Category Archives: American old-time/traditional

Bacon Rind

 

 

Get your contra dancing shoes on for this deceptively simple ear-worm of a tune from the playing of Kentucky fiddler Everett Kays.

Here are three versions.

Take 1: Everett Kays lays the tune out at dance speed with a stringband for the original 1973 field recording (now in the Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives*).

Takes 2 and 3: Seattle-based fiddler Greg Canote plays two slow teaching versions – first a music camp video; second, a slightly more uptempo audio track from the Canote Brothers’ Seattle stringband class.

Key of G, standard tuning on all three recordings. Choose whichever speed suits you best for tunecatching, and for playing along with once you’ve got it down.

 

Everett Kays (fiddle), accompanied by unnamed musicians

Anderson County, Kentucky, 1973

(Tune number B02 on reel BG-R003 in the Bruce Greene Collection SAA90, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives. http://dla.acaweb.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/berea/id/317/rec/2)

 

Greg Canote (fiddle), Candy Goldman (banjo)

Filmed at Walker Creek Music Camp, October 2014

(‘Bacon Rind’, YouTube video, 1:25. Published by Wayne Grabowski, Oct 13, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y58B5H-maPc)

 

Greg Canote (fiddle), Candy Goldman (banjo), Jere Canote (guitar)

Recorded at the Seattle Stringband class, April 2014

 

Canote Brotherswebsite  (move the radio dial to search!) and Seattle Stringband class

Maya Whitmont’s compilation of audio tracks and banjo tabs from the Seattle class here

*Digital Library of Appalachia/Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives:  website

 

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Durang’s Hornpipe

 

DurangHornpipe

The Hornpipe, by John Durang, watercolor from his Memoir, Courtesy of the York County History Center

Meet John Durang (1768-1822), dancer, acrobat, actor and performer with Ricketts’s Circus across the northeastern United States and into Canada. Born in Pennsylvania of German and French parents, he was George Washington’s favourite dancer.

The tune was composed for  Durang in new York in 1785 by Mr. Hoffmaster, his German violin teacher.

Durang's Hornpipe orig

Here are several different versions from North American musical cultures: two teaching videos (American and Canadian); a performance video (traditional African-American string band); and archive reel-to-reel audio of a West Virginia fiddler.

Choose your favourite to learn!

 

 

Katie Henderson (fiddle)

America: teaching video from Katie’s encyclopaedic New Tune A Day Youtube site.

(Durang’s Hornpipe (Old-Time Fiddle Tune) NTAD) YouTube video, 2:11. Uploaded by Katie Davis Henderson, 20 Sep 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMTzACv31Lg)

 

Patti Kusturok, Shamma Sabir (fiddles)

Canada: teaching video from Patti’s YouTube fiddle tunes vlog.

(‘Day 229 – Durang’s Hornpipe – Patti Kusturok’s 365 Days of Fiddle Tunes’ YouTube video, 2:14. Published by Patti Kusturok, 17  Aug 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNDgl5iws5o)

 

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Justin Robinson (fiddle),  Dom Flemons (snare drum), Rhiannon Giddens (flat-footing)

The wonderful African-American stringband performing at Mass MoCA, May 2010.

(‘Carolina Chocolate Drops – Durang’s Hornpipe’ YouTube video, 2:24. Uploaded by Music Maker Relief Foundation, 31 May 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mef_qNAj6o)

 

Frank George (fiddle)

Recording by widely-respected West Virginia fiddler William Franklin ‘Frank’ George at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music, 30 October 1976.

FrankGeorge

(From the Digital Library of Appalachia, Berea College http://dla.acaweb.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/berea/id/3104/rec/10)

 

More information:

Katie Henderson:  NTADblogspot  website  YouTube

Patti Kusturok:  website  YouTube

Carolina Chocolate Drops:  website

Frank George: Berea College recordings

John Durang:  http://johndurang.yorkhistorycenter.org/

 

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Too Many Days in Georgia

 

West Virginia fiddler Rachel Eddy retitled her ‘favourite C tune’ – commonly known as Fourteen (or Sixteen, or Eighteen) Days in Georgia. There are many variations on the tune, so here’s just this one wonderful rendering from a 2016 concert in Peninsula, Ohio.

 

Rachel Eddy (fiddle)

 

 

(‘Rachel Eddy Too many days in Georgia’, YouTube video 3:49. Posted by Casually Fine productions, 19 Apr 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ziq-nCwuCk)

 

Rachel Eddy:  website  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

Rachel is a great teacher of old-time fiddle, banjo and guitar – watch out for workshops in the UK!

To buy CDs Hand on the Plow and Nothin’ but Corncdbaby

She is currently also playing and singing with trio The Early Mays

For more tunes by Rachel, see archived posts Road to Malvern and Whiteface, August 2015.

 

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Ways of the World

 

Andy Fitzgibbon teaches a lively 3-part, crooked Kentucky tune as played by fiddler William Hamilton Stepp in 1937. The fiddle is cross-tuned AEAE, giving that characteristic Old Time ring from the sympathetic drone strings. (More on Bill Stepp and cross-tuning below.)

 

Andy Fitzgibbon (fiddle)

Teaching video for the 2014 Cowan Creek Mountain Music School advanced fiddle class.

 

(‘Bill Stepp’s Ways of the World – Andy FitzGibbon’ YouTube video, 2.31. Posted by Andrew Fitzgibbon, 8 Sep 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm7ckNRuiX0)

 

fhofstepp2William Stepp (fiddle)

‘Fiddler Bill’ Stepp (18451947), of Magoffin County, Kentucky, was the last fiddler to be captured on disc machine by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax during their Kentucky song-collecting expedition. He was a close friend of fiddler John Salyer (see ‘Last of Harris’).

 

 

(From the Appalachian Center Collection, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives. Hear the full Stepp recordings at: http://digital.berea.edu/cdm/search/searchterm/Stepp)

 

Here’s a note on cross-tuning, previously published in ‘Newt Payne’s Tune

 

So you thought you could play violin…

(cross-tunings for those hell-bent on going over to the dark side from Wikipedia’s excellent page on cross-tuning)

FCGD = Cajun Tuning (one whole step down from GDAE)

GDGB = Open G Tuning

GDGD = Sawmill Tuning or “Cross G”

GDAD = “Gee-Dad”

DDAD = Dead Man’s Tuning, or Open D Tuning, or Bonaparte’s Retreat Tuning, or “Dee-Dad”

ADAE = High Bass Tuning, Old-Timey D Tuning

AEAE = Cross Tuning, “Cross A”, “High Bass, High Counter” (or “High Bass, High Tenor”), Cross Chord; similar to Sawmill Tuning

AEAC♯ = Black Mountain Rag Tuning, Calico Tuning, Open A Tuning, or Drunken Hiccups Tuning

AEAD for Old Sledge, Silver Lake

EDAE for Glory in the Meeting House

EEAE for Get up in the Cool

(Reproduced under Creative Commons license)

More hands-on cross-tuning at:

http://www.stringband.mossyroof.com/ (tunes taught at Greg and Jere Canote’s Seattle string band classes

http://slippery-hill.com/M-K/

 

Andy Fitzgibbon plays with the Iron Leg Boys, and co-runs the New Young Fogies project with Anna Roberts-Gevalt (of Anna & Elizabeth: see ‘The Devil’s Nine Questions/Billy in the Lowground’)

 

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Granddad’s Favorite

 

This week, I’m beginning with a story: acclaimed West Virginia fiddler Ernie Carpenter talking about his fiddling heritage handed down by his father and grandfather, a maker of dugout canoes on Elk River, West Virginia.

In this fascinating 1987 reel-to-reel audio recording, Ernie tells his tale, and goes on to play one of his grandfather’s tunes – the jauntily crooked Granddad’s Favorite.

 

SheltCarpenter_medium

Ernie’s father, Shelt Carpenter, photographed around 1932.

 

 

 

 

The audio recording is followed by the video of the musical part of the same performance at the October 1987 Celebration of Traditional Music, Berea College.

And, last but by no means least, this week’s post is topped off by a wonderfully clear teaching video: Andy Fitzgibbon’s rendition of Granddad’s Favorite, as played by Ernie Carpenter.

 

You’ll notice that Granddad’s Favorite is a crooked tune, with extra bars when you least expect them. It also comes with two warnings for fiddlers:

In the recordings below, the fiddles are cross-tuned: Ernie Carpenter in GDGD, Andy Fitzgibbon in AEAE. If you’d like to try cross-tuning, you’re less likely to break a string tuning your two lower strings up to AEAE, than tuning your top two down a tone for GDGD, and then having to crank them back up again to standard/GDAE. (I speak from sad experience.)

And if you prefer to keep your fiddle in standard tuning, don’t try to copy the fingering in the video!

 

And now for our story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then Ernie will begin.

 

Ernie Carpenter (fiddle), Gerald Milnes (banjo)

Fiddle cross-tuned GDGD, key of G. (Tune at 3:20)

 

(Tune number 02 on AC-OR-005-373 in the Appalachian Center Collection, Berea College, Southern Appalachian Archives. http://dla.acaweb.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/berea/id/3114/rec/4)

 

You can watch footage of the musical part of this performance on the Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives website here.

 

 

Andy Fitzgibbon (fiddle)

Teaching video made for Andy’s students at the Wellington Bluegrass Society fiddle workshops. Fiddle cross-tuned AEAE, key of A.

 

(‘Ernie Carpenter’s Granddad’s Favorite- Andy FitzGibbon’ YouTube video, 2.27. Posted by Andrew FitzGibbon, 8 Sep 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY9BAVRzvrc)

 

Andy Fitzgibbon plays with the Iron Leg Boys, and is part of the New Young Fogies project co-run by Anna Roberts-Gevalt (of Anna & Elizabeth: see ‘Billy in the Lowground’ 7 May 2015)

 

Ernie Carpenter‘s fascinating family history is outlined on the Berea College website.

For more of his music on Fiddletails, see ‘Gunboat’ (Sept 2015)

 

erniecarpenter1980

Ernie Carpenter (1909-1997)

 

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Silver Strands

A delightfully almost-danceable crooked Kentucky tune that repeats across the whole fiddle range.

 

fhofstepp2William Hamilton Stepp (1845-1947) recorded the tune in 1937 for the Library of Congress – the last of the Kentucky fiddlers to be captured on disc machine by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax during their Kentucky song-collecting expedition. ‘Fiddler Bill’ Stepp was a close friend of fiddler John Salyer (see ‘Last of Harris’, 22 May 2015).

 

 

 

Andy Fitzgibbon

Andy’s teaching video for the 2014 Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Standard tuning GDAE.

Andy notes: ‘As played by William Hamilton Stepp for the Library of Congress in 1937.’

 

(‘William Stepp’s Silver Strands – Andy FitzGibbon’ YouTube video, 2.55. Posted by Andrew Fitzgibbon, 4 Oct 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTwmXpKrBbk)

 

Andy Fitzgibbon plays with the Iron Leg Boys, and is part of the New Young Fogies project co-run by Anna Roberts-Gevalt (of Anna & Elizabeth: see ‘Billy in the Lowground’ 7 May 2015)

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Roscoe

A lovely variation on an old-time/bluegrass sessions favourite. I’ll be posting up the standard version later in the year – but in the meantime, caveat musicus: DANGER – this is the OTHER version!

 

Annie Staninec (fiddle), Luke Abbott (viola)

Annie is a major west-coast bluegrass and old-time fiddler, solo and with a number of bands. Luke sings and plays old-time and bluegrass on ‘a bunch of stringed instruments’ and is part of the brilliant Toneway Project that teaches music by ear online.

(‘Roscoe [fiddle and viola]’ YouTube video, 2:45. Posted by The Abbott Family on YouTube, 12 Aug 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAqe9iRjmbc)

Both Annie and Luke have great websites with detailed information on gigs, projects and teaching:

Annie: http://anniestaninec.com/

Luke: http://lukeabbott.com/

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