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|Avalon Quickstep||Hubie says: A tune both Howard Jones and I learned at the Zane jams in the late 1980s. It comes from a recording made by Narmour & Smith for Okeh on June 7, 1930. This recording, reissued on County LP 529, Traditional Music of Mississippi, Volume 1, in 1975, appears to have been the sole source of this tune in the old-time repertoire. Both volumes are now available on two CDs, CO-3513 and 3514. David Freeman’s notes to Volume 2 of this set remarks on the number of unique tunes recorded by fiddler Will Narmour, many of which “are marked by subtle irregularities in meter, adding a certain interest and charm,” which were never recorded by any other fiddlers. This fact, and the localized, unusual names of their tunes, leads me to suspect that they may have been original compositions by Narmour, or at least known only in their immediate area. Freeman says that W.T. “Will” Narmour (1889-1961) and guitarist S.W. “Shell” Smith (1895-1968) were from Carroll County, near Avalon, Mississippi, the locality which was the source of several of their tunes’ titles. Avalon was also the home town of bluesman, Mississippi John Hurt, and he states that it was they who brought Hurt to the attention of recording companies. Will and Shell recorded 31 tunes between 1928 and 1930 in San Antonio, Texas, then recut 16 of the most popular ones in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1934. Among their other tunes, reissued on the County collection, are Carroll County Blues, Mississippi Breakdown, Sweet Milk and Peaches, and Captain George, Has Your Money Come? A list of all of their recorded tunes includes waltzes, blues, breakdowns and rags.|
|Banjo Tramp|| Hubie says: Howard Jones and I learned this at jams in the late ‘80s, so the fiddlers at the jams probably got it from Ward Jarvis’ version on Heritage(Galax) LP 033, Visits, 1981. Jarvis, from Braxton County, WV, said he learned it from Ed Haley, the legendary and influential blind fiddler who played throughout that state and in eastern Kentucky. That would have to have been before 1951, the year Haley died, perhaps well before. Kenton Sears, another Braxton Cy. fiddler, recorded it for Gerry Milnes, who released it on Augusta Heritage Cassette AHR013. Issued in 1992, the notes don’t say when it was recorded. Gerry says it sounds to him like a vaudeville song, but he hasn’t been able to find a copy of it. I agree and have looked for it also, but with no luck. If it was well known in Braxton in the “old days,” it seems odd that Melvin Wine wouldn’t have played it too, but it’s not on the 263-tune Melvin Wine tune-list compiled by Jimmy Triplett. Jarvis’ version has probably been reissued on CD, somewhere. I’ve always thought the tune was odd because the two parts are the same, except that one part starts low and comes up to the melody, while the other starts high and drops down to it. |
Jim adds: On Banjo Tramp, Gus Meade's book lists an unissued Gennett recording of a song with that name, recorded in 1929 by Cecil Vaughn. I have no idea if it is the same melody that we play in a jam, but supports the supposition that our version started as a song.
Cal State Fresno's website has this citation of a song with this name, but not the complete lyrics http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/folklinks.html
|Crook Brothers Breakdown|| Hubie says: The Crook Brothers were an old-time band that was a fixture on the Grand Ole Opry, for many years. I only have this tune on a cassette copy of a record by Trevor and Travis Stuart on fiddle and banjo, and copied it to one of my "tunes to learn" tapes. It was played at the Fiddler's Grove Festival in 1999 by the Grayson Highlands Band and can be heard on the net as an MP-3, but I can't find any more about it. If someone has the Stuart cassette, maybe the notes say something about it?|
Keith adds: The notes for the Stuart Brothers Pretty Little Widow CD say: "The Crook Brothers were stars of the Grand Ole Opry and called this tune Sally Ann. We learned it from our long time friend Faith Dominy." The CD is out of print, but Travis recently found some copies in a storage room.
|Old Time Julieanne Johnson||Hubie says: I'm not familiar with this title with an "Old-Time" prefix, but usually that refers to the way a tune was played in the Galax-Round Peak area along the Virginia-North Carolina border before banjo player Charlie Lowe arrived and everyone copied his new, streamlined style. Thus, we have such names as "Old-Time Sally Anne," "Old-Time Backstep Cindy," and so forth. I believe this happened while Tommy Jarrell was a young man or perhaps a child.|
|Railroad through the Rocky Mountains||Hubie says: "Railroad through the Rocky Mountains" (no "ing") was collected on a field recording from fiddler Jim Bowles at Rock Bridge, Monroe County, Kentucky, in 1959 by folklorist D.K. Wilgus. The music was published in 2001 by another folklorist, Jeff Todd Titon in his book, Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes. Bowles said he learned it from his uncle, Wash Carter, who called it "Goin' Down to Shirley's," so it sounds to me like Bowles gave it the "Railroad" name. Bowles' original recording has been released on Marimac Cassette C-9060. The tune is similar to "Marmaduke's Hornpipe," "Grand Hornpipe," "Deer Walk" (the Doc Roberts' melody), "Rocky Mountain Goat," and "Cricket on the Hearth." (I think I like the name "Goin' down to Shirley's" best of all.)|
|Rocking in a Weary Land|| Howard says: I think its an old Galax tune from Luther Davis or Kale Brewer. I will try to find out more about it if you are interested. I'm not aware of any commercial recordings.|
Hubie says: This tune is from Luther Davis, recorded in 1982 and released in 1986 on Heritage(Galax) LP 070.
