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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 5/13/11 - Old Rip


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/206594

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/13/2011:  13:05:36



Today's Tune of the Week is "Old Rip", a lovely banjo instrumental written by Lynn Morris and included on the Lynn Morris Band's 1995 album "Mama's Hand".



I chose it in part as a celebration of Lynn's return to the stage - even if only for a one-time special occasion - last week at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience, and it was wonderful to see her smiling up on stage with Marshall and the rest of the band (Tom Adams, Jesse Brock, and Ron Stewart), and to hear her voice again after so many years.



 



Lynn Morris & Marshall Wilborn at The Apple Blossom Festival



 



Lynn pulled out the banjo for two or three numbers, among them her original clawhammer piece "Old Rip". As Lynn and Marshall explained, the tune was named after a tall tale from Texas, their home state. According to the story, a Texas horned lizard - or "horny toad" as it is more popularly known - was placed in the cornerstone of a Texas County Courthouse, only to be found alive when the building was demolished decades later. As news of his miraculous survival spread, the lizard - named Old Rip after Rip Van Winkle - became a bit of a celebrity, toured the country, and even visited the White House. After his death, he was embalmed, put on display, and lives on as a minor local tourist attraction. (For more detailed accounts of Old Rip's tale, check out http://www.eastlandvisitor.com/oldRipHistory.html and http://www.texastwisted.com/attr/oldrip/ .)



 



 



 Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosomatidae cornutum). 



 



Since the concert, I have been trying to learn "Old Rip", but given my rudimentary (at best) learning-by-ear skills, it is slow going and I don't have a clip of my own to share. Here are three versions I was able to find.



First is a brief audio clip of Lynn's own playing, on the Banjo Newsletter site: http://www.banjonews.com/audioclawhammerO.html (Tab of the tune appeared in the February 1996 issue of BNL)



Dan Levenson included the tune on his 1997 release "Light of the Moon": http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/danlevenson1



There is a nice version on YouTube by a player whose name I could not determine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rw1RL1-WFU



 



When I first heard "Old Rip" on the "Mama's Hand" CD many years ago, I was not yet playing clawhammer banjo (or any banjo, for that matter), and thus I didn't focus much on the track, surrounded as it was by Lynn's beautiful singing. I was happy to "rediscover" it at Lynn's show, and am looking forward to adding it to my repertoire. 



 



 



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 05/13/2011 13:13:04

strokestyle - Posted - 05/13/2011:  14:14:07



Cool tune! I really enjoyed the Lady on the you-tube video!


vrteach - Posted - 05/13/2011:  14:52:34



I agree with Ms Stroke. Thanks for pointing out this tune, I like it.



I wonder if when the Phrynosoma cornutum came out it started singing "Hello my baby, Hello my honey, Hello my ragtime gal."



Edited by - vrteach on 05/13/2011 14:56:09

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/13/2011:  15:30:49



quote:


Originally posted by vrteach




I agree with Ms Stroke. Thanks for pointing out this tune, I like it.



I wonder if when the Phrynosoma cornutum came out it started singing "Hello my baby, Hello my honey, Hello my ragtime gal."






 If so, the folks at the 1928 cornerstone opening failed to report it.  It was left up to legendary cartoon director Chuck Jones to add that tidbit, in his 1955 Warner Brothers short "One Froggy Evening", which was almost certainly inspired by the Texas tale.  As you obviously know, that film featured a frog (later to be named Michigan J. Frog) who did exactly that when unsealed from his own cornerstone.  I guess we need a version where he picks "Ragtime Annie" instead. smiley



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 05/13/2011 15:38:16

john fincher - Posted - 05/14/2011:  02:14:37



What a great tune.  Lyn Morris's playing is beautiful and the youtube woman makes it swing v nicely indeed.


derwood400 - Posted - 05/14/2011:  04:23:21



Thanks for this tune.  I have it on Dan Levenson's album, but never realized it was a Lynn Morris tune.  I've certainly known the name of Lynn Morris, but I can't say that I've ever heard her playing before.  That clip is really great.  I will definitely be looking to get some of her material.  I agree, the youtube clip is really good too.  Maybe someone will know who the lady is playing on that.


janolov - Posted - 05/14/2011:  08:16:45



It is a very nice tune!



I found a tab at  clawhammertab.blogspot.com/ that may make it easier to play the tune.



Edited by - janolov on 05/14/2011 08:18:49

bournio - Posted - 05/15/2011:  03:39:21



Not heard this before! It is a lovely tune!


Clawdan - Posted - 05/15/2011:  07:03:19



One of my favorites and one I learned directly from Lynn back in the late 1980's at the TN Banjo Institute. I usually pair it with The Engineers Don't Wave From The Trains Anymore (Tom T. Hall) which I hear Lynn do at that same event. It is good to have her back up on stage and I hope here recovery and progress continue. I recorded it with her permission and do believe I put the credit properly in the liner notes. One of the difficulties with downloads when they don't include the entire insert (dealt with in other threads of course).



I believe she originally did it in E but I do it it double C/D. I'll look to see if I can find the tab I wrote of this one.



