New John Hartford Project

New John Hartford Project

John Hartford – Photo: Charles Seton


John Hartford is considered to be one of the most important players in the ‘new grass’ movement which pivoted out of, and shook up, the bluegrass genre. He is also known for his inventive fiddle and banjo work.

His 1971 album Aereo-Plain​ is considered a shining benchmark for the new music. He won four Grammy Awards, including two for his 1967 recording of his own seminal song “Gentle on My Mind,” a third for his 1976 album Mark Twang, and a fourth for his contributions to the glorious O Brother, Where Art Thou? film soundtrack in 2000. Hartford was posthumously inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2010, was awarded the Americana Music Association President’s Award in 2005 and the Folk Alliance “Spirit of Folk” award in 2011.

The International Bluegrass Hall of Fame – Photo: LTTL

New Material

After Hartford passed in 2001, his family discovered over two-thousand original, hand-written fiddle tune charts in filing cabinets under his desk. Putting these charts to use had been mulled over for some time. Nashville-based fiddler Matt Combs spent months pouring over Hartford’s journals and notes to compile resources for what would become two expansive projects; a book called John Hartford’s Mammoth Collections of Fiddle Tunes and an album, The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1, which will be available online on June 26, 2020. There are seventeen unreleased tracks here with Katie Harford Hogue, Hartford’s daughter acting as executive producer of the collection.  


To vouch for Hartford’s standing in the music community, you need look no further than the A-grade musicians and former band mates who took part in the recording of The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1. Combs is joined by Ronnie McCoury, Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge, Dennis Crouch, Sierra Hull, Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, Dominic Leslie, Jordan Tice, Mark Howard, Chris Sharp, Tim O’Brien, Alison Brown, Megan Lynch Chowning, Tristan Scroggins, Forrest and Kate Lee O’Connor, Kristen Andreassen, Mike Bub, Rachel Combs, Jan Fabricius and Shad Cobb.

The tracks were recorded in part at the legendary Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa in Nashville, home of the late Jack Clement, where Hartford recorded his 1984 album Gum Tree Canoe.


“We are quickly approaching 20 years since his passing, and I hear not only John’s tunes out in the ‘fiddleverse’ but so many of the old-time tunes he unearthed and brought to the world,” says Combs. “I truly hope that this record continues that trend. There are so many great tunes here that represent the breadth of John’s influences and his deep creative spark; all of the artists on this recording helped bring them to life through their unique lens.”  

Track List

1. Tennessee Politics

2. Calhoun County

3. Old Beveled Mirror

4. Running Board Waltz

5. Little Country Town

6. Don Brown And The Boys

7. John Rice

8. On Guitars, The End Of New Fingers Get Sore

9. Long White Road

10. The Old Man’s Drunk

11. Heartache What To Do

12. How Can We Love

13. Just Enough Room To Turn Around

14. Every Hour On The Hour

15. The Half-Price Hornpipe

16. Over At The Side Of The Road

17. Evening Farewell

The Clip

Here’s Hartford with Glen Campbell and Ricky Skaggs doing “Gentle On My Mind”:



New John Hartford Project

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Author: Rob Dickens

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