Studs Terkel dead at 96

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis “Studs” Terkel died today at his Chicago home at age 96.  For a good article on his career, see the Chicago Tribune’s story by clicking HERE.

Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel

I remember Studs vividly from my days in Chicago in 1961-2.  He was broadcasting from station WLS, and it was my first time “on the air”.  I had recently joined the Old Town School of Folk Music student body, and was hard at work learning some chops from Frank Hamilton, who was teaching guitar, and from Flemming Brown, who was teaching banjo in the room across the hall.  It was simply a case of multi-tasking, trying to keep notes of each instructor, then practicing at home in my one room apartment on the near-North side about 4 blocks from Wrigley Field.

A magician and writer named Bob Parrish took me under his wing and introduced me to Studs, and I showed up at the studio one evening with my nylon-strung Martin guitar to play some American folk songs.  I don’t think the show was recorded — and I’m glad it wasn’t(!), but Studs got me over my nervousness and we had a good time together.

One reason we had a great time was because of the other guest that night, San Franciscan bluesman Jesse Fuller, who showed up with a twelve string guitar bigger than he was, his “Foot-Della” (a wooden box rigged with strings and pedals to play bass), plus a headset with a microphone and electrified harmonica and kazoo.  The whoe thing was electrified, and gave off a steady, menacing, 60-cycle hum during his performance and interview, so that I was afraid he would be electrocuted upon biting into the rig.  As I rode the “L” home from the studio that night, I really felt I had broken into show bizz in a big way.  Those were the days!

Studs, rest in peace, and thanks for giving an aspiring performer a place on your show.

About Peter Feldmann

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. His music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs. Peter founded Santa Barbara's Old Time Fiddler's Convention (1972), UCSB's Old Time Music Front (1964), and The Bluebird Cafe (1971). Through these and other outlets, he was the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Rose Maddox, the Balfa Brothers, and many others to the Santa Barbara area. Peter also helped others access the music by teaching privately, and in group classes for Santa Barbara Continuing Education, UCSB Extension, and McCabes Guitars. He was the first on the West Coast to produce and market instruction Lps - three on How To Play Country Fiddle, and one each on Clawhammer Banjo, and Maybelle Carter Style Guitar. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and for various interest groups, festival workshops, etc. In 2006, he presented his monograph titled "The Big bang Of Bluegrass Music" (describing the origins of bluegrass 1938 - 1946) to the worlds first International Music Symposium at the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. He has also been very active in radio, television, and film work, producing weekly shows on country and bluegrass music over a 21 year period on various commercial and public stations. Peter currently maintains three music-related websites, a music blog, and an entertainment service company, "BlueGrass West!", based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California. Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America's musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Well-known as a historian and teacher, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences.
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