Fiddlers, Banjo Players and Strawbeaters: Alabama’s First Pop Musicians

- Cauthen, Joyce
In her presentation, Cauthen will discuss the early fiddles of Alabama, the musicians who played them and the popularity of this music in their communities. Discussions will also surround the pivotal role played by African Americans in developing the music at the roots of today’s bluegrass and country music. Cauthen will demonstrate use of the banjo, “straws” (a technique in which broom straws or knitting needles were beat on the strings as the fiddler played) and guitar in backing up the fiddle. Her talk will be made especially interesting by the presence of fiddler Jim Cauthen, who will demonstrate fiddle tunes that have been specifically mentioned in historical writings, slave narratives and early newspapers of Alabama. The audience will hear musical styles and tunes that are seldom heard today—and will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their perceptions of the differences in this music and the modern country music that are based upon it.