Selections from the Samuel Bayard Collections performed by:

Mark Tamsula ~ Fiddle

Richard Withers ~ 5 string Banjo,
Harmonica, Fife

Dave Krysty ~ Guitar

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2. THE JAY BIRD 2:56 
5. MONIEMUSK 2:10 
6. CLUCK OLD HEN 2:44 
8. MOORE’S RAG 2:44 
12. BUMMER’S REEL 2:41 
13. RUSTIC DANCE 2:49 
14. THE JAY BIRD 1:12



     Rural Valley Melodies, our 5th recording of traditional Pennsylvania old-time music from the Bayard collections, features tunes collected from fiddlers and fifers in and around Armstrong County. While our previous recordings included tunes from throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, we thought notable contributions from Armstrong County and nearby areas to the north and east of Pittsburgh warranted attention. Samuel Preston Bayard and his collaborators visited these communities and many others during their travels all over the southwestern region of the state in the early to mid-1900s. They collected over 1000 tunes and songs from traditional fiddlers, fifers and singers, preserving music that otherwise would have been lost to future generations. Most of the tunes were published in two works, Hill Country Tunes (1944), and Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife (1982). The bulk of them came from musicians living in southern counties close to the West Virginia and Maryland borders – Washington, Greene, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland. Bayard also found worthy music further north however, including tunes from the beautiful countryside around Rural Valley in Cowanshannock Township, home of well-respected fiddlers such as Bert Stear, a prominent Rural Valley businessman, and Curtis R. Cooper, who was born there in 1884. The unusual and beautiful version of “Bummer’s Reel” on this recording comes from Curtis Cooper.

     In particular we were drawn to the tunes from Armstrong County fiddler A.J. Hogg. Arthur Jesse Hogg was born in Slippery Rock Township, Pa., in 1887, lived in Rural Valley, and worked as a school teacher and principal in Armstrong and Butler Counties. Both he and his brother Calvin were well known in the area as fiddlers and sources of tunes. In 1921, the Butler Eagle reported on their double wedding in Wick, Pa.: 

“...the very noisy and enjoyable affair was arranged by the young folks to properly celebrate the marriage of two popular and highly esteemed young men …. After a short honeymoon trip to Slippery Rock and back in the farm wagon hitched to the grocer’s truck, the bridal couples were at home to their friends with a fine lunch, after which the crowd danced to music furnished by the grooms who are violinists of talent.” 

     In addition to the tunes on this recording – “Old Number Third”, “The Mountain Hornpipe” and “Old Jakey Buzzard” – other tunes from A.J. Hogg can be found on our previous albums, including “Scotch Hornpipe”, “Old Mother Gum” and “The Erie Extension”. 

     We also feature tunes from Armstrong County fiddler Walter Neal, of Mayport, Pa. – “Rustic Dance”, “Under the Greenwood Tree” and an unusual version of “Cluck Old Hen”. Our earlier albums included his sublimely titled “Running Through the Rain to Keep Your Hair Dry”, and “Who Hit Nellie With the Stovepipe?”. 

     Along with music from Armstrong County fiddlers, we’ve included tunes from fiddlers Joseph H. Pardee and Isaiah Steffy of Indiana County, just southeast of Armstrong. Our version of “The Jay Bird” comes from fifer Harry P. Elliott of Clarion County, just to Armstrong County’s north. The fife reprise of this tune is my effort to pay him tribute and acknowledge the rich fifing tradition reflected in the Bayard collections. 

     We hope you enjoy listening to this sampling of additional tunes from the Bayard collections. We also sincerely hope that you’ll pick them up yourself – along with other Pennsylvania tunes we’ve recorded – and enjoy playing them at jam sessions, get-togethers and dances, helping to keep them alive as part of the greater tradition of Appalachian music. No doubt that was Bayard’s intention. 

    Richard Withers, Forest Hills, Pa., October 2019


Fiddle: Mark Tamsula

5 string Banjo, Harmonica, Fife: Richard Withers

Guitar: Dave Krysty

Recorded at Richard's home in Forest Hills, PA.

Mixing and editing by Mark Tamsula and Richard Withers. 

Layout: Mark Tamsula

Cover art: Kathy Borland

CD Replication by Oasis Disc Manufacturing:

All tunes arranged and produced by Richard Withers and Mark Tamsula.







Mark Tamsula has been performing and teaching in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region for over 30 years. He plays and teaches fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin, drawing from an ever expanding repertoire of tunes and songs. In addition to performing and recording the music of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Mark also performs with the bands Lackawanna Longnecks (old time) and Grand Bon Rien (Cajun).


