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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW--Dry and Dusty--9/23/2011


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/216339

ramjo - Posted - 09/23/2011:  05:53:05



Tune of the Week, September 23, 2011

"Dry and Dusty"







It's not without irony that a member from the Northeast US chooses this tune in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Sitting near my window earlier this month, watching the pond rise from the relentless rain, I kept thinking of the places in the country that were truly dry and dusty, wishing there was a way to even things out. But, of course, there isn't. Except maybe to play this tune.



"Dry and Dusty" as a title applies to several tunes, but the one I'm referring to this week is the more well-known Missouri version. It's a simple tune, and if you play it in D, double-C banjo tuning capoed up two, it falls into easy position for both left and right hands. It's easy to learn quickly, and I really hope many people will try this tune and post versions in this thread.



The Fiddler's Companion (click here and scroll down) helpfully tells us "the tune was recorded for the Library of Congress from Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, particularly from Arkansas fiddler Lon Jordan (whom Kerry Blech says played the melody in AEae tuning, set in the key of ‘A’). However, it was commercially recorded for Victor Records during the 78 RPM era by Apsie Sherdon Morrison (1876-1964) and Abbie Sherman Morrison (1876-1965), of Searcy County, Arkansas, who were twin brothers and fiddlers." Several collections from County Records include the tune, including 518 (The Morrison Twin Brothers), 724 (Benny Thomasson), and 790 (Brad Leftwich and Linda Higginbothom) which is out of print, but happily available at Gadaya's Times Ain't Like They Used To Be site This last one is paired with a version of "Bonaparte's Retreat," taking a cue from the research that in some opinions the tunes are companion pieces. (Here's Brad doing this medley solo on youtube.)



Contemporary commercial recordings include Colin Vance (on fiddle) with Jason and Pharis Romero on their "Back Up and Push" album (clip), and my favorite, John Hartford and Bob Carlin on "The Fun of Open Discussion" (clip) This is a slow, distinctive version with unison, harmony, and call-and-response phrases--a true conversation between these two masters. (As are all the tunes on this album, to state the obvious.)



Out there in webland, you can hear and watch Mark Ralston play fiddle and banjo on this tune.



And what looks like a family stringband called "Southern By the Grace of God".



Erich (vrteach) has the tune among his recordings on his website.



Here on the hangout, banjohangout.org%2Fmyha...cID%3D3994">mojo_monk has posted a fine version he cites as being from Illinois.

(I looked on your blog, Sean, and see you haven't included it there yet.)



Also, banjohangout.org%2Fmyha...ID%3D17163">Chris Dean offers a version with a third part, which he says "comes from Hampshire County WV and I don't recall ever playing the third part outside the eastern panhandle."



And banjohangout.org%2Fmyha...cID%3D1398">Stev187 posted the tune paired with "Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine."



Mine (below) is a two-track recording--me-on-me--with my Romero strung with Nylguts and my Ome strung with steel. Since there's no fiddler for miles, I'm playing in double-C to get a lower-down sound.



Again, I hope people will work up and/or post their versions. Art Rosenbaum includes a tab in The Art of the Mountain Banjo, so someone might play and post that. (Art says the second part is really the Stella Elam's tune "Jaybird") And please tell info and stories you have relating to this tune.




Dry and Dusty

   

Bisbonian - Posted - 09/23/2011:  06:42:13



That's a fine tune, and some really great versions (a few of which I have in my collection).  I've been in jams a few times where we play this, but it isn't one I know well enough to play without everyone playing around me.  It would be a good one to learn...I especially like your (dual) banjo version.



Edited by - Bisbonian on 09/23/2011 06:43:28

Julian44_4 - Posted - 09/23/2011:  06:57:24



clawhammerbanjotab.co.uk/page2...ge33.html


ELWOOD - Posted - 09/23/2011:  06:58:48


I like your version a lot

blockader - Posted - 09/23/2011:  07:43:57



i love this tune. it was one of the first i ever learned because i read that it was what you played when you wanted someone to bring you a drink haha. no ones brought me a drink yet though. i'll have to try and record my version during nap time later today.



