This important archive of Oklahoma fiddle tunes, collected by Jim Renner in 1976-1977, is in my view heir to the work begun by Marion Thede in The Fiddle Book, which for years has been the primary resource for anyone interested in Oklahoma fiddling. In fact, Ms Thede encouraged and consulted with Jim in his efforts to create this archive, which represents a cross-section of the rich tradition of fiddling that was flourishing in the state during the 1970s.
The bulk of Jim Renner’s Archive of Oklahoma Fiddling documents some of the last old-time fiddlers born in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies, but the collection updates Thede’s work by including more modern genres such as swing, bluegrass, and Texas-style fiddling that have become dominant in the state since The Fiddle Book was published. The repertoires of seventeen individual fiddlers are represented here, as well as the finals of the 1977 Oklahoma State Fiddle Contest. The accompanying materials include detailed biographies and photographs of the fiddlers that provide valuable context for the music. All this material can be downloaded en masse at the bottom of this page.
I first met Jim back when the project was ongoing, and have been waiting more than 40 years to hear the fruits of his labor. Needless to say I am excited that Slippery Hill is making the Archive accessible to the public! These fiddlers have all passed away, and I’m grateful that Jim had the foresight to record their music and stories before it was too late. A big thank-you also to Gene Bowlen of BeARcade Music for the excellent, professional job he did in digitizing Jim’s reel-to-reel tapes. Brad Leftwich