Tag Archives: old-time

Bill Malley’s Barndance


An Old Time playing of an Irish tune by fiddler Bill Malley of County Clare, Ireland – first in a set with a stonking rendering of the upbeat E-B-E Reel, composed by Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll.

As well as additional notes on these musicians and tunes, video-poster secondcousincurly writes a fascinating piece here on the importance of fiddle camps to American traditional music.


Brittany Haas, Lily Henley, Duncan Winkel, Kellen Zakula (fiddles), Natalie Haas (cello), Rene del Fierro (guitar)

This set was the encore at a private notloB Parlour Concert in Watertown, Massachusetts. Note Brittany Haas’s five-string fiddle!


(‘BRITTANY HAAS & FRIENDS: Bill Malley’s Barndance & E-B-E Reel’, YouTube video 6.59. Posted by secondcousincurly, 28 Aug 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMf4IjPoJJY)


Brittany Haas  website   Facebook

Natalie Haas  Website   Facebook

Lily Henley  website   Facebook

Duncan Winkel   Facebook  Duo with Lily Henley

Kellen Zakula  Bandcamp   Facebook

Rene del Fierro  Instagram  BandMINE


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Filed under American old-time, American old-time/modern, Uncategorized

Sally In The Garden


Originally a bawdy ballad, there are two basic versions of this Appalachian Kentucky tune, some more crooked than others. I love Premo & Gustavsson’s rendering for the hauntingly off-world sounds from their uncommon pairing of indigenous Swedish and American folk instruments.

This version of the melody is usually played in Dm, but here it’s in Am. Fiddlers generally play it cross-tuned*. Laurel Premo says of her gourd banjo: ‘I use a version of the “double c” tuning. The gourd banjo is a few steps lower from the standard banjo tuning, but the relationships on the strings are the same as you’d find in double C.’

The tune has an interesting thread on banjohangout

*For more information on cross-tuning, see post Newt Payne’s Tune, and/or Search ‘cross-tuning’ to find other cross-tuned melodies.


Premo & Gustavsson

Laurel Premo (gourd banjo), Anna Gustavsson (nyckelharpa)


(‘Sally In The Garden – Premo & Gustavsson’ YouTube video, 4.06. Posted by Laurel Premo, 24 Aug 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PXxOnmAnDg)


Album alert!

The duo will be releasing an album this autumn – and I’ll be featuring a tune from it as soon as it’s available.

In the meantime, you can find out more about their many other projects here:

Laurel Premo:  website  (Fiddletails has also featured Laurel’s acclaimed duo Red Tail Ring – use the Search box to find posts of their compelling music.)

Anna Gustavsson:  website



Filed under American old-time, American traditional, Uncategorized

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



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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Filed under American old-time/traditional, American traditional, Uncategorized

John Stinson’s No.2


Originating in the Irish reel known as John Stenson’s No.2*, this lovely tune has made the transition to a new identity in America’s Old Time tradition, where it’s mostly played as a mountain dulcimer tune.

Here are two takes by fiddler Rachel Eddy and friends: video from a yard concert (played first, followed around 5:10 by a stonking rendition of Dance All Night with a Bottle in your Hand); and a rousing audio recording from Rachel’s Stockholm Old Time session.


Rachel Eddy (fiddle), Kristian Herner  (banjo),  Bill Fahy (guitar)


(‘John Stinsons Number Two – Rachel Eddy, Kristian Herner, and Bill Fahy’ YouTube video, 8.45. Posted by Bill Fahy, 8 Jul 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAvyBV9FFCY)



Rachel Eddy (fiddle), and the players of the Happy Wednesday Oldtime Jam, Stockholm, Sweden




*The original tune was composed by accordion player John Stenson, of Co. Sligo, Ireland. There’s basic tune audio on The Session here,  along with information (scroll down) on its popularity from acclaimed Irish fiddler Kevin Burke’s album If The Cap Fits.


