Guest Book

Welcome to Twang Central’s guest book! If you have a story about or favorite memory of John Hartford, please share it with us. Just scroll down past the last entry to leave one of your own. If you have video footage of John that you would like to share with us, we’d love to know. Or just drop us a line to say hi… and welcome aboard!

64 Responses to ' Guest Book '

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to ' Guest Book '.

  1. Berk Bryant said,

    on July 19th, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    John Hartford was a friend of mine, a very good friend. I am very appreciative to these two ladies who are putting this documentary together. I know personally they have devoted many hours of research, travel and recollections of their own to make this a five star, first class tribute.

    John was always very nice to me. I became acquainted with him at The Museum of Appalachia Tennessee Fall Homecoming. The acquantance in time grew into a trusted friendship. John was kind enough to be on my radio show in Louisville, KY in June 1999. He and friends playing with him that weekend came in. All pros at what they do. I felt priviledged to have them a year after John left us, on of these performers that day came to me and told me that John really wanted to do my show. He added that John did not like to do live radio. I was humbled and honored. There is a little more to this story but I will not take up space for that now.

    Sincere thanks to Sheila and Marcy for their devotion to this labor of love. I for one do definitely support your efforts.

    Berk Bryant, The Country Gentleman - WFPK 91.9 - Louisville, KY

  2. Pete Wernick said,

    on July 26th, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    John was a good friend and one of my biggest musical influences. His spirit, full of wild hairs and general chutzpah, to go along with that wide ranging wisdom and oh so somber exterior, was a powerful combination and result in some incredible good times for an awful lot of people. All hail John, and I’m really glad to see Shiela and Marcy doing something we all can appreciate! Thanks!

  3. Kerry Blech said,

    on July 26th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Hey, It is great to see the site. I know John’s up there, beaming and enjoying it all. I look forward to see how this thing develops… or is that “this thang develops?”
    Great work, one and all!
    Thanks for all you’ve done Sheila and Marcy!
    down in Hogtown, FL

  4. on July 27th, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Keep up the great work, Sheila and Marcy! The life and times of John Hartford are essential to the fabric of traditional music and his story needs to get out to the general public. I am so honored to have known John for so many years and to have had the opportunity to sit in his home and interview him on several occasions, including March 2000, which would evolve into the final feature-length article published about him during his lifetime (Sing Out! magazine, summer 2001). I will always treasure his phone call to me telling me how much he enjoyed and appreciated the article; he thanked ME for the article…John, we thank YOU for being who you were in every respect, musically and personally. We know you are smiling down on all of us whose lives you have touched. Wishing you continued success with your documentary endeavors, ladies!

    Stephanie P. Ledgin, Journalist-Photographer

  5. on July 27th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Sheila & Marcy ~ Congratulations on a wonderful site! You two gals have worked so hard on the documentary and I can’t wait to see the finished tribute to a beautiful soul and musician. God Bless you, John! You are missed…

  6. on August 13th, 2007 at 11:21 am

    It’s so pleasing to see that all the hard work and dedication you ladies have been putting into this project is finally begin to manifest itself in such a top- shelf classy way- CONGRATULATIONS!!! The site looks great!!
    Your reverence for and efforts to share the extraordinary life of our beloved legendary American Master John Hartford (whom I’m profoundly grateful and humbled to say was also my dear friend,neighbor,bandleader and hero) is inspiring and MOST appreciated..
    thanks Sheila, Marcy and John…
    p.s I can’t recommend Jamie Hartfords masterpiece “A Part of Your History” enough to those who love great music or that have an interest in the life and legacy of John Hartford

  7. Barry Willis said,

    on September 3rd, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    John was a great interview for “America’s Music: Bluegrass.” He was very knowledgeable about the earliest history of our music and it was also interesting to hear his personal slant on the origins of this music.

    It was also interesting that he didn’t really consider himself bluegrass, more old-timey actually.

    His fiddling and banjo playing certainly placed him with the most entertaining in this field of music. His key to success, especially as a solo act, was as an entertainer. He paid close attention to who his audience was and formed his act around this findings. I saw him in several different venues: bluegrass festivals, concert halls, open air amphitheaters, and each act was just different enough to keep each audience heavily involved in his performance.