-justin


blockader - Posted - 09/23/2011:  10:49:05



heres mine. i learned it originally from the tab in Ken Perlman's Melodic book, though i believe what i pay now is fairly different from that arrangement. i love the dynamism of yours, Ramjo.



-justin



p.s. slow day for TOTW or what?



Edited by - blockader on 09/23/2011 10:53:52



Dry and Dusty

   

banjo_brad - Posted - 09/23/2011:  11:45:38


I like this tune, also.

Bisbo - we'll have to remember to start calling this one.

vrteach - Posted - 09/23/2011:  12:34:18



Fun tune, and part of a particularly fun family of tunes (Robinson County, Crow Creek, New Five Cent Piece...). My recording listed above was part of a "post yours" topic in the sound off. Before there was a TOTW sometimes someone would post an example of them playing a tune, and invited others to post their versions. It had been years since I had last played Dry & Dusty at that time, so I did a quick search, found the Morrison Brothers version, and used that as a model. The version from that thread that I particularly liked was a nice slower one by the long-absent bassman on his Jeff Menzies gourd banjo. But, the thread is long-gone (older than the BHO archives) and also dated from before one could store tunes on the hangout, so I can't point you to that version.



Nowadays, we seem to usually be playing the Illinois version (here in Illinois) that mojo_monk demonstrates above.



Edited by - vrteach on 09/23/2011 12:38:37

J-Walk - Posted - 09/23/2011:  13:43:44



Good choice, ramjo. Everybody should play this tune.



I've always played it in Double D tuning, but was curious to see how it worked on in G tuning. It works very well as long as you play the A part low and the B part high. Here's my (very rough) take on my John Bowlin 1865, tuned dADF#A. It's in the key of D, and the strings are tuned to the same intervals as standard G tuning.




Dry & Dusty

   

mojo_monk - Posted - 09/23/2011:  14:06:56



Crazy! I was driving to work yesterday with Cyril Stinnett playing this tune and thought, "you know, this would make an excellent TOTW." Great minds . . .



Funny listening to that recording I made back in '07. I don't even have the pony banjo I recorded it with anymore and I definitely don't play it like that these days! Either way, this is one of those tunes that I love to play up at steppy tempos with a fiddler or slow, solo, and greazy with a beer. Just a great tune all around.



By the way, I sure do miss bassman.  Lived next door to him in the dorm during my first tour of duty in college back in 1998-1999. Good dude and an even better banjo player.



But I digress...



I'll try to post some of my favorite fiddle versions of Dry & Dusty in the next day or two.



 



-Sean


ramjo - Posted - 09/23/2011:  14:22:26



This is cool.....a couple of great stories and some more fine versions. Blockader, you sure do make productive use of nap time (I assume you mean your child's nap, but at first I was thinking you meant yours--"how does he do that?") Nice, ornamented playing. Great sound. J-Walk, that's low-down, and I LIKE it! Those slides fit so perfectly. I'm going to have to try this in g-tuning on my fretless. I never attempted it in g-tuning, even after reading that many fiddlers play it in A. mojo_m, I'm glad I was on your wavelength, and I look forward to your postings from your collection. I hope you record a new banjo version yourself so we can hear how you play it nowadays. I'd really like that.



Thank you all for your comments and compliments. I look forward to more comments.



Edited by - ramjo on 09/23/2011 14:22:51

aeroweenie - Posted - 09/23/2011:  18:18:18


Great tune. I first learned a Texas version based on Benny Thomasson's fiddling. It has little in common with the traditional tune so I learned that too.

blockader - Posted - 09/23/2011:  18:26:21



quote:


Originally posted by ramjo




This is cool.....a couple of great stories and some more fine versions. Blockader, you sure do make productive use of nap time (I assume you mean your child's nap, but at first I was thinking you meant yours--"how does he do that?") Nice, ornamented playing. Great sound. J-Walk, that's low-down, and I LIKE it! Those slides fit so perfectly. I'm going to have to try this in g-tuning on my fretless. I never attempted it in g-tuning, even after reading that many fiddlers play it in A. mojo_m, I'm glad I was on your wavelength, and I look forward to your postings from your collection. I hope you record a new banjo version yourself so we can hear how you play it nowadays. I'd really like that.



