|After twenty plus years of playing traditional music together Patt Plunkett and Charlie Walden (aka Patt & Possum) have learned a thing or two about getting along musically. So while some couples might bicker about the bills or where to go out to eat, these two battle over chord progression and set lists.
Charlie and Patt both grew up listening to and playing traditional mid-western fiddle music. Charlie learned as a teenager at the feet of some of Missouri’s finest old time fiddlers, including Pete McMahan, Taylor McBaine and Cyril Stinnett and was encouraged by countless others. Along the way he developed an interested in Canadian fiddle tunes as the fiddling in the Ottawa Valley is similar in style and shares some common repertoire with Missouri. As such, other important influences through recordings were Graham Townsend, Don Messer and Ned Landry. He is also a big fan of Kenny Baker, Chubby Wise and Joe Meadows where Bluegrass is concerned.
Patt started out by playing piano for her grandfather, Carl Voorhees, who was a seasoned Illinois square dance fiddler. She went on to play Irish-style piano accompaniment and formed a ceili band in Chicago, which won the local Fleah Ceol twice. She is also a professional music educator and trained singer. Patt’s love of music and natural ability as a dancer led her to take an interest in square and contra dance calling and instruction along with individual clogging and step dance performance.
Charlie and Patt are active contra and square dance musicians, performing for numerous such events each year. They serve as instructors at several music camps, giving instruction on fiddle, piano styles, traditional dance and vocal music.
More about Charlie (aka Possum)…
Charlie Walden began playing fiddle at age 14 when inspired by players in a fiddler’s contest at the Boone County Fair in his native Missouri. With the generous help and encouragement of older master fiddlers he went on to be recognized as one the best Missouri old-time fiddlers of his day. He has won dozens of local fiddle contests as well as major championships in Missouri, Illinois and West Virginia.
Charlie has taught fiddle and guitar to dozens of aspiring players. He has served as an instructor at the Bethel Youth Fiddle Camp, Festival of Fiddle Tunes (Port Townsend, WA), The Snowshoe Workshops/Allegheny Echoes (Marlinton, WV) Augusta Heritage Workshops (Elkins, WV), Montana Fiddle Camp and the National Folk School (Canberra, AUS). Intent on preserving and passing on the unique Missouri style and repertoire, Charlie organized the Bethel Youth Fiddle Camp in Bethel, Missouri, and directed camp operations and funding for a decade.
Major concert, contest and festival appearances either solo or with his wife Patt Plunkett, include: Missouri State Fair, Illinois State Fair, Smithsonian Festival of Folklife, Masters of the Folk Violin Tour, National Folk Festivals (Lowell, MA, Johnstown, PA, Bangor, ME), Frontier Folklife Festival (St. Louis), University of Chicago Folk Festival, Cuyahoga Valley Folk Festival (Akron, OH), Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop, WV), Galax Old-Time Music Festival (Galax, VA), Mother’s Day Festival (Gays Mills, WI), Ozark Mountain Festival (Mountain View, AR), Michigan Fiddlers Association North Central Region Fiddlers Convention, the Wheatland Music Festival (Remus, MI), St. Louis Irish Fest and the Richmond (VA) Folk Festival.
Charlie and Patt have traveled three times to Australia to perform at a variety of venues and festivals including the National Folk Festival of Australia (Canberra ACT), Harrietville Bluegrass and Country Music Festival (Harrietville, VIC), Jamgrass (Melbourne, VIC), Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival (Dorrigo, NSW), Malden Folk Festival (Malden, VIC), Kulcha Club (Perth, Western Australia), Radio Springs Music Series (Radio Springs, VIC), plus performances in Richmond and Brookfield-Margate in Tasmania.
Charlie has recorded numerous fiddlers in Missouri in an attempt to preserve the traditional playing and repertoire of the Show-Me State and is an avid collector of fiddle music. He shared a Grammy Nomination for “Best Album Notes” with his collaborators on the recording, Now That’s A Good Tune (issued by the University of Missouri Extension Division). The overall project, on which he is a featured performer, was nominated as “Best Folk Recording”. He has also numerous CDs of older Missouri fiddlers and written many articles on Missouri fiddle and dance. His recording Traditional Fiddle Music of Missouri (Marimac label) appeared on the 1987 Library of Congress Select List of Folk Recordings. He maintains a web site dedicated to Missouri fiddling (www.missourifiddling.com). Charlie was selected by Ingram’s Business as one of 50 Missourians You Should Know.
