Bob Mitchell: Fiddle-playing events of by-gone days

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Often, thoughts run through my mind concerning a couple of premier fiddle players of the Cassville area.

They could have been violinist for all that matters, but for the most part, they preferred the music that came out of the Ozark hills. Most of their strings and bows followed tunes that more than likely arrived in these parts from those originating in Kentucky or Tennessee.

Once in North Carolina we got a liberal education concerning country music and the clog dancing that went with those tunes, which was provided by some young people who were studying this type of music at a nearby college.

First Charley Brattin

One of the most popular fiddlers of not too long ago is Charley Brattin, whose health had put an end to his career. Charley, a postal employee during the daytime could often be found either in a contest mode or traveling to a nearby dance facility to either join a band or be the sole source of music for the evening.

He was a standout performer at one of the most popular events in this area for several years, the Golden Fiddler’s Contest. Sponsored by the Golden Circle Shores Association on the south side of Table Rock Lake, capacity audiences flocked to the outdoor competition each year.

Mixed with a ham and trimmings dinner in the former Golden School, ladies of the community added their talents to the evening’s enjoyment.

Brattin was the holder of a number of years in succession of taking first place in the competition. As such, he always complimented the other contestants in the event, especially the younger fiddlers on their way up.

Red Periman’s events

Another top-notch performer with his fiddle was Red Periman, whose activities usually were centered around special events that included sponsors from commercial firms.

One such activity was every Saturday night during the summer months for Paul’s Consumer Market in “Little Italy” section of Cassville. That section now includes a number of businesses, including a Mexican restaurant, in the south part of Cassville. The long-lost name was that which the area carried for a long period in the past.

Periman, often included members of his family and other musicians in his program that eventually reached into the Table Rock communities of Eagle Rock and Shell Knob. Periman was also often hired to be a part of political campaigns in election years.

Both drew crowds

In the days of these two outstanding musicians, many of their performances attracted large crowds and were held outdoors where little seating was available, thus increasing the number of chairs suitable for the occasion to be available for those who might want to stay though the entire program.

The two, who often were featured with a band, especially for larger audiences or dances, sometimes appeared on a regular basis for a number of years. Especially Brattin, whose talents frequently took him to communities west of Barry County.

Events no longer

Like the band concerts by adult groups, or high school organizations, outdoor music events are a thing of the past and that is a shame on our society. We’re all near the stage of becoming stuck with the technology of TV and its commercialism to the point that we aren’t interested in some of the real valuable events and happenings of by-gone days.

Perhaps it’s time to make a move to return to those days when entertainment kept us together and made life easier to enjoy.

At least under more favorable conditions we would not be bombarded with situations of riots or tearing down monuments of people who whether you agree with them or not, made this country great, on its way toward being what it once was.

Most of those valued events of the past are no longer with us simply due to the failure of people to make themselves available to provide the manpower or womanpower necessary to make the system work.

Cassville is a typical example of not sticking with an event that has served the community well, many good programs or events have gone by the wayside simply due to a few dislikes, or the willingness to give of time to plan and make an event function.

Simply my opinion

This information above might fall on eyes or ears that disagree, but, this being my 91st birthday, these thoughts are some that have been rattling around for sometime. And, having been closely associated with many events over the course of a newspaper career, I believe the coming and going of activities in Cassville have been a big part of my life out of necessity or enjoyment.

If these comments have stepped on toes or ruffled any features, so be it, they are mine alone and not coming from any other source connected with this newspaper.

Have a safe future everyone.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.