Tag Archives: West Virginia

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

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