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No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

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Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #59 Sept-Oct 2005

Benny Thomasson

Legendary Texas Fiddler (County)

As the most influential fiddle-playing Texan, Benny Thomasson is basically also the father of modern contest fiddling, and a powerful influence on contemporary players such as Mark O’Connor. Drawing on both the western swing of his young-adult years and the hard-and-fast rules of traditional fiddling, he created a clean, intricate style that turned fare such as “Jack Of Diamonds” and “Billy In The Lowground” into a whole ‘nother thing (he also contributed at least one modern standard, the lush waltz “Midnight On The Water”). Thomasson’s celebrated long-bow technique yielded a sweeping, smoother sound that rendered obsolete the slurs of Appalachian fiddling. He varied the traditional warhorses — but not too much — by playing slight variations on the melody, and by turning conventional two-part fiddle tunes into multi-part extravaganzas. And he tailored his music to the contest format, developing a distinct repertoire that was unlike what he might play at social gatherings (where the audience would be less concerned with judge-pleasing technique and more attuned to something that got them dancing). Because Thomasson was never a commercial performer, these twenty tracks (including two live) from 1966 to 1969 are the backbone of his recorded output — definitely a feast for fiddle fanatics, albeit more like eat-your-broccoli fare for many others.

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Originally Featured in Issue #59 Sept-Oct 2005

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