Monday, January 7, 2013

Ozark Jubilee lives

Doc Martin provided ID's for this scene from the Ozark Jubilee.
From left: Ced Tennis, (unidentified guitar player), bassist Bob White (obscured),
fiddler Buster Fellows and Doc Martin on steel guitar. News-Leader file photo.

Doc Martin, 91, of Carter Lake, Iowa, near Omaha, called me over the weekend after the publication of my piece about the Western wing band Sugar Thumb, which reaches back to the Ozark Jubilee for inspiration.

Martin said he recognized himself and some of his old friends in a file photo (above) of the Ozark Jubilee that ran with the article. He identified himself and most of the other people in the picture.

Martin, 91, said he performed on the Jubilee until he left the Springfield area in 1960. He said that in 1975, his faith called him away from the music of the Jubilee style, and he has not played it since.

He said he doesn't miss the music, but he clearly felt a connection to the times and the people.

Martin told a story about building a steel guitar. He persuaded one of his friends who owned a steel guitar to dismantle the instrument so Martin could borrow some aluminum components. He took the parts to a foundry in Springfield, which cast copies. Martin used the new parts to build his own instrument, which he said is depicted in the photo.

THIS JUST IN (1/14/13): Bo Brown embedded this video in a Facebook post. It's a performance by Doc Martin playing slide:

It's clear that the Ozark Jubilee continues to resonate in regional music. Those who performed on the show remain interested in its legacy, and much younger players are discovering the music anew.

I'd like to hear from anyone connected with the Jubilee, not necessarily for historical documentation (see the Internet for that), but to learn about the atmosphere and the musicianship. I'm especially interested in learning more about current players who are channeling the music of the Jubilee.