John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes is a sizable anthology containing 176 of his original compositions. Most of these tunes are previously unpublished and unrecorded, taken from Hartford’s personal music journals. Compiled and narrated by fiddler Matt Combs, John’s daughter Katie Harford Hogue, and musicologist Greg Reish, the book sheds light on Hartford’s creative process through original tune compositions, his own reflections on the fiddle, and interviews with family and fellow musicians, including Marty Stuart, Sam Bush, Norman & Nancy Blake, and Mike Compton.
The book includes 60+ of John’s personal drawings—ranging in theme from steamboats and the river, to fellow musicians, home and everyday life—as well as several never before seen photographs. The cover artwork is masterfully drawn by St. Louis artist and John’s personal friend, Dan Martin.
StuffWorks Press, Inc./an imprint of John Hartford Enterprises
Ernie Hill (verified owner) –
This book is art. This project is a bold undertaking, a true expression of the artist that John Hartford was. His popularity is at an all time high and this book is a must have for any fan of music, regardless of genre or preferred instrument. The book itself, is made of the best quality paper stock, designed to last the reader’s lifetime. The paper cover drawn by St. Louis artist Dan Martin, one of John’s lifelong friends, is art in Dan’s well known St. Louis Post Dispatch cartoonist medium, sparing no details. Take that off for preservation and you’ll find an elegantly designed durable dark blue hard back cover with gold lettering and one of John’s self-portrait outline drawings! Take your time with each page. Masterfully narrated by Nashville musicologist Greg Reish, with comments by co-writers Katie Harford Hogue and Matt Combs, this book is filled with music, art and rare, many never before seen photos, along with John’s drawings. The inside front cover is “Gentle On My Mind”, an intro to the rest of the notation in the book, written by John Hartford himself. The back cover consists of photos of the 3×5 index card sayings and drawings John was notorious for utilizing.There are so many guest comments by folks in music who knew John. Greg did an outstanding work putting the history and these comments together, as did Katie. The drawings and calligraphy, I believe 68 in all, reflect John Hartford’s personality- a deep, sometimes whimsical, searching and incredible artist. Then there are the tunes. The tunes printed in this book are John’s own transcriptions. Each tune is coded, by John to reflect the date and place the tune was written. The history is in the narration. The tunes…Matt Combs is one fantastic fiddler, just Google for his history but Matt is also one diligent and patient man to be able to not only pour over hundreds of tunes found in John’s notebooks, but to also tastefully select the 176 tunes for the book. That’s just part of it. He played each one. The website has samples of Matt playing each tune in the book, which for non-music reading folks like me, is priceless! Especially since, on page 143, the tune “Skip Wild” or “Homer the Roamer”, was written 6/9/93 in Springfield, MO, on my birthday! Now, I can slowly decipher notation, not sight read at all, but, I can go to the website, click “listen”, and go to this tune and hear it beautifully, impeccably and sometimes hauntingly, performed solo, by Matt Combs! This entire project is art and consider this, most projects of this nature take years. I found out the fall of 2017 that this was happening. I witnessed the official release in June of 2018, at the John Hartford Memorial Festival! So, please, take a close look at this book and consider all that is taking place from paper cover, to hardback cover to each wonderful page, and cherish it. Cherish it, marvel at it, share it. Wow, just Wow!