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Byron Berline, RIP


duane88
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One of the best ever. I sold a couple of 5 strings and a couple of 4 string fiddles to him. My mom and Dad didn't seem to care (they didn't know who he was) that I was maintaining violins for Heifetz students and TA's, but when I sold a fiddle to Byron, they thought that I had "arrived".

Best Fiddle Player Ever. Yes, better than Mark O'Connor.

p.s. Wear a Mask, get a vaccine. It was waay too late in the game for this to have happened when it could have been prevented.

 

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11 minutes ago, Rue said:

I'm very sorry to hear that someone passed away due to covid, if it could have been avoided. :(

Hope there's an eternal fiddle camp high up in the sky! 

Well, Bill Monroe has a might tight band up there now.

He offered me a job, but after I left school, but OK is a bit too conservative for me, though working around Byron and John Hickman would have been a hoot. And the stories...

 

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16 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I fist learned of him when he played the fiddle break on The Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Woman".

Ick.  I'm sure he wouldn't want to be remembered for that.

I first met him at a fiddle contest in Goleta, when he asked me if I wanted to sell my fiddle to him (which I didn't), although I had heard him play many times before that.  I couldn't find any really good examples of his playing, but this is is more representative than the Rolling Stones atrocity...

His dad, Lue Berline was a pretty good fiddler too, more in the straght-ahead, old-time tradition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN2j8d0g4lQ

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On 7/12/2021 at 11:58 PM, Don Noon said:

Ick.  I'm sure he wouldn't want to be remembered for that.

I thought it was wonderfully "organic", perfect for both the song, and for the style the Rolling Stones were using on that song.

Liked it so much that I learned to play it, in the style that Byron used, and even played it in a restaurant/bar in Cremona one night when the owner asked me to play some "American-style fiddle music". I'm not sure that's exactly what he was expecting though. :D

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I listened again to see if I was missing something.  Double ick.

Of course, I realize most of this comes from the Rolling Stones being my most-hated band ever, and my pro-traditional fiddle music bias.  Heck, I even thought Byron's playing of fiddle music was too slick and modern for my tastes, and much preferred his dad's playing.

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This was sad news.  Byron Berline was a sublime fiddle player, and a generous spirit.  When I was a goofy college kid in the late 70s working hard on fiddle music, I met him at a festival in Southern California and he invited me to his home and spent most of an afternoon teaching me stuff.  I asked him if he could show me his bowing for "Sally Goodin," and he chuckled and winked... and said he said he'd show me a couple other Texas tunes in A.  I only figured out his bowing about ten years ago.  IMO, this is the best version of "Sally Goodin," ever.  RIP, Byron.

 

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I listened again to see if I was missing something.  Double ick.

Of course, I realize most of this comes from the Rolling Stones being my most-hated band ever, and my pro-traditional fiddle music bias.  Heck, I even thought Byron's playing of fiddle music was too slick and modern for my tastes, and much preferred his dad's playing.

It was quite difficult for me to copy Byron's style in that song, having had only classical training. I kept automatically cleaning it up... prissifying it. :lol:

You folky-music types are such insufferable snobs. :P

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7 hours ago, David Burgess said:

It was quite difficult for me to copy Byron's style in that song, having had only classical training. I kept automatically cleaning it up... prissifying it. :lol:

You classically trained types can be spotted a mile away at fiddle competitions:  the long bow strokes, lack of bow rhythm, clean notes, and struggling (often unsuccessfully) to keep from using vibrato.

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53 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

You classically trained types can be spotted a mile away at fiddle competitions:  the long bow strokes, lack of bow rhythm, clean notes, and struggling (often unsuccessfully) to keep from using vibrato.

Plus they tune their fiddles before they play them and wipe the rosin off of them when they're done.

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7 hours ago, Don Noon said:

You classically trained types can be spotted a mile away at fiddle competitions:  the long bow strokes, lack of bow rhythm, clean notes, and struggling (often unsuccessfully) to keep from using vibrato.

Uh oh, look at the long bow strokes Byron is using in the video Palousian posted. :o

Poor guy, he probably had to spend a lot more money on rehairs than other "fiddlers", since he would have needed to have the entire length of the hair replaced, rather than just the one inch section the other players use. :lol:

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Uh oh, look at the long bow strokes Byron is using in the video Palousian posted. :o

Like I said... he's too slick and modern to be an old-time fiddler.

For the ultimate in economy of bow motion, there's the guy I learned most of my fiddling from... Tom Sauber.

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Like I said... he's too slick and modern to be an old-time fiddler.

For the ultimate in economy of bow motion, there's the guy I learned most of my fiddling from... Tom Sauber.

Listening to that induced quite the adrenaline surge, so much so that I needed to turn my heart pacemaker up to 11 to survive such high levels of excitement. ;)

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Very sad news.  Many great fiddlers competed at Weiser's Old Time Fiddle Contest over the years including Byron. I never saw him compete but did see him perform in a small Baptist church in Tacoma,WA one year at Wintergrass. 

https://www.idahobluegrassassociation.org/byron-berline-weiser-fiddle-champion.html

Byron is at the top of my list of great fiddlers of all time. He just released a 3 CD set that is fabulous and a must have. He  reopened another fiddle shop in Gutherie OK after his Double Stop Fiddle Shop burned to the ground.

Tragic loss, he will be missed by so many, but his gift of music to us will live on.

Thank you Byron

Rest in Peace

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I think when you get asked to play with the Stones, you play however they ask you to play. I got to hang out with Byron quite a bit at the VSA Convention in Kentucky. i even got to Sing "Ghost Riders" with him in the lobby. He came to my room to look at pegs and told me the story of how he got invited to the "inner sanctum" back stage at a Stones concert and the strange upscale world that followed the Band when they  travelled.  

Not only did the Stones want that sawing, semi Cajun, style bowing but they moved the recording session outside on the pavement, That's why you hear the car horns which were left in purposefully. Byron was recommended to the Stones by Graham Parsons. It's funny that the Original Honky Tonk Women is set in Memphis and the "Country Honk" takes place in Jackson. There's a Jackson in both Mississippi, and Louisiana. The former starts with a Memphis blues style electric guitar and The later a sawing style bar room fiddle. It is a lot more effective the way it sits.

I like it, and so did the public, and more importantly, the Stones who hired him.

I liked Byron, and always enjoyed his company. RIP.

 

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That song was my first introduction to "Cajunish" music, back around 1969.

Many decades later, I learned a lot more about Cajun style playing from Anya Burgess, who has played in bands twice nominated for Grammy awards, and I still think that song was done pretty darned well.

Despite the name similarity, Anya and I have agreed to vociferously maintain that we are not related, except when we feel otherwise inclined. :D

Could some of the songs on the "Let It Bleed" album have been a good attempt to imitate various styles of grass-roots American styles of music (which rock-and-roll is anyway), or could they have been a satire? Either way, it was done very well, enough so to sell 7 million record albums.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Many decades later, I learned a lot more about Cajun style playing from Anya Burgess, who has played in bands twice nominated for Grammy awards, and I still think that song was done pretty darned well.

She is a fine violin maker, too!

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