Rachel Eddy:  website  Facebook  YouTube

Kristian Herner:  website  Facebook

Bill Fahy:  website  blog  Facebook


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Filed under American old-time, American traditional, Uncategorized

Old Time Billy in the Lowground


A great tune that deserves to be more widely known, this quirkily crooked melody was played in Franklin County, Kentucky, in the 19th century, and predates the better-known bluegrass tune that most people know as Billy In The Lowground*. The tag ‘Old Time’ was added to this version to avoid confusion with the later 20th century tune which had ‘borrowed’ the title. The origins of the title are widely debated online, with some relating it to William of Orange, others to Bonaparte or the Devil.


I’m posting two videos by the irrepressible Canote brothers Jere and Greg: a full-on concert performance at speed, followed by a slightly slower version where Greg’s amazing fingering is more visible. Then there’s an old recording of Franklin County, Kentucky fiddler Kelly Gilbert (1895-1991), who learnt the tune from his local mentor Lewis Goins. And to finish off, a slower teaching session audio from the Canotes’ Seattle string band class to help tunecatchers nail the tune.

Played in G, in standard fiddle tuning GDAE. Dots to this version are available on the great website Old Time Fiddle Tunes, and there’s a banjo tab here.

(*For the more common version of the tune, played Old Time style, see my very first Fiddletails post in May 2015 – Anna & Elizabeth’s great video here)


Greg Canote (fiddle), Jere Canote (guitar), Brendan Doyle (banjo)

The Canotes take the stage with banjo player Brendan Doyle at a Fiddle Tunes Showcase Concert in 2009.


(‘Fiddle Tunes 2009 The Canotes playing “Old Time Billy in the Low Ground”’ YouTube video, 2.29. Posted by Randi Leach, 6 Jul 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBdWeXXzj8Q)


Greg Canote (fiddle), Jere Canote (guitar)

Filmed during a teaching workshop at the American Banjo Camp 2009, Fort Flagler, Washington state.


(‘Greg & Jere Canote at the American Banjo Camp, 2009’ YouTube video 1.23. Posted by Peter Langston, 30 Sep 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SutKB9NO3i4)


Kelly Gilbert (fiddle)

Recorded by John Harrod in June 1978.

Kelly Gilbert


(From the Appalachian Center Collection, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, John Harrod Collection.)

Hear the full Kelly Gilbert recordings here)


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

Slower teaching audio file of the Canotes and Candy Goldman playing, made for their Seattle stringband class.




For more tunes taught at the Canotes’ Seattle class, see Maya Whitmont’s astonishing archive of audio files and banjo tabs here

 Greg and Jere Canote: find out more about the Canote Brothers, including albums, gigs, and the Seattle stringband class, on their website

 For even more great tunes, see Peter Langston’s American Banjo Camp and other music videos on his YouTube channel

American Banjo Camp: 9-11 September 2016, near Seattle, Washington State. ‘87 classes, 23 scheduled jams, 2 concerts, 6 meals, 2 late-night snacks, and 2 optional sleep periods, all compressed into 50 hours!’ And it’s not just for banjos!


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Filed under American old-time, American traditional, Uncategorized

Horserace Rapids




Red Tail Ring fiddler Laurel Premo wrote this beautiful tune about a stretch of the Paint River at Crystal Falls,  Michigan. The Michigander duo play it here in a set with 19th century traditional American tune Rueben (Rueben’s Train).


Red Tail Ring

Laurel Premo (fiddle), Michael Beauchamp (guitar)

Video from a performance at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, June 2014


(‘Red Tail Ring – Horserace Rapids/Ruebin’ YouTube video, 5.40. Posted by Red Tail Ring, 3 Nov 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmJHqd42ujE)


Red Tail Ring: find videos, gigs, tour dates, and downloads of their great CDs on their website

Photograph (unattributed) of Horserace Rapids via Rachel Rushlow, Pinterest


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Filed under American old-time, American old-time/modern, Uncategorized

Fine Times At Our House

dance in london brit mus

Another favourite tune title! This great crooked West Virginia tune dances satisfyingly across the fiddle’s range. It’s fairly straightforward to catch by ear, but the double stopping’s a whole other ball game, so I’m posting several versions to help people find their best way in.

In order of appearance:

A string band playing the tune at speed

Two wonderful solo fiddle videos that show that pesky double-stopping fingering more clearly.

