Magoffin County

The Lomaxes found a staggering array of talent in Magoffin County. It was here they met William Hamilton Stepp, known locally as “Fiddler Bill,” who played for their disc machine the version of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” that would later become iconic through its arrangement in Aaron Copland’s Rodeo ballet. Stepp recorded many more tunes, both solo and with guitar accompaniment by Mae Puckett Porter, whose blind sister Nell performed ballads and sacred material. More ballads were collected from singers Harvey Porter, Clay Walters (also a fiddler, and a close friend and playing partner of Stepp), and Roscoe McFarland, an English teacher at Salyersville High School.

It is unclear if all—or if some, which—of these performers were recorded in Salyersville or at their respective homes in the surrounding communities. Thanks are due to Stephen Wade for his original research into Stepp and the other Magoffin County artists in his book The Beautiful Music All Around Us (University of Illinois Press, 2012).