I started playing old-time music
when my grandparents, Hortense
and Kelley Kirksey, started a small
band to entertain shut-ins at rest
homes and hospitals. Grandma
was a product of Hollywood of the
20's and 30's, and Grandpa was
the son of an outstanding Texas
fiddler. They first taught me
songs, as I learned to play first the
ukulele, then the guitar, then the
For several years, the mandolin
was my main instrument. This
sound clip was one of my favorite
tunes at that time, the "Westphalia
My grandfather enjoyed fiddle music tremendously, as he grew
up in a musical family in West Texas. When the fiddle contest
movement began in the 1960's, he started attending as many
fiddle events as he could, and often took me along.
Eventually I was playing along with fiddlers on the mandolin quite
a bit, and inevitably the fiddle bug bit me. In January of 1967 I
picked up the fiddle and started playing it in a jam session, and
have never quit. I learned mainly from the local fiddlers of
Northern California, but also travelled to many other places, as
far as Missouri, meeting and learning from fiddlers everywhere.
My grandfather corresponded with even more via tape recorder,
so I got tunes and styles from New England, Wisconsin,
Alabama, and many other places.
My grandparents sponsored a weekly fiddle jam every Monday
night, and it became known internationally as a great fun place
to play lots of tunes. On the death of my grandfather in 1981, I
became the host of the jam for the next 15 years.
The get-togethers sometimes brought visiting musicians from
Sweden, Scotland, and other countries. My repertoire was
greatly enlarged by all the people I played with.
This sound clip is a tune that my grandfather loved as a favorite
of his father. I learned this version from an old California
fiddler, Vann Cunningham. It's called "40 Wildcats".
I have a good collection of Irish
recordings and books, but my Irish
playing has been primarily influenced
by joining in Irish jam sessions when I
have the chance.
This sound clip is one of my favorite
jigs, "Banish Misfortune".
I learned many Scottish tunes through my American music,
but did not learn the real technique until the early 1980's,
which brought a stream of Scottish fiddlers to Northern
California. There were Scottish competitions and
workshops, and a few outstanding Scottish fiddlers became
regular participants in our Monday night jam sessions.
This sound clip is of a Shetland tune that I like a lot - "Da
In 1968 and following, I attended
Seattle University. In Seattle, I got
connected with Gordon Tracie,
America's leading proponent of
Scandinavian dancing. He not only
taught me Scandinavian dance, he got
me involved in every traditional dance
group in Seattle at the time, and I
wound up playing for dances as many
as 6 times a week.
I learned many Swedish, Norwegian,
and Danish tunes during this period,
but I really did play them in my
In 1971 I got an engineering job in the
Los Angeles area, and my
Scandinavian music continued with the
Swedish Folkdance Club of Los
Angeles. In 1974 I quit my
engineering job, and went to Sweden
with my fiddle, tape recorder, and
backpack, and for 5 months immersed
myself in the Swedish folk culture and
In 1975 I returned for 6 months,
travelling all over Sweden learning
tunes and styles. In 1977 I led a small
tour to Sweden for 6 weeks, during
which time I was awarded the bronze
Zorn medal for traditional playing of
Over the years, I continued my
Swedish playing for both dancing and
listening, and kept my connections with
Sweden. In 1983 Swedish Television
produced a documentary about me.
In 1990 I travelled there again to
videotape interviews with top fiddlers,
and was featured on Swedish Radio at
I now continue my Swedish music, and
lead tours during the summer to
introduce people to the folk music and
culture that I have become so
This sound clip is a great waltz from
the province of Hälsingland, by the
name of "Hultkläppens Vals".
I first became acquainted with the nyckelharpa in
1974 in Sweden, and found myself in possession of
my first instrument that summer. Through much
practice and listening to my recordings of Swedish
players, I became a competent player. My
subsequent trips enabled me to get to play with
some of the greatest players in Sweden - Eric
Sahlström, Gert Ohlsson, Ceylon Wallin, Hans Gille,
and many more.
I also played many more hours of practice and
performing through the years. I also tried my hand
at building several instruments.
A few years back I was elected president of the
American Nyckelharpa Association.
This sound clip is a bondpolska from the province
of Uppland that I learned directly from Eric
Sahlström. It is a "Polska efter Gås-Anders".
Tim Rued - sound clips