Also see “Singers & Songs: Profiles” section for more information
Lawrence Older always preferred “the airs, the tunes” played on the fiddle to the vocal songs he learned from his family, though ironically it was mainly through his singing repertoire that he would gain notice in the 1960s during the Folk Music Revival.
Having grown up in a fiddling family in a section of the Adirondacks rich with fiddlers and fiddle music, and where community dances were a regular part of the fabric of life, it was only a matter of time before Lawrence, around age fifteen, would teach himself to play. He went on to develop a signature touch on the instrument that was light, relaxed and almost horn-like. Older had a deep interest in learning the old tunes, airs and dance pieces of his neighbors, his region and his ancestral home in the British Isles, and he also composed at least a few of his own.
Neighbor George Madison from Barkersville was an early inspiration and source of tunes, as were both of Lawrence’s parents and his sister. Other fiddlers who would influence him over the years included Lewis “Lukie” Nichols of Speculator, Earl Eddy of Lake George and Don Messer, the well-known Canadian fiddler.
Although he played and called a fair number of dances in his day, Older also enjoyed getting together with other fiddlers and swapping tunes in more informal settings. He played more like a “kitchen fiddler” than a dance musician. Several home recordings from the 1970s reveal his penchant for playing the old, local tunes and Scottish pieces of his ancestors and telling something of the history and stories behind the music. On several of these recordings, he would play to his wife Martha’s strumming accompaniment on the Appalachian dulcimer, and often with son Larry seconding on fiddle as well.