A slightly slower fiddle/banjo rendering that may help mastering the basic tune

And a bonus track – a haunting experimental recording that sent chills up my spine.


Key of A (mixolydian), with the fiddles cross-tuned ADAE (for more on cross-tuning, see blog post Newt Payne’s Tune)


As always, although this blog is fiddle-focused, the tune is intended for any instrument – I’d so love to hear it on border pipes or hurdy-gurdy!

Let’s begin with a great string-band performance setting out the tune for us.


Stephanie Coleman (fiddle), Adam Hurt (banjo), Beth Williams Hartness (guitar), Kellie Allen (double bass)

A rocking line-up filmed at a house concert.


(‘Fine Times At Our House – Stephenie Coleman, Adam Hurt, Beth Hartness, and Kellie Allen’ YouTube video, 3.30. Posted by Kabel Channel, 13 Sep 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNHoECrWKCo)


Scotty Leach (fiddle)

Filmed at a Seattle house concert on 31 May 2014, West Virginia fiddler Scotty leads with an introduction to the tune’s background.


(‘Fine Times At Our House’ YouTube video, 2.48. Posted by Doug Plummer, 4 Jun 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7W9S5Oh3FM)


Katie Davis Henderson (fiddle)

A very clear video from Katie’s wonderful New Tune A Day video archive.


(‘Fine Times At Our House (Old Time) NTAD’ YouTube video, 1.40. Posted by Katie Davis Henderson, 17 Dec 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W0MhX79Qfo)


Stephanie Coleman (fiddle), Adam Hurt (banjo)

A slightly slower-paced rendering from these iconic players – and great for clawhammer banjo players, too.


(‘Stephanie Coleman and Adam Hurt play “Fine Times At Our House”’ YouTube video, 2.51. Posted by clawhammerist, 23 Nov 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xrESpxtBm4)


And finally…

Scotty Leach fiddles Fine Times At Our House – ‘recorded through the mic on a pair of Apple Earbuds,’ he tells me.

Cold Mountain meets The Revenant. Enjoy!



For further information:


Adam Hurt: website   Facebook  YouTube channel 

Beth Hartness: Facebook

Katie Henderson: Blog (where you can also buy her e-book of NTAD tunes)  YouTube channel

Kellie Allen: singer, bassist, guitarist with the Old Time Shifters

Scotty Leach: Facebook  Email:  wefiddleboy14 [at] gmail [dot] com

Stephanie Coleman: Website   Twitter



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Filed under American old-time, Uncategorized

Stop Press! Multi-instrumental folk courses about to start


Folk Music Retreat with Laurel Swift


Laurel’s retreats always need a pair of walking shoes as well as your instrument/s, but this one needs a torch as well! Fabulous teaching and playing in wonderful locations – can’t recommend too highly.



15-17 January

Tanner’s Hatch, Surrey

Full details and booking on Laurel Swift website



Old Time Music Course with Ed Hicks

A rare opportunity to focus on this delightful music in depth. (Warning: you may just lose your musical heart!)


Wednesdays 7.00pm-8:30pm

13 January to 17 February

14 Bacon St, London E1 6LF

Full details and booking: Trad Academy website





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Filed under American old-time, English folk/traditional

Children Go Where I Send Thee

An old-timey Christmas carol to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and thoroughly dancey New Year!


Stephanie Coleman (fiddle, vocals), Kristin Andreassen (vocals), Chris Eldridge (guitar, vocals)


(‘The Bluegrass Situation // HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN: Kristin Andreassen, Chris Eldridge & Stephanie Coleman’ YouTube video, 4.19. Posted by The Bluegrass Situation, 20 Dec 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7WenZQqtfU)


For more information on gigs, recordings etc by these lovely players/singers see:

Stephanie Coleman: www.audiomydarling.com Facebook Twitter

Kristin Andreassen: kristinandreassen.com Twitter Facebook  Instagram

Chris Eldridge: www.chriseldridge.net Facebook Twitter


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Filed under American old-time, Uncategorized

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.



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)



Ernie Carpenter (1909-1997)


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Filed under American old-time, American old-time/traditional, Uncategorized