Enjoy the tune. Play nice,

Dan

Clawdan.com


ramjo - Posted - 05/15/2011:  07:30:26



It's a great tune, and the tab Janolov linked to (which is pretty much a transcription of Lynn's recording, as far as I can tell) is also a great exercise in double-thumbing and uncommon combinations. The lady in the video simplifies the ascending run by hammering on at the 2nd fret (following the first 4th string hammer-on at the 4th fret). Her playing is excellent and her version quite wonderful, but I'm really learning a lot by trying to follow Lynn's original. I hope Dan can find his tab and post it as it will be fun to analyze his interpretation too. 



Thanks for this TOTW!


J-Walk - Posted - 05/15/2011:  09:58:56



That is a nice tune. I've been working on it this morning.



By the way, you can buy Lynn's recording of the tune at Amazon for a buck. I just got the one track. The others are a bit too bluegrassy for my taste.



Dan's recording is also available for a buck, but you should really get the entire album if you don't already have it. 


maryzcox - Posted - 05/15/2011:  13:18:18



Lynn is a really awesome banjoist and performer.  What you can't see in the pix--but what I remember most about her when I saw her play years ago at a festival or two--is not only does she play well--she stands on stage and plays the whole set in high heels !


Not many of the "good old boys" can do that. evil


​Best wishes,


​Mary Z. Cox


maryzcox.com

Cottonmouth - Posted - 05/15/2011:  13:51:43



If my memory serves me, I think Murphy Henry offers an instructional banjo DVD featuring Lynn Morris.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/15/2011:  15:17:16



quote:


Originally posted by Cottonmouth




If my memory serves me, I think Murphy Henry offers an instructional banjo DVD featuring Lynn Morris.






 Your memory is correct: murphymethod.com/index.cfm?eve...mp;pid=18 



Although the Lynn Morris Band was a bluegrass group - one of the best of its time - Lynn is an excellent clawhammer banjo player and generally included a bit of old time banjo on her CDs and in her stage shows.  She is also a fine three-finger picker - the "Mama's Hand" album includes a three-finger banjo instrumental entitled "Dancing in the Hog Trough" (a title with an interesting story of its own).



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 05/15/2011 15:18:40

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/15/2011:  15:19:44



quote:


Originally posted by janolov




It is a very nice tune!



I found a tab at  clawhammertab.blogspot.com/ that may make it easier to play the tune.






 Thanks for the tab, Jan - it does make things easier!



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 05/15/2011 15:25:56

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/15/2011:  15:25:06



quote:


Originally posted by maryzcox




Lynn is a really awesome banjoist and performer.  What you can't see in the pix--but what I remember most about her when I saw her play years ago at a festival or two--is not only does she play well--she stands on stage and plays the whole set in high heels !


Not many of the "good old boys" can do that. evil


​Best wishes,


​Mary Z. Cox


maryzcox.com





 I'll have to admit I hadn't noticed that detail. smiley



I went back through my 50+ photos of Lynn's set, but her shoes were obscured by the monitors in every single shot, so I can't report on the footwear issue.  I think I would have even more trouble walking in high heels than I would playing "Old Rip" - I can't imagine trying to do both.  What was it they said about Ginger Rogers - "She did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels."


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/15/2011:  15:27:02



 



Glad you all enjoyed the tune - thanks for your comments!



 



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 05/15/2011 15:27:29

vrteach - Posted - 05/16/2011:  15:48:50



I got a little inspired last Friday, and I decided to post it here. I'm fuzzy on the B part, but I don't mind listening to it.



 




Old Rip

   

J-Walk - Posted - 05/18/2011:  16:10:51



And now for something completely different.



I got inspired yesterday and transposed this tune to G, and play it out of standard G tuning. I took a few liberties with the melody (some to make it easier to play, others are just mistakes). It's also a lot slower, simply because I can't play it any faster yet. The result is a tune that has a completely different feel to it. A bit more laid back?



 




Old Rip

   

ramjo - Posted - 05/18/2011:  16:40:27


That's a keeper, J-Walk. Its got really nice range in G, particularly with the way you go to those high notes in your b-part adaptation. Great job!

J-Walk - Posted - 05/18/2011:  18:04:40



Well thanks, ramjo. It's hardly a keeper, but it does demonstrate a different way to play the tune. I'd like to hear someone who plays better than I do record it in G.



I tried playing it in Double C, but I just couldn't get it going. Not sure why, since Double C is my favorite tuning. But once I figured it out in G, it took on a new life.



 


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 05/19/2011:  03:18:07



It was the opposite for me.  I couldn't find a comfort level in G so I took a crack at it in double C and found that worked for me.  Intriguing...


David McLaughlin - Posted - 05/19/2011:  19:20:13



Lynn Morris RULES!! And her husband is a pretty darn good bare-finger banjo player, too..


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 05/23/2011:  09:13:17



I'm a bit late with this reply, but thanks to Erich and John for posting your versions.  I enjoyed them both, and it's good to have a couple more recordings of "Old Rip" available online (and they are helping me work out my own version).


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