Benny Thomasson Collection

Few individual fiddlers have been as influential as Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson. He is widely credited with developing the modern contest style of fiddling. Although pyrotechnic fiddling was well established in Texas before Benny began his illustrious career, (see the Eck Robertson Collection for many examples), Benny certainly took it to another level.

Benny Thomasson was born in Runnels County, TX, and grew up in Gatesville, TX (west of Waco). He was born into a musical family: both of his grandfathers were fiddlers, as well as his uncles, his father Luke Thomasson (who wrote the well-known waltz Midnight on the Water), and his older brother Lewis. He was also influenced by Texas fiddle legends such as Eck Robertson, Major Franklin, Ervin Solomon, and Matt Brown, as well as by commercial recordings, particularly of Clark Kessinger.

Thomasson began to develop his fiddling style after failing to place in a fiddle contest as a teenager. After that defeat, he “went to work on that thing” and “made it a point to keep, to continue to work, working, working, working on those tunes.” His style stressed constant innovation, variation, and technical mastery, and he was constantly “working on improvements” to the tunes he played. (Note that this is in sharp contrast to his elder brother Lewis Thomasson’s approach, which emphasized playing the tunes as much like his father and grandfathers as possible.)

The transcriptions in this collection vary from difficult to extremely difficult. I will not be posting MP3s of me playing them, as they don’t sound like much if they’re not played at speed, and I cannot take the several hours that would be required for each tune to do them justice.  Although I love his approach to ragtime fiddling, Thomasson's breakdown fiddling isn’t really my cup of tea.  But even a diehard traditionalist such as myself has to admire Thomasson’s mastery of the instrument and respect how influential he has been to so many fiddlers.

66 tunes found in this collection.

Click on table headers to sort tunes.

Name Type Key Date Added Date Updated
Ace of Spades Schottische A and E 2015-02-23 2015-02-23
Acrobat’s Hornpipe, College Hornpipe Medley Part Two Hornpipe B flat 2015-01-23 2015-01-23
Apple Blossom Reel or Breakdown D 2015-02-23 2015-02-23
Bennett’s Reel Reel or Breakdown D 2014-12-16 2014-12-16
Bill Cheatum Reel or Breakdown A 2014-03-08 2014-03-08
Billy in the Low Ground Reel or Breakdown C 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Bitter Creek Reel or Breakdown G 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Black and White Rag Rag G and C 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Black Mountain Rag Rag A 2015-02-23 2015-02-23
Blackberry Blossom Reel or Breakdown G 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Blanchard’s Hornpipe Hornpipe A 2015-01-23 2015-01-23
Bonaparte's Retreat March D 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Bonnie Kate Reel or Breakdown D 2015-02-23 2015-02-23
Brilliancy Reel or Breakdown A 2015-02-23 2015-02-23
Bumblebee in the Gourdvine Reel or Breakdown A 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Bush in the Shucks Reel or Breakdown D 2015-03-16 2015-03-16
Cattle in the Canebreak Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian and A minor 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
College Hornpipe (Sailor’s Hornpipe), College Hornpipe Medley Part One and Reprise Hornpipe B flat 2015-01-23 2015-01-23
Coming Down from Denver Reel or Breakdown A 2015-03-16 2015-03-16
Cotton Patch Rag Rag C 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Cotton Patch Rag (Weiser Reunion Version, Longer) Rag C 2015-03-16 2015-03-16
Crafton Blues Rag F 2015-03-16 2015-03-16
Cripple Creek Reel or Breakdown A 2014-02-08 2014-02-08
Cuckoo’s Nest Polka D 2014-10-20 2014-10-20
Darby’s Hornpipe Hornpipe G 2015-03-16 2015-03-16
Darkie’s Dream Schottische D 2015-04-10 2015-04-10
Dew Drop Hornpipe Hornpipe A 2015-01-23 2015-05-29
Dixie Reel or Breakdown D 2015-04-10 2015-04-10
Dominion Hornpipe Hornpipe D 2015-04-10 2015-04-10
Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Rag G 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Draggin’ the Bow Rag A 2015-04-10 2015-04-10
Drunkard’s Hiccups Waltz A 2013-10-12 2013-10-12
Durang's Hornpipe Hornpipe D 2014-06-28 2014-06-28
Dusty Miller Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Festival Waltz Waltz A 2013-10-12 2013-10-12
Forked Deer Reel or Breakdown D 2014-04-05 2014-04-05
Forrester's Hornpipe Hornpipe D 2015-05-29 2015-05-29
Fort Worth Rag Rag F 2015-05-29 2015-05-29
Forty Years Ago Waltz F 2013-10-12 2013-10-12
Fourteen Days in Georgia Reel or Breakdown C 2015-05-29 2015-05-29
Garfield's March March G 2015-05-29 2015-05-29
Golden Eagle Hornpipe Hornpipe G 2014-10-20 2014-10-20
Grey Eagle Reel or Breakdown A 2013-12-15 2013-12-15
Hell Among the Yearlings Reel or Breakdown A 2015-05-29 2015-05-29
Herman’s Hornpipe Hornpipe D and A 2016-10-17 2016-10-17
Herman’s Rag Rag C 2016-10-17 2016-10-17
Hot Foot Rag C 2016-10-17 2016-10-17
Hummingbird Reel Reel or Breakdown A 2014-10-20 2014-10-20
Jack of Diamonds Reel or Breakdown A 2016-10-17 2016-10-17
Kanawha March March D and G 2016-10-17 2016-10-17
Limerock Rag A, D, and E 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Lost Indian Reel or Breakdown A 2014-01-26 2014-01-26
Midnight on the Water Waltz D 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Miller’s Reel Reel or Breakdown A 2014-12-16 2014-12-16
Mother’s Reel Reel or Breakdown G and C 2014-12-16 2014-12-16
Opera Reel Reel or Breakdown D 2014-12-16 2014-12-16
Oriole Hornpipe Hornpipe A 2014-10-20 2014-10-20
Ostinelli’s Reel Reel or Breakdown A 2014-12-16 2014-12-16
Rose Waltz Waltz F 2013-10-12 2013-10-12
Salt River Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2014-07-25 2014-07-25
Snowbird in the Ashbank Reel or Breakdown G 2014-10-20 2014-10-20
Spotted Pony Reel or Breakdown D 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Tom And Jerry Reel or Breakdown A 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Tugboat Reel or Breakdown G 2013-09-14 2013-09-14
Unidentified Hornpipe (possibly Butterfly) Hornpipe A 2015-04-10 2015-05-29
Unidentified Hornpipe, College Hornpipe Medley Part Three Hornpipe B flat 2015-01-23 2015-01-23