This collection is described as "the ultimate sourcebook for the traditional fiddler". Certainly if you're interested in Western Swing, bluegrass and old timey fiddling this is the book for you, though there is also a fair selection of Irish, Scottish, Shetland and French Canadian tunes.
The spiral binding makes it easy and practical to use, as does the relatively large music font. Unlike a book like O'Neills, there are chord symbols, and the author David Brody has taken the trouble to give you the key; since many of these tunes are modal (eg A Dorian, E Aeolian), this is very helpful. Also valuable is that each tune is listed by genre (old-time, Irish etc), by type (reel, hornpipe), and by tuning where appropriate (eg AEAE). For every tune there is also a list of recordings, and the alphabetic arrangement makes it easy to find a tune if you know what you're looking for. There is a short section at the beginning introducing and explaining these different classifications.
Many of the tunes are well known standards, but there also some rarer gems, such as one or two David Grisman "Dawg" tunes and some excellent contest-style numbers.
Western Swing Fiddle
Stacey Phillips kicks off this book with a brief introduction to the origins of Western Swing, followed by some crucial notes on swing bowing.. Then we get nearly 100 transcriptions of fiddle solos from Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Bob Wills, Jesse Ashlock, Cecil Brower, Cliff Bruner, Louis Tierney, Joe Holley, JR Chatwell, Johnny Gimble, Vassar Clements, Bob Wills himself and many others. There is valuable analysis of phrasing, the deliberate use of dissonance, slides and double shuffles. He has interviews with fiddlers such as Cliff Bruner, Bobby Bruce and Johnny Gimble.
Phillips covers a wide range of material, from a Venuti transcription circa 1928 to some Merle Haggard from 1985. There are standards here, such as Corrine, Corrina, Take me back to Tulsa, Miss Molly, Maiden's Prayer and San Antonio Rose, as well as more obscure material. Most are for single fiddle (with guitar chords), but there are also several twin and even triple fiddle transcriptions. Sight-reading of other people's solos can be tough going, and Phillips has kept most of them mercifully short, often only 12 bars long, enough to teach valuable lessons on technique without labouring the point with unnecessary detail.
Altogether a unique and invaluable book for anyone wanting to master the technique and feel of Western Swing fiddling.
Take Me Back to Tulsa
A remarkable 4 CD collection of Bob Wills recordings from 1932 through to 1950; with over 100 tracks, this box set is great value. It is also lovingly presented with a 50-page booklet including full recording details of every track, and a detailed, illustrated biography. There are everything from 4 to 16-piece bands, including most of the fiddle players he used over the years.
There's no better way than a collection like this to get to know the Western Swing repertoire, the feel of Wills' arrangements, and the sheer fun of his performances.