Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


 

31.

Glenn Godsey, Tulsa, Oklahoma (art_mgg@centum.utulsa.edu)

Glenn was born June 1, 1937, in Amarillo, Texas. He acquired a Master's degree in Art and is currently an Associate Professor of Art.

HERITAGE, HISTORY, LESSONS, FAVORITE TUNE

Glenn calls his ethnic heritage Kentucky trappers. His parents came from Mulberry, Arkansas. Some uncles played the fiddle; Glenn himself began at the age of 4, while still in Amarillo. He had classical lessons, "but I wouldn't say I benefited from them". As for informal lessons, "Mark O'Connor taught me a few things [when he was a kid]." Glenn has been a teacher in several workshops at Winfield, Kansas, with Mike Seeger, Sam Bush, Tracy Schwartz, Tim O'Brien, among others. Glenn remembers that his first fiddle tune was Boil Them Cabbage Down; he learned it from Eck Robertson. Today, Glenn's favorite tune is Crazy Creek, and he loves the way Byron Berline plays it. In fact, Byron is among Glenn's favorite fiddlers and has been a big inspiration. Glenn plays quite a few tunes in cross tuning, including AEAE, GDGD, AEAC#, and DDAD; in addition to fiddle, he also plays clawhammer banjo, bouzouki, baroque lute, and guitar. He prefers clawhammer banjo for backing up his fiddle tunes when not playing them solo. He often plays for dances; in fact, they are where he can most frequently be found performing. Of course, Glenn also enjoys jam sessions.

CONTESTS

Glenn judged fiddle contests at Winfield from 1976 - 1980, but notes that he does not prefer to judge.

STYLE

Glenn calls his fiddling 1940's Texas/Ozark square dance fiddle. Eck Robertson was the predominantly influential musician who forged that style. As to how many styles there might be overall, Glenn doesn't want to guess. His own style is rare in his region, but he practices it with his two bands, The Shoestrings and Ceoltori Tulsa. He has put out quite a few recordings in the past, including "Mountain Smoke", "Dudley and Deanie Murphy", "Live at the Speakeasy", and "John Southern".

THE INSTRUMENT

Glenn's first instrument is a nameless flea market $100 fiddle. His second fiddle, used for cross-key playing, is a Maggini. He says his anonymous fiddle has a "very experienced, very battle-scarred, mellow but gutsy" personality and sound. Glenn's shoulder rest is a Resonans and he prefers Prim strings, with an occasional Jargar "A" string. He plays with an "old cheap bow with ivoroid frog". Glenn collects violins, he says, "inadvertently", and also does his own maintenance, setup and repairs, as well as regraduation work and inlays. He does not professionally deal in violins but says, "some swapping and dealing has always gone on".

WHY DO YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE?

"Because I was strongly drawn to the old sounds at age 4 and the bond keeps growing."

THE TUNES:

Forked Deer -- I have known it for decades. Pretty Little Widow -- I recently learned it from the Freight Hoppers.

Glenn backed himself by overdubbing on fretless banjo (Forked Deer) and a fretted Whyte Laydie (Pretty Little Widow).