Photo by Cliff White

Photo by Cliff White

KSMU
Ozark Public Radio:  Sense of Community Series 
by Mike Smith interviewed folks from the Ozark Heritage Festival.  In this audio piece, fiddler Michael Fraser and festival organizer Kathleen Morrissey has some thoughtful insights on old time music in the Ozarks and this treasure of a festival!

Listen to the KSMU interview now by clicking here.
 

The Shortleaf Blog

SNORTY HORSE IS BACK!!! 

Snorty Horse is back (from the glue factory) for a new season of music, starting on October 9th at the one and only Albuquerque Folk Festival! 

SnortyHorse is a collection of friends of more 30 years. Mike Fraser knew Dave Para and his late wife, Cathy Barton, from contests and jam sessions in the vibrant fiddle tradition in Missouri where Mike had apprenticed with master Ozark fiddler Bob Holt. The trio did numerous school assembly shows about Missouri history and folk music and played occasional dates together around the state. They recorded two albums for the Missouri Department of Conservation, “Voices of the Hills,” and “Fiddles and Forests.” Mike led the band Shortleaf, named after an important native pine tree. Tenley Hansen, trained in musical theater, joined Mike’s band in Kansas City, adding keyboard, guitar, lead singing and composing. As Snorty Horse the separate quartet played dances, festivals and school shows, chomping at the bit to play traditional and contemporary Ozark music. The band name came during a late-night drive after a dance and has managed to stick, facilitating a number of bad jokes, puns and strange graphics. Camping together at the Walnut Valley Festival, Erika Gerety and her late husband, Gary Libman, were part of that close circle of friends. Since Cathy’s passing two years ago Dave has played more banjo in addition to his lively back-up guitar style, and Erika has saddled up with the band offering her solid bass playing and expressive singing voice. They all share a love for traditional music and its cultural contexts and history, good singing and the joy of making a big sound for an evening dance.

A Message from Mike 

Shortleaf Band is “smoldering” 

Based on this past year it seems to be a valid word in regard to describing our band activity these days. 

Just a few short years ago we began teaming up with Dave Para and Cathy Barton to do some gigs, and it was such a musical delight to perform with them and to share time hanging out. 

Unfortunately we lost our friend and bandmate when Cathy passed with cancer last year. 

We called ourselves “Snorty Horse”…kind of a goofy name that showed we never took the name of a band too seriously. It was fun. 

We needed some time to heal after losing Cathy. Immersing ourselves into the music, and working mostly as a duet again became our focus. In addition, learning new music and filling up the weekends with gigs was a way to honor what she would have wanted us to do. 

That was short lived as we witnessed the introduction of the Corona Virus and it’s impact on the Entertainment Industry. The gigs stopped at St. Pat’s Day and fell like dominoes from then on. 

Performing as a business requires securing paying gigs in an effort to make more than you spend. Our motive has been to immerse ourselves and music endeavors to be as flexible as possible; to get as many gigs as possible with what we have to offer. Marketability that appeals to venues such as weddings, dances, historical festivals, house concerts, etc. 

These in turn require that the band become adaptable to perform a variety of music genres, including but not limited to Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, original songs and covers of other’s songs. We happen to love being flexible enough to perform a country rock song or a Scottish Strathspey. 

As a duet, myself and my partner Tenley Hansen, really never considered ourselves as part of an “industry” until that part of our lives shut down. The “Arts Industy”  has taken quite a hit! Small music performers such as us are small businesses that charge money in exchange for musical entertainment. They are Sole Proprietors, LLC’s and other forms of business that negotiate, correspond, make contracts, travel, pay for recordings, sell recordings, keep the books, buy equipment, take deductions, and pay taxes as would any other small business. 

Shortleaf Band is not doing much of that now, however, we are hopeful that the gigs will return bigger and better than ever. 

The Covid impact has not ruined our business. To the contrary we have enjoyed not traveling so much, and have spent more time learning and writing new music, and becoming better musicians. 

“Smoldering” describes us and our business in light of current circumstances over which we have little control. 

We are “smoldering”, not blazing away, but keeping the coals hot, waiting for some added fuel. 

Some of our peers have  embraced virtual gigs as a way to reach an audience and generate some additional income. We are learning more about this and have been updating some of our tech equipment to post some videos on-line. 

One of the many gift’s we received from Cathy, and others is one that has helped us heal and carry on following her loss, and the  Covid Crisis…. “Inspiration” 

To seek a frame of mind that will allow us to enjoy the endeavor, while reaching for new levels of competence is our goal.

Play that funky music, and absorb all of the good that it has to give! Keep plugging away, practice your craft, learn new music, become better! 

That’s us, Shortleaf Band. See you down the road! 

Michael Fraser

 

Cathy Barton Para 

On April 17th, 2019 our beloved friend and bandmate Cathy Barton passed away peacefully at home with her family at her side.  It's been almost two years since her passing and I haven't had the will to write this on our website.  I can't add any more to the tributes to Cathy, but I can tell you we still miss her, we still think about her, we play music in her memory, we practice, we perform, we laugh through tears when we remember all the good times we shared.  We cry when we hear songs that remind us of her precious voice and talent. We are forever grateful that we got to perform with Cathy and Dave as Snor T. Horse.  This photo was taken by our dear friend Peter Esherick while Cathy was performing with Snor T. Horse at the Albuquerque Folk Festival.  Cathy changed our lives forever because she believed in us.  We will always be grateful for her life, her music, and her laughter.  Blessings, Tenley

New Recording: Only One of You 

Michael is pictured here getting ready to record Only One of You at Studio 2100 in Springfield, Mo.  Owner Jeff Smith was the recording engineer and the amazing David Wilson produced this project and played on the recording as well. Click on over to our Music page to hear the end results of this session! The tune is available for download and proceeds go to the Paisley Collins Memorial Foundation. 

Albuquerque Folk Festival: Snor T. Horse 

The Albuquerque Folk Festival proved to be a fantastic adventure for Snor T. Horse in 2018.  A very special thanks to all the great people who got us there (our beloved Erica Lipman).  The crowd was great, the volunteers were fantastic, the weather was WINDY but so lovely.  Friday night before the festival, we had the honor of performing for the dedication of the Gary Libman Memorial Amphitheater.  It was an emotional and wonderful evening surrounded by our musical family. We especially want to thank Peter and Trylla Esherick for hosting us in their beautiful home. 

Pictured here are a few of our favorite photos from that weekend. All photos are courtesy of Peter Esherick.

                                       Snor T. Horse at the Gary Libman Memorial Amphitheater dedication              

 

                                    Snor T. Horse is: Cathy Barton, Dave Para, Mike Fraser and Tenley Hansen

 

                                     Snor T. Horse Albuquerque Folk Festival 2018