photos - Michael G.Stewart

Frank Maloy, Paul Anastasio, Casey Driscoll & Friends

Stop, Look and Listen

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  Stop, Look and Listen
           
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Fiddles:
Frank Maloy
Paul Asastasio
Casey Driscoll
Guitars:
Brennen Ernst
Billy Puckett
Mandolins:
Danny Knicely (acoustic)
Taylor Baker (electric)
Bass:
Ralph Gordon
Vocal:
Tom Mindte



 

Bibb County Polka
Coquette
Old South Georgia Home
Old Georgia Rag
Sophisticated Lady
City of Albany Waltz
Stop, Look and Listen
Paul Aiken Breakdown
Heartbreak Waltz
I Want to Be Happy
Georgia Two-Step
Wabash Blues
One Moment Please
There’ll be Some Changes Made

The Wild and Wonderful World of Frank Maloy:

“Doom, Blang, Doom, Blang.” When you hear this, you know that Frank Maloy is counting off one of his many original tunes. No “One, Two, One, Two, Three, Four” for Frank. He prefers to use his late Brother Joe's count-off. Naturally, if playing a waltz he waltz he would count “Doom, Blang, Blang.” As with so many aspects of Frank's life, his way might be considered a bit out of the box. Highly musical, but just a little different.

Frank has been a musician and a composer for most of his 89 years—wildly creative and possessed with an encyclopedic memory. Frank not only remembers innumerable gigs and recordings going back well before 1940, but he can also name many of the musicians who played the gigs and even specific tunes and keys.
Atypical Frank Maloy query might go something like this: “When you listen to the Johnny LeeWills radio show #20, on 'Feed MeCorn andWatchMeGrow,' do you think that's Joe Holley playing the hot fiddle solo?” or “Remember that BobWills session back in 1946 where Joe Holley played a hot chorus on 'Sweet Sue' in the key of G?”
Naturally we mortals are lucky to even remember the recording, much less the specific tunes and keys. Frank could probably even sing or play the hot choruses. Multiply this by thousands of reminiscences, and you'll begin to get the hang of his conversations.

As accomplished a fiddler as Frank is, I was surprised to discover that he somehow also found time to learn to play alto and tenor saxophone, clarinet, guitar, bass and mandolin. He even learned to tap dance at an early age, and tapped for exercise into his 70s.

Frank truly has no idea of how many original fiddle tunes he has composed. We know that he composed at least 159, one for each Georgia county. A book of these tunes and CD set was released on Patuxent a few years back. Astonishing as it may seem, these compositions are just the tip of the iceberg. His friend and fellow
musician, Tom Mindte, estimates at least 1,000 or more. A typical Frank Maloy day might begin with noodling on the mandolin until a tune comes to him. He'll then transcribe it and name it after a place or person.

Frank was born in Milan, GA on January 2, 1927 into a family in which nearly everyone played string instruments. As a youngster he started off playing fiddle with a bow his mother haired with sewing thread. Frank studied the violin with several teachers and also completed the U.S. School of Music correspondence course, giving him a good background in music theory. Fascinated by oldtime fiddle tunes, he ordered 1000 Fiddle Tunes, published by M.M. Cole, from the Sears, Roebuck catalog, and began playing the tunes

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Frank had two brothers, Grooms and Joe, both of whom were musicians. Brother Grooms, who played mandolin, guitar and fiddle, was tragically killed in action in the Philippines in World War II. Frank and Brother Joe, however, continued to perform, and by 1946 the then teenaged boys were playing on radio station WBHB in
Fitzgerald, GA with Charlie Dowdy and the Prairie Boys. By 1950 Frank began a 10-year stint playing on radio and TV with Uncle Ned and the Hayloft Jamboree atWMAZ in Macon. Later, Frank and Joe reunited in Macon to perform in their own group, The Swingmasters. During the 1980s, Frank and Brother Joe played beach music—also known as shag music—and 1950s rock and roll in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Returning to south Georgia, they performed with the Dave Mercer Band for over a decade. Brother Joe, who played bass, guitar, mandolin and fiddle, passed away in 2005.We are fortunate that Tom Mindte's Patuxent Music was able to record a terrific CD in 1999 featuring Frank's fiddling and Brother Joe's guitar work. Entitled
“TimeWill Tell,” the disc, CD-065, is still available on the Patuxent website:www.pxrec.com. Remarkably, the Maloy brothers never commercially recorded until
the release of this CD. On it, the brothers play swing-era standards—good, sophisticated tunes including “Poinciana,” “Embraceable You” and “Charmaine,” with only one Frank Maloy original. You'd think that Frank, a strong music reader, learned his tunes at least in part from commercial sheet music.
His ear, however, is so strong that he transcribes melodies and chords strictly by listening to recordings. One tune we recorded on Frank's upcoming disc, Duke Ellington's “Sophisticated Lady,” has at times four chords to the bar. It goes without saying that in order to transcribe pieces that complicated, Frank must possess what my old bassist friend, Harlow Atwood, called “ears on stalks.” For over 30 years he was a contributing writer and tune transcriber for the fine old publication The Devil's Box.

