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Fiddlin' Arthur Smith

Fiddlin' Arthur Smith & His Dixieliners – 2002 (County)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Fiddlin' Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith seemed born with a fiddle in his hands. His first widely heard public appearances were on the birth of the Grand Ole Opry, but he didn't record until the mid-'30s, what would one day be country and bluegrass music.

Both instrumentals and vocal numbers are here, and it is easy to place the music in the early years, with songs having simple lyrical structures and a chunk-chunk guitar rhythm behind his fiddling, but Smith's playing is a far cry from the "sawing at the fiddle" sometimes associated with that era. The recordings are remarkably clear and his style has a very modern sound. He was very exact and melodic in his fingering and bow work.

Tunes vary from the foot-stomping "Indian Creek" to the "Fiddler's Blues" and the well known "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "In The Pines." These songs were recorded 1936 - 1940 with a wealth of respected musicians including the Delmore Brothers, Clyde Moody and Billy Byrd. The accompanying booklet is a treasure of information about Smith and his music.

Smith was one of the best of any era, and his music stands the test of time six decades later.