Friday night at the PAC, was so much more then what I was expecting. I walked in to a completely full house. As I was finding my seat, the gentlemen on stage was inducting a few people into the Fiddlers Hall of Fame.
Rufus Thibodeaux (1938-2005), a Cajun style fiddler who started off playing the clubs around the Lake Charles, LA area. He played in Jimmy C. Newman’s Band before doing work with Neil Diamond on two albums. Rufus has played stages across the country and overseas, including The Grand Ole Opry and Wembley Music Festivals in England.
Joe Venuti (1903-1978), known as the Father of Jazz, pioneered the use of strings in jazz music. He introduced new techniques of playing the fiddle that allowed for a four-part simultaneous harmony. Joe changed fiddling and jazz music forever and was adored by fans for his delightful stage presence and humor.
Buddy Spicher, born in DuBois, Pennsylvania in 1938 was there to accept his award. He has made a life of being a session musician. Buddy has written arrangements and recorded songs with artists such as Linda Ronstadt, the Rolling Stones, Henry Mancini, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills. Buddy is still a session musician and is doing his part to keep American fiddling alive by teaching at various camps and conferences.
I felt completely honored to be there for this induction. After Buddy Spincher received his standing ovation from the crowd, local band Rockin’ Acoustic Circus hit the stage. When the six –piece band took their places and started to play, I was quite impressed. Veteran musician Rick Morton leads the five teenage musicians, which have talent beyond their years. When you have a guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, cello, and a stand up bass on stage all at one time, you know you are in for a treat. I would definitely recommend seeing these guys (and gal) if you have the chance. You will definitely hear great singing and a band with an incredible bluegrass, jazz-swing sound.
After about a 30 minute intermission, (it was supposed to be 10 minutes but we were told Buddy and the Cowtown gang was having a hot jam session back stage) Hot Club of Cowtown lit up the room. The band instantly brought hot-jazz and western swing to life. They all just oozed with excitement and energy. I am not a musician myself, but that was some of the best guitar pickin’, fiddle playin’, bass thumpin’ I had ever seen.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
After playing a couple of tunes, they had Buddy Spicher come up to play with them and it was magical. Elana (who is originally from the Kansas City area) mentioned that she would have never dreamed back when she was taking her fiddle classes, that she would ever be sharing the stage with a legend like Buddy Spicher. Tulsa based Whit Smith on guitar and Jake Erwin on bass both seemed to be just as blown away. In fact, Whit asked the crowd at one point if his feet were actually touching the ground. Not only did Buddy Spicher come up and play a song with the band, he played and even sang on a couple songs. I stopped counting at six and there were a few more after that. It was great seeing Elana and Buddy squaring off with the fiddles, then at other times playing in perfect sync together. Not only is Elana a great fiddle player, but she has an amazing voice. If you close your eyes and just listen to her; with her sultry and intoxicating vocals, you will feel like you are at a show straight out of 1935. There is just something about this music that is so timeless and never goes out of style. I have nothing but praise for this band. It was a night of perfection as far as I am concerned. If you were not able to attend this show, I encourage you to check them out the next time they are in town. And in the meantime, pick up a cd or two. You won’t be disappointed.