Billy Faier, 1930-2016

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We were saddened to hear that pioneering musician, banjoist, artist, writer, raconteur, and friend of the Southern Folklife Collection, Billy Faier, passed away on January 29 in Alpine, Texas. We are preparing a longer tribute to Billy’s career with some wonderful items from the Billy Faier Collection (20380) to appear on Field Trip South later this week, but as I was looking through his papers this afternoon, I couldn’t help but fixate on one of Billy’s non-musical passions, juggling.

After mastering the skill, Billy developed a notation system, much like music tablature, to teach others juggling techniques. He called the notation system “juglature.” From folder “OP-20380/8: Juglature Notes”, I scanned a few drawings that show the earliest sketches and experimental development of “juglature” that Faier would continue to develop for the instruction books he later wrote. Like so much of my favorite folklore, I love these drawings as much for their abstract and simple beauty as the utility and complexity of the narratives embedded within. Please do revisit Field Trip South this week for more in-depth tribute (with music, of course) to the remarkable Billy Faier. Rest in peace, Billy. 20380_OP20380_8_BillyFaier_jugglature_Southern Folklife Collection_00120380_OP20380_8_BillyFaier_jugglature_Southern Folklife Collection_00320380_OP20380_8_BillyFaier_jugglature_Southern Folklife Collection_002