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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tune of the Week for 12-25-09: Turkey in the Straw


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/166289

Bill Rogers - Posted - 12/23/2009:  20:48:22


Turkey in the Straw has been one of the most popular American fiddle tunes over the years--now during three different centuries. I’ll forego a major discussion and simply point you to Andrew Kuntz’s extended discussion toward the bottom of this page in The Fiddler’s Companion: http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/TU.htm

It sets best for clawhammer banjo in the key of D; I explain that, and why bluegrassers play it in G, in the notes to the quick and dirty version I posted on my music page:
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango....asp?ID=7205

While I play it in C tuning (cranked up to D), Tom Berghan has posted a wonderful version in Double-C tuning on his music page here:
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...asp?id=40254

A YouTube search will find any number of versions on various instruments. If you like showpiece rip-it-up fiddle tunes look for the Berline-Crary-Hickman video.

WGE - Posted - 12/24/2009:  03:30:54


John Burke has a nice tab for Turkey in the Straw played out of open C tuning from Robertson and Gilliland. He references both Uncle Dave Macon and Franklin George on this version. It is a fun tune to play.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 12/24/2009:  05:42:12


Fine picking, Bill. Great snap in that right hand. Something you just don't get with steel.

I think that there are two primordial fiddle tunes that are so recognizable and ubiquitous in our American culture- and have been so for such a long time- that they virtually define the fiddle tune for the public at large. Arkansas Traveler is one, and Turkey in the Straw is the other. Our old-timey value system places a high premium on rarity, so familiarity has led many if not most old-time musicians to view these tunes with something like contempt. But as neglected as they may be, I think most old-time musicians, recognizing the virtue of maintaining a shared repertoire, would still say that learning them is obligatory. It's a good thing, because after all of the sneering dies down, they are still damn fine tunes. It should be a rule that every old time jam should start with Arkansas Traveler, and end with Turkey in the Straw. Either key.

I first learned the tune in the key of D, because the fiddlers I first jammed with years ago played it in that key. I eventually worked up a version in G also, when I discovered that a lot of fiddlers, and not just the bluegrass players, played it in that key also. Ed Britt and I have recorded the tune in D:

Turkey in the Straw, Britt & Borchelt

I have tabs for both versions posted on my tablature webpage:

http://www.banjr.com/tablatures.htm

Check out this YouTube video of a group of musicians playing Turkey in the Straw for some cloggers, circa 1930. You can hear the banjos playing the melody in some type of up-picking style behind the fiddlers. They appear to be in the key of D.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1kqLYb6TeE

Here's a recording of Eck Robertson and Henry Gilland playing the Turkey tune on a 1922 Victor record. They are in G.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPmi-W9-JyQ

If it was a good enough tune for Eck, it's good enough.






Edited by - Don Borchelt on 12/24/2009 06:23:59

banjoholic - Posted - 12/24/2009:  06:07:54


Great choice! I'll go ahead and post my version, which is off a children's CD I just released (www.banjosforbabes.com). Many of the tracks on the CD are duets of clawhammer and scruggs style banjo, and I was inspired to arrange these as such by Don and Ed's recordings, which is some of my favorite music. My 3 finger is a little more scruggsian than Don's, so hope you guys don't kick me out of the forum

This one is in the key of G by the way, and the lyrics are from a recording I have of Mike Seeger playing it on a jaw harp (copyrighted, so won't post it here).



Turkey in the Straw

   

ramjo - Posted - 12/24/2009:  06:11:34


Bill--Really nice job. A sweet lightness in your playing. Really makes one want to dance.

Good choice for totw, which is often used to introduce us to unfamiliar tunes. We needn't overlook tunes just because we hear them a lot. Thanks for reminding us why a tune becomes an old chestnut: because it's a great tune. There's much to think and say about a tune that lives so long, as you and Don have already pointed out. I will enjoy the discussion as it continues.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 12/24/2009:  06:19:14


Josh, that was really fine. I really like the three finger version you do in the duet. The more rolls, the better. Here is another YouTube video I really like, Chris Coole playing clawhammer style, with Clif Ervin on bones. Who says you have to run when the bones player shows up. Okay, nearly everybody except me, but they're all wrong!

