I saw Clay Shelor at the ASU fiddlers convention in Boone on Saturday. He was a part of the Crooked Road Fiddle Army that marched in the inaugural parade in Richmond back in mid January. So for this week I thought of the Shelor-Blackard Family’s distinctive mountain music.

Here’s a fine tune from his ancestors from Patrick County, which is as geographically and culturally close to Floyd County as is Franklin County. I consider this one of our local tunes although you don’t hear it played in G jams as much as it deserves.

This is a great tune for fiddle in key of G. It makes a fine ancient sounding banjo tune when tuned in gDGDE and can make a nice duet with a fiddle.

Of course, the piano being played in such a style common in the Blue Ridge makes this rendition special as a duet with the fiddle playing the melody. Bill Shelor is the fiddler and Clarice Shelor is the piano player. I am not sure of their relationship.

As some of you know, their music is widely recognized amongst folks knowledgeable about this region’s OT music. The family’s music has been featured on several collections on LP and CD.

I have it from the wonderful collection Old Originals Vol 1 which was only issued on LP. The Field Recorders collective has a CD available with older and newer recordings by the Shelor-Blackard Family.

I hope you’ll like it, learn it, and play it and the others I’ve been sending in your communities.


Flying Indian by Bill Shelor (fiddle) and Clarice Shelor (piano)

Reply from Clay Shelor

Hey y’all,

Thanks Mac for sharing this tune! I really want people to hear and play a few of my grandparents’ style of old-time too. Meadows of Dan old-time had its own sound (and yes, it’s almost Floyd and it’s almost Carroll).

Some field recordings are on the Digital Library of Appalachia Shelor section but their notes are generally incorrect. I’ve tried to comment on these songs to set the record straight as to who was actually playing.

And as Mac said, FRC has a CD here: Field Recorders Collective: Shelor-Blackard Family (along with great notes by Ray Alden)

This was my grandmother, Clarice Shelor on the piano. I actually learned their fiddle tunes from Granny playing them on the piano to me as Granddad (Jesse) had mostly stopped playing by the time I came along.

Bill Shelor was my grandfather Jesse Shelor’s nephew, son of Frank Shelor. So Bill was Dad’s first cousin and lived about a mile down the road from Granddad and Granny. He was a great fiddler.

All of the songs they played were tuned low. Granny’s old piano could not hold standard pitch and we tuned the fiddles down a whole step so that the high string was D. So while the fiddles played in G (G shapes, tuned down a step) the piano was in F. They actually referred to this key as F (even though the fiddles were in G).

They actually said “Indian” and not “Engine” for the record. 😊

I hope y’all enjoy this tune.

Grace, peace and more tunes!