Wednesday, March 22, 2017

More Stories Of Ed Selvaag

Dave Simpkins had a few stories to share about Ed Selvaag, who was one of the sources for tunes from the first Minnesota Fiddle Tunes Project CD.  The video above was taken when Ed was 101 and playing at church-

"  Ed said he got into music when he went over to the Lindrud farm with his brother to help milk cows.
His brother was using the best part of a beaten up guitar. He asked if he could have it, took it home, fixed it up and learned how to play.

He once said he went to a wedding dance in a small house. It was so crowded that he had to get a ladder and climb through a second story window.  He had to set up on the stairs. While he played, he saw a nice looking gal sitting in the corner who he said he was going to marry. He did and I think they were together some 60 plus years.

He was milking cows near Vining on a cold, storming winter night. A friend who he played with from time to time drove up the driveway to ask if he would fill in at a wedding dance in Pelican Rapids some 60 miles away. Ed said he would if he would help him finish the milking. They drove in a Model T with canvas sides. They had to sneak out of the dance at each break to start the car again and again. They got home in time for the morning milking. "

Monday, March 20, 2017

"My Great Grandfather was a Minnesota Fiddler"

I was playing a show the other night and was told by someone that their great grandfather was a Minnesota fiddler- A hardanger player to boot!  This led to a conversation about the old man back in the day.  Eric Simpkins was kind enough to set me up with his father, Dave, who shared some stories and a wonderful picture-

" Here is a picture of my grandfather Clarence Olson taken when he was 18 year old living on the family farm near Vining, Mn. His uncle Little Knute was a traveling fiddler. He told my grandfather he would give him a very nice fiddle if he would play with him.  Grandpa jumped at the chance. BUT, they would go into a town setting up gigs at local churches and saloons. The uncle would get drunk playing in the saloon and grandpa had to play in the churches.  That wouldn’t have been too bad but they also had to share a bed and the guy had fleas. Grandpa said “da heck with dat” the uncle could play by himself.

When grandpa was learning how to play the fiddle he would climb up the windmill to practice so everyone in the valley could hear him play.

Grandpa’s farm was one of the favorite stops for the music salmon. He had what he called a combo of him and three of his daughters that played in churches and at weddings. My mother remembers them practicing in the living room on cold winter nights or under an oak tree in the summer.

Grandpa’s favorite tunes to play were waltzes. We would listen to the Lawrence Welk Show in the 1960 and he would wave hand or roll his figures or tap his foot to the music. When he was feeling good he’d sing, “Tee yunka tee, yunka tee, yunka tee."

Grandpa played at the Sons of Norway in Vining. He was playing on the edge of the stage when it collapsed and he fell to the floor without loosing the beat. The Vining Sons of Norway Hall is gone now but I know there is one in Lanesboro where there were many dances. "