    John Hartford was a good man and a great entertainer.

  8. on September 5th, 2007 at 10:31 am

    I never met John, but feel like I have. Have you ever met someone who already seemed familiar? He’s a profound inspiration for me. The best teacher I’ve never met, come to think of it I may be learning more from him than from those teachers I’ve actually come to know. With his fluid pervasive spirit there are no boundries such as death, not for me anyway. I’m happy and thankfull for that.
    Colin O’Brien, Milwaukee, Wi.

  9. on September 10th, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Ladies: Everything looks great so far! Can’t wait to see the finished project. John Hartford was definitely one in a million. Although I have a funny story about meeting him (that involved changing wet socks on a park bench in Reeds Spring, Mo.), I didn’t know him well. His music has been a close friend to me, though, for more than 30 years. I admired his uniquely creative genius and the passion he brought to everthing he did, his irreverent & self-deprecating sense of humor, his seriousness about things that were important and his absolute lack of quitting sense when it came to a good jam session. I played the Steam Powered Aeroplane CD non-stop in my office for two weeks after he died. I’ll never forget John Hartford. Marcy & Sheila, thanks for the work you’re doing so no one else will forget him, either. –Nancy Cardwell

  10. on October 29th, 2007 at 11:55 am

    John was a dear friend and an inspiration to me. Not only was he a creative genius, but he created a community which continues to perpetuate our music. It is vital that the world know John Hartford! Thank you for your wonderful work in promoting his tremendous legacy.

  11. on November 2nd, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    I grew up back stage of the Museum of Appalachia’s annual Tennessee Fall Homecoming. John Hartford was always a major part of event until his death. Each year he and Mr. Irwin would gather on the main stage around lunch time on Saturday to pay tribute those who had died during the past year.

    There was a loft in the backstage area and I always climbed up in it to watch the big jam sessions Hartford would hold. He would always hold court backstage when he was in good health. The music that was produced in those jams was very magical and had a great influence in my learning to play old time banjo.

    Sadly the backstage area has not been the same since his passing.

    I am very thankful for Marcy and Shelia for putting so much passion and time into this project and I am very much looking forward to watching it

    Rebekah Weiler, Nashville Tennessee

  12. Betsy Fuller said,

    on November 3rd, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    This is a terrific site - a wealth of information for a newcomer to old time music such as myself. Thank you, Sheila and Marcy, for your hard work toward preserving and sharing this vital piece of history.

  13. Brandon said,

    on November 6th, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    I miss you John.

  14. robb jarrell said,

    on November 9th, 2007 at 11:28 am

    As a friend of the late and great Charlie Derrington, I developed a love of the twangy sounds of the John Hartford. I know he was born in the wrong century but we are all richer because of him amd your work or should I say passion is so evident. I, too, look forward to the final finished product. Good luck and God Bless You Both!!!

  15. Bobby Taylor said,

    on November 22nd, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    John Hartford was the greatest at preserving fiddling in American. He will forever live on through the legacy he has left. I miss him greatly but cherish all the wonderful things he has done. Sheila you are the greatest.

    Bobby Taylor
    St. Albans, WV

  16. Bettefiddler said,

    on November 24th, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    I only had the honor of meeting John Hartford one time, on a tour through Bloomington Indiana, but he has had a profound impact on my appreciation of music. Some of my earliest musical memories are watching John Hartford on television as a child, and little did I know that as I grew up and became a lover of folk music, bluegrass, then begin playing old time and irish fiddle, what an impact his music would have on me. His were some of the very first records I collected, and now I’ve had the pleasure of sharing those recordings with my fiddler girlfriends who are taking the music to a new level. Thanks John, for all the lives you’ve touched, and thanks Sheila, for working so hard on this site in rememberance of a great talented funny musician!
    Bettefiddler, jeweler, irish fiddler, and big John Hartford fan!