|Run Down Boot|| Rich: Garry Harrison learned this tune from Pete Priest of Mattoon, Illinois. |
Pete, who was born in Breckinridge County, Kentucky in 1904, learned this tune
from his father. [Source: Liner notes from the LP recording "The Indian Creek Delta Boys" (Volume 1) by the Indian Creek Delta Boys, DU-33029 (1976), re-released on CD as SFR-DU-33029 by Spring Fed Records.] A more recent recording of the tune is included on the CD “A Tribute to The Appalachian String Band Festival” [Clifftop] (Chubby Dragon #1001, c. 1995), performed by Lynn "Chirps" Smith, John Hatton and Dot Kent.
|Rush and the Pepper||Rich: This is another tune collected by Garry Harrison, from Jesse James Abbott of Toledo, Illinois. J.J. said he learned the tune as a young boy in Missouri. This tune is on the "Indian Creek Delta Boys, Vol.1" CD. [See "Run Down Boot" above.]|
|Snake River Reel||Rich says: This tune and a contra dance by the same name were written by Peter Lippincott of St. Louis. I learned it in the mid-1970s while sitting in Pete's living room with a group of other St. Louis musicians. Pete was one of the founders of the St. Louis area contra dance revival (as well as its primary dance caller in the 1970s). I was happy to find the tune being played in this area, 30 years later!|
|Spring Creek Gal/s||Hubie says: "Spring Creek Gal" was on Bob Carlin's classic Banging and Sawing LP and cassette, Rounder #0197, 1985, produced by Bob, Gus Meade, and Bobby Fulcher. James Bryan is playing fiddle on that cut, Bob on banjo, of course, and Norman Blake is on Guitar. Bryan and Blake were then playing as "The Rising Fawn String Band," with Nancy Blake. If you're not into James Bryan, you have a treat in store for you. The album says, "Source: Al Murphy," who is an eastern Iowa fiddler, but I can find nothing about the origin of the tune. Perhaps Murphy wrote it, but if so, it's not on his CDs. It's one of my favorites.|
|Sugar in the Morning||Hubie says: This is a head-scratcher. I’ve never heard any such title anywhere in old-time music, but what intrigues me, is that it reminds me very much of that big 1950s pop hit by the McGuire Sisters, “Sugar Time.” I know this is ancient history for most or all of you, but it was a catchy tune and, I swear, it did sound a lot like the melody of Banjo Tramp, the part that begins high. And it had that phrase in the chorus, which went, “Sugar in the mornin’, sugar in the evenin’, sugar at supper time; be my little sugar, and love me all the time.” If it is the pop song, the claim by Rector Hicks that he learned it from Ed Haley cannot be correct, because he also said that he knew Haley only in the 1920s and 30s. Sugar Time, words and music by Charles Phillips and Odis Echols, was not copyrighted until 1956, after Haley had passed away and long after the time when Hicks knew him. Could it be that Hicks heard the pop song in the late 50s and thought it was the tune that Haley had played because it sounded so similar? Memory does play tricks like that on all of us. Hmmmm.|
|Thumping On A Well Rope|| Rich says: This tune was written by banjo player Dave Landreth of St. Louis. It was recorded in 1991 on the Allen Street String Band cassette of the same name (Marimac #9406) and on Dave's 2002 CD "Chairs" (Oceana #OP004). Dave has a WAV file of the tune on his Web page:|
The cassette sleeve notes explain the title this way: "Playing a really dead low E string on a guitar, according to our friend Jim Lansford (fiddler for the Skirtlifters), is like 'thumping on a well rope', hence the title."
|Uncle Henry||Rich says: This tune is from Arkansas fiddler Violet Hensley, who learned it from her father. She had forgotten the name of the tune, but "some guy at Dardanelle called it 'Uncle Henry'." In the notes for the CD "Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, Volume 1", Mark Wilson points out the similarity to the tune "Goodbye, My Honey, I'm Gone", recorded (in Volume 3 of the same series) by Bill Conley. Violet now recalls that her father called the tune "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye", but the name "Uncle Henry" is more commonly associated with her version of the tune.|
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|GailGill||Crook Brothers Breakdown||2||May 8 2009, 9:45 AM EDT by GailGill|
Thread started: May 1 2009, 2:10 PM EDT Watch
The Crook Bros. recorded this on an out-of-print LP called "Old Timers of the Grand Old Opry," and it was listed on the liner notes as "Instrumental." To my ear their take on it sounds more like a version of "Lost Indian" than "Sally Ann." I feel that the source of the version we hear today at fiddlers conventions originally was Richmond fiddler Harold Hausenfluck who used to play a lot at Galax, Independence, Chilhowie, Pulaski & many VA conventions in the 70s & 80s. Harold took the Crook's "Instrumental" and transformed it into what we now recognize as "Crook Brothers Breakdown" by having his band lean on the minor chord. It's on a cassette I have of him at Galax in the 70s. Tim
Donley, who you hear on the mp3 on the Fiddlers Grove site, was a protege of Harold's. That's definitely a great version, but I must point out that the Crook Bros.' "Instrumental" did not have clawhammer banjo, but rather a kind of pre-bluegrass 3-fingerpicking common in middle TN (and many other places in the South, prior to the 1970s).
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