Friday, November 13, 2015

November Blog Bits: “The Rhythm of Yew Piney Mountain: The Life, Music and Teaching of Dwight Diller.”

As I promised, I am offering blog-based tidbits (Blog bits?) on my book on Dwight Diller, now in production, tentatively entitled:

The Rhythm of Yew Piney Mountain: The Life, Music and Teaching of Dwight Diller.”

The publisher of my manuscript on Dwight Diller, McFarland of North Carolina, has decided to place the book in their "Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies" series.  That’s good news as it will bring a little more attention to the book by making it part of a series that continues to grown and develop under McFarland. 

I still have some unfinished business:  There's only one interview left that I'd like to conduct but that might never happen.  Forrest McGuire, Odell's son, who lives in Lexington, still needs to get back to me with a time we can either meet or chat by phone.  He was a young man during the mid 1970s when Dwight was hanging out with Odell McGuire, in Lexington, going to festivals, jamming, visiting the “Old People” who played the old music.   

And there is the matter of turning old tape cassettes into MP3’s via Audacity.  I have about 60 of these that were sent my way by a variety of people who attended retreats over the years.  They contributed a good deal to my being able to capture the “evolution” of Dwight’s teaching approach, and they also provided some measure of the way his own playing developed – in many of these tapes of Dwight’s banjo retreats, he played a good deal, sometimes with others (such as Tom King). 

Some interesting photos came my way during this process, including a rare one of Dwight with a guitar in hand!  Some old family photos from his own collection of memorabilia.  Some nice festival photos, and a good bit of "still life" pics of his various banjos. 

Carl Fleischhauer and I are working now on a stand alone article on the fate of Dwight's original reel to reel tapes of the Hammons Family, made during 1969 - 71.  They traveled a circuitous path to the Library of Congress, and then survived to be digitized, but disappeared from the earth at some point. 

I'm also working a series of articles that I have tentatively called "Dillerology," and looking around for friends who might care to tab out some of the earliest field recordings of Dwight at jams or contests in the 1970s playing tunes that were part of his early repertoire.

At the same time, with the help of a friend who does recording work not far from here, Dwight has decided to go back into the studio and lay down some tracks for a new CD or two. 

I've also talked to Dwight about working on a book of his own stories; he captured the stories of the Hammons family, but by now his own stories have "come of age."  I'm hoping that he'll make some headway.  He got himself a hand held recording device.  I assembled a bunch of stories during the course of the book project, wrote them up, and handed them back to Dwight hoping that would be the kernel for such a project. 

He's also thinking about putting out a CD of some of his earliest banjo and fiddle playing.  Andrew Fults spoke about this in a recent BHO thread:

During the course of my work on the book, I assembled a lot of "field recordings" from folks who taped contests and jam sessions in the 1970s and 1980s, and with the help of my sound engineer/recording friend, Dwight and some of his associates will give some thought to putting together a "The Best of Diller" type compilation that would include some of these earliest field recordings of Dwight at festivals in Independence and Hillsville, Virginia, in the early 1970s – the field recorder becoming the subject of field recordings himself.  Interesting.   

And again, as I promised, I’m running a monthly contest: the winner gets a copy of Dwight’s Across the Yew Pines.  See:

Thanks for stopping by.

Play hard


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