If you have followed the bluegrass or fiddle scene for any length of time, you have heard of Jehile Kirkhuff. And if you haven’t, you’ll want to.

He was a legendary blind fiddler who lived in rural Pennsylvania in the first half of the 20th century. Learn more about him here. Ed Berbaum, owner of that site, has done a lot of work to preserve and honor Jehile’s legacy. Poke around his site for Jehile’s history, photos, recordings, and sheet music.

Jehile Kirkhuff

Jehile Kirkhuff

This post is to share with you the story of how Red Desert Violin acquired, quite by happenstance, a treasure trove of original Jehile Kirkuff recordings, and we would like to share them with you via download, to honor the oral tradition of music which is part of the human experience–to teach and to learn from others, passed freely from person to person.

The Backstory

One of my students had direct contact with Larry Downey, a well known New York fiddler and a dear friend to Jehile Kirkhuff. One day the student gave me a pile of cassettes, asking me to take good care of them and to “show them the respect they deserved”.

I started to listen and was blown away. The cassettes featured Jehile talking and fiddling, Jehile and Larry twin fiddling, and Larry giving recorded lessons to someone named “Brenda”.

The cassettes are a treasure trove of information and musical history, and I am finally keeping my promise to that student by making them available publicly.

My friend Mike Thorsen (MT Studios) donated his time, equipment, and most importantly his expertise in restoring these old tape recordings. They had a lot of distortion, pitch change, and deterioration which we painstakingly corrected at 30 second intervals. We then generated digital copies of the restored audio, and that’s what you can get here.

Mike restores the Kirkhuff recordings.

Mike restores the Kirkhuff recordings.

I donated a copy of these recordings to the Library of Congress, and they were thrilled to have the addition to their American Fiddlers collection.

I donated a copy of these recordings to the Library of Congress, and they were thrilled to have the addition to their American Fiddlers collection.

To download your copy, right-click on the link below and select “save as” to save to your device.
Jehile Kirkhuff recordings
This zip file contains about 35 tunes played by Jehile Kirkhuff. (Larry Downey recordings will be coming soon!) The songs in this file include:

Teatotallers Reel Buckwheat Batter Irishman’s Heart to the Ladies
Patty on the Railroad Miss McLeod’s Reel Fireman’s Dance
Kelton Catillian Half Penny Reel Little Stack of Barley
Money Mosk The Old Cuckcoo’s Nest Road to the Isles
Larry O’Gaff The Sheath of Barley Done Gone
Fox Hunters Reel Bummer’s Reel St Patricks Day in the Morning
St Ann’s Reel Cotton Eyed Joe Fishers Hornpipe
Dill Pickle Rag Irish Washer Woman Ragtime Annie
Arkansas Traveler Soldiers Joy Turkey in the Straw
Ides of January Leather Britches Lark of the Morning
Clarence P Crows/Kraus Charley Mac’s Jig

As you can see, it is an absolute gold mine. I hope you enjoy this gift as much as I have!