Thank you all for your comments and compliments. I look forward to more comments.






Recording a tune while you napped would be quite difficult but only slightly more so than Monk and Cyril playing it while they drove to work!

 big



-justin


J-Walk - Posted - 09/23/2011:  18:57:09



quote:


Originally posted by ramjo


Great sound. J-Walk, that's low-down, and I LIKE it! Those slides fit so perfectly. I'm going to have to try this in g-tuning on my fretless. I never attempted it in g-tuning, even after reading that many fiddlers play it in A.






Thanks, but that's just after playing it for about 30 minutes. Crude and sloppy.



I'd really like to hear R.D Lunsford do it some justice on a Bowlin. Are you here, R.D.?


Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/24/2011:  08:13:06



I think Mark's very ancient sounding banjo/fiddle duet is really cool, and I am in awe of his technical ability to produce the split window thing.  Eric always nails the tune just right, and he doesn't disappoint here, great picking.  I love Steve's sparkling version, I remarked on it when he dirst posted it four years ago.  Blockader's picks a nice relaxed version, clear and full, that really suits my mood at the moment.  That Ome sounds really fine.  J-Walk knocks out a nice growley bit of banjo workmanship on that Bowlin, really fine, also, even if he just played it for thirty minutes.  I first learned heard this old Ozark mountain tune at a jam session one night with Ed Britt and banjo picker/park ranger Alex Demas, at Alex's home deep in the woods of Tyngsboro. Alex has run the Lowell Fiddle and Banjo Contest for the last thirty years, an effort which is greatly appreciated. I am picking my semi-fretless tubaphone in open D tuning.  I did about ten takes this morning, and ended up using the first one.  I do have a three-finger tab of this posted at my website, for anyone who may be interested.



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 09/24/2011 08:14:39



VIDEO: Dry and Dusty
(click to view)

   

cbcarlisle - Posted - 09/24/2011:  09:16:40



Ramjo, it's interesting to hear you marching to your own banjo by playing the B part on the downbeat instead of as a pickup. I haven't heard that shift very often in fiddle tunes.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/24/2011:  10:55:58



Gee, somehow I overlooked Ramjo's version.  A fine rendition, marches along smooth as a cat's fur.  I love the way the doubling slides in so subtly.


ramjo - Posted - 09/24/2011:  12:02:40



Thank you Don. Man do I love your version! Speaking of smooth! You definitely get the Jim Reed prize for smoothness today. I like how this tune adapts to various tempos. Sean mentioned that above.



Curt, I tend to square everything off when playing solo. As for the b part here, I probably imprinted it unconsciously from listening to the Hartford-Carlin version where they stretch and play with the timing; the way they play the end of the a-part's last phrase seems to set up the b part to begin immediately. I think I mis-remembered it as happening on the downbeat.



I forgot to thank Julian44_4 for putting up the link to his clawhammer tab, complete with intriguing variations. Definitely worth a look!



Edited by - ramjo on 09/24/2011 12:08:27

Tamarack - Posted - 09/24/2011:  17:47:54


Great tune -- I had heard the same story that a fiddler would play Dry and Dusty when the fiddler wanted someone to pass him the bottle, and the dance wouldn't go on until someone did (if the story isn't true, it oughta be...)

ramjo - Posted - 09/25/2011:  18:56:01



My daughter just turned me on to the fact that Brittany Haas has a recording of this tune on her Myspace page.



Edited by - ramjo on 09/25/2011 18:56:44

J-Walk - Posted - 09/25/2011:  19:37:27



Oh yeah, that Brirrany Haas CD is really good. Another one of those amazing young players.



cdbaby.com/cd/BrittanyHaas



 


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