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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tuna the Week 12-4-09 Midnight on the Water

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

raybob - Posted - 12/03/2009:  23:27:03

I had to learn this waltz recently to play at a dance. We didn't wind up playing it, but it's a nice tune anyway and TOTW could use another waltz. This tune was written by Texas fiddler Luke Thomasson around the turn of the 20th century. Actually said to have been composed on the front porch. It was made famous by his son, Benny. You can read more about the history of the tune and see at least a partial discography here:

You can read more about Benny Thomasson here:

There are many nice renditions of this tune. Here is a link to where you can hear (a few times free anyway) Jay Unger play it. Jay, of course, is well known for his renditions of waltzes.

And here's a Youtube video of a trio:

And here's a recording with banjo that some friends and myself did recently. Diana and Bill Chesney are playing fiddle and guitar, I'm playing the banjo.

We played a benefit dinner last evening with another fiddle player, Evelyn Horner. I mentioned putting this tune up on TOTW and we started talking about its history a little, and come to find out she actually knew Benny from when he lived in the Northwest. Evelyn played in western swing bands for many years in the Northwest and knew him from her experience doing that. Small world...

I learned this tune mainly from Mike Iverson's tab seen on his website here (scroll down):
I don't play it exactly as written, but it's fairly close.

I hope you all enjoy this tune. I enjoy playing waltzes, and I think this is one of those special ones.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 12/04/2009:  04:44:16

Excellent rendition, Ray, really elegant, expressive picking. This should prove to the banjo agnostics that waltzes can sound really fine on the five-string.

Here is the version Ed Britt and I recorded some time ago.

Midnight on the Water MP3

The tab for my three finger version is on my website, for anyone who might be interested.

tfaux - Posted - 12/04/2009:  05:31:24

Beautiful tune about water, from one of the driest places in the country.

This is such a contradance classic that it's probably got strong life associations for quite a few BHO members. As for me, I used to play with a fiddling pal on the upper deck of the Peaks Island (Maine) ferry, returning home late after playing evening gigs on the mainland. We generally timed things so that we were playing this one as the ferry pulled into the slip.

Thanks for posting, and for the great banjo waltzing demo.


Paul Roberts - Posted - 12/04/2009:  07:09:24

Ray, your playing on this one, as well as on Lost Love, made me feel proud to be in this association of banjo players. Music from the heart, that's where it's at man.

raybob - Posted - 12/04/2009:  07:51:11

Thanks for your kind comments. I'm glad that you are liking it. Banjojudy had written me earlier in the year about putting up a tune on TOTW and I was just too busy then. I'm happy with how this worked out because I got to make a recording with some friends of a tune that I probably wouldn't have done back then. It was fun.


ramjo - Posted - 12/04/2009:  14:54:20

Raybob: thanks!
tfaux: great story!

vrteach - Posted - 12/04/2009:  17:14:32

Wonderful tune, and rendition.

For me it goes back to my pre-banjo days as a dulcimer-playing high school junior.

Tamarack - Posted - 12/04/2009:  17:58:36

Thanks Raybob! Your recording is heartfelt with a genuine back porch feel.

Midnight on the Water was the first waltz that entered my consciouness, circa 1980 when I started into old-time music.

Steve Donnelly - Posted - 12/08/2009:  13:43:06

Midnight On The Water sounds (to me) quite a bit like
Claire Dechutes from the Cold Mtn. CD.

ScottK - Posted - 12/08/2009:  15:39:48

I had to learn this waltz a couple years ago to play for a dance, too.
I have always liked it and really enjoyed your version, Ray. I've gotta
get around to learning it on fiddle one of these days...


Bisbonian - Posted - 12/08/2009:  16:11:19

I first heard this at the jam in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago, and I loved it. Thanks for putting it up as a tune of the week, I can practice it :)

jojo25 - Posted - 12/09/2009:  10:31:34

a classic old war horse and a good one...I never grow tired of it...anyone got a link to the lyrics? They are great if sung by someone with the pipes to pull it off

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