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Tune of the Month

"The Erie Jig" From Stan Guernsey

I’ve been playing this tune from the fine fiddler, Stan Guernsey, for a few months now and am really enjoying it. Stan’s playing is expressive and what I will call “stately,” always right on the mark rhythmically without feeling frenetic. One can hear the slightly dotted first note of the triplet rhythm, an approach which was common in earlier, particularly Scottish, fiddling but less so these days. While his early violin training is evident in his playing, his sense of the music as dance music shines through.

He was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1919. The Erie Jig (unless it’s The Eerie Jig) would be an apt name for a tune from that region. Or it could have lost an older name and picked up a new one, as tunes seem to do - quite wantonly. At any rate, it’s one he learned from his uncle. I also remember Stan as an exceptional tenor banjo player, always ready to help with backing up other fiddlers. He took this instrument up at the age of sixteen in order to play in a “cowboy band.”

He lived in Kirkland, WA, for many years and eventually retired to New Mexico. His name has cropped up on the occasional contest listing from that part of the fiddling world. Thanks to Linda Danielson for the biographical details and the recording of Stan and to Phil and Vivian Williams for their memories.

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The recording is by fiddler and folklorist Linda Danielson of Eugene, OR, from an interview with Stan Guernsey in 1976 for the Pacific Northwest section of the National Folklife Festival in Washington D.C.

Please contact me if you have questions or requests.

Stuart Williams, Music Editor

Updated January 15, 2010

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