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Travis Inman at the Big Muddy Folk Festival
6 Apr 2013
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On the weekend of April 6th and 7th, 2013, TAAP Master Artist Travis Inman participated in the Big Muddy Folk Festival in Boonville, Missouri. Inman was one of three master fiddle players on hand for the workshop titled, “Fiddle Styles Demo.” The other players were Lauralyn Bodle and Eden McAdam-Somer. Bodle is a member of the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band, an old-time string band that plays bluegrass and folk music, and she also participates in a number of fiddle camps in Kansas. McAdam-Somer is a member of the duo Notorious, a group that combines styles ranging from traditional American and Celtic tunes to swing, the blues, and classical music. The participants were accompanied by David Cavins on guitar and Kathy Gordon on the stand-up bass.


            The workshop turned into something that more closely resembled a round robin, with each player taking turns playing different tunes in a number of different styles. Inman comes from the Little Dixie region of Missouri and his playing reflects the titular style of the region, which is characterized by a combination of long and short bow strokes, intricate melodies and a relatively slower beat than other fiddle styles. He also brings contest fiddle style when he plays: Inman is an 11-time Missouri State Fiddle Champion. McAdam-Somer, on the other hand, brought a wide range of styles to the mix; emphasizing Eastern European and other ethnic styles of fiddle playing. Bodle also brought a broad repertoire to the workshop with her feel for old time string band music.


            Each fiddle player demonstrated the various styles that they carry, answered questions from the audience, and played songs that the others were familiar with, allowing them to trade fiddle riffs back and forth. The workshop was easy-going and comfortable. The audience could wander into the room, take a listen, and leave to eat some of the fantastic barbecue on offer at the festival or attend another workshop. The fiddle players seemed to enjoy hearing and learning about the different styles of playing that each brought to the table and the collaborative effort of making music was clearly important to each of the participants.


            Missouri Folk Arts Program staff, Lisa Higgins, Debbie Bailey, and Graduate Assistant Jackson Medel, were on hand to document Inman’s participation in the workshop. Inman has been working intensively with apprentice Brett Dudenhoeffer as part of MFAP’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.


arts fiddle folklore Missouri music
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