When Frank begins reminiscing, chances are he'll not only mention playing a dance back in 1946, but some of the numbers he played on the date and their keys as well. As might be expected, Frank also has loads of choice stories. One concerns a group he played with that traveled in the back of an old fish truck, arriving at gigs dressed in flamboyantWestern outfits (Frank said, “At least as flamboyant as we could get..”) and smelling of fish. Fast forward from the madcap world of the past to the present. Frank was invited to teach at Port Townsend's Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in 2015, and is invited back for this year's session. In 2015, Frank was billed as primarily a Georgia breakdown fiddler (though not in the hard-driving style of the GeorgiaYellow Hammers), which is only half true. I visited the 2015 festival and got word that Frank also played a ton of swing fiddle. After our first meeting, there was no doubt that this was true. Not only did he know the melodies to hundreds of swing standards, but he also played excellent hot choruses. Thus began our friendship. We played a dance in Port Townsend's infamous 204 building with a repertoire consisting
entirely of old swing tunes. This led to my being invited, along with fiddler Casey Driscoll, Billy Puckett and others, to Patuxent Studios in Rockville, MD to record this new CD, a mix of Frank's original fiddle tunes, swing standards and songs co-written by Frank and brother Joe. I was flattered to be asked to arrange many of these pieces for the fiddle trio of Frank, Casey and myself. Frank is truly a national treasure with a phenomenal memory and a goldmine of tunes with a matching trove of priceless stories. - PaulAnastasio

The above is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Fiddler Magazine (www.fiddle.com)

 

Paul Anastasio began studying the violin at age nine. Initially classically trained, he soon began exploring the worlds of American popular and folk music, performing as part of a bluegrass band and competing in fiddle contests while still in his teens. He soon found himself distracted from fiddle hoedowns by the hot sounds of swing violin and western swing fiddling. In the mid-1970s Paul had the good fortune to meet the great jazz violinist JoeVenuti. Joe regularly invited Paul to perform with him on stage in a Seattle club. Paul only found out later that he had had the distinct honor of being the only student ever invited to study at Joe's home in Seattle.

After Joe's death Paul continued an intensive study of Venuti's style, and today he is considered one of the foremost authorities onVenuti's passionate, swinging approach to jazz violin. At about the same time Paul began his studies with Joe, he began working on the road in the band of country music legend Merle Haggard. This was to be the first of several jobs he would work with top western swing and country music bands including Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Gatlin and Loretta Lynn. After performing in all fifty states, traveling over a million miles on band buses and eating in truck stops for the better part of ten years, he decided that he had enjoyed as much as he could stand and returned to his native Pacific Northwest.

Today Paul is considered not only a fine performer but a respected popular music historian as well, as he has spent over thirty years seriously studying the role of the violin in American popular music. He has had the opportunity to study informally with the best fiddlers on the music scene, including country and western swing legends Cliff Bruner, Joe Holley, Johnny Gimble and Buddy Spicher.He is in great demand as an instructor at summer music camps throughout the U.S. and Canada, is Review Editor and writes a regular column for Fiddler Magazine and teaches privately as well.

For the past 15 years Paul has been consumed with the intensive study of the remarkable music of southwestern Mexico's Tierra Caliente. He had made over twenty trips to Mexico to study with the top folk violinists, and is currently arranging this unique repertoire for small string ensembles and presenting it on the concert stage.

