John White and the Nine Mile Band

John's CD is now in production at Voyager Records in Seattle. The CD won't make it out in time for Big Muddy, but will be available from Voyager Records has a number of CDs available of Missouri old-time fiddling.

The title of John's CD is "Missouri Fiddler John White: Nine Miles of Dry and Dusty."

Nine Miles of Dry and Dusty features two ensembles. One group echoes the sounds John grew up with at Lily Dale School dances in Shelby County (northeast Missouri), with Kenny Applebee of Mexico (guitar), Musial Wolfe of Boonville (piano), Kathy Gordon of Columbia (bass), and Howard Marshall of Millersburg (old-time banjo).

click for larger version The other ensemble is The Nine Mile Band, a group John formed to play for square dances and contra dances in Columbia, featuring Columbians Jim Ruth (clawhammer banjo), Amber Gaddy (piano accordion, piano, and button accordion), and David Cavins (guitar).

John was born in 1936 in Macon County and grew up on a farm in Shelby County. John recently retired from the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri in Columbia. John's wife, Betty, recently retired from teaching at Hallsville Elementary.

John White grew up in a musical family. Both of his parents played the violin, and his mother also played banjo, piano, and guitar. His grandfather, Thurman Fields, was a fiddler and gave John a violin he calls “the old red fiddle” as a reward for learning to play at a very young age. John’s mother taught him his first tune, “Little Brown Jug.”

John’s fiddling style developed while playing for square dances, especially those at the one-room Lily Dale schoolhouse in Shelby County. After the school closed due to consolidation with the Clarence school in 1953, the community bought the school, and it became a place for gatherings, music sessions, and dances.

When he moved to the Columbia area in the 1960s, John met a number of Little Dixie fiddlers such as Taylor McBaine, Pete McMahan, Cleo Persinger, and Cecil Windsor. John's north Missouri style gradually shifted to accommodate to the prevailing central Missouri style, which featured more “notey” playing, double stops, waltzes, hornpipes, and tunes in Bb and F. Later, with the advent of young musicians playing Appalachian style music in Columbia, John accommodated his playing to embrace this style, which is popular at contra dances and which is featured in performances by John White and the Nine Mile Band.

Dr. Howard Marshall
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Art History and Archaeology
University of Missouri-Columbia