Snorty Horse 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.

We need a name that sounds funny at first and then a little less funny each time you hear it.”

— Principal Skinner, The Simpsons Created by Matt Groening

Original Snorty Horse with the late Cathy Barton. Photo by Stephen Goldblatt

Original Snorty Horse with the late Cathy Barton. Photo by Stephen Goldblatt