  17. richard groner said,

    on November 24th, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    i did not know john nor was i lucky enough to see him play. i have however been a big john hartford fan for a very long time. i love all of his fiddle tune albums with the string band and of course, gentle on my mind has always been my favorite song. i love the version on “live from the mountain stage”. i have always hoped a documentary would be made on him, he was such a great american icon. i am thrilled that it is finally being made. thank you both for all the work and i can’t wait to see it.

  18. on December 6th, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    I accidentally ran into John and Douglas Dillard at the Sound Shop in Nashville about thirty years ago while they were recording a Dillard/Hartford/Dillard album. Both John and Douglas have been here in Eureka Springs for our Folk Festivals and Bluegrass Festivals. The first time I met John he gave me a pair of paper eyeballs he had cut out of a magazine and would wet them and stick them on his eyelids. Freaked a lot of waitresses out. Funny. I kept them for years then gave them to a friend of John’s to give back to him. When John was here in later years I told him the “eyeball” story and he whipped out one of his 3 X 5 cards and drew two eyeballs on it, autograped it, dated it, and gave it to me. I have it framed in my music room. The last time John was here he left one of his “dancing boards”. A friend of mine gave it to me and told me to contact John to give it back. I called his booking agency and they said, “Just hang on to it, and the next time John comes to Eureka Springs he can pick it up”. Well, unfortunately John passed away before he could make it back. I discovered Sheila Nichols was doing a documentary on John, so I asked her if I could donate the board to her for her “John Hartford collection”. She gladly accepted my offer so the John Hartford dancing board is now in her collection. John was truly ahead of his time. A master showman. I miss him. He was a super fellow to know. R.I.P my friend.

    Arkansas Red-Ozark Troubadour

  19. Bruce Molsky said,

    on January 3rd, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    One of John’s greatest assets was his refusal to build walls between the past and the present. He allowed all that incredible old music to seep into our lives in a totally appropriate and wonderful way. What a renaissance man.
    Thanks for all the work you guys are doing to honor his memory. It means SO much!
    Happy New Year!

  20. Darlyne Kent said,

    on January 14th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed listening and watching John Hartford perform and entertain. He truly was an entertainer.

    The first year we attended the Sea Music Festival at the American Sea Museum in Mystic, Connecticut, who was there performing riverboat songs, but of course, John Hartford! We had travelled hundreds of miles to attend the festival and were so surprised and proud to see John Hartford as one of the performers, living only 5 miles from us in Tennessee. I’ll never forget that first sea music festival and how wonderfully John Hartford performed and how well he was received.

  21. on March 28th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    This is a fine deal ya’ll are workin’ on here. A great big Thank Ya, to Sheila, Marcy and Mr. Hartford. I know it’s been a long row to hoe, so it’s nice to see it coming together.

    John Hartford and his String Bands were so much fun to watch and listen. I always enjoyed the shows, seemed like you could take something away from it everytime. Now I can’t say that about everybody. I remember taking my wife, and thinking this could go either way. After the program, she was hooked. That’s magic!

    Well, thanks again for doing what ya’ll are doing.

  22. TONY ELLIS said,

    on July 22nd, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    John Hartford was gifted in so many ways. A great banjo player and fiddler, great singer and entertainer and song writer. Also he had the gift of making everyone around him feel welcome and appreciated. Few mere mortals reach such levels in any of these endeavors but John did in them all. I feel very fortunate to have known him and shared tunes with him. He will leave a legacy that is a true gift to all of us who love the banjo and traditional American folklore - especially having to do with the old steam powered riverboats. John was a musical Mark Twain of the greatest perportions and an American treasure. I miss him.

  23. Daniel Craig said,

    on July 23rd, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Hey, I was searching for banjo lessons and I happened upon this site. Good work, I’m looking forward to more.

  24. Jamey Hall said,

    on September 3rd, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Good luck with your project. I know it’ll be great, as it’s a labor of love.

  25. on September 3rd, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Eh, what an incredible guy he was. John was one of those people who change the planet while they’re on it, change music as we know it, and change the lives of everyone who was touched by what they did. In that way I think he’s equal to the likes of Bill Monroe and Jerry Garcia. He definitely had an effect on me. My life would’ve turned out differently if it hadn’t been for him, I can honestly say that. He left a wake behind him — just like a big ole riverboat.