Clif Ervin & Chris Coole


Edited by - Don Borchelt on 12/24/2009 06:21:40

ZEPP - Posted - 12/24/2009:  08:13:27


Wow. Some neat versions!

I did a very short demo of a Ramsey short-scale a few years ago--I had totally forgotten about the tune, but someone's post here reminded me that I used to play it in D, from open C capoed, i.e. aCGCE capoed to aDADF# (I don't spike or capo the 5th string). Anyway, it's http://zeppmusic.com/MP3/turkey_thunderdog.mp3

Cheers,
ZEPP

raybob - Posted - 12/24/2009:  08:31:35


I originally learned this in G to play with some folks. The C/D versions sound very nice. Guess I got a new one to work on. Thanks Bill.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 12/24/2009:  08:51:54


Thanks for the nice words everyone; I chose this tune in part because I play it in C tuning, which isn't the tuning of choice for D playing among most old-time players. For this tune, it works really well... Here's my banjo setup, which I have added to the music page: The strings are steel: .0115 x2, .013, .015, .023 bronze wound. Renaissance head, cranked tight; all-maple and very light Bacon bridge from the 20s. The banjo can be seen in detail here: http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Mus...essexcg.html Except for the head, it's the same today.

BrittDLD1 - Posted - 12/24/2009:  09:57:30


Not quite banjo and fiddle... But there's some interesting stuff goin' down here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMMY...ture=related


Even MORE fun:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsnZ...ture=related

At least THIS one's by a BANJO player!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cff5...ture=related

Best-
Ed Britt


Edited by - BrittDLD1 on 12/24/2009 10:11:41

majikgator - Posted - 12/24/2009:  10:15:14


Great choice of tune and i agree that it is well know for a good reason.

Bisbonian - Posted - 12/24/2009:  14:47:30


Good TOTW Bill; one that shouldn't be overlooked. We played it last week at the Tucson Old Time Music Circle, and Wormpicker recorded it and distributed it to many of the participants. I just uploaded it to my music page, here: http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...usicid=15582 . I think we're in A. There were at least fourteen people there: BHO members included Banjo Brad, Wormpicker, J-Walk, AZJohnB, Banjo John C, Bluemule, and Bisbonian...probably others. Sorry if I left anyone out!

(That's AZJohnB doing the swoopy fiddle part.)


Edited by - Bisbonian on 12/24/2009 14:57:40

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 12/24/2009:  15:28:28


I worked out a version today in double D tuning and it flowed very nicely.

I also played the version in John Burke's book, but I am trying to limit the amount of re-tuning I need to do in jam settings, so D is the winner for me. John Burke's version is also very nice tuned gCGCE, but I always prefer a shorter reach, and Burke's tuning makes me stretch too much.

Judy

RG - Posted - 12/24/2009:  15:37:53


Bill - great choice & tune, with some awesome versions...well done! Love to play both "Turkey..." and it's older cousin "Natchez Under the Hill"...

J-Walk - Posted - 12/24/2009:  16:10:29


Good tune choice, Bill. I've always played that in G tuning, which means the A part must be played high, or play it low and just "imagine" the missing B and C notes (or jump up an octave).

I've been playing it in double D today, and it works great. I also tried it in D tuning, but I just can't get used to that first string being a note higher.

hendrid - Posted - 12/25/2009:  07:02:36


I work on Turkey melody on the fiddle in G and the A part is played off G and mostly below and just above that note and the B part is pretty much played up an octave or up to the next higher G and the string below.

