Fiddling Draws Far-Flung Southeast Oregon Residents Closer

May 4, 2012

Just about every Friday night in the remote southeast corner of Oregon, fiddlers and guitar players travel far distances to play music together. They’ve been doing it for decades. Recently, two of the players have become fast friends, even though one is 85 and the other is 14. Correspondent Anna King has this high desert audio postcard from Burns, Oregon.

SOUND: Maria Thompson playing the fiddle

Maria Thompson: “Yeah at first it kind of bothered me. Why would I go in and play with the Old Time Fiddlers when I could be out with friends? My name is Maria Thompson, I’m 14. But honestly, it’s really fun. And where I live you don’t really do anything on Friday nights, I mean there is no one to hang out with anyways, so why not?”

SOUND: Maria Thompson playing the fiddle

Maria Thompson: “I live in Diamond, so Diamond is about 60 miles south of Burns, which is in southeast Oregon, which is in the middle of nowhere. So yeah, I live nowhere.”

Ruel Teague: “That was Maria.”

SOUND: Maria Thompson playing the fiddle

Maria Thompson: “I’m very immature at school. I’m a 14-year-old girl. That’s how I act at school. But when I’m around people here I can be more like how I am at work. It just feels like I am more around people my age, even though I am not that age, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I am just really mature around these people. I don’t know, it’s nice feeling mature every once in a while.”

SOUND: Maria Thompson playing the fiddle

Maria Thompson: “I like the Old Time Fiddlers because you can just be so carefree with them. It’s so fun, and like everyone is so nice here. And when you mess up everyone just laughs about it. It’s just fun to be here.”

SOUND: Ruel Teague laughs

Ruel Teague: “My name is Ruel Teague. And I try to keep this Oregon Old Time Fiddlers group together. We play mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo, so and have a lot of fun.”

SOUND: Little boy plays Mary Had A Little Lamb

Ruel Teague: “If we let these kids go we have nothing for the future. This kind of music will die and these kids are coming up and they love music, and fiddle and guitar. And if we keep this going there will always be fiddles and guitars and mandolins and banjos and harmonicas and stuff like that. I suppose if I sat down and played fiddle I could remember, I could probably play ‘til tomorrow morning.”

SOUND: Ruel Teague playing and singing

Maria Thompson: “I think when you live somewhere like here you realize that what you have is so special. Like you don’t have cars outside all the time. You don’t hear the traffic. And you can look out your door and you don’t see skyscrapers, you don’t see buildings you see the sun coming up and the canyons and the willows and the creeks, it’s seeing the world how it’s supposed to be.”

SOUND: Ruel Teague singing, and then saying, “That’s all!”

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio