CreekDontRise.com(tm) Creek Don't Rise™ commemorates the music and history of the American Heartland.
Folk and Gospel musician Paul Race started this project in 2001 when he was working on a Folk-based musical that commemorates the National Road, the Dayton Flood, and many other historical events in the region.
Then readers started asking him questions about various instruments he referred to, and he started writing articles about those as well. By now Paul and a handful of other contributors have posted hundreds of articles about acoustic instruments and traditional music - so many, in fact, that we have taken to starting "sister sites" to keep this page from become so huge that nobody could navigate it. Our most important sister sites are listed further down the page.
New For 2019
Paul speaking: I've recently been playing banjo in a local Folk Music club (the Yellow Springs Hootenanny) to get used to playing in keys, time signatures, etc., that aren't "banjo friendly." I'm a Folksinger and songwriter who accompanies myself on several instruments, but not first and foremeost on the banjo or, say the autoharp. If it seems like I'm focusing on such instruments online from time to time, it's because there are so many information gaps and so many (false) urban legends about them. I feel, frankly like I'm doing a service by "filling in the gaps" and correcting common misconceptions.
People seem to appreciate it, too. Especially in the huge parts of the world where it's nearly impossible to get your hands on a playable banjo or autoharp, or to meet up with anyone who really knows what they're talking about. A reader from England recently said:
I wanted to thank you for the huge generousity of all your wise words, advice, and other help as you have published your "Creek Dont Rise" website. . . . I can't tell you how much your common sense and decent and wise approach has so far been very helpful . . . .
Of course such testimonials are balanced out by folks writing to tell me I am wrong about something because the urban legends and old wives' tales passed down in their family or culture claims otherwise. When I was editing history textbooks for a living, I used to fact-check my fact-checkers, so I know the difference between "received wisdom" and actual history, folks.
My favorite criticisms come from people who want to know how much money their great-uncles' autoharp or banjo is worth. Sometimes I ask for photos because I really want to know what they have. Sometimes, they surprise me with something that is actually out of the ordinary that may have intrinsic value. But 99 out of 100 are neglected student instruments with no collector's value that would cost more to make playable than they would to replace. Because this is a family site, I won't repeat what they often tell me when I tell them that their family's most cherished heirloom won't actually put their kids through college. That's one reason I have published "How Much is my Autoharp/Chromaharp Worth" and "How Much is my Banjo Worth" articles. If I sense that people are only interested in getting someone to tell them their wall decoration is worth more than their car, I refer them to those articles so they can do the research themselves and get back to me if they have any more questions.
I'm still writing songs, too, though I almost never get time to post them online. Sorry.
Of course, we are still writing articles inspired by reader questions. As a rule, one popular article will result in several folks asking similar questions about a related subject, which tells us that another article is needed. That's how we've grown to a few hundred articles on this and related sites.
As an example, this year, there were several inquiries about Civil War banjos, and our research proved that the vast majority of "Civil War-era" banjos being sold online were made decades after the war ended. Also, through Google photo scans, we spotted dozens of "Civil War reenactors" flaunting 20th-century banjos at otherwise faithful Civil War reenactments. So we added articles about Civil War-era banjos, and the "Minstrel" banjos that were invented decades before the war and were used by most companies on both sides of the conflict.
Why Don't I Devote More Time to This Enterprise? True confession - after being "retired" for several months, I've has taken a temporary job an hour and a half away, to help pay for some of the unexpected expenses of the home we bought in 2016. Weird plumbing and wiring, non-working "replacement windows" that need to be replaced again, inadequate lighting in every room, and so on. (I think the previous owners were more interested in "mood lighting" than they were in seeing things like hobby projects or bank statements clearly. Or maybe they were vampires.)
So the newsletter has languished, though a number of fascinating people have joined the mailing list. I am trying to use the long drives to come up with more songs, and recently wrote one that is darker and more tragic than "Long Black Veil." Which means it's ideal for Bluegrass. More on that later.
Making the Sites' Articles Easier to Find - One upgrade we're hoping to extend across all our pages eventually is the green menu bar near the top of this page - we keep finding articles on our own sites that aren't indexed anywhere else and adding them to the menu. In time we hope to have these links all included in the menu bar, instead of buried in other pages. We're hoping to keep things simple and accessible at the same time.
Keeping Up With Our Endeavors -
If you want to keep up with our musical and writing forays, check out Paul FB music page here
If you think our efforts are worth supporting for the long term, check out Paul's nascent Patreon Page. He actually started this page as an assignment for a music business class, so it's not very "fleshed out." And at the moment you don't get any special rewards for chipping in, but you don't want to know what our internet costs are. :-)
On this SiteThe dropdown menu at the top of our home page and a few others is one attempt to make things easier to find. But if you're just poking around in general, here are some areas you may find helpful:
CreekDontRise.com(tm) Sister Sites
Other sites we started to keep this site from getting too big to be useful include:
In the immortal words of Joni Mitchell, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'till it's gone." No, I have no illusion that the American Midwest is the wonderful place that they showed on, say Little House On the Prarie, but it is more than a place that folks on either coast have to fly over to get to the other coast. And we wanted to document and celebrate the things that have made the Heartland different from any other place, while there are still folks who know the difference.
For more information about our play and about our little piece of the Heartland in southwest Ohio, click here.
For information about other music collections and projects, check the links at the bottom of this page.
And please stay in touch!
All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
For questions, comments, suggestions, trouble reports, etc. about this page or this site, please contact us.