Mar 152014
Howard Rains

Howard Rain

When you think of Texas fiddling, you probably think Western Swing or contest style fiddling. But there’s a traditional Texas fiddle style that came before them. Howard Rains is on a quest to revive the old tunes and style. Scroll to the bottom to hear the podcast.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Black Eyed Susie by Elmo Newcomer, performed by Howard Rains
  2. Sugar Moon, by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
  3. Tom & Jerry, by Benny Thomasson
  4. Rocky Road to Jericho, by Clifford Murray, performed by Howard Rains
  5. Peep O’Day, by Duck Wootan, performed by Howard Rains on the album The Old Texas Fiddle

Wanna learn more? Check out:

Jul 012013
Illustration from Ford & Lovett's little dance manual

Illustration from Ford & Lovett’s little dance manual

This episode is about the biggest dance craze of the 1920s that you’ve never heard of. Scroll to the bottom to hear the podcast.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Shanghai Shuffle, by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra, 1924
  2. Soldier’s Joy & College Hornpipe, by Spare Parts, on The Civil War Ballroom, 1997
  3. Cally Polka, by Spare Parts, on The Civil War Ballroom, 1997
  4. Revolution, by The Beatles, on The Beatles (White Album), 1968
  5. Devil’s Dream, by Jasper Bisbee, 1923
  6. Hungarian Varsovienne, Henry Ford’s Old Fashioned Dance Orchestra, c. 1927
  7. Washboard Wiggles, Tiny Parham and his Musicians, 1929
  8. Soldier’s Joy & College Hornpipe, by Spare Parts, on The Civil War Ballroom, 1997
  9. Give the Fiddler a Dram, by Spare Parts, on The Civil War Ballroom, 1997
  10. Revolution, by The Beatles, on The Beatles (White Album), 1968

Devil's Dream record labelWanna learn more? Check out:

  • The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century, Steven Watts, 2005
  • “Good Morning”: After a Sleep of Twenty-Five Years, Old-fashioned Dancing is Being Revived by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford, Henry Ford & Benjamin Lovett, 1926
Feb 232013

Maggie Patrick Isaac

When she was a kid, Sharon Isaac loved hearing her grandmother play the banjo. This is Maggie’s story, but it’s also the story of Sharon’s quest to reconnect with her past. (To hear this episode, scroll to the bottom of the post)

Maggie Patrick Isaac was born May 11th, 1892 in Bloomington, Kentucky, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She was a teacher and helped run the family’s country store. She liked to recite long poems from memory. Her favorite was “Maud Muller,” the story of a poor girl and a wealthy judge who each share regret for a love that might have been. Watch a video of Mammie reciting the poem.

Sharon says her grandmother was stout with long, white hair. She wore black  lace-up leather shoes and always had an apron on. ”She made the best biscuits in the world,” said Sharon. “Her kitchen was always a special place.” She kept a big garden and raised hogs.

Learn more about Maggie at Sharon’s blog: Old Time Music Musings

Mammie Playing Banjo

Music featured in this episode (in order of appearance):
1. “Pretty Polly” (with lyrics) performed by Sharon Isaac, 2012
2. “Pretty Polly” performed by Maggie Patrick Isaac, 1970s
3. Bonaparte’s Retreat” performed by Double Eagle String Band on the album Who’s Going Down to Town?
4. ”Pretty Polly” (instrumental) performed by Sharon Isaac, 2012

Mar 272012

Now that I’ve staked out my territory, I need stories for future episodes. Do you have a good story to tell?

Maybe you got a piece of advice from an old musician 30 years ago that’s always stuck with you. Or maybe you and your partner’s romance first blossomed at a jam session or dance. Perhaps the horribly debilitating disease you suffered from since childhood was cured by banjo therapy. Or maybe you know about a secret love affair that inspired a beloved tune. Maybe you know the true life story of a good-for-nothing, son of a so-and-so who managed to win his freedom from jail by playing the saddest fiddle tune known to man for the warden. Maybe you started out as a punk rocker, but then somewhere along the way fell in love with bluegrass.

Whatever your story, I want to hear it. And maybe I’ll put you on the podcast. Drop me a line at marcairhart [at]

Feb 282012

Tim WootenTim Wooten, an old time fiddle player who lives out in the beautiful and rugged Texas Hill Country southwest of Austin, talks about his grandfather and time travel.

Feb 012012

Those who know me well know two of the things I love the most are traditional American music (especially the old time stringband and New England fiddle tune varieties that my friends and I contra dance to) and radio. So it was only a matter of time before I combined them to produce the Four Potatoes Podcast, a series of conversations with the people who keep traditional music and dance alive in Central Texas. I think of the show as StoryCorps meets American Routes.