Howard and Tricia did a great job at the workshop–demonstrating tunes, talking about what they did in the tunes, how Tricia seconds, what’s “hard” about the tunes and so on. I was very impressed how they shared their craft with all of us. After a lunch break, Howard and Tricia very generously granted us an interview. (If you listen to our conversation carefully, in the background you’ll hear some of the workshop participants and a bunch of other musicians jamming away downstairs while we recorded the interview upstairs at Pete Peterson’s and Kellie Allen’s house.)
We talked about their being Texas (Howard) and Kansas (Tricia) fiddlers and about the tunes they like to play. Keeping old tunes alive and understanding how they’ve changed over time is very important to both of them. How did some of those Appalachian tunes make it out to Texas and Kansas? We talked about the “dance fiddle” tradition and the “contest fiddle” tradition which is now more common in places like Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. They had some really interesting things to say about how tunes and traditions move around and about how, if you play the old fiddle tunes, you’re keeping the memory of those old fiddlers alive. And you’ll love the story they tell about Tricia’s grandmother’s guitar.
During the interview, they played three twin fiddle tunes for us that may well end up on their next CD, Spencer and Rains: The Old Texas Fiddle Volume II–tentatively subtitled “Weird Tunes of Old Texas.” And the three tunes they played for us were just that–weird and wonderful!
We also played their version of “Say Darlin’ Say,” from their CD The Old Man and the Old Woman. As Howard says at their website, “I sez to Tricia, ‘Everybody does that song!’ So she sez to me, ‘Then let’s do it our own way.'” I’m glad they did. I love how Tricia introduces the vocal harmony.
That’s enough talk. Listen to the interview linked below, and get your hands on some of their music!
Howard Rains and Tricia Spencer
(Recorded live 10/11/14; originally aired 11/11/14; host: Mandorichard), 31:36, 30.3 MB.
The following music is heard in this episode of The Music Room:
- Artist / Song / Album (or note) / Label (or source) / Date / Notes
- Howard Rains and Tricia Spencer / Sally Johnson / WVUD’s The Music Room / from the playing of Duck Wooten / 2014
- Howard Rains and Tricia Spencer / Chicken Reel / WVUD’s The Music Room / from the playing of Barry Ponder / 2014
- Spencer and Rains / Say Darlin’ Say / The Old Man and the Old Woman / self / 2014
- Howard Rains and Tricia Spencer / Wolves in the Wood / WVUD’s The Music Room / from the playing of Duck Wooten / 2014