    Keep up the good work, gals. This is a great site and I can’t wait to see the documentary!!!

  26. on September 3rd, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    June in 1995, John came to Japan with Bob Carlin for a week tour. John went to bed like in 10 in the morning and got up at 5 in the afternoon for whole tour. He said “I’m in Nashville time”. Well, not exactly but…
    So I had a chance to jam with John from midnite to next morning at Gifu Bluegrass Fest. I’m the only guy who can stay up with him because I’m an editor of monthly magazine, you know. What a happy time with him. I can be Lester at that night and… you guys know John.

    John Hartford music gave bluegrass music an idea of international value. His music overcame the region, race and religion. I can feel he tickles me on his banjo and fiddle and I can hear he sings love and peace even if I don’t understand English. I can feel it perfectly. John Hartford is the first international bluegrasser in the world, I believe.
    I’d like to see him again through your project!!!

  27. on September 5th, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for creating such a beautiful resource for anyone who loves great folk music.
    As is evidenced by this guestbook and by any folk festival you might happen to find yourself at around the globe, John has dramatically altered the course of musical history and made many people’s lives much richer for it.
    Thank you Marcy and Sheila for the time and dedication it took to create this, and of course, thanks to John Hartford for fearlessly letting his freak flag fly high. We miss you!

  28. Marty Jennings said,

    on September 13th, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Good luck on the Hartford project. The idea is long overdue. The memories of a Hartford concert bring back some of the earliest feel good moments in music for me. Thanks for doing the work..

  29. Jo Ann Schoen said,

    on September 23rd, 2008 at 11:29 am

    For those of you who might not know, another of John Hartford’s loves was steamboatin’. Right now the DELTA QUEEN is in the fight for her very life! Our Congress holds in their hands her very existence. Without an exemption from them she can no longer run up and down our inland rivers as she has done since being brought through the Panama Canal by Captain Tom Greene in 1947. We need your help today. See for further information. For those of you who do not live in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa or Mississippi you have at least one Senator who has not signed on as co-sponsor of the Senate Bill # 3498 to grant the exemption. Please call your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. THANKS so much!

  30. on September 23rd, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I used to run into John in the 80’s at the Full Moon Parties out at Ted’s place out near the Castle recording studio just South of Nashville. There were always all sorts of folks jamming out there and sometimes I’d get in a jam with John. he knew so many old-time songs that he liked to play and I would just jump in and improvise to be a part of that particular jam session. One time after a tune had gone around the circle and John signaled the ending, everyone reached down for their drinks and John looked at me serious as ever and said “You didn’t know that song did ya?”

  31. on February 9th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    People like John are what make our nation great. Artists that make life bearable when times are hard, that keep us singing, dancing and laughing and remind us that we’ve been through this before, and we’ll all keep pushing forward, hoping for a beautiful future for generations to come. Our real national treasures are our people, all around us. The poets, musicians, teachers, artists, and anyone who is good at what they do, and want to share it with others. Thank you John.

  32. Ray Abshire said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I believe that folk artists stay alive thru their music. Projects, such as this one, stir up interest and invite listening. Thus, another “great one” stays with us.
    Great work Sheila and hope to see you down the road.

  33. Leta Nash Weedman said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Thank you Sheila for the grit and determination to get this project on the great John Hartford produced.

  34. bill fontenot said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    i’d just like to urge ya’ll to push on with john’s doc film……there are others like him (fred carter, jr., bobby bridger, glen campbell, etc.) whose bios read similarly: been all over, did so many interesting gigs that added so much to their writing & performing, and above all, OUTSTSTANDING talent in producing the uber-high-quality musical performances that we all pretty much took for granted back in the day………

  35. Bonnie Lewis said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I first saw John play in West Lafayette, Indiana, back in the 70s. He became my immediate and permanent hero. Clueless to the story of bonfires back then as I listened to his anthology, I had no idea I would be singing “ain’t ya got no family” while I dreamed in front of the bonfires in Vacherie, Louisiana, 25 years later. And over the past 5 years, I have found that everywhere I go I meet people who were his friends from his time spent in New Orleans.

