Wednesday Tune-Fix: Nile Wilson’s New Boston Hornpipe

One of the best fiddlers I ever met in Missouri, and one of the least known and appreciated I think, was Nile Wilson of Bucklin. Nile was an unassuming man, grew up farming and later operated a road grader building roads all over the Midwest.

Nile’s father, Dolph Wilson, was a renowned square dance fiddler and as a boy Nile was following in his father’s musical footsteps. Tragedy struck when Nile was just 18 when he injured his hand in an  accident while trying to free up a jammed corn picker. Hearing Nile talk some about this some 60 years later you could tell it was a huge event in his life. Undaunted and encouraged by his father he adapted his playing to his damaged, but still function fingers, and went on to take great enjoyment from fiddling.

Howard Marshall, a fiddler and scholar of traditional music, has provided a biography of Nile, which can be found at

We had the pleasure of taking Nile out to Port Townsend, WA, in the 1990s. Here’s a little of his fiddling from that event.

This particular tune, New Boston Hornpipe, set in the key of F is named for a little town in north central Missouri in Linn County. The tune is typical of north Missouri in that it is square or even in it’s meter, it’s notey and and single-note melodic and reeks of being of the Victorian-era as if lifted right from the pages of Ryan Mammoth Collection (albeit it does not appear in that book). You can find the music for this tune on my free notation page at

This is an excerpt from a workshop I gave at the KDHX Folk School on January 25, 2014. More Nile Wilson tunes coming including Oak Ridge Stomp and Tiehacker #1.