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Moatsville String Ticklers
WMMN Fairmont, WV

About The Group

The Moatsville String Ticklers were a neighborhood string band whose members centered in the hamlet of Moatsville in Barbour County, West Virginia. The group consisted of eight musicians who were all present and all played on every number at their one recording session.

The eight were:

  • (Alston) Gordon Frye, fiddle (B: March 8, 1881 — D: April 20, 1965)
  • Cecil Frye, fiddle (B: December 12, 1897 — D: May 16, 1972)
  • Floyd Frye, guitar (B: February 15, 1913 — D: June 20, 1992)
  • Zell (Zelman) Frye, tenor banjo (B: August 23, 1885 — D: December 6, 1953)
  • Harold Ritter, fiddle or bass fiddle (B: July 28, 1905 — D: April 20, 1997)
  • Brooks Ritter, banjo (B: January 9, 1908 — D: September 10, 2001)
  • Doyle Shaffer, guitar (B: May 1, 1909 — D: August 22, 1978)
  • Marshall Summers, guitar and lead vocal (B: August 28, 1857 — D: February 23, 1935)

They all worked day jobs and played for local events on weekends. Sometimes they played on radio at Fairmont and even a few times at WWVA Wheeling.

The band's recordings consisted of four numbers at Columbia's 1929 Johnson City sessions, only two were released. The one vocal was the popular state song "The West Virginia Hills" while the only tune released was titled "Moatsville Blues." Per the DAHR (Discography of American Historical Recordings) website, the two unreleased titles were "Lost Waltz" and "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye." By the 1940s, some band members had moved to other states and the band disintegrated. Brooks Ritter who died in 2001 at age 93 was the last survivor.

Promo Ad - Columbia Records - Moatsville String Ticklers - 1930

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  15491 D A Moatsville Blues
  15491 D B West Virginia Hills

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