Both books are available from the University Press of Mississippi website

Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi - Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920–2018

By Harry Bolick, Tony Russell with contributions by T. DeWayne Moore, David Evans, and Joyce H. Cauthen

Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi book cover

In 2015 University Press of Mississippi published Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s by Harry Bolick and Stephen T. Austin to critical acclaim and commercial success. Roughly half of Mississippi’s rich, old-time fiddle tradition was documented in that volume and Harry Bolick has spent the intervening years working on this book, its sequel.

Beginning with Tony Russell’s original mid-1970s fieldwork as a reference, and later working with Russell, Bolick located and transcribed all of the Mississippi 78 rpm string band recordings. Some of the recording artists like the Leake County Revelers, Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers, and Narmour amp: Smith had been well known in the state. Others, like the Collier Trio, were obscure. This collecting work was followed by many field trips to Mississippi searching for and locating the children and grandchildren of the musicians. Previously unheard recordings and stories, unseen photographs and discoveries of nearly unknown local fiddlers, such as Jabe Dillon, John Gatwood, Claude Kennedy, and Homer Grice, followed. The results are now available in this second, companion volume, Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi: Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920–2018.

Two hundred and seventy musical examples supplement the biographies and photographs of the thirty-five artists documented here. Music comes from commercial recordings and small pressings of 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and LP records; collectors’ field recordings; and the musicians’ own home tape and disc recordings. Taken together, these two volumes represent a delightfully comprehensive survey of Mississippi’s fiddle tunes.

Hear source recordings from this book


"Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi: Commercial and Informal Recordings, 1920–2018 is the obvious complement to Harry Bolick’s previous collection of Mississippi fiddle tunes. Bolick and his confederates have conjoined archival materials, newspaper articles and such, and interviews in a digestible, intriguing way. Those who loved the first big book on Mississippi fiddling will love this one too. " - Chris Goertzen, professor of music history and world music at the University of Southern Mississippi and author of George P. Knauff’s "Virginia Reels" and the History of American Fiddling and American Antebellum Fiddling

"In Fiddle Tunes from Mississippi, Harry Bolick, a master fiddler and longtime champion of the fiddle repertory of his native state, has teamed up with famed music historian and author Tony Russell to produce the definitive volume on fiddlers and fiddle music of the region. Stunningly detailed and comprehensive, the volume showcases older and contemporary musicians who have contributed to the repertory. The copious tune transcriptions capture the vernacular with uncluttered yet nuanced accuracy and are complemented by biographical information, insights, and concordance notes. The scholarship is impeccable, the layout beautiful, and it is a work to be treasured. " - Andrew Kuntz, writer of Tune History column for Fiddler Magazine for twenty years and curator and contributor to the online resources The Fiddler’s Companion and The Traditional Tune archive

Correction to the 2021 edition: The photo credit for the Dink Brister photo on page 66 is credited to David Evans. This was my error. The photographer was Marina Bokelman.

Mississippi Fiddle Tunes & Songs from the 1930s

Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s book cover

by Harry Bolick and Stephen T. Austin - published Nov 2015, University Press of Mississippi

While in the Mississippi State Archives tracking down Abbot Ferris's beautiful photographic portraits of musicians from 1939, author Harry Bolick discovered, to his amazement, a treasure trove of earlier fiddle tunes in manuscript form. Since then he has worked to understand how this collection came to exist and be set aside. With Stephen T. Austin, Bolick has transcribed the subsequent 1939 audio recordings. Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s presents the history of the collecting work, with over three hundred of the tunes and songs and a beautiful selection of period photographs.

In the summer of 1936, over one hundred fiddle tunes, many of them unique, along with thousands of songs, were collected and notated throughout a large part of Mississippi. Roughly 130 novice field workers captured beautiful tunes and tantalizing fragments. As a body of work, it is an unparalleled and fascinating snapshot of vernacular music as heard in Mississippi in the early part of the recorded era. However, this music was unpublished and forgotten.

In 1939, building on the contacts made three years earlier, Herbert Halpert led one of the last and best executed of the WPA folklore projects which recorded audio performances in Mississippi. Some, but not all, of those distinctive fiddle tune recordings have been published. Additionally through cassette tape copies passed hand to hand, some of these distinctive tunes have regained currency and popularity among contemporary fiddlers. In Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s, this great music is at last widely available.

Hugendubel in Germany, Waterstones in the UK and Amazon elsewhere In Europe.


Featuring over 300 tunes collected as sheet music in 1936 and transcribed from the 1939 WPA field recordings along with beautiful photos and bios for most of the 1939 sources. Including a tantalizing number of tunes collected from African-Americans playing in the Anglo Southern fiddle style. Also included is an in-depth essay on the history of the WPA collecting in MIssissippi.


View Video Introduction/Book Trailer.



This "is an important book, grand in scope and scale, and grand in its impact. Documenting a region's musical genre is no easy task in American traditional music., but it has been successfully and skillfully done, albeit seeming once in a decade. Harry Bolick, with the assistance of transcriber Stephen Austin, easily captures the honors for THE book on regional old time music for the second decade of this century……Mississippi Fiddle Tunes is a must-have for anyone interested in American old time music. Messrs. Bolick and Austin have done a superb job with the material, and the book has a deserved place on my "top shelf" of favorites in my library" - Andrew Kuntz, Fiddler Magazine, Spring 2016


Get up in the Cool July 13/2016 podcast

Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Conversations with Marshal Ramsey, recorded May 2016 but aired in September, 2016


Hear the tunes in the book:

1. Tunes from the Book - my latest cd,  Order a CD , or  download from Bandcamp

2. The 3-CD-set from Document Records of the complete 1939 recordings. Which are transcribed in our book.

3. Sound files from the sheet music for the1936 manuscripts. 180 tunes plus 4 from 1970's field recordings:



Video Introduction/Book Trailer.

Full book presentation at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, May 2016, music starts 15 min into the video.

Two versions of Fisher's hornpipe from Good Coffee House concert, March 6, 2016

Flirting Song from a house concert in Hamden Ct, March 26, 2016

Woves a Howling  from Good Coffee House concert, March 6, 2016


Two 1936 tunes from the book performed with Brian Slattery and Nathan Bontrager.

Harry at 2012 Great Big Yam Taters festival, Mississippi playing Allen Alsop's "Throw the Soapsuds Over the Fence"

Harry with Brian, 2014 lecture-demonstration-jam session ran in conjunction with the regional meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the American Musicological Society. More about the event.

Video of a workshop with Harry at the Brandywine 2015 festival,  section one,  section two,  section three.

 My Swedish friend, Pär Persson Mattsson, playing a Swedish variant of the "Kiss Me Waltz"


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