Ever since I was a child and first heard the iconic Charlie Daniels hit, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, nothing has captured the “sound” of the west to me like fiddle music. I can remember first hearing that song on a country western station on the car radio as our family drove through central California. No one in our family really listened to country music by choice, but it was the only station that would come in. Well, when I heard it, the story embedded in the song captivated me as much as the lightning fast fiddle music. What little girl wouldn’t love the story about how Johnny beat the devil by playing a better fiddle?
When I started creating the Archer brothers, I wanted each to have a distinctive personality, which meant different hobbies and interests. Travis was the overprotective, workaholic older brother. Crockett had a passion for preaching and a practical interest in doctorin’. Jim had his wood-working. And little brother Neill? He played the fiddle.
Neill put up with his brothers teasing him about his cat screechin’ and even let big brother Travis relegate him to the barn whenever he wanted to practice. None of it discouraged him, though, because music was in his soul, and he was determined to master the fiddle his father had once played. Once he developed enough skill, he started playing in public–first for his brothers on their secluded ranch, and then in town for dances and shindigs. He even started carting it around with him when he traveled, tying the case to his saddle.
Once Neill’s brothers started marrying and having their own families, the urge to make his own way in the world and prove his manhood became too strong to ignore. So he left home and journeyed farther west, earning money in whatever way he could, his fiddle his only company on the trail. After two years, he stumbled across the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas and a shotgun-toting widow who changed his life forever.
Neill and Clara’s story can be found in the novella collection, A Match Made in Texas, and you can bet Neill’s fiddle plays a key role in the tale. Fellow filly, Mary Connealy, has a story in the collection as well, so you know it’s going to be a fun one!
Just to make it even more fun, I’m going to give away a copy of A Match Made in Texas to one lucky reader today. Leave me a comment about what sounds bring the west alive for you, and I’ll enter you in the drawing.
And did you know that old time fiddle music still exists today? There are national competitions and everything. Old time fiddle music (dating from the 1800’s) is different from bluegrass (which came together as a separate genre in the 1940’s), although you will find similarities in style.
Here’s a little Old Time Fiddle Music to get your toes tapping: