Tune of the Month
"Dry Creek Reel" from the Nelson Brothers via Joe Pancerzewski, N. Dakota
Those of you who have been around the Washington Old Time Fiddlers for a while will remember Joe Pancerzewski, one of the best old time dance fiddlers around (Evergreen Fiddler: Volume I). If not, check out his Voyager CD # 341 'Legendary Northwest Fiddler.' While you're at it you might also pick up a copy of 'Pleasures of Home,' a collection of fiddle tunes mostly learned in Elvy Osborne's barber shop in Minot, North Dakota and from the Nelson Brothers, Joe’s neighbors near White Earth. Here Joe describes the “get togethers” of local farming and ranching families where lots of good fiddling and dancing took place. Folks gathered in the afternoon and cooked up a big feed, moved out the furniture and danced til the wee hours: “waltzes, two-steps, polkas, schottisches and square dances, and sometimes a three-step.”
Near the top of the list of the many fine fiddlers in that stretch of Northwestern North Dakota were Fred, Paul, John and Pete Nelson, whom Joe remembers from his earliest years. It was Paul who first put a fiddle in young Joe’s hand and got him started. With a fiddle from his mother's brother, Joe took off quickly, first with 'Casey Jones' and in short shrift much of the Nelson brothers' repertoire. By the age of twelve he was playing with them regularly for square dances. The Dry Creek Reel is one that Johnny Nelson in particular played and may have composed. The name is presumably for the Dry Fork Creek which bordered the homestead, empties into Beaver Creek and heads on south to the Missouri River.
The recording is by fiddler and folklorist Linda Danielson of Eugene, OR, from an interview with Joe Pancerzewski 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
November 8, 2010