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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 6/11/10: Hail Against the Barn Door

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:

handsup8 - Posted - 06/11/2010:  07:45:00

I first heard this great tune played by Chris Coole on the “Old Time Banjo Festival” CD. A truly virtuosic performance from an amazing player. Here is how he describes his version of the tune in the liner notes for the CD: “This is an amalgamation of two very similar West Virginia tunes –‘Rainy Day’ from Melvin Wine and ‘Hail Against the Barndoor’ from Lum Hawkenbury – both of which I learned from my friend Erynn Marshall.” Here’s a link to that if you don’t (?!!) already have it:

I next heard the tune in a fine string band version from the GILDED BATS off their self-titled CD. I love this take on the tune, and the great pace they give to it. Here’s the CD Baby link:

The Canote Brothers’ site of mp3’s and banjo tabs is a great resource for learning tunes. There is a solid tab of the tune which accords provenance to Jimmy Triplett:

Jake Krack presents a version of “Hail” on his CD “How ‘Bout That?” I haven’t heard this version, but one can order the CD at his site:

Finally, with a slightly different name, the tune of the week is on Mary Cox’s “Florida Banjo” CD and available in her accompanying tab book. Here is what she writes about the tune in the liner notes: “'Hail Agin The Barn Door' (c#AEAB) Fiddle: Kerry, Banjo: Mary Z., Bass: Jim. Kerry taught me this tune and here is what he says about it. ‘Hail Agin' the Barn Door comes from the playing of Lum (short for Columbus) Hawkenberry, from a 1947 field recording of him that is in the West Virginia University State and Regional archives. I forget where in WV he lived.’ Played on a 12” Ramsey Woody banjo.”

It looks like she plays the tune out of a “Double A” tuning with a c# in the drone string, rather than out of A-Sawmill like the others.

Hope you all enjoy, and please let me know of other available versions or information!! Ted

Edited by - handsup8 on 06/11/2010 08:11:50

Mark Johnson - Posted - 06/11/2010:  11:02:03

Very interesting.

This isn't a tune I'd heard OF before, by which I mean I'd never heard the name. But, like many of these tunes, it is VERY close to a melody I know of as The Squirrel Hunters. I did a TOTW about the Squirrel Hunters some time back:

The versions of Hail Against the Barndoor I was able to hear here are super super close to Squirrel Hunters, so much so that I take them to be regional variations of the same tune. ? I wonder what the deeper history is here...

There are some subtle differences in the emphasized notes. In particular, "Hail" really stresses the Root, then 3rd, then 5th notes of that Dominant 7 chord (G in the key of A) as quarter notes in the 3rd and 4th measures of the A part and in the 4th measure of the B. It gives it a unique flavor for sure.

Thanks for sharing this one. It's a great tune. I would have missed these fine players take on one of my favorite melodies!


Edited by - Mark Johnson on 06/11/2010 11:07:18

ramjo - Posted - 06/11/2010:  11:24:04

Ted--thanks for the spotlight on this fine tune--one that's been really important to me. I had been plunking around with my banjo for a few years when I happened to be driving one day within range of WKZE, a progressive radio station in Sharon, CT. They played Chris Coole's version and it enveloped me like the very hail storm itself. I determined at that moment to get serious about OT banjo. When I got home, I found where I could buy the tune. I've transcribed all of Chris's variations in both the a and b parts. I wanted to know this tune in all my fibers. I play it my own way now, but I always feel it doesn't match up to what I hear in my head (i.e., Chris).

It's always a pleasure to hear other takes. I like the stringband version Gilded Bats do...I found that a while back on Andrew Epstein's homepage here on the hangout.

Mark--really interesting about Squirrel Hunters. As always, your playing is so fine!

J-Walk - Posted - 06/11/2010:  13:53:23

I have the recordings by Gilded Bats, Chris Coole, and Mary Z. I've always like the tune, but I never noticed the similarity to Squirrel Hunters!

derwood400 - Posted - 06/11/2010:  15:44:47

Love this song. One of my favorite TOTW's in a long time. Thanks Ted. I already saved the tab, and will learn it this weekend.


handsup8 - Posted - 06/11/2010:  16:56:55

Cool, Darren. Post it when you got it!

Ram, that's a pretty good conversion experience you've shared! Picked a great one to throw yourself into.

Mark, thanks for pointing out the similiarity to Squirrel Hunters--I hadn't made that connection. It's interesting that you describe SH as a mixolydian tune, which I associate with tunes that modulate from I to VII like June Apple or Ways of the World which are played usually out of open A tunings and clearly drop a whole step from I to VII. Hail Against the Barn Door doesn't seem to be that kind of mixolydian to me, although it clearly is a mixolydian tune. Perhaps it is different from other mixolydian tunes because it is played out of A-Sawmill, which makes the I-chord-ness of A more questionable, and thus the VII-chordness of G up for debate. (I suppose one could make it more "G" by tuning down the drone to G as in the Cumberland Gap tuning, but that would eliminate this tension and be boring.) Thanks for your TOTW and for the comments on this one. Ted

Edited by - handsup8 on 06/11/2010 16:57:39

ELWOOD - Posted - 06/16/2010:  11:15:01

Only ,because Of my respect for Ramjo, do I hit these threads, What am i missing? do I need to sign up for A Totw. to be in the loop? The banjo players here are very interesting , but mostly unknomn to me ? Is my Question Clear?

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