Ridin' Old Paint: Documenting the Canadian River Breaks Fiddle Tradition




Wilkinson, Andy

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The Center for Texas Music History


I did the best part of my growing up and got the best part of my education around the cowboys in the Canadian River Breaks of Texas. We lived on a relatively small outfit, but we were surrounded by the big outfits-the Bivins Coldwater Cattle Company, the Killgores, the upper Matadors down the road. When we went to Channing to get supplies cowboys still tethered their horses and walked the short main street, and the air was filled with the sound of spurs jingling in unison with the clop of bootheels on the old boardwalk where the cowboys strolled in full regalia. When I was very young I thought of these cowboys as gods and wanted to walk and talk like them, be like them, know and live by their ways. The Breaks were full of music. My four sisters sang like angels in the shape-note harmonies of the old gospel music. I would discover that there were many fine musicians, poets and even laymen scholars steeped in the classics among the cowboys. We were Primitive Baptists and I was in my teens before I could devise my itinerary in such a way that I could go to the cowboy dances. I had already learned from them some of the old songs, but when I heard their string band ensembles playing the old fiddle music, I knew I would always be a better listener than performer. There are still cowboys in the Breaks who perform the old string music wonderfully... Buck Ramsey, 1997.



Canadian river breaks, Fiddle tradition, Texas, Music, History



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