Nashville stars teamed for a special performance at the Loveless Barn recently. The show celebrating the music of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House On The Prairie books featured Randy Travis, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie Milsap, Ashton Shepherd, The Roys, Natalie Grant and NBC’s The Sing-Off champions Committed. The event was taped for a PBS special titled Pa’s Fiddle: America’s Music with Randy Scruggs serving as musical director. An all-star string band was made up of Matt Combs, Dennis Crouch, Chad Cromwell, Hoot Hester and Shad Cobb.
Pa’s Fiddle: America’s Music will be broadcast during the 2012 June pledge-drive season on PBS stations throughout the nation. An accompanying CD featuring songs mentioned in the Little House books will be released at the same time. Pa’s Fiddle: American Fiddler includes “Buffalo Gals,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “Polly Put the Kettle On,” “Life Let Us Cherish,” “All the Blue Bonnets,” and more. Scheduled for retail release June 5, it is available now at www.laura-ingalls-wilder.com, and features acoustic masters Bryan Sutton, Matt Flinner, Matt Combs, David Grier, Jeff Taylor, and Dennis Crouch.
The project is the brainchild of Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music. “I’ve been working on the Pa’s Fiddle project for about 12 years now,” he explains, “and sometimes it’s felt like we’ve been pushing that boulder up that hill every day. Now we’re finally at the top and get to share this music with everyone.”
To create the project Cockrell teamed with actor Dean Butler, who played Wilder’s husband Almanzo in the Little House TV series.
“It’s terribly exciting to see this all finally happening,” said Cockrell, who also is a professor emeritus of musicology at Vanderbilt University. “But as exciting as it’s been for me, it’s even more exciting to see these excellent musicians get so excited about playing this music. They don’t get the opportunity to do that very much, and to see them almost melting in the studio in the presence of this great music is a wonderful opportunity.”
MTSU students also taped a documentary on the inspiration, creation and execution of the special. The students’ documentary, Inside Pa’s Fiddle, will accompany the PBS special in a DVD package. The student crew from the Department of Electronic Media Communication was led by Professor Tom Neff, founder and former CEO of The Documentary Channel and an award-winning producer and director.