If you are playing backup stay with or below the fiddle pitch or play the melody same as fiddle or wherever on your fretboard. Should be the same idea in the key of D. A part lower and B part higher pitch at least in the versions I am familar with. There are no fixed rules with finger license, just accepted practice or not accepted practice. Do it sound like Turkey or are the tail feathers gone. Don

Kitt - Posted - 12/25/2009:  08:04:13


quote:
I also played the version in John Burke's book,
--Judy


I used to have Burke's book and the little record that came with it. I have neither now, but if I recall correctly, Turkey in the Straw was one of the tunes that he recorded himself playing on the little demo record. Just out of curiosity, can anyone confirm that one way or another.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 12/25/2009:  09:18:53


quote:
Originally posted by Kitt

quote:
I also played the version in John Burke's book,
--Judy


I used to have Burke's book and the little record that came with it. I have neither now, but if I recall correctly, Turkey in the Straw was one of the tunes that he recorded himself playing on the little demo record. Just out of curiosity, can anyone confirm that one way or another.



I never had a little lp, but it was my husband's book, so I was not the first ower.

I did have a little lp vinyl with Miles Krassen's book, though. Is either book available as new?

Kitt - Posted - 12/25/2009:  11:25:17


quote:
Is either book available as new?


To my knowledge they are both out of print, and neither is available new. I've seen Burke's book, used, and priced in the fifty dollar range.

I also used to have the Krassen book and the small demo record that came with it. I don't recall what tunes he played on it. I think Sourwood Mountain was one of them. Dangit, now it's bugging me wanting to be reminded what tunes both of those demos had on them. Someone here at banjo hangout must know. Help!

Randy Adams - Posted - 12/25/2009:  11:37:37


Good tune of the week....& some great versions have been posted! I like listening to the Tuscon outfit...yup that's the sound I like!
My Gramps & Gramma used to ask me to play TitS....whoops that doesn't come out quite right... : )...uh.....Turkey in the Straw and they would look at each other and smile, kinda giggled knowingly....like it had some meaning for them.....but it seemed private so I didn't ask.....but I was always glad to play it for them.
I play it here.
http://c1.ezfolk.com/index.php?t=pl...song_id=5455

Bill Rogers - Posted - 12/25/2009:  15:38:44


Mea culpa, I forgot this one when I posted the tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZTg9PsxGwM It's Fred Van Eps around the turn of the 20th c. The medley reminds us that melodic banjo long preceded Bill Keith, Bobby Thompson, Carroll Best, et.al. Turkey in the Straw is at the the end of the medley. For those unfamiliar, Van Eps played "classic banjo," openback with gut strings.

Randy Adams - Posted - 12/25/2009:  18:03:48


Back to that Tucson Circle....that's a heckuva good fiddler right there...has the Gid Tanner sound.....I'd pay his moving expenses to Nebraska!....& room & board!... : )......

ramjo - Posted - 12/25/2009:  19:37:02


Kitt--the Krassen tunes are Black-eyed Susie, Ducks on the Pond, Cumberland Gap, Betsy Lickens, and John Hardy. These were on side 2, which was listed first on the label (side 1 containing tuning, basic strum/drop thumbing, hammering-on/pulling off/plucking, and the "Galax Lick.")

Tamarack - Posted - 12/25/2009:  20:32:07


A fine tune -- don't know why I haven't learned it yet.

Don Borchelt directed us to a YouTube of Turkey in the Straw with cloggers (Thanks Don!). When directed to YouTube, I usually spend a good long time there. The person who posted Turkey in the Straw, who goes by "madocseren" has posted lots of old footage from the 1920s and 1930s, including "Bun Wright's Fiddle Band" playing Soldier's Joy for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Kitt - Posted - 12/26/2009:  06:35:21


Ramjo:

Thanks for the Krassen record tune titles. That all rings a bell, now. I had the book and the record in the early 80's. I gave both Krassen's and Burke's books and records to a friend who was taking up banjo after I had, at that time, given up on my own playing. I wonder if she ever progressed. Anyway, I've been back at it now since 2006. While I greatly regret the unfortunate hiatus I'm awfully pleased that I've made a comeback, and that I have stayed with it.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 12/26/2009:  07:33:00


quote:
Originally posted by Kitt

Ramjo:

Thanks for the Krassen record tune titles. That all rings a bell, now. I had the book and the record in the early 80's. I gave both Krassen's and Burke's books and records to a friend who was taking up banjo after I had, at that time, given up on my own playing. I wonder if she ever progressed. Anyway, I've been back at it now since 2006. While I greatly regret the unfortunate hiatus I'm awfully pleased that I've made a comeback, and that I have stayed with it.



