Mandolin and Guitar painting by Dennis Buckhannon
 

The Buckhannon Brothers

Good Old-Time Mandolin & Guitar

Dennis and Curtis Buckhannon became hooked on old time music so long ago that neither of them can remember exactly how it happened. Old-time music is not just what they play: it's a part of who they are.


Vocationally, Dennis is a union painter and Curtis is employed at a pharmaceutical company. But after their work days are done, the brothers break out their instruments, and together they create music founded on their sincere commitment to preserving traditional old-time mandolin and fiddle music that is indigenous to Missouri and the Midwest region at large.

As youngsters, the brothers listened to their Dad's bluegrass and country music recordings and taught themselves to pick the tunes on guitars. When they were in their late teens, Curtis acquired his first mandolin and began playing old-time music. During that time there were quite a few old-time fiddlers in rural Missouri and Illinois; the brothers learned many of their tunes from these musicians as well as from field recordings. They loved old-time music and spent a lot of time playing it with friendsóboth young and oldósharing good tunes and good times. Curtis still makes a habit of meeting mandolin players and fiddlers wherever he goes, adding their tunes to the brothers' repertoire.
 


From left to right:
Lindell Blackford, Dennis, Emily Buckhannon,
Rich Hibbs, Curtis
In 1973, Curtis and Dennis formed an old-time string band called Cousin Curtis and the Cash Rebates. They had five pickers (fiddle, bass, mandolin, guitar and banjo) and frequently played for square dances and local establishments. The Cash Rebates are still playing today and although the membership has gone through several permutations, Curtis and Dennis remain at the center of the band. Since the late 1980's, Curtis also plays with the Ill-Mo Boys.


Today, the Buckhannon Brothers perform in St. Louis as well as around east central Missouri and southern Illinois for square and line dances. They teach and call old-time square dances as well. The brothers perform at numerous old-time national music festivals, and have been instrumental (pun intended) in several projects dedicated to the preservation of old-time string band music, such as field recordings produced by the Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts (University of Missouri at Columbia archives). Their talents as old-time musicians have been preserved for posterity on recordings archived in the Library of Congress and their recordings have been used as authentic auditory complements to two historical documentaries!

Little River Stomp, a marvelous CD recording of instrumental mandolin and guitar renditions of fairly obscure old-time tunes was recorded to help preserve an important element of American folk music: a fitting project for two brothers dedicated to performing traditional music together.

 

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