  36. Mark Normand said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Hi Sheila !

    I missed the whole John Hartford thing, being brought up thru cajun music down here in La. After the last few years of trying to absorb everything during the Monroe era, I feel the need to discover John and his background during my ongoing journey. Your project sounds like a great start ! Best of luck with it !

  37. Carol Gindein said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Hey y’all - this is looking great. I know the lengths you’ve gone to in your efforts to gather as much authentic information as possible and this is looking like it’s truly paying off.
    You can be proud of creating an impressive reference site for anyone wishing to learn more about John or the music he was know for - Congrats & keep up the good work.

  38. John Laudun said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    John Hartford was so important for so many people, people who went on to innovate in similarly important ways to Hartford. I’m so glad to see someone tackling Hartford’s life and work in a way that will reach a large audience.

  39. John Buckelew said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    John Hartforwas an inspiration to many people, including myself, and this is a wonderful project that is way past due in my opinion. His appreciation for the history of folk music has endured through the many musicians and storytellers that he has influenced. I’m sure that John will agree with a quote from the great Louis Armstrong that “All music is Folk music,,,,,,,,, I’ve never seen a horse sing a song!” Best of luck with this very worthwhile project.

  40. Patricia Jones said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Great site, wonderful job. John was a great musican and a role model for so many. The man and his music will live on forever!!!

  41. ourses said,

    on February 9th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Just reintroduced myself to his music after an extended trek into other genres. Thanks John Hartford for your influence on others. Your likeness will never be surpassed and you will be forever gentle on our minds.

  42. Rob Krumm said,

    on February 10th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I never had the chance to meet John Hartford but I really admired him. Upon first listen to his Aero-plain LP (yes, on vinyl…I checked it out of a local library), I was hooked. That record has got to be one of the absolute best of all-time. I recorded the LP to cassette and just about wore it out. Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry just ranks as one of the best songs ever written. Many river-rat friends crossed paths with John over the years. I know a lot of people who have worked the rivers (Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio) and several of these folks met John. All of these friends just sang praises about John, and what a gentle soul he was. Thanks Sheila for tackling this project and all the best.

  43. Marcel Weaver said,

    on February 10th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Have known of John Hartford for a long time… kind of an unsung hero up here. His warmth and wit, I’m sure, shone right through his music and made us all a little better each time we heard him. When Sheila told me about the project, I was elated and wish it all the success it richly deserves.

  44. dave trainer said,

    on February 11th, 2009 at 12:05 am

    i love john’s music so much that i wrote him a letter 15 years ago asking if i could be his tour bus driver. he wrote back and said he already had that position taken care of, thank you very much. i remember seeing him one time at the telluride bluegrass festival with about 10,000 people forming a human bridge and him passing underneath with a remote mic and fiddle singing “hey babe, you wanna boogie?”. NOBODY does that kind of thing, except good ol’ john hartford- we could use a whole bunch more like him, yeah buddy.

  45. Jan Boney said,

    on February 22nd, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    John Hartford kept popping up in my cultural life. In the sixties, my dad would yell throughout the house, “He’s on! He’s on! Right NOW” and we would zip into the living room to watch the extraordinary unadorned talent.

    With this project, John Hartford can continue to touch new lives.

  46. Al Berard said,

    on November 3rd, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I first saw John Hartford at a festival in Memphis, TN many years ago….
    He was on a huge stage by himself….with his fiddle in hand…..
    I can remember thinking to myself….look how huge he looks on that big stage……
    He owned that stage……
    After his set…..I built up courage to walk up to him…..and he introduced himself first…..
    Wow….that blew me away….What a gentleman…..
    I saw him years later at Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA…..
    He still looked as huge on the stage there…..He owned that stage too…..

    What drives us artist…..?
    Giants like John Hartford who leave behind paved roads for the rest of us…..
    Yes….a true Gentleman…..

    Sheila and Marcy are on a mission….an awesome mission at that……
    I’m sure John is tipping his trademark hat to you ladies……..

  47. Jeff Guernsey said,

    on January 16th, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I had lunch with John Hartford at Merlefest in the late 1990’s. had never met him until then. It was like sitting down with an old friend. We talked about a mutual friend, Benny Martin.
    There was no evidence of ego in the man. Humble and down to earth as anyone I’ve ever met.
    In the last couple of years, I’ve gained a deep appreciation of his music and humor. He played the hell out of Lost Indian (Speed Of the Old Long Bow). You could tell he was a dancer by the groove he laid down. great stuff. Wish I’d known him better.

  48. Frettin Phil said,

    on February 5th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    I have never met John in person but from the sounds of his music and watching him play Foggy Mountain landscapes, I have to say that he was one of my main reasons why I started to learn how to play the 5-string Banjo back in 2006. Now I am pretty much up to par with my jamming and have completely learned the lyrics in memory to the song “Miss Ferris” >>Absolutely Love It! His part that he is playing on fiddle I am trying to learn on the Harmonica>>Go figure, LOL … God Bless You John, All of the bluegrass world will miss you.

    Frettin Phil

  49. pete webb said,

    on March 6th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I never met Mr. Hartford, but I had seen him perform live and on television and was enthralled with his ability to incorporate an eclectic array of musical styles into a single performance. In my opinion, Mr. Hartford’s music has influenced all of us who strive to be performers. He left his mark on bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, and old time. His influence was felt in his own century and will continue for years in this one. Thank you, Sir. You are revered and missed.

    Pete Webb

  50. Joseph Wethington said,

    on July 3rd, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    My strongest memory of John was of the first time I saw him live. It was at the first (I believe) event on the Belvedere that was to become the late, great Bluegrass Festival of the United States. I worked downtown at the old Levy Brothers Fashion store at Third and Market Streets that would later see The Olde Spaghetti Factory. I still have the original advertisment poster I took from the wall of the young men’s shop after the weekend. I went to the Belvedere one afternoon to see Hartford perform. The “stage” was the extended hydraulic-lift tailgate of a box truck that was parked under the sheltered walkway. John sat in a regular metal folding chair on top of a sheet of plywood that was miked. After his set he arose and turned to jovially jump off the “stage” into the back of the truck and bashed his head on a big iron piece at the top of the door, falling hard onto his knees inside the truck, holding his forehead and writhing in pain for some minutes. I could see him clearly. Maybe the rest of the crowd could not as they kept applauding and calling him back. Eventually, he did come back to perform a few more numbers with considerable blood peeking from the hair of his forehead. Keep on truckin’.

  51. Roger Howell said,

    on July 28th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I’m thrilled to see that you are putting together a film about John Hartford. His influence in the music of America is amazing, and I can say that I called him a good friend. We would often seem to be at the same festivals and he would constantly encourage my fiddling and brag on my bow arm every time we got together.

    He would often visit my friend Carroll Best over in Haywood County, NC, who was one of the greatest chromatic banjoists that ever lived, and John admired him so. They would call when John came over and I’d make the trip to Carroll’s and we’d swap tunes and licks all day and night. In later years, after Carroll’s death, John and I would hang out at festivals a lot, and I can honestly say that John’s constant encouragement was one of the main reasons that I ever got into the music business.

    One of my most priceless memories of John was the time a couple of years before his death, we were at Union Grove, NC at the Fiddler’s Grove Festival with my dear late friend Ernest Smith (eldest son of Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith) and we had a great early morning jam on a bench in the barn, just us three. John and Ernest were both very sick, but their conversation of the old times and about the old folks and our little tune session was one of the high points of my life. Sure do wish I had taped that time. Just to be there in the midst of greatness and be a part of it was something I’ll never forget. But, John was that way, and made you feel that you, too, were a part of the music. So, no wonder that today when I play a tune on the fiddle, most folks will say that they hear a little of John’s style in there. But, ain’t that what it’s all about - - passing it on.

    Best of luck with the film and I hope it will keep John’s memory alive for years to come. Not a day goes by that I don’t play a Hartford tune or two, and you can bet that’s the way it’s gonna be for me from now on. Here’s one for you, John - - - - - - .

