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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 2/10/2012: Spring Creek Gal

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:

J-Walk - Posted - 02/11/2012:  08:37:50

It looks like the TOTW volunteer is a no-show this week, so I just pulled this one out of my hat.

It's Spring Creek Gal (or Girl). I first heard this tune on Bob Carlin's Banging & Sawing CD, and ran across it again more recently on Tracks From the Doghouse, by Old Yeller Dog. It's a simple 8-measure tune (4-measures per part) in D. It's a good jam tune because most people can pick it up after one or two times through. If you're trying to learn to play by ear, this is a good one to work on. Sounds good slow or fast.

From Fiddler's Companion: Old‑Time, Breakdown. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB. James Bryan credits his version of the tune to Al Murphy. Source for notated version: James Bryan with Bob Carlin [Phillips]. Phillips, vol. 2, 1995; pg. 135.

Here's me playing along with the Old Yeller Dog recording -- mediocre playing, and lousy audio.

VIDEO: Spring Creek Gal
(click to view)


aeroweenie - Posted - 02/11/2012:  16:42:58

Lovely tune!   I really like the version done by the Oldyellerdog band (from your youtube link), so I sat down and worked up a version based on Dave Marshall's playing.  Here it is, played on my homemade fretless A-scale, bamboo rim, Nylgut strings:


Spring Creek Gal


JanetB - Posted - 02/11/2012:  18:43:15

Thanks for including my version in your TOTW post.  I learned this tune after a friend shared Banging and Sawing.  We noticed that every song James Bryan fiddles is amazing and I've now learned many of his songs.  I wrote to Al Murphy, given credit for this song, and here's his reply:

"Sunday, March 29, 2009

I learned this tune in the late 70's or early 80's from mandolin player John Purk from Toledo, Iowa. John learned it from a northern Missouri fiddle player named Charlie Truitt. Charlie's grandson Brent Truitt is a mandolin player currently living in Nashville. I think the reason the tune has been associated so strongly with me is that Alabama fiddle player James Brian heard my band, Grasslands, (me, John Purk, Bob Black) jamming on the tune at a festival near Burlington, Iowa in, Seven Ponds Park, in Sept. 1981. James was playing there with Norman and Nancy Blake in The Rising Fawn String Band. James learned it immediately after hearing it one time. He recorded it twice, once in 1985 on Bob Carlin's 'Banging & Sawing' LP, and once in 1988 on James' Ridge Runner Home Lessons tape 'Easy Old Time Tunes,' and he gave me credit for the tune on both of those recordings. I also have a home tape recording of an old fiddle player named Clyde or Clive (I've heard both) Martin from Novinger, MO. from

1978. He just called it 'Spring Creek,' but it's the same tune.There is a Spring Creek west of St. Louis, MO., but I don't know if there is any connection.

We recorded the tune on John Purk's 'Flight to D.C.' CD (John Purk, mandolin; Bob Black, Banjo; Al Murphy, fiddle; Aleta Murphy, bass; Warren

Hanlin, guitar), and do have some for sale, if you are interested. I'm glad that you are learning the tune - it's a good number.


 Al Murphy"



vrteach - Posted - 02/12/2012:  08:41:18

Well, thanks for this tune. I suppose I had heard it before because I have the "banging and sawing" cd, but it had not hit my conciousness nor had I played it. Pretty tune. I've got a version here now, but I guess I drifted a bit from the true tune, perhaps combined it with some "Cindy" tune I have in my head. I may use this in a project that I'm involved with this month.

Edited by - vrteach on 02/12/2012 08:42:02

Spring Creek Gal (or kind of in the area)


majikgator - Posted - 02/12/2012:  11:46:12

Thumbs up

Califiddler - Posted - 02/12/2012:  12:24:00

How can this be 4 measures per part when the A part is 50% longer than the B part? Depending on how you count it, isn't the A part 12 measures and the B part 8, or the A part 6 measures and the B part 4?

J-Walk - Posted - 02/12/2012:  13:36:57

You're right. I confess I don't know much about music. To me, it's just one of those "short" tunes.

BTW, I found another version. I was listening to the Maggots in the Sheep Hide CD, by Carol Denny & Jim Nelson. A familiar tune played and I couldn't quite place it. They call it "Spring Creek."

JanetB - Posted - 02/12/2012:  13:49:22


Originally posted by Califiddler

How can this be 4 measures per part when the A part is 50% longer than the B part? Depending on how you count it, isn't the A part 12 measures and the B part 8, or the A part 6 measures and the B part 4?

 I've noticed that when James Bryan fiddles, as he does with Bob Carlin in Banging and Sawing, his tunes might be crooked or the timing different, as you noticed.  Yet it's so lovely the way he plays it.  He's really one of my favorite all-time fiddlers with his unique artistic sense.  He's been heard to say, "I think this would sound better played slower," and he'll slow a tune down and inject his fluid, easy-feeling style.  I hope more of his fiddle tunes come to our banjo repertoire.

atleson - Posted - 02/12/2012:  15:05:47

for janetb and others:  hope this isn't too far afield, but James Bryan and Carl Jones have a lovely new cd  entitled Cricket's Lullaby.  I don't know where i originally saw the reference, but the order reply came back from Erynn Marshall's email address.



Blackpete - Posted - 02/13/2012:  02:13:47

...or for something a little different:
Actually, it doesn't sound half bad!

MarkRough - Posted - 02/13/2012:  10:04:20

Yikes, sorry about that guys. I was supposed to do the TOTW but have been unexpectedly taking care of a friends house while they're in the hospital. Thanks for covering for me, John. Good choice of tune!

Don Borchelt - Posted - 02/13/2012:  16:18:26

All nice version.  J-Walk does a nice gutsy, throw it down performance to get us started.  Janet is elegant and graceful in her clean, melodic style, great no matter what banjo she is playing.  I would know her picking anywhere. Paul (aeroweenie) does a fine job of picking, very nice.  Nothing "weenie" about it!  Who would have thought bamboo would work out so well?   Eric has drifted off into a fine reverie; it may be somewhat away from the vicinity of Spring Creek, but very nice picking, just the same.

I've added my own throw it down version, below.  I first learned this over twenty years ago from Boston area banjo player Len Katz. Len passed away in 2009. He could be a notorious curmudgeon sometimes, but he knew more tunes than anyone else I ever met, and he was always willing to share them. I sure miss him; it just hasn't been the same around the Boston old time scene since he left us. I always think of him when I play this.  I'm picking my semi-fretless Tubaphone, in open D tuning.

Len Katz (bnjomn)

(1932 - 2009)

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 02/13/2012 16:26:26

VIDEO: Spring Creek Gals
(click to view)


bhniko - Posted - 02/15/2012:  12:52:55

A joy listening to the three versions of Spring Creek Gal and to understand the variety within each player to bring their own interpretations to life. Kudos to all.

LyleK - Posted - 02/16/2012:  06:14:04

This was the second of two weeks running where the original post mentioned that there was an online tab available.  Unfortunately, the nefarious poster of said tab (me!) never actually recorded the tune.  So I am now making amends with the following attachment.

VIDEO: Spring Creek Gal
(click to view)


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