Herb Remington. He has a daughter who plays with the Blazing Bows. His band performs at El Mercado in Austin most Thursday nights.

The Blazing Bows also performed “Drowsy Maggie,” featuring Anna Wicker on the fiddle, followed by a medley of “Turkey in the Straw”/”Arkansas Traveler”/”Devil’s Dream,” – a fiddler’s all-time greatest hits list.

Performing “The Orange Blossom Special” with the Blazing Bows holds particular significance to Mary Hattersley.  She remembers once teaching fiddler Jean Luc Ponty to play the song backstage at the Armadillo World Headquarters while they waited to perform back up to Frank Zappa and his band, The Mother’s of Invention.

“It was just a few chords, but Ponty picked it right up,” she said. “Then he performed it on stage.”

She and the children also performed “La Culebra,” translated “The Rattlesnake,” a mariachi standard. Its origins reach back as far as 1944 when Ruben Fuentes Gasson played it with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan as the group’s violinist and composer. Later his reputation grew when he performed on Linda Ronstadt’s multi-Platinum album, Canciones De Mi Padre.  

The Blazing Bows performed Cotton Collins’ version of “Westphalia Waltz,” about Polish immigrants during the Great Depression who worked in the coalmines of the Alleghenies and in the mills of Massachusetts. Collins and his Lone Star Playboys renamed the folk song after the Texas town by the same name and performed it often as part of their lunchtime broadcast on radio station, WACO in Waco.

And the Blazing Bows rendered Glen Miller’s big band song, “In the Mood” a fiddle version at The Broken Spoke. The song once considered “racy” and originally written about Tin Pan Alley later became part of The Beatles’ recording of “All You Need is Love,” thanks to producer George Martin.

The Blazing Bows performed one of 129 versions of the often misspelled Irish folk song about a bar maid, “Drowsy Maggie,” as well. The song became internationally known after the band Jethro Tull first performed the song in concert in 1989 at the Apollo Theater in Manchester, England.

The favorite of the night, “The Cotton-Eye Joe” had family members dancing on the dance floor in front of The Broken Spoke bandstand. The Moody Brothers’ version of the song won a Grammy Award nomination for best country instrumental in 1985. Then The Chieftains received a Grammy Award nomination for their album, Another Country, with Ricky Skaggs in 1992.

The group closed the night with “Ashokan Farewell,’’ named after a camp in the Catskill Mountains not far from Woodstock, New York, once run by Jay Unger and Molly Mason. Written originally as an instrumental Scottish lament, called “Fiddle Fever” Ashokan campers later wrote lyrics. Two 16-year old girl members of the Blazing Bows, offered their own words to the song July 15.  The song once served as the opening track to a PBS special about the Civil War, created by filmmaker Ken Burns. Twenty-five other versions of the song played in the 11-hour series produced and broadcast on television in 1984.

The song’s poignant lyrics focus on the emotions young musicians feel about leaving fiddle camp. It served as an appropriate closing performance for the Blazing Bows’ program finale at The Broken Spoke.



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