Tune of the Month: Whistler's Waltz
There’s a very nice tune called The Whistler’s Waltz by Texas Fiddler, Randy Elmore, which has been making the rounds at fiddle contests in recent years. You can listen to him play it on You Tube, then if you need help sorting out the notes, go to Hollis Taylor’s transcription of it in the Phillips Collection: Volume II (Mel Bay). Enjoy yourselves, especially with the harmonics. My association with that name though is of another waltz which goes back to an earlier generation of fiddlers: Harold Allen, Lloyd Wanzer, Bill Yohey and Don Gish and others in the nineteen-seventies. It may have been lefty Lloyd who composed it, but we’re not sure. If anyone can confirm or dispute that, please let me know. This transcription and the recording are of Harold Allen’s playing on his out of print LP, “Fiddling Around,” on American Heritage Records. That’s Lloyd Wanzer on harmony fiddle by the way. Listen carefully to the details of the b part. It’s got a little more meat on the bones than the simpler way I first learned it and am used to hearing it.
Harold Allen (1925 – 2012) composed the lovely ‘Red Fox Waltz’ and was quite active in the early days of the Idaho and Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Associations, winning the Oregon State Champion as well as placing 3rd at Weiser. His fiddling was always warm and expressive, as well as being quite danceable. He was born in Nebraska and learned to play the fiddle from his father and grandfather. In fact, it was a fiddle his grandfather had picked up from a blacksmith in 1883 that he played the LP. As a boy Harold played with the Allen Family Band over WNAX radio out of Yankton, ND.
Thanks to the LP liner notes, Phil and Vivian Williams, Andrew Kuntz (Fiddler’s Companion) and Harold Allen’s obituary in the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Please contact me if you have questions or requests.
Stuart Williams, Music Editor