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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW Jan 1 2010 - Mr. Mel Durham's "Alonzo Janes"

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RG - Posted - 12/30/2009:  14:00:49

Hello all and Happy (early) New Year!!

Here is the first Tune of the Week for 2010, sorry this is a little early, but out of town in about an hour for a little New Years Eve getaway and leaving the computer, cell phone and all that other electronic leash crap behind for a couple of days...but will have my banjo and fiddle with me (wife's real happy about that!)...what more do you need?

I've picked out one of my favorite tunes from one of my favorite fiddlers, the late, great Mel Durham, his fiddle tune ..."Alonzo Janes"...hope you like it as much as I do.

Here is a little (actually a lot) of background for Mr. Durham...if you had any preconception of what "OT" music is, this article is very illuminating...

And I HIGHLY recommend that you go to County Sales and get Mel's 2 CD set "Skillet Fork, The Southern Illinois Tunes of Mel Durham", some great players and some unique, cool tunes...

Mel plays an awesome version of the song on the CD with some tasty CH banjo played by Chris Berry...

OK, you're not going to find this one in the Fiddler's Companion, it is a unique Mel tune, the liner notes say this about it;

"Mel met the elderly Mr. Janes in the mid 1930's, when they lived in Pontiac. Born a slave, he had worked as a cooper and played in the plantation orchestra before the Civil War. By the 1930's he was a respected property owner who had put his kids through college."

That's about it, Mr. Durham learned the tune from a gentleman who had carried it with him for 60+'s my take on the tune, played in "G" but you could play it in "A" as well...

And here's a fiddle version of the tune by me in cross "G" tuning, please be kind, I've only been playing fiddle since March of this year...but I'm posting it so you can play along...or laugh...

Alright, now here's a couple of youtube versions...

And finally, here is the tune played by the gentleman who taught it to me, very talented OT multi-instrumentalist David Bragger of the band "Sausage Grinder" who posts a great series of internet OT fiddle lessons and who learned the tune first hand from Mr. Durham...this is how it should actually sound on fiddle (besides Mel's version of course)...wish I could post David playing this tune on his spanking new Enoch, but that will have to wait for another day...

And lastly, here is a quick and dirty tab to get you started, basic melody, you can add to it from here...

Hope you enjoy playing this cool tune for the New Year and I hope that everyone has a safe holiday...take care out there!

Edited by - RG on 12/30/2009 14:06:32

ramjo - Posted - 12/30/2009:  14:40:45

Nice, RG. Great tune and great story. I like your playing here and I especially like that of your teacher. Thanks for uncovering this for those of us who haven't stumbled across Mel Durham.

vrteach - Posted - 12/30/2009:  14:41:48

Cool. I just ordered the Mel Durham cd set. I had not been well aware of Durham until recently, and I've been having fun on the fiddle with one of his tunes "Coming through the cane brake to shoot the buffalo" which also plays pretty well on the banjo.

Congrats on your fiddling.

jamesd - Posted - 12/30/2009:  15:10:26

RG, very nice. I enjoyed the tune you played and the fiddle tune. And thanks for including the tab...........James

J-Walk - Posted - 12/30/2009:  15:12:33

What a cool tune that is. I guess I'll be getting a copy of the Mel Durham CD.

I found a fiddle/guitar recording of Alonzo Janes at Fiddle Hangout:

You need to adjust the pitch of the recording (or your banjo), but it's a good one if you'd like to play along.

RG - Posted - 12/30/2009:  15:36:16

Hey all...

Thanks for the comments, glad you liked the tune!

ramjo...yeah, David is an outstanding fiddler with that perfect OT touch...great player and teacher who learned from a lot of original sources, his band is just about ready to release their debut CD, they play a really diverse cross-section of OT styles...

Erich, "Canebrake..." is a great tune! I play that one as well as "Over the Mountain" and "Jingle at the Window, Tidy-O" (sanitized title of the original tune) which is a real cool 3 part tune that Earl Collins also played. Slowly working through the tunes on "Skillet Fork", some real gems on there.

James...appreciate the comments, if you would like the tab as a tabledit file I'd be glad to email it to you...

J-Walk...thanks for the link to the fiddlehangout, should've checked there as well... I'm just starting out recording with the Zoom H2, if you're familiar with that system do you have any tips (distance from mic, mic setting, sound dampening etc.) to use? I know you are very tech savvy, so would sure appreciate any suggestions you might'll like the "Skillet Fork" CD, it features Gene Burdo, Chris Berry, Tom Sauber, Stan Shapin & Jack Phillips accompanying Mel...worth the $$$'s for sure...

Alright, I'm finally outta here, take care all and see you next year!

Edited by - RG on 12/30/2009 15:38:41

RG - Posted - 01/02/2010:  11:18:29

Was checking out youtube this morning and found this clip of Mel playing the tune Erich mentioned in an earlier post "Coming Through the Canebrake to Shoot the Buffalo" another Durham family's the only video on the internet that I have found of Mel playing, just thought some folks might enjoy seeing it...this is a great fiddle/banjo tune as well...

Edited by - RG on 01/02/2010 11:19:06

vrteach - Posted - 01/09/2010:  07:01:08

My Mel Durham CD came yesterday, and on this cold sunny morning I'm sitting watching the birds at the feeder with the CD playing. It's a great collection of tunes.

I'm pleased to see that one of my favorite tunes (Robinson County) adds the name "Ruffled Drawers" to it's list of titles. His "Rye Straw" is alot like the one that I first learned.

RG - Posted - 01/09/2010:  12:57:51

Originally posted by vrteach

My Mel Durham CD came yesterday, and on this cold sunny morning I'm sitting watching the birds at the feeder with the CD playing. It's a great collection of tunes.

Erich - now that's a great way to start the day!

Read your post and it inspired me to get out the fiddle and scratch out a version of "Jingle at the Window, Tidy-O", my current favorite Mel tune...

Chris Berry - Posted - 01/10/2010:  02:11:55

Originally posted by vrteach
I'm pleased to see that one of my favorite tunes (Robinson County) adds the name "Ruffled Drawers" to it's list of titles.

I can't remember if he sings it on the record, but Mel had words for this one, sung to the high part.

When I saw those ruffled drawers, those ruffled drawers so fine,
When I saw those ruffled drawers, I knew that she'd be mine.

When I saw those ruffled drawers, peekin' out at me,
When I saw those ruffled drawers, I said "there's the gal for me."

vrteach - Posted - 01/10/2010:  08:04:08

RG: Jingle at my Window is a great tune--caught my ear at first hearing.

Chris: He doesn't sing the Ruffled Drawers verses, but the second set you list is listed on the the liner notes.

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