Recognized as a premier old-time fiddler, Charlie is also an avid performer of traditional Bluegrass and other Hillbilly fiddle styles. He plays guitar and mandolin, too.
| More about Patt…
Patt Plunkett first heard traditional fiddle music as played by her grandfather Carl. Her appreciation of the old fiddle tunes has made Patt the most sought after piano accompanist for old-time and Celtic music in the Midwest. Her piano style projects the high energy necessary for accompanying dance music.
Patt has been dancing, calling and teaching social dancing to others for many years and is an accomplished clogger and step-dancer. She is particularly interested in traditional square dancing, especially Western and Appalachian-type square formations. She once called the figures for the “World’s Largest Square Dance” held in Chicago’s Grant Park in conjunction with the WFMT Chicago Folk Festival. She is also a gifted singer and vocal instructor.
Patt has taught traditional music and dance at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Augusta Heritage Workshops, Allegheny Echoes Music Workshops, Montana Fiddle Camp, and at venues in Australia from New South Wales to Tasmania. Her many concert appearances include the University of Chicago Folk Festival, Cuyahoga Valley Folk Festival, Appalachian String Band Festival, Michigan Fiddlers Association North Central Region Fiddlers Convention, Milwaukee Irish Fest and Cleveland Irish Fests, Richmond Folk Festival, and the National Folk Festival (Australia).
National Folk Festivals (Lowell MA, Johnstown PA, Bangor, ME), Heartland Fiddlers Concert (NYC), Michigan Fiddlers Convention, Smithsonian Folklife Festival (Washington, DC), KDHX St. Louis Folk & Roots Festival, Frontier Folklife Festival (St. Louis), Appalachian Stringband Festival (Clifftop, WV), Vandalia Gathering (Charleston, WV), Cuyahoga Valley Folk Festival (Akron, OH), Harrietville Bluegrass Festival (Harrietville, VIC, Australia), Festival of American Fiddle Tunes (Port Townsend, WA), Chicago Barn Dance Company, Chicago Park District, St. Louis Irish Fest, Richmond Folk Festival (VA), Wheatland Music Festival (Remus, MI) and Wheatland Traditional Arts Weekend, Berkeley Spring Situation, University of Chicago Folk Festival, West Virginia State Folk Festival (Glenville) Prairie Hill Contra Dance (WI), Kimmswick Dance Weekend (MO), Palo Alto Contra Dance, Looking Glass Arts Contra Dance (Lansing, MI), Child Grove Country Dancers (St. Louis), KDHX Square Dance (St. Louis), St. Louis Folk & Roots Festival, San Diego Contra Dance, Pittsburgh Contra Dance, Square Dance Kalamazoo, Old Lazarus Harp Valentine’s Dance (Chicago), Madison Contra Dance, Lowell Folk Festival (Lowell, MA).
Harrietville Bluegrass Festival (Harrietville, VIC, Australia), Australian National Folk Festival & Folk School (Canberra, ACT), Richmond (Tasmania), Brookfield Margate Folk Club (Tasmania), Dorrigo Folk and Blue Grass Festival (Dorrigo, NSW, Australia), JamGrass (Melbourne, VIC), Malden Folk Festival (Malden, VIC), Kulcha Club (Perth, Western Australia), Radio Springs Music Series (Radio Springs, VIC, Australia), Neil Gow Festival (Dunkeld & Birnam, Scotland, UK)
|Camp & Workshop Instruction
Allegheny Echoes Workshops, Montana Fiddle Camp, Bethel Fiddle Camp (Bethel, MO), Festival of Fiddle Tunes (Port Townsend, WA), Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago, IL), Australian National Folk School Master Class (Canberra, ACT), Augusta Heritage Workshops – Old Time Week, Wheatland Traditional Arts Festival, Blackwood Academy (VIC, Australia), St. Louis Folk School Workshops, North Shore Fiddle Sessions (Wilmette, IL), Summit Folk School (Montpelier, VT), Suzuki Teachers Workshop (Ann Arbor, MI), St. Louis Folk School, Gryphon Strings (Palo Alto, CA), Fiddle Workshop San Francisco, Fiddle Workshop San Deigo, Fiddle Workshop Greater Detroit.
|Fiddle Contest Judging
Missouri State Fair, Kansas Old Time Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers Convention, Boone County Fair, Appalachian String Band Festival, Vandalia Gathering, Kansas Old Time Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers Convention, Tri-State Bluegrass Association Fiddle Contests, plus innumerable county fairs, mutton suppers, box socials, etc.