Richard Withers has performed and recorded Old-time music on the banjo and Irish music on the flute, whistle and other instruments over the past three decades. In addition to performing and recording the music of Southwestern Pennsylvania, he can be heard playing clawhammer banjo on recordings with the old-time string band Lackawanna Longnecks and Irish-style flute with Hooley, a Pittsburgh-based traditional Irish group.


Dave Krysty visited and learned tunes from several of this region's older fiddlers, notably the late Fayette County fiddler Jim Bryner, one of Bayard's original sources.  Dave videotaped sessions with Jim and Jonas Hughes in 1986, two of which can be viewed on YouTube:


Dunbar fiddlers Jim Bryner and Jonah "Doan" Hughes 
with Dave Krysty


In 1988 Dave recorded an album with Bill Lemons titled  Folk Songs of Western Pennsylvania and since then he has supported the local tradition of fiddle music, songs and stories through his performances, and work with local arts organizations.






"The Snowy Hill is my new standard for traditional music albums. It looks backward and forward with perfect clarity: the old tunes are performed enthusiastically, with freedom, and the new tunes are artfully crafted, worthy of inclusion in the canon. Richard's playing is gorgeous, and his arrangements are thoughtful and dynamic. I especially appreciated the moments in the album when the tunes were played long. Many players state the tune, repeat, then move on, but Richard plays with a rare faith in the music, that these tunes are more than novel, 16-bar compositions, and they deserve to be considered on a deeper level. 

 As someone who only recently fell in love with the traditional music of Southwestern Pennsylvania, I'm grateful to know it's in such good hands. Richard and Co. are doing the brave and discerning work of not only preserving a tradition, but tending it so it can grow and flourish.”

- Cameron DeWhitt, podcaster,

“Get Up in the Cool: Old Time Music with Cameron DeWhitt and Friends” -


Well, Sam, when they was all a-blowin’ their innards out, and the drums backin’ ‘em up, it wouldn’t have made that much difference.”

– Marion Yoders, Greene County fifer


"Mark and Richard have once again drunk deep from the great Southwest Pennsylvania fiddle-tune collection of Sam Bayard. No reproduction or imitation here – pure oldtime Pennsylvania, freshly brought to life again by Mark and Richard."

Alan Jabbour, folklorist and musician


"Mark and Richard draw from the deep well of traditional fiddle and fife music in the longstanding Pennsylvania tradition.  The tunes flow forth not as artifacts but as living pieces of contemporary art.  They pulse with an immediacy that is infused with respect, moving the listener with their immortality."

Bob Buckingham of Fiddler Magazine


"Anyone who has been around the hill at Clifftop for the last decade has heard the beautiful and rare tunes that Mark has rescued from the hills of Pennsylvania. Now he and Richard bring us a marvelous cd that does for that region what Bruce Greene has done for Kentucky and Gary Harrison for Illinois."     

Philip F. Gura, author of
*America's Instrument: The Banjo in America*


"Nice tracks there! Always a treat to hear the old tunes and songs not just preserved, but alive and lively,... present[ed] with a clear regional focus."

Dan Gellert


"Samuel Bayard was the most prominent scholar of traditional Pennsylvania music. It is wonderful to know that this tradition still lives through the playing of Mark Tamsula and Richard Withers. Bayard would have been proud!" 

Carl Rahkonen, Ph.D., Ethnomusicologist, Indiana, PA.


"Dr. Sam Bayard collected the old tunes from the hollers and the hills …. Mark and Dick have brought them off of the flat page and back into our ears and straight to our tapping feet. You can hear the mountains in these tunes." 

Dave Krysty, Fiddler and Folklorist, 
Pittsburgh, PA.


"Mark and Richard have created an appealing aural anthology that revivifies the spirit of early Pennsylvania fiddlers and fifers, bringing Sam Bayard's collections to life in 3-D: dance, discovery, and delight." 

Deane Root, Professor of Music;
Director, Center for American Music;
University of Pittsburgh


"It is extremely doubtful if any other living man could have produced such a piece of research. Bayard's expertise in the field of general folklore, as well as fiddle and fife tunes could hardly be matched."

George Swetnam, Pittsburgh 1983


"Nothing that Sam Bayard has written has ever been refuted."

Kenneth Goldstein, head of the University of 
Pennsylvania's Folklore and Folklife department



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