Byard Ray’s Old Fiddle Makes New Music
Fiddle music is a richly layered tapestry that runs through the core of Western North Carolina. The passing down of the traditions (or styles), and instruments is ever present. In 2020 North Carolina native and traditional musician, Jason Cade recorded his “Byard Ray Dozen Series.” A collection in tribute to the legendary Byard Ray of Madison County. The core of the story is the multigenerational journey of a Western North Carolina fiddle.
The “Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina” podcast highlights bluegrass and old-time music stories, performers, and traditions across the mountain and foothills counties of Western North Carolina. Hosted by Laura Boosinger and produced by Corrie Askew and Joe Kendrick of WNCW-FM, the podcast is a joint effort of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the North Carolina Arts Council, and WNCW-FM.
Late in 2019, one of Byard Ray’s old fiddles passed into my hands. Byard was fiddle teacher/inspiration to many in Yancey and Madison Counties, including my mom. Although I was too young to learn much from him directly, I heard him play a number times before he died and he gave me a rattlesnake rattle to put in my little fiddle. Byard had a bunch of cool old tunes and unique versions of standards, many of which he got from his great-uncle Mitch Wallin, JD Harris, Manco Sneed, and other fiddling elders in western NC. For three months I posted a new tune each week from his repertoire, all played on his old fiddle, sometimes joined by Rob McMaken and/or Tom Baker. This playlist collects the Byard Ray Dozen. It was a really fun project! —Jason Cade
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #1 — “Slow Buck”
Byard Ray Tune of the Week # 2– “Paddy on the
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #3–“Soldiers Joy”
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #4–“Polly Put the
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #5–“Flight of the
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #6–“Black
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #7–“The Waltz You
Saved For Me”
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #8 — “Sourwood
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #9– “Devil’s
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #10 — “Tucker’s
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #11– “Billy in the
Byard Ray Tune of the Week #12 — “Shy Ann”
About: As a youngster, Jason Cade began learning rare tunes and an older style of playing from master fiddler and tune-catcher Bruce Greene, his neighbor growing up in Yancey County, NC. Jason’s oldtime music is also heavily influenced by his mother’s fiddle teacher, the late Byard Ray of Madison County, NC, and the field recordings of the tremendous musicians who once lived in the Blue Ridge Mountain region of western NC, eastern TN, and north Georgia. In 2016, Jason won the prestigious fiddle contest at the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. He has also placed first in both fiddle and traditional singing at the Georgia String Band Festival & Fiddlers Convention in Calhoun, GA. In 2003 Jason Cade together with Rob McMaken form the band Hog-Eyed Man.