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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW July 15, 2011 - Whoa Mule/Kicking Mule

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:

Califiddler - Posted - 07/14/2011:  10:13:34

I’m doing this a day early because I have the time in my schedule right now.

The TOTW this week is the song known as “Whoa Mule” or “Kicking Mule”.

I believe that I first heard this song on Art Rosenbaum’s “Art of the Mountain Banjo” – on vinyl, of course, although I now have it on CD as well.  Art uses it to demonstrate the 4 basic styles of old-time banjo: up-picking (Seeger style), downpicking (clawhammer), 2-finger picking and 3-finger picking.

I don’t have a way to link to Art’s version, but if someone else can link it that would be great.

On banjo, it’s usually played in the key of C and in C standard tuning: gCGBD.  That’s where Art plays it.  I play it in the same key and tuning, pure bum-ditty.

Some versions, like Art’s, have just the I and V chords.  Some add the IV chord.

This version, from Tom Paley and Peggy Seeger, sticks to the I and V chords:


This version, from the Andy Griffith Show, is in G, includes the IV chord (C), and features the Kentucky Colonels, then known as the Country Boys:


There used to be a video on youtube from Merlefest, with Doc Watson playing it on banjo with some other folks, but I can’t find it now. 

Here is more information on the song than you would ever want to know:


I love this song for the powerful simplicity, and also for the hilarious lyrics.  I love the line “the more I asked her to marry me, the harder she did (sc)rub”.  Cracks me up every time I sing it.

I like to torture my kids by asking them if this is the greatest song ever.  They usually respond that it’s the worst song ever.  It may not be the best, but it sure is great.  Hope you enjoy it. 

RatLer - Posted - 07/14/2011:  12:19:03

..."Never marry an old man, tell you the reason why......his lips are all tobaccer stained and he never zips his fly".....


Yep, no of the greatest..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

picKen - Posted - 07/14/2011:  15:32:08

Yep, fun tune for sure!  I'm familiar with the Andy Griffith version.  Ratler (see above) has a great version in the jukebox as well.  Check it out.

TOTW - Posted - 07/15/2011:  15:33:40

J.E. Mainer & the Mountaineers -

Mainer Band -

Alan Lomax, Peggy Seeger, Guy Carawan, John Cole & Sammy Stokes -

Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas -

Camp Creek Boys -

Chubby Parker -

Al Clauser -

Hobbie Whitener -

Adam Tanner & Franke Lee -

Art Rosenbaum -

Arthur Tanner -

Clarence Ashley & Tex Isley -

Clint Howard, Fred Price & their sons -

Grandpa Jones -

Lee Sexton -

The Hill Billies - &

The Skillet Lickers -

Tom Ashley -

Uncle Dave Macon -

Walter Hensley -

Yadkin County Ramblers -


SWCooper - Posted - 07/15/2011:  15:59:19

Ha! I was pecking around with this tune today. I used to love this song until Raymond Fairchild's hotdog performance intimidated the bejesus out of me.  Funny -- meaning no disrespect to an amazing skill -- but I don't even much like his version.

majikgator - Posted - 07/16/2011:  09:12:07

Hard song not to like

banjo_brad - Posted - 07/16/2011:  13:13:37

This is one of the first songs I attempted to record back around 2006 or so. I learned my version from Art's "Art of the Mountain Banjo," and it's been one of my favorite songs ever since.

Here's my attempt at it: Kicking Mule

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