Old-time fiddle tunes come from an aural tradition, and to properly learn them, you really need to hear them played, preferably from the original sources. If you don't do this you are are going to miss out on much of what makes this music special. Not all of us can go trapesing through the hills seeking out the ever-scarcer traditional players, but fortunately there are a great number of recordings of these players available, thanks to the efforts of a small number of dedicated souls. Not only are the tunes available this way, but most of the records and CDs come with detailed background material which give insight and life to the music.
These particular tunes are from the series, "Traditional Music of Kentucky", which is a two-CD set. The CD titles are "Up the Ohio and Licking Rivers" and "Along the Kentucky River", and are Rounder 0376 and 0377 respectively. They make up part of the North American Traditions Series. This project is under the guidance of Mark Wilson, and is a really wonderful collection of traditional recordings from all the regions of the continent. I encourage you to purchase the CDs, not only for the wealth of fine music they contain, but also to encourage and support the efforts of all those who try to make this music known and available to us in these modern times.
Good sources of these recordings are Elderly, County Sales, and Amazon, to name a few. Your local record store may also be able to order them for you.
Boatin' Up Sandy
Bumblebee In A Jug
Rough And Ready
Buddy Thomas Tunes
Buddy Thomas was one of the finest old-time fiddlers ever. His playing is complex yet soulful, and the tunes that are attributed to him are some of the best-known and most commonly-heard among those of us who have taken up playing this music. These tunes, like the ones above are from the "Traditional Music of Kentucky" series. There is also a classic recording which showcases Buddy's playing, "Kitty Puss: Old-Time Fiddle Music from Kentucky" (Rounder 0032). It also is a part of the North American Traditions Series.