  52. Bob Townsend said,

    on March 29th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    John would show up at local fiddle contests around middle TN. It was always fun to talk and play tunes with John, he was very improvisational with melodies. Glad to see this project going forward.

  53. on March 29th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I was Honored to meet John/Mr. Hartford at the Museum of Appalachia festival in Norris Tennessee some years ago, he was a very kind everyday man that would carry on a conversation with a beggar the same he would a rich man. Both his music, and the man, will for those blessed enough to meet him, travel beyond time

  54. Aviv Naamani said,

    on March 30th, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I did not have the pleasure of knowing John Hartford. However I sawe him twice in concert and met him briefly at one of them. He was a gentleman and a wonderful musician storyteller. I wish I had known him — he was definitley an inspiration.

  55. patricia cannon said,

    on March 31st, 2011 at 2:52 am

    my husband, dave cannon and i founded “breakin’ up winter” festival and when john came out he was always such a gentleman> even though he was quite sick by then and did not dare risk an infection, he always made the “fans” who did not know him comfortable. you couldn’t keep him down if folks started playing ed haley tunes-he would excuse himself immediately to find them. my most vivid memory of him was at john rice irwin’s fall homecoming as i was waiting on a bench in an alcove waiting for our band to go on. john came up to do the same thing and started playing “english country gardens” quietly on the fiddle. i knew the tune, having studied it as a piano piece and hummed along quietly. that quiet moment was the last time i saw him and i realized that i not only admired his music but the person he was.

  56. Bob White said,

    on April 8th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Looking forward to see your completed project!

    John seemed to really enjoy going back to the old-time tunes in his later years and I saw him at a number of festivals and jammed with him a bit. One year I competed in the Tennessee Valley Old-time Fidder’s Convention playing Ed Haley’s “Half Past Four.” They mostly have fancy contest fiddling there so I didn’t impress the judges much with that cross-tune. John was sitting on stage in a big rocking chair and when I passed he complemented me on playing Haley’s tune. I thanked him and said “well at least two of us here like that tune!” John made my day with his complement.

  57. Charlie Williams said,

    on June 5th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    About 1980 or so, my dad called me one night and told me to come over to CW Stoll’s (an older guy who had a steam boat pilots’s licence)house near River Road in Louisville. John Hartford was over there and he played for about 15 people in the living room. John had a steam boat for a awhile, back then, Jullia Belle Swain or something like that. I sat in the kitchen with him and his girlfreind/wife for a while. Really nice guy.

  58. on July 11th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Back in the mid-80s I was playing on the tiny stage at the park in Telluride during the bluegrass festival. It was me on banjo, a bass player and a guitar player - pretty low key. John Hartford walks up from the back of the park and sits in the front row and just stares at me. Well, at least that’s how it felt. I rapidly became a nervous wreck.

    After we were done playing he walked around back stage and said, “Not bad, kid.” He then took a bunch of time to discuss how to play some of his signature licks as I demonstrated what I “thought” was happening. He was warm, generous, and the very first bluegrass legend that I met. Totally approachable. He then invited me to pick with him anytime and I stumbled out totally blown away.

  59. John Laswell said,

    on October 28th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    The first time I met John was also the first time I ever heard live bluegrass music. Getting to hear him was a dream come true for me. I got interested in the banjo primarily because of watching John on the Glen Campbell show. I was going to school at Murray State University and I was thrilled to see that John was performing along with the band Red, White & Blue(grass). As they began their show.. I could not believe my eyes as I saw THE John Hartford strolling through the crowd and I made a bee-line to go and say hello. John took a seat in the back of the room and I went to him and stated how he was my hero on the banjo and was the key to me getting interested in Bluegrass music.

    I asked John If he had anyone like that in his life that made such a dramatic influence… and John said “yep” and pointed to the guy sitting beside him. Not knowing bluegrass music that well at the time I asked the name of John’s “hero” and John said.. this is Benny Martin. It wasn’t until years later that I fully appreciated that I had been in the presence of one of all time great Fiddlers.

