Introduction to Creek Don't Rise

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Written by Paul Race for Creek Don't Rise™ Creek Don't Rise™ commemorates the music and history of the American Heartland.

Paul dressed in period clothes for a event at the Clark County (Ohio) Historical Society.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 Site

The 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: Sister Sites

Other sites we started to keep this site from getting too big to be useful include:

  • Click to see buyers' guides that actually explain is a buyers' guide for acoustic and traditional instrument from a musician's point of view, focusing on the uses, reliability, and practicality of various instruments, and not just the marketing hype about the shape of the fret markers or whatever.

  • Momma Don't 'Low™ is a program that support followers of our music-related web pages, including Creek Don't Rise™, Classic Train Songs™,™, and Don't 'Low is currently a subsidiary of this site, but we have plans for expansion. If you like acoustic and traditional music and you'd like to be informed about new articles we've posted, as well as what Paul is up to musically these days, please go to the Momma Don't 'Low page. There you will learn about joining our free program for fans, writers, performers, and producers of acoustic and traditional music.

    The primary benefit currently is the free e-mail newsletter that discusses all of those topics above and more. We plan to include other features as time permits.

    Note - If you wish to sign up for our newsletter and ask a question at the same time, please click on the Momma Don't 'Low newsletter button to learn more and to get a link to our signup form. Click to see Paul's blogs, memoirs, and more, including what he's up to musically these days.

  • is the "landing page" for Paul's own musical endeavors, plus many memoirs and blogs about music and the music business.

  • Click to visit a site about train songs that every train lover and Folk singer should know.  Or at least know describes railroad songs that every train lover should know. Or at least know about.

  • has articles about Christian music, Christian music careers and performance, Christian living in general, and vintage saxophones, another of Paul's interests. This site has separate newsletters, etc., by the way - there isn't a lot of overlap with the Momma Don't 'Low(tm) newsletters.

Paul Race and sister Tess Hoffman in an historical recreation in 2017, put here to give you some idea of what the play would look like staged.About the Play

Not to forget about the play that started it all.

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.

Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you come away with some great ideas for "sharing the joy."

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to visit the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music page on SoundCloud Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page.

All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.
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And that, in turn, helps us provide more useful resources. Thank you!

Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. The Independent Christian Musician. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village.
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Building temporary and permanent railroads with big model trains Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments