The IBA is thrilled to introduce a new podcast series that centers on nationally prominent bluegrass musicians with deep roots and connections with Southwest Idaho. This is a collaborative effort between IBA, Idaho Songs Project, National Old Time Fiddlers, and Utah State University. Mr. Gary Eller, recipient of the 2020 Governor’s Awards in Arts and folk music historian, serves as the podcast host.
From Gary Eller: "Some years ago I started a series of interviews, now numbering over twenty, originally to collect oral histories of folks at the Weiser fiddle contest in the early 50s, 60s, and 70s with the raw recordings, transcriptions, and other materials being archived at the famous folklife center at Utah State University. We've interviewed politicians, cops, local detractors and supporters, businessmen, judges, etc. as well as contestants and jammers to get a broad range of views on this amazing event. Out of these interviews came 3-4 page articles I wrote for the NOTF newsletter about Sammie Bush, Byron Berline, Barbara Lamb, and Megan Lynch, all of whom became bluegrass legends, on how Weiser impacted their careers. This oral history project continues and by design is Weiser focused. The interviews are/were independent of IBA, but since many of the Weiser fiddlers became great bluegrassers and attracted to Weiser truly inspiring masters of other bluegrass instruments, they certainly are part of the IBA story.
As I became aware of the origins of IBA and the amazing bluegrass scene and musicians in the Treasure Valley in the 80s and 90s, I really wanted to capture that history both for archiving purposes and as useful information for current IBA management to think about as it maps the future of IBA. So these interviews were less Weiser centric by design. However, the interviews show how Weiser absolutely has been a critical part of the IBA and Idaho bluegrass story. Indeed, I truly don't believe there is much of a bluegrass history around here without Weiser.
I wanted to capture the trajectory of musicians who started as rank amateurs around here and became world class professional bluegrass musicians. Both IBA and Weiser were absolutely key to their success, so again the histories are intertwined. Again, no Weiser - historically not much bluegrass to speak about around here. I also wanted to document the Weiser experiences that many notable bluegrassers such as Byron Berline who did not grow up here. They were powerful influences not only on the fiddle contest but on just about every local musician who saw them and played music with them.
One of my models is the wonderful one-hour podcast series by Andy Hedges, Cowboy Crossroads, broadcast out of Texas which highlight a single person in each one-hour show."
Regards - Ol' Slim - The Banjo Nerd from Pickles Butte