    Quite a few years after that I had John participate in a songwriters workshop at IBMA in Owensboro and he and I were talking and I once again told him about his influence in my life (knowing that he wouldn’t likely remember that chance meeting) Only this time… John Stopped in his track and said “this is a GREAT day… if NOTHING else good happens to me today.. this is a great day… because of what you just told me. At first I thought he was being sarcastic… but he continued to go on about it.. and I then realized he was being quite sincere.

    John was a musical treasure.. always reinventing himself. Sometimes it would take me a while to catch up with the “Coolness” of his latest version of himself. But in the long run I would stand there smiling in full appreciation of his capacity to bring fresh ideas to older music styles. John together with Earl Scruggs were THE singlemost important influences that drew me to bluegrass and Old Time Music.

  60. on November 5th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    “Me and ole John Hartford were’a standing on the bow of the DELTA QUEEN, and as the steamboat crosses over from the Ohio River into the Mississippi, we started tossin’ silver dollars into the river… so John breaks out his fiddle and I commences to dancing- -right there on the deck.. and them passengers, up on the deck above, are a’ lookin’ down at us, grinnin’, and thinkin’ we’re a couple o’ drunk’in’ hippies….” Crazy Clifford, Interviewed before his death, Rabbit Hash, KY, 1989.

  61. on November 10th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I first heard John Hartford on the old Smothers Brothers television show. I was instantly hooked. Not only were his songs wonderfully engaging and often very humorous, he caused me an immediate and life long desire to play the 5 string banjo. I can still close my eyes and see John on the Smothers Brothers Stage and clearly hear his distictive voice. Now, all these years later in 2011, I am still in awe of John’s talents and creativity. And, yes, I am still playing and learning the banjo. I have also learned that is is great to continually aspire to to a life long banjo learner. I greatly enjoy playing my Deering 5 string and my Gold Tone 6 string OT banjos. Thanks John!!!! Terry Ferster, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

  62. Art Wilmeth said,

    on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I met John at ” The Georgia Theater’ in Athens Ga. when he first stated his electric plywood tours . As I approached the side of the stage after John had performed an amazing show his sound man asked me if I was with the show?? I replied yea I’m with the show and he said OK go on back . I approached the dressing room which was up 3 steps with a curtain for a door. John pushed back the curtain and was surprised to see me and a friend of mine there , John was toweling off the copious amount of sweat as I thanked him for a great show and what a peasure it was to meet him. John then came out and did 3 encores .
    Afew years later in my hometown of Alexandria , Va. at ” The Birchmere” John was playing another of his sensanional shows when he was on his wireless fiddle and in between songs and seemed to be searching for the next song. I was sitting to his right and asked for ” Turn Your Radio On” he swung around in my direction as if to say I know you and proceeded to do just that . He turned everyone’s Radio on that night .

  63. Paul Breidenbach said,

    on July 13th, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I met John at the pre Opry show in the old WSM studios in 1955. I was 16 and he was 18.
    It turned out that we were both from St. Louis Some months later in St Louis, we met at a show featuring Ray Price and Hank Williams band The Drifting Cowboys. I played guitar and John asked me if I wanted to do some pickin, I did. I later joined a band he had formed called The Missouri Ridgerunners . WE played together until 1959 I followed his rise to fame and met with him over the years. I was in Italy when I learned of his death. We will not see the likes of John Hartford again.

  64. Kris Garnjost said,

    on November 26th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    After having grown-up loving JH from the GC show onward. I got the opportunity to interview him a couple of times for newspaper articles I was writing. Although I grew up an Easterner, I got the chance to work on the Steamer Delta Queen out of Cincinnati in the late 70’s-early 80’s. Later when I was interviewing John, I got to swap steamboatin’ stories, what special moments. My most recent special JH moment came at 2012 Podunk BG fest in CT, when Kathy Matea said from the stage, quoting Tim O’Brien, “who is a good friend of Tim O’Brien,said, “I asked myself, ‘What would John Hartford do?’ He was one of the kindest souls, I ever met.”

Leave a reply