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Folkways Old Time Music


Old Time Music

Norman BlakeThe music of the Missouri Ozarks dates far back in history. It has been recorded and collected by many dedicated people. Chief among these in the 20th century were Springfield, Missouri folklorists Max Hunter and Mae Kennedy McCord. Hunter and McCord dedicated themselves to documenting the unique music of this area. Copies of their collections reside in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution.

  Hunter was a traveling salesman from Springfield, Missouri, who went into the hills and backwoods of the Ozarks to record folk songs and stories of the people.

McCord had a Saturday morning radio show on KWTO in Springfield, and there coined the now famous phrase, "I'll be talkin' to you next week, the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise." Once, when asked to define a folk song, she replied, "Well, you never heard a horse sing, did you?"

Fiddle CampIn the photo at right, old time musician Bob Holt teaches his technique to the next generation of young fiddlers at Fiddle Camp, at Hammond Camp on the North Fork River.

Square dancers and jig dancers come from far and near to dance to the music of renowned Ozarks fiddler Bob Holt, each year in June at the Old Time Music Ozarks Heritage Festival in West Plains, where the traditional music of the Ozarks can still be heard. Holt and the guitar players that accompany him start playing at 9:00 each night of the three-day festival and the sound of dancing feet fills the air until midnight. Holt says the music and the dance steps are unique to this part of the Ozarks.


1,600 Ozark Mountain folk songs, recorded between 1956 and 1976 by Max Hunter, are available for listening at the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, Missouri: The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection

A collection of recordings of Mae Kennedy McCord's radio shows can be heard at the library at College of the Ozarks.
Ozark fiddler Bob Holt: 1999 National Heritage Award in the Folk & Traditional Arts from the
National Endowment for the Arts. Article and interview with music samples

Written by Marideth Sisco.