Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


 

15.

Robert C. (Bob) Buckingham, Jr., Red Lion, Pennsylvania, U.S. (rbuckingham@mindspring.com)

Bob was born August 13, 1949 in Middletown, Connecticut. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and is currently a writer, a farmer, and of course a musician. He is a member of York County Fiddlers and North American Fiddlers Association.

HERITAGE, HISTORY, LESSONS, FAVORITE TUNE

Bob's heritage is white Anglo-Saxon Protestant; his parents were born in Oneonta, New York & China. An aunt in his family played the violin. He began playing in the 1970's, "in closets, backrooms and on the roof". He had no formal lessons, but did take six months of guitar lessons in 1964. Last fall, he attended J.P. Fraley's annual event for two days. The first fiddle tunes he learned were She'll Be coming Around the Mountain and Soldier's Joy. He heard another fiddler play them and began "sitting and fiddling and scratching until it started to come out". Today, Forked Deer is his favorite tune, best played by Tommy Hunter. He names Doc Roberts, J.P. Fraley, Buddy Thomas and Aly Bain as favorite fiddlers. "Tomorrow of course I'll remember twenty more."

TYPES OF TUNES, INSTRUMENTS, VENUES

In addition to old time tunes, Bob enjoys blues and swing, and notes that he enjoys working in cross tunings. He also plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica. His favorite backup instrument? "Whoever can play in tune and time." Bob most often plays at dances, in his bands, and plays in church including weddings and funerals.

FIDDLE CONTESTS

Once in a while, Bob competes in contests, and he enjoys attending them. His first entry was 1977 or 78, at State College, Pennsylvania. He won an honorable mention, and though he doesn't remember what tunes he played, he remembers Michelle Birkby and Tad Marks were the other winners. In the early 1980's, he judged a contest, but does not prefer to judge. He feels a good contest judge should be honest and knowledgeable about fiddling, although does not have to play the fiddle to make a competent judge.

STYLE

Bob plays old time fiddle. He names Harold Carney as an early influence. At least dozens of styles exist, in his opinion, though bluegrass dominates in his region.

THE INSTRUMENT

The Strad style violin that Bob plays was made by Mark Bluett in 1985. He describes its sound as sweet, mellow and full. He uses a Willy Wolf shoulder rest and D'Addario Helicore strings, and plays with a Coda or Durro bow. Bob owns three other violins, and says he changes the strings on them, but does not do maintenance: "I got smart". While he does not deal in musical instruments, "sometimes I horse trade".

WHY DO YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE?

"Can't not play it."

THE TUNES

Bob recorded Martha Campbell and Margaret's Waltz for this tape. He learned them last year; the first came from Bobby Taylor, and the waltz from J.P. Fraley. The guitar backup on the recording is Bob, using an overdubbing technique.