Rebecca Patek is best known to Central Arkansas listeners as the fiddler behind Sad Daddy (catch them at the White Water Tavern Sunday, Sept. 29 or at Kings Live Music in Conway Friday, Sept. 27) and Buffalo Gals, an old-time duo project with Melissa Carper. She’s a three-time winner of the state fiddle championship in her home state of Wisconsin and an avid believer in keeping melodies simple, letting “the creativity come in more with the words and stories,” she told us. We asked Patek about her can’t-live-without albums, about her go-to fiddle and about her new instrumental project, Austie, in a new series we’re calling “Five Questions.”
Is there a particular Arkansas musician — living or otherwise — who’s had an especially big impact on your work?
There are so many incredible musicians from Arkansas that have had such a big impact on the world — and on me. I grew up listening to a lot of Iris Dement, who is from Paragould, Ark., and was listening to her albums on repeat in high school. I learned a lot of her tunes on the piano and was very into her style of singing and songwriting. She no longer lives in Arkansas, so if I had to pick a current musician living in Arkansas I would have to say Joe Sundell. All of the members of Sad Daddy are incredible songwriters, and it is always a blast to get to play fiddle with this group. Joe has such a fun and creative style and I am really into his latest album, “The Incredible Fun Box.” It sounds like a grungy alley in New Orleans.
Let’s suppose someone tasked you with creating a playlist that would help a listener fall in love with old time music. What songs or musicians would you tell them to listen to first?
You have a lovely new instrumental album out, “Apprehension of Flight.” Why an instrumental album, and why now?
My new instrumental album was made just for my own enjoyment. Our band name on this project is Austie. Not a lot of people put out instrumentals anymore, but I really enjoyed writing and performing these tunes with my friend Andrew, and just wanted to do something with them. It is a departure from my normal, as I am playing dobro (slide guitar) on this album instead of fiddle. We got to record the album in an old church that has been converted into a recording studio in Texas and it was mixed by Homestead Recording Studio in Fayetteville, Ark., by Eric Whithans, who is a master of bringing out the good tones.
Five albums you can’t live without?
Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey,” Guy Clark’s “The Dark,” Steve Earle’s “The Mountain,” Loretta Lynn’s “Van Lear Rose” and Dolly Parton’s “The Grass is Blue.”
What’s the model and vintage of the fiddle you prefer to play most, and where’d you get it?
I only have one fiddle, and it was made in Wisconsin in 1951 by Joseph Schroepfer. I like the warm dark tone of it. I got this fiddle as a present for Christmas when I was in middle school.