Thursday, August 28, 2008

Charlie, Emily & Rosemary are in the Newspaper!

We are sure proud of these students! They have played music only one year and were selected to perform in the 4-H showcase in Springfield! Congratulations!

Music & Reading

Did you know that The Bluegrass Shack has a waiting room...and it's filled with books and magazines that are family-friendly?

Labor Day Weekend

This is just a reminder that The Bluegrass Shack will be closed on Monday, September 1, 2008, for Labor Day. The Chris Talley Trio will be playing at the Victorian Festival in Jerseyville, Illinois on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Come on out and join the fun! Click Here for more information.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paige is in the Newspaper!

We got this out of the local paper this week. Paige, one of our students here at The Bluegrass Shack, got three perfect scores on three different performances. Way to go, Paige! Click on the picture to enlarge the article.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oct. 25 Fiddle & Banjo Contest!!!!

This is our big annual event in New Athens. We have both fiddle & banjo contests, with a total of nine different divisions for every age and ability!!! We've even brought back our very popular "Adult Beginner" divisions for both fiddle and banjo. Feel free to dress up hillbilly, western or star-studded (Grand Ol' Opry style)!

The contest will be held at L&B's East End, located at 1215 Spotsylvania. There are directions at the bottom of the flyer. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m., and the contest starts at noon. There will be food and drinks available. Lots of good parking, and the building is handicap accessible. Click on the flyer below to enlarge it, or right-click and "Save Picture As" to save to your computer for printing. We hope to see you there!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nikki Wins First at DuQuoin Fair

Congratulations goes out to Bluegrass Shack student Nikki who won First Place at the DuQuoin Fair this weekend. She entered the Talent Competition for 10-14 year olds and played her banjo. Great job!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday's Jam - Biggest Ever!

We had a record crowd at last night's jam session. It was so large that we had two rooms jamming at the same time. Most everyone was in our showroom, but we had a small group that jammed in the front room where I usually teach. It was a really great session, too! Here is a video clip of the jam.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Freeburg Homecoming

Ahh! What a fun Saturday we had! The Chris Talley Trio played at the Freeburg Homecoming from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, with a Fiddler's Frolic from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. of that time. We had a great line-up of fiddlers of all ages, including Colton, Tim, Sylvia, Liz, Paige, Veronica and Chelsea. They did a wonderful job!!!! For those of you who couldn't make it, here are some photos. Maybe I'll get a video from someone that I can post (hint, hint).

Jerseyville Victorian Festival

We had our large beginning jam group tonight and got to talking about the Victorian Festival that is held every year in Jerseyville. Several of the participants asked that I blog this, so here it is!

The festival is held over Labor Day Weekend, specifically on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (August 30 - September 1, 2008). The Chris Talley Trio will be playing all three days from 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. This is a very family-friendly event, and there are lots of neat things to see while you're there. You can tour the mansion (really fun!!!), and there is a Civil War reenactment, shooting of canons, various demonstrations, displays, lots of people dressed in era clothing, and food, beverages and all kinds of interesting things for sale. Take a look at the website for more detailed information. I highly recommend this event!

Friday, August 15, 2008

"New" Vintage Fiddle!

It is not nearly as common for folks to purchase a nice, vintage smaller size fiddle as it is a full size. However, I had a request this month for one, and we had just the instrument! I shipped out an 1890's OLEBULL 1/8 size fiddle last week to Texas and received a very nice note back from Cheryl:

Hi Chris,
We got the fiddle and I am amazed at the sound!! It sounds great, Marlys' face just lit up when she played it for the first time. It was like she finally could hear the music she was making. Such a tremendous difference from that shrill sounding one she has been playing. Thank you again. I was wondering what would be safe to use on the wood to clean it. Do we need to do anything special to polish it, etc. Thank you once again.

And yes, it's true! Those vintage small sizes sound so much better than the new ones! And look how beautiful an instrument it is:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Interesting Hoyer Voltone Fiddle

Hello Everyone! I received some pictures of a very interesting fiddle via e-mail last week. The writer said his grandfather was stationed in Germany and actually acquired this fiddle in 1953 from Arnold Hoyer in exchange for American cigarettes and coffee. The age of the fiddle is unknown, but you can see its design is completely unique. I've never seen anything else like it. I would like to know if anyone else out there has seen a fiddle like this, or maybe has another fiddle like this. Please contact me if you have any information.

