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I've been a judge at a local "old-time fiddler's contest" for many 
years, and there has always been controversy about some tunes.  
Typically, we only allow tunes that originated at least 75 years ago 
(we're a little more lenient with the term "old-time").  I can get 
fooled by an unusual "new" tune, and ballads are even worse.  This year 
we had a disagreement that spilled over into some debate among the 
judges, contestants, and organizers, so I'm trying to remove some of the 
guess-work.  Here's my question:

What is the best written source for determining the earliest recording 
of a piece of music loosely dubbed "country?"  It needs to be affordable 
to an individual, indexed and somewhat portable.  Online would be OK if 
searchable.

Any leads would be very much appreciated.

-- 
Pete Tinker
23257 Gilmore St.
West Hills, CA  91307  USA
(home) 818 346 5213
(cell) 818 694 5213