Shelves of home-canned tomatoes, beans, and pickles line the walls inside the log house where Stephen and Nancy Dickey play fiddle and banjo music. The colorful jars reflect the surplus from their garden, saved so that later they can be opened and family and friends can partake. Likewise, Stephen and Nancy preserve their tunes, and when folks come by, they open up their cases and their hearts and in a similar way offer the bounty of the music they have accumulated throughout their lives. Both canning pickles and playing music are preservation projects. Unlike a museum artifact—untouched, their music and canned goods are resources saved, ready to use, and shared with folks who visit the Dickey home on Grease Gravy Road in rural Orange County.
The tunes featured in this recording reflect a vibrant fiddle tradition that connects the Dickey family to Orange County and a network of pickers, players, and listeners across southern Indiana. Many of the tunes were passed down to Stephen from his father Lotus Dickey; others are tunes commonly played at community jam sessions like those hosted by the Dickeys. In addition, the recording includes newer tunes that were written by Stephen. Fiddling in Southern Indiana has always combined a range of musical sources and influences. Fiddlers may play the expected dance tunes: hoedowns and waltzes. In addition, popular tunes, along with melodies of older folk songs, enter the local repertoire when they catch the interest of a player who chooses to share the tune with others. All of these melodies and influences combine to shape a player’s aesthetics, which in turn helps shape the tunes they write and play, contributing to the music of the region. So, sit back, listen, and enjoy “Music from the Stephen and Nancy Dickey Home.”