 

Beginning at age 6 at the behest of his mother, Casey Driscoll started learning old time and Texas-style fiddling from local fiddle teacher, JayDean Ludiker. Then his
father's purchase of a Stephane Grapelli CD set moved him in a new direction, toward the world of swing and jazz. Eventually, the pursuit of musical knowledge put him on a path to study music at Belmont University, where he could study fiddle under many great teachers including the legendary Buddy Spicher. It lead him to south Georgia to meet and learn from fiddle legend Frank Maloy, who asked Casey to record Frank Maloy's 159 Original Georgia Fiddle Tunes (also available on
Patuxent Music). And it led to meeting the other like-minded musicians featured here, with whom he could play the music he loves.

Casey lives in Nashville,Tennessee where he plays fiddle in a honkytonk country band and works as a session studio musician.

 

Billy Puckett says: I met Frank Maloy in 1965 and worked with him and his brother Joe for two years. I have been performing publicly since I was sixteen, and these
two years were the most educational part of my career. Frank is still my music mentor and he has guidedme through many musical styles. His influence led me to many
opportunities that are very important in my life. I was able to play bass with Jim and Jesse on the Grand 'Ole Opry, play lead guitar with Bill Adams at the Legends Of Western Swing festival in Wichita Falls, Texas, I have played twelve years with The Atlanta Seventeen Orchestra, plus many more things that all working musicians are
subject to. I currently play guitar with a dance band in Atlanta, and bass with The BluegrassAlliance.

 

Danny Knicely comes from a family steeped in a mountain music tradition for generations. He first learned music from his grandfather, A.O. Knicely, who has been playing dances and social events in the Shenandoah Valley since the 1930's. Danny has used his roots in old-time and bluegrass to explore various types of music in the the U.S. and from around the world.

He has performed and collaborated with musicians in over a dozen countries spanning four continents, including U.S. State Department tours in Russia, Tunisia and Morocco. As a multi-instrumentalist, Danny has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and flatfooting expertise and has been recognized as a Master Folk Artist by his home state of Virginia. For more information, please visit dannyknicely.com.

 

Ralph Gordon, classically trained, studied music at West Virginia University and the Manhattan School of Music. He left Manhattan to perform with the New Jersey
Symphony, then toured with FredWaring and the Pennsylvanians. He eventually returned to West Virginia where he joined the ground breaking folk ensemble, Trapezoid. Nine years and four recordings later he left the He toured with Freyda and Acoustic Attatude and has been a member of Childsplay for 20 years. Ralph has performed with many individuals and groups in a multitude of musical styles and settings from weddings and special events to Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley and Strathmore Hall. Ralph has played at festivals across the country and venues around the world. He is a sought after freelance artist and session musician in the
Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area. Ralph can be heard on many recordings, often contributing to arranging and producing. He teaches bass and performance classes at summer and weekend camps across the country.

 

Brennen Ernst is a guitarist, banjoist, and pianist originally from Lucketts, VA. His interest in old music began at the age of 8, when he was introduced to the ragtime music of Scott Joplin. At 14, he discovered traditional Southeastern bluegrass and old time music, and much of his musical education has taken place at fiddler's conventions and bluegrass festivals throughout the south. He has become recognized as a versatile and knowledgeable musician, known for his strong rhythm guitar playing and his expertise in many kinds of American music including Jazz, Country, and early Blues. An avid lover of fiddle music, he is proud to appear with three generations of the finest fiddlers in the country on this project!

 

Taylor Baker started out playing with his banjo-playing brother Jessie in a family bluegrass band, The Baker Boys. His favorite mandolin players have always been FrankWakefield and Jethro Burns. at the age of thirteen, he met Wakefield and has since recorded several albums with him. At 16, He recorded a solo project that included several genres of mandolin music, including Bluegrass, Jazz, Choro, Italian and Classical. He now plays in an old time string band, Banana Express, with his wife, Elizabeth and other family members.

 

Producer, vocalist Tom Mindte grew up in the bluegrass richWashington DC area. He has played bluegrass with Buzz Busby, Joe Meadows and Walter Hensley, as well as with his own band, The Patuxent Partners. Since the 1980s, Tom has been a member of the Buffalo Nickel Band, which does a variety of older styles of mesic, including Western Swing, Jazz and Country Music.

Mindte, who has produced well over 200 albums, is the founder and president of Patuxent Music.