Best known for the Grammy award-winning classic song, Gentle on My Mind, recorded by the recently-deceased Glen Campbell, and the ground-breaking album Aereo-Plain, John Hartford was a serious student of the fiddle, composing hundreds of tunes during his lifetime.
Hartford died on June 4, 2001, after a long battle with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Since then, Katie Harford Hogue, his daughter, and her husband, Eric, have worked to promote his legacy and music.
They initiated a social media campaign that saw the re-issue of the hard-to-find Aereo-Plain, the 16 tracks from that album were released with those from the album Morning Bugle, meaning that the complete catalogue of Warner Bros recordings were made available. *
In November they released a 2-CD set pairing two of Hartford’s albums from his Flying Fish days in the late 1970s, Headin’ Down into The Mystery Below and Slumberin’ On the Cumberland (Small Dog A’barkin Records).These albums were previously only on vinyl; the first-named is an acoustic celebration of the river with songs such as the much loved See the Julia Belle Swain, Natchez Whistle, Kentucky Pool and Miss Ferris; Slumberin’ On the Cumberland is a full-band, country-tinged collaboration with guitarist Pat Burton and former Blue Grass Boy Benny Martin sharing credit with Hartford. This album features the title track, plus Greenback Dollar/Careless Love, and the Benny Martin songs I Can Read Between the Lines in Your Letters and Blue Writin’ on White Paper.
This summer the John Hartford Office will publish John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes, based on the discovery of over 60 handwritten music journals that Hartford had been using to compose fiddle tunes from 1983 until early 2001, just a few months before he passed away.
Katie Harford Hogue offered this enticing description of what John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes will look like …
“[It is] a compilation of over 170 original tunes selected from John’s personal music notebooks, featuring photos of his beautifully handwritten scores. Co-authors Greg Reish and Matt Combs, in collaboration with myself, will draw upon personal connections as well as insight into John’s creative process — including fiddle techniques, history, photos, drawings and interviews.”
She went on to say ….
“We are publishing the tunes in John’s original handwritten script, in standard music notation. For those who purchase the hardbound book, there will also be the add-on option of purchasing a separate, smaller spiral bound book with all the tunes typeset for ease of reading; this second book will be easier to take to a gig or jam session.”
She is planning to release the fiddle book at the John Hartford Memorial Festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana (at the Bill Monroe Music Park) the weekend of May 30-June 2, 2018. After that, the book will be available on the John Hartford website, and through a wholesale distributor for retailers who would like to carry it.
Katie Harford Hogue, though not a musician like her dad, is a creative at heart. She has a marketing degree from Belmont University, and now that her children are almost grown, is building a side-business making enamelled and fused glass jewelry.
Greg Reish is Professor of Music History and Director of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro. He is a scholar, teacher and performing musician with expertise in a wide range of American vernacular styles. Currently he plays guitar with fiddler Matt Brown in an old-time music duo.
Matt Combs is a long-time Nashville fiddler, multi-instrumentalist, and friend of John’s who has worked with many of the world’s best musicians and producers. In addition to a 2010 Grammy nomination with the Hartford String Band, he is a former Grand Ole Opry staff fiddler, as well as the current Head of the Fiddle Dept. for Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music.
*Aereo-Plain / Morning Bugle: The Complete Warner Bros Recordings (Real Gone Music RGM-0098)
This two-CD set contains both albums with eight unreleased bonus tracks-four from each session-with liner notes and photos from the Hartford family’s private collection.