I was saddened to hear about the passing of oldtime fiddler Francis Geels of Decatur, Indiana, this summer. Born in 1925 in Adams County, Indiana, Francis grew up with music in his home. On both sides of his family, old-time music and country square dancing were weekly events. He played for house and barn dances for many years until country square dancing began to wane. For years family and friends met every Friday night at Francis’s home to play bluegrass and old-time fiddle tunes. Known for his old-time style of fiddling, Francis emphasized the rhythm, danceability, and clean melody lines in his playing. Thankfully he recorded his vast repertoire of more than a 160 tunes several years ago, and he actively mentored his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in the traditional music he had learned through the years.
Paul Tyler also recorded much of this of the music of this important fiddler, as well as several other old-time fiddlers. Paul hosts a website about his fieldwork and research into fiddle music of the the Midwest.
Here is a short video I shot at his home when I visited with him in 2005. I was new to shooting video so this is pretty bad, but I wanted to share it here. I will also include a video that Paul posted to Youtube, featuring the great fiddling of the Francis Geels.