Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio



James Orvin (Jim) Eaton, Frankfort, Kentucky (

Jim was September 12, 1948, in Somerset, Kentucky. He wrote his questionnaire answers like a conversational letter or a Fiddle-L post, and there's no better way to tell his story:

"My parents, Orvin (Bud) & Doris Gibson Eaton, were born in Pulaski County, Kentucky. They both lived on Buck Creek, northeast of Somerset. I'm a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and work for the State of Kentucky's Department of Surface Mining.

"My mother, and my dad's youngest brother, played the guitar, which got me interested in playing music. I've played guitar and banjo for a long time. In the summer of 1992 or 1993, I listened in on a fiddle workshop given by Art Mize at the Woodland Jubilee in Woodland Park, Lexington, Kentucky. I decided then to try the fiddle. I've been mostly learning from books. I attended the Mars Hill week in 1996, Alice Gerrard's class. My favorite fiddler is Bruce Greene. He plays the Kentucky tunes beautifully.

"I play at lunchtime with Steve Rice and some of the people he works with. There is usually a fiddle, a clawhammer banjo, and a guitar. I like that combination. I'm the banjo player. I go to the Kentucky State Championship fiddle contest which is held at Rough River Dam State Park on the 3rd weekend in July. I have never entered it however. I would say the most prevalent style in this area is bluegrass.

"My fiddle is a Hopf. I bought it at Bonny's Music Store in Irvine, Kentucky, when he was having a going out of business sale. I took it to Jim Lavy at the Sycamore String Shoppe, outside of Versailles, Kentucky, for repair and set up. He said it was made in the early 1800's and has had a new neck carved for it at some point. It has a dark, mellow tone. I use a KUN shoulder rest. The strings are Prims with a Jargar E. I use a Coda bow that I learned about on fiddle-l. I like playing fiddle because, as Dwight Diller says: "the fiddle is where its at".

"All of the tunes are ones I have learned in the last six months.

They're all in standard tuning."

-"Severn Creek" is from J.B. Miller of Lexington, Kentucky. It is on "Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky, Volume 2, Along the Kentucky River", Rounder 0377. Severn Creek is in Owen County, Kentucky.

-"Old Time Billy in the Lowground" is from Kelly Gilbert of Franklin County, Kentucky. It is on the same CD as "Severn Creek".

-"Old Time Brickyard Joe" is from Pop Baker of Franklin County, Kentucky. It is on Bruce Greene's "Five Miles of Ellum Wood" BG-CD1. Back when the early buildings were being built in downtown Frankfort, there were several brick making establishments around town.

-"Rat's Gone to Rest" is from George Lee Hawkins of Bath County, Kentucky. It is on "Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky, Volume 1, Up the Ohio and Licking Rivers", Rounder 0376.

-"Midnight" is from Kelly Gilbert of Franklin County, Kentucky. It is performed by Bruce Greene on "Old-Time Music On the Air", Rounder 0331. It is also on Bruce's "Fiddler's Dozen", the calendar. Jim Woodward does a wild version of this tune on the

Vol. 2 CD (see "Severn Creek").