Whittling, Fiddling Violet Hensley

Currently there are many from Athens Dulcimers traveling, camping, and spreading the Athens Dulcimer joy in the Branson, Missouri and Mountain View, Arkansas areas.

This morning I received an update from Louise Todd. She and Jerry are in Branson and later this week will head on over to Mountain View and join the others.

Here is what Louise sent me:

We were thrilled to finally meet Violet Hensley of Yellville, AR at Silver Dollar City. She was playing her fiddle she had carved in 1934 when she was 18. She is billed as Whittling, Fiddling Violet Hensley.”

Jake used to play with Violet and her family band when Branson was in his traveling circuit. Violet remembered Jake!

  • Violet was born in 1916 in a two-bedroom log home in Mt. Ida, Arkansas, the same log cabin her father was born in in 1874.
  • She will turn 102 on October 21st.
  • Violet was married when she was 18 and had ten children.
  • Her husband was wounded during WWII.
  • Her “citizenship” at Silver Dollar City began in 1967, originally, it wasn’t to play the fiddle. It was to be a woodcarver.
  • In 1969 she appeared in the Beverly Hillbillies and also on the Captain Kangaroo show.
  • Has made 73 fiddles.
  • Has appeared three times on the Grand Ole Opry.

Here are some photos Louise took during their visit:


The banjo player is Mike Snider taken at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 100:

Here’s some more information about Violet:

David B <><


Traveling with your Dulcimore

This is interesting, even if you’re not planning on taking your dulcimer overseas or across the border to Mexico or Canada. It seems a bit drastic to me.

CITES – what musicians who travel need to know

David B <><

New events on our schedule

Louise has just added a new gig for next month, 12 Oct, check out the schedule.

Also, 4 Oct is our regular jam. If I’m not mistaken it’ll be a limited jam in that the Rec Ctr will be open for those who still want to jam. However, many of us will be on the Athens campus for the two different (free) concerts by Bradley Walker and by Flatt Lonesome.

For more see the updated schedule

David B <><

Jake Hisaw’s 100th Birthday Celebration

Jake turned 100 years old on 30 August 2018. His family and friends celebrated with the residents of Madison Village on 1 September.

Thanks to Linda Hisaw, Madison Village, and Louise Todd for organizing this fête. The photos of Jake, decorations, and food were all outstanding.

Louise did an exceptional job with putting together Jake’s bio fit for “This Is Your Life.”

Video: Jake Hisaw 100th Birthday


David B <><

Last Dulcimer Standing

Here’s some information about a dulcimer seen in the background on Tim Allen’s TV show, Last Man Standing

For those planning on attending Jake’s 100 birthday party it is today (Saturday 1 Sept).

The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention is a month away!

David B <><

The Story of Southwind

by David Bennett                                                                                        24 August 2018

A standard tune for many mountain dulcimer players is Southwind, or as we affectionately sometimes call it in Athens Dulcimers, “Anna’s Song“. The original title however is, The South Wind, and is a traditional Irish fiddle tune dating back to the 1700s.

As you probably know that with many songs the tune, or music, is written by one person, while the lyrics may be written by another person at another time. Therefore, in the following account keep in mind that I am relating the stories behind both the melody and the lyrics, and they are separate and distinct from each other.

The “tune” is taken from a song titled, Oh Wind from the South, that was transcribed from the playing of a harper from County Clare in 1792. The song was printed in Edward Bunting’s 1809, Collection of Irish Folk Music. Edward Bunting (1773–1843) was an Irish musician and folk music collector.

From The Fiddler’s Companion, an encyclopedia of fiddle tunes from the Celtic, British and American traditions, an Irish fiddler, Junior Crehan (1908-1998), tells a story about how the air was learned by the west Clare musicians. The tradition tells about a ghost ship bringing back to Ireland the souls of the Irish exiles, called Wild Geese, and mercenaries who had been killed in battle in foreign wars. As the vessel continued around southwest Cork it was driven up the west coast by a southern breeze and the ghosts of the expatriates could be heard intoning this tune, which was picked up by musicians on the coast of Clare who witnessed the event.

In Donal O’Sullivan’s (1893-1973) book, Songs of the Irish, we learn the “lyrics” were originally written in the 1700s, in Gaelic, by Freckled Donal Macnamara (1715–1810) who was homesick for his homeland in County Mayo, Ireland. The text of the song deals with a poet conversing with the wind regarding his longing for his homeland from which he has been banished. O’Sullivan also tells the same ghost ship origins of the melody.

The South Wind

(The Poet speaks)
O South Wind of the gentle rain
You banish winter’s weather,
Bring salmon to the pool again,
The bees among the heather.
If northward now you mean to blow,
As you rustle soft above me,
God Speed be with you as you go,
With a kiss for those that love me!

(The Wind Speaks)
From south I come with velvet breeze,
My work all nature blesses,
I melt the snow and strew the leaves
With flowers and soft caresses.
I’ll help you to dispel your woe,
With joy I’ll take your greeting
And bear it to your loved Mayo
Upon my wings so fleeting.

(The Poet speaks)
My Connacht, famed for wine and play,
So leal, so gay, so loving,
Here’s a fond kiss I send today
Borne by the wind in its roving.
These Munster folk are good and kind.
Right royally they treat me
But this land I’d gladly leave behind
With your Connacht pipes to greet me.

Athens Dulcimers playing Southwind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fzsv0ZA_TE

David B <><