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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 3/23/12 - June Apple

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:

blockader - Posted - 03/23/2012:  07:24:22

My goal for choosing this week's Tune of the Week was to find something that would get lots of member versions posted because those are always my favorite threads! So after perusing the TOTW index I selected what is probably the most commonly played tune around here and i suspect in a lot of places. I don't think i've ever been to a pickin party or jam where June Apple wasn't played and its always a rollickin good time.

It also has personal meaning for me as my Paw Paw Buck included 2 summer apple trees (which is what we call them in North Georgia, i'm presuming them to be the same thing) when he planted the orchard. They are ripe in late May and are little, acidic apples with not much sweetness but lots of flavor. Folks use them for making preserves and canned apples and for making hard cider and brandy (with added sugar prior to fermentation). Granny didn't allow the last two options by the time i came along but we helped pick them for her to can for later use in that ol' mountain delicacy, Fried Apple Pies. She still makes them on occasion, though she uses the September/October Apples now since they are easier to gather and process.

anyhow, the Fiddler's Companion information on June Apple is fairly brief:

Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA, Virginia. A Mixolydian. Standard or AEae (Tommy Jarrell) tunings. AB (Silberberg): AABB (most versions). A June apple is an early ripening variety of apple, maturing in the spring in the southern United States. It tends to be smaller and more tart then later-ripening apples. Most versions are in the mixolydian mode, although Benton Flippen (b. 1920, Surry Country, N.C.) plays it in A major. The late Mt. Airy, North Carolina, fiddler Tommy Jarrell (b. 1901) sang these words to the 'B' part:

Wish I was a June Apple

Hanging on a tree

Every time my true love passed

She'd take a little bite of me

Joel Shimberg points out that the lyrics to “Train on the Island” scan for the “June Apple” melody and are sometimes sung to it as ‘floating verses.’

The list of versions posted by BHO members, however, is anything but brief, turning up 47 mp3s!

Here are a few for starters:

MrSrubas:">" target="_blank">

Craig Evans and John Grimm:" title="Craig Evans with John Grimm">" target="_blank">

There are also tons of youtube videos, of course. Zepp's version on an Ome Flora is my favorite:

I am really hoping to see a heap of versions posted, so to get the ball rolling, here is my own.



June Apple


derwood400 - Posted - 03/23/2012:  08:07:04

Love this tune.  One of my all time favorite fiddle tunes.  


June Apple Video

oldtimer - Posted - 03/23/2012:  08:08:21

An important version is Wade Ward's, which appeared on County's " CLAWHAMMER BANJO—Volume 1", Originally issued on LP in 1965.

This was the first exposure to many 60's folkies of both Galax and Round Peak clawhammer styles. Speaking for myself, this recording completely changed my banjo life and awakened me to the complex genius of clawhammer in that region. This awakening is still important to me 47 years after I first heard it.

stay tooned....

Glenn Godsey

ScottK - Posted - 03/23/2012:  08:32:44

Great choice, Justin! 

Oddly enough, this tune doesn't get played all that much at picking parties around here.  Don't know why, because it's a great tune.  But a couple weeks ago I had the chance to play for a contra dance with Lisa Ornstein and she ripped it up on this one!  Here's a video of her playing it at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering back in 2010 (last tune in the medley) with Cory Goldman playing banjo:


Adam Kiesling - Posted - 03/23/2012:  12:54:08

I think my favorite version would have to be the one from the Camp Creek Boys:!/search/song...e%20Apple

vrteach - Posted - 03/23/2012:  13:32:37

I think you will meet your goal on this tune. I worked out my version 30 years ago based on the track called "Train on the Island" with delicate banjo by Sara Grey and singing by Joe Hickerson. When I compare what I do with other banjoists, I always feel inadequate on my A part. But it works fine if there are other people leading. So I thought I'd submit a version I recorded using my little Olympus voice recorder at our UIS jam in one of our early sessions, I think in 2007. Mark Mathewson is leading with vocals and mandolin. I'm playing my WL-250, and fairly loud because the recorder was under my chair.

I'll also include a solo version that I recorded in 2006. Often when I'm by myself I'll do it more slowly, like the Hickerson/Grey version that I love so much. But I don't think I've ever let anyone hear that version, other than my wife.

Edited by - vrteach on 03/23/2012 13:34:17

June Apple UIS Jam 2007

June Apple (Train on the Island)

Bisbonian - Posted - 03/23/2012:  15:54:07

One of my favorite songs, as I once played it in a banjo contest, and won!  Didn't hurt that it was in a town known for growing apples, I suppose.  I've listened to lots of versions, picked up a bit here and there from many of them.  I really like a downward slide that Wade Ward did sometimes, and sometimes I remember to throw it in, but I don't think I did in this video:

Chadbanjo - Posted - 03/23/2012:  16:44:10


Originally posted by oldtimer

An important version is Wade Ward's, which appeared on County's " CLAWHAMMER BANJO—Volume 1", Originally issued on LP in 1965.

This was the first exposure to many 60's folkies of both Galax and Round Peak clawhammer