Goose Culbreath and the Cortez Grand Old Opry

Goose Culbreath and the Cortez Grand Old Opry

Download: MP3

(22:56, 20.9MB; S1576 T87-14, T87-15, T87-69)

This podcast features recordings of Goose Culbreath accompanied by his son Lloyd and nephew Richard, when they made their White Springs debut at the 1987 Florida Folk Festival.

Transcript of the Introduction

Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services. Musical traditions of all kinds are passed down through generations in families. Whether it’s a repertoire of songs or a knack for a particular instrument, the family environment fosters unique interpretations and expressions of folk music. Fiddler Julian “Goose” Culbreath and the Cortez Grand Old Opry exemplify the type of rapport achieved when playing with kin.

Cortez is a small commercial fishing village in Manatee County, Florida. It was there that Goose and two of his brothers learned how to play the fiddle from their father, James, a prize-winning contest fiddler. The family gathered each week for a Sunday morning jam session, and the household became known as the Cortez Grand Old Opry among the villagers. Outside of the Culbreath household, they also performed at square dances, and even had their own radio program in 1949.

In addition to traditional southern fiddle tunes such as the “Orange Blossom Special” or “Arkansas Traveler,” Goose was well known for his trick fiddling techniques. These included bowing the fiddle with no hair, or wrapping the bow hair around the fiddle, as illustrated on “Back Up and Push.” The Culbreaths were also known for “beating the straws,” or “fiddlesticks,” where a family member tapped rhythm on the fiddle with sticks while Goose played “Granny Will Your Dog Bite” or “Old Joe Clark.”

Goose Culbreath received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1992 in recognition of his unique contributions to fiddling and his willingness to teach other aspiring musicians in his community. Goose was not only a talented musician but a full-time commercial fisherman, too.

The following are recordings of Goose Culbreath performing at the 1987 Florida Folk Festival accompanied by his son Lloyd and nephew Richard. This was the year they made their debut in White Springs, and they continued performing at the festival almost annually until Goose’s death in 2003. These recordings bring some of the Culbreaths’ fine playing, once heard only by neighbors and friends lucky enough to attend the Cortez Grand Old Opry, to new, appreciative audiences for years to come.