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The Byarski Collection
Karl Byarski lives in Huron County, Michigan in what is known as the Thumb area. In the early 1950's he purchased a tape recorder and started recording. He recorded local fiddlers and musicians who played Polish music. He recorded church services often in Polish at his home church and at other churches in the area. He recorded programs from radio broadcasts. He recorded the sounds of nature. He interviewed older residents of Huron County about life in their younger days.
His primary interest, however was fiddle music. He played the fiddle and mandolin as well as some piano himself, but later set these aside in favor of recording others. He built a studio in the basement of his home and he would invite musicians there to be recorded. Over the years, he recorded more than 100 musicians and singers, most being life long residents of Huron County. He continued his recording activities until well past the year 2000. His collection of recordings (not all unique) numbers more than 650 reels of reel to reel tape, more than 2000 cassettes, and over 600 CDs. For his work in documenting music in Huron County over more than 50 years, Karl Byarski will be honored with a Michigan Heritage Award by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program of the Michigan State University Museum in August, 2014. Here is a link to that web site: http://www.museum.msu.edu/s-program.mh_awards/awards/2014KB.html.
My name is Dave Langdon and I met Karl Byarski in July, 2012. Since then I have been working with Karl to catalogue and index his collection of recordings in preparation for eventual donation to a public archive in Michigan. This process is nearing completion. Trae McMaken has generously offered to let me use a page of the MichiganFiddle.com website to publish information about Karl's music and the musicians, and to post some of the music he recorded on this page. If you have an interest in traditional Michigan music or would like information about the music or musicians presented here, I can be contacted at dlangdonmich (@) sbcglobal (dot) com.