So you actually recall a little lp with the Burke book?

I did make mp3 recordings from Krassen's book. The titles are:

A Tuning
Basic Strum, Drop Thumb
Betsy Likens
Black Eyed Susan
Cumberland Gap
Ducks on the Pond
Galax Lick played with Fotune
Hammering On
John Hardy

I just listened to the whole group as shown above - Miles sure could pick that banjo.

ramjo - Posted - 12/26/2009:  09:25:21


quote:
Originally posted by BANJOJUDY

[quote]Originally posted by Kitt

Ramjo:


I did make mp3 recordings from Krassen's book. The titles are:

A Tuning
Basic Strum, Drop Thumb
Betsy Likens
Black Eyed Susan
Cumberland Gap
Ducks on the Pond
Galax Lick played with Fotune
Hammering On
John Hardy

I just listened to the whole group as shown above - Miles sure could pick that banjo.



I also digitized the tunes on that record. I like his playing so much that I added these to my itunes playlist of OT banjo that I listen to in the car.

He didn't include Turkey in the Straw in that book, though. Shoulda.


Edited by - ramjo on 12/26/2009 09:26:15

Don Borchelt - Posted - 12/26/2009:  09:57:32


Tamarack wrote: "The person who posted Turkey in the Straw, who goes by "madocseren" has posted lots of old footage from the 1920s and 1930s, including "Bun Wright's Fiddle Band" playing Soldier's Joy for Franklin D. Roosevelt."

I have always found that Bun Wright clip to be really interesting. In order not to hijack this thread, i started another thread about it:

http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/166451

Happy New year to everyone!

Check out my webpage.

Kitt - Posted - 12/26/2009:  10:13:25


quote:

So you actually recall a little lp with the Burke book?-Banjojudy


Well, yes. Otherwise, why else would I have said that? Anyway, it's possible that my recollection about there being a demo recording coming with Burke's book could be incorrect. I got Krassen's, Burke's and a couple of other books all at about the same time, and that was around 1982 or so. So I could very well be mistaking in my recollection about Krassen's demo for there being a demo in both his book and Burke's book.


tomberghan - Posted - 12/26/2009:  10:22:41


Yes, what a wonderful tune, wonderful history, and deeply embedded into the DNA of America.

But . . . let's talk about Bill Rogers for just a moment.

Bill, your performance blew me away. I was enjoyably stunned! It seems to embody all the history of three centuries . . . it is hard for me to explain and I don’t want to analyze it to death, but firstly, the tempo seems perfect . . . and then there are the incredible accents and perfectly placed staccato notes, rubato, and syncopations.

A buck dancer immediately appears before me in my imagination when I hear you play this.

And then there are those clucks and snaps! Holy Cow! I am sent waaaay to the back of the school room. What a great lesson in accenting. I will study this recording for a looong time. What a sound! Thank you.

Kitt - Posted - 12/26/2009:  10:23:45


See how short my memory is? Just yesterday I wrote to a person on the hangout who had the Burke book up for sale sometime back. I wrote to ask him what tunes were on the Burke demo, because he wrote this in his sales pitch:

quote:
John Burke's Book of Old Time Fiddle Tunes for Banjo - 1968 printing

Very good shape - just a little worn around the edges. Includes the flexible vinyl record in excellent shape.


http://www.banjohangout.org/classif...72&cid=12759

Bill Rogers - Posted - 12/26/2009:  11:57:13


Tom, I'm honored by your comments. I think you understand more about what I'm doing musically than I do. I just tend to play the tune in a way I enjoy. The style's been developed over many years, and owes no little to the right banjo and good fingernails. I looked up "rubato," and yes, I do that when playing solo. Not so much when there are dancers or a guitar player. With me , it's probably much more instinctive than planned. Each time around differs.... The comments on this thread and my music page have convinced me to post some more of the relatively few tunes I play, so to all who liked "Turkey," keep an eye out. I'll note the posts in the Sound Off! forum.