When you look at the pictures, you will see this fiddle does not have any f-holes. What looks like half circles around the edge of the fiddle are actually openings in the fiddle (serving as f-holes) to allow the sound to come out of the fiddle.

The information that we currently have on it is from Geoff Seitz of Seitz Violin Shop in St. Louis:

Dear folks,

Unfortunately I do not know much about the current German makers but I can surmise some things about this violin. First, the word written on the back refers to something lawful and/or compliant. This suggests to me that the unusual design by this maker was somehow registered within some type of lawful entity, kind of like our patent office.

At any rate it is a unusual violin. This Hoyer fellow probably tried, as so many others have done, to bring some type of innovation to the violinmaking world, and then went about naming and registering his creation.

Geoff Seitz

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

7-Year Old Patrick in the Newspaper!

Patrick is a student of mine and recently played at his church with the worship band. The local newspaper was there and took a great picture of him playing. Check it out at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Featuring Terry!

Okay, folks. This is a really neat thing that Terry has learned how to do. He is playing Home Sweet Home on his banjo -- the version that you would normally use D-tuners for -- but he does not have D tuners on his banjo. Notice how he bends the strings by pressing on them on the peghead. He spent a lot of time learning this and does a really nice job.

Comment on Nikki's Banjo Playing

I posted the video clip of Nikki playing her banjo at the St. Clair County Fair. I got the following e-mail from Stacey, who lives in Poplar Bluff:

Hello Chris,

I watched the video you posted of 10 year old Nikki playing the banjo. I have two brief comments to make:

1. If Nikki took 2nd place the 1st place winner must have played very very good.

2. Ok . . .forget about Earl Scruggs . . . I want to play like Nikki!!

Sincerely yours,


Friday, August 8, 2008

What is a Dojo????

Here's an interesting instrument! This is a Gold Tone dojo. It is a cross between a 5-string banjo and a dobro. It is played exactly like a banjo, but it has the construction and tone quality of a dobro. It is not as loud as a banjo, so would also make a good practice instrument. (It is louder than a banjo with a mute, though.) I like to hear the dojo on slower songs where the banjo tends to just sound plucky. This particular instrument is for sale on E-bay right now, so if you are interested, take a look! You can't beat the price and you can take local pickup. It is a consignment item.

Guitar Runs in Action

A while back, I posted a short video and some tab showing the basic guitar runs (bluegrass style) for G C & D. At that time, I only posted sound clip of the runs "in action." This is a follow-up video of my playing and singing "Worried Man Blues" with all three of those runs incorporated. Please excuse my singing in the key of G. It's too high for me -- but it works great for showing you the runs. If you didn't see the previous post, you'll probably want to go there first if you are going to attempt the runs. You can find it here:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nikki Wins at St. Clair County Fair

Congratulations to Bluegrass Shack student Nikki for winning 2nd Place at the St. Clair County Fair! Nikki is 10 years old and has only been playing for 1-1/2 years. My favorite quote from Nikki??? >> "I thought I was going to be a girly-girl, but I decided it's a lot more fun to be a hillbilly..."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Introducing Chelsea!

Everyone who is around here has probably met Chelsea, but for those of you who haven't, I thought I'd take a minute to introduce her and let you hear some of her fiddle playing. Chelsea is a student of mine, but she is also a teacher here at The Bluegrass Shack. She teaches fiddle, guitar and banjo. We are certainly proud to have her teaching here! This is Chelsea playing "Billy in the Lowground."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Incredible Singers!

Okay - this isn't bluegrass, but I can assure you it is worth your time to listen. This is the best rendition I've ever heard. Pay attention to how well they stay together on all their words and the cut-offs. No one is conducting them. Also, watch the 2nd half of the song where the two girls on the right are sharing the microphone. You'll see them move the mic away at one point to accomodate the loudness of one of the singers. This is simply amazing.