About the Burke book and the seeming confusion about the vinyl sound sheet. It was in the later editions. The earlier publishing(s) lacked it.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 12/26/2009:  12:09:00



About the Burke book and the seeming confusion about the vinyl sound sheet. It was in the later editions. The earlier publishing(s) lacked it.

...so now I cannot blame my husband for losing it out of the old book,huh? That might be a real treasure to hear some of the cuts from the John Burke little lp - anyone have any files to share? OR how can I obtain them?

Kitt - Posted - 12/27/2009:  06:27:47


Judy,

Check out what I found doing a search. That's Chip, as in Chip Arnold:

quote:
Posted - 04/29/2007

I think he [John Burke] retired from a non musical career and is playing fiddle in a bluegrass band. There are three copies of his banjo book at Amazon starting at $114.00! His tab is a bit confusing at times but my old copy had a little vinyl record with it. I still have mine and still get it out now and then. I love his arrangements.

Play with a plan
Chip


Okay, Chip, I'm counting on you to come up with the goods.

Kitt - Posted - 12/27/2009:  06:39:09


I read more of that thread and found that a fellow named Bing dowloaded the entire Burke sampler to his homepage on Bhangout.

Here's Bing's address, followed by the thread that I found Bing and Chip and others writing about Burke.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...asp?id=18145

http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/81405

Kitt - Posted - 12/27/2009:  06:44:47


Turkey in the Straw is included.

http://www.banjohangout.ws/banjohan...15152007.mp3

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 12/27/2009:  08:19:41


quote:
Originally posted by Kitt

I read more of that thread and found that a fellow named Bing dowloaded the entire Burke sampler to his homepage on Bhangout.

Here's Bing's address, followed by the thread that I found Bing and Chip and others writing about Burke.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...asp?id=18145

http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/81405



WOW! What a treasure you found. Thanks for telling us about it.

I've listened to the Burke recordings this morning. What fine old time playing and a great selection of tunes.

maryzcox - Posted - 12/28/2009:  14:12:39


Just love turkey in the straw.
I've always enjoyed playing it in open C. It is on "Florida Banjo" and there is an easy tab to it in open C in "Florida Banjo Tab Book.
You can download a free MP3 download of it at this link.
http://www.maryzcox.com/music.html
Best wishes,
Mary Z. Cox

maryzcox - Posted - 12/28/2009:  14:29:09


Just love turkey in the straw.
I've always enjoyed playing it in open C. It is on "Florida Banjo" and there is an easy tab to it in open C in "Florida Banjo Tab Book.
You can download a free MP3 download of it at this link.
http://www.maryzcox.com/music.html
Best wishes,
Mary Z. Cox

Ritchie Mintz - Posted - 01/05/2010:  11:48:45


My version of Turkey In The Straw is based on John Burke's but I was heavily influenced by Paul Cadwell when I was young (I'm not young any more). I added some strums and flourishes but it's still Turkey In The Straw.
Ritchie in Austin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E7OSlIY-dc

jojo25 - Posted - 01/05/2010:  19:51:43


I do Turkey (I was going to use the acroymn...but that would get me in trouble real quick!) in G...I tried it in D years back but settled on G cause that's were my fiddle buds play it

and don't forget to sing this old chesnut...with words like

hurricane came on a sunny day
blew my house and barn away
tax collector came around
charged me taxes on a hole in the ground

and my irreverent version of the chorus...nah...that would get me in trouble too...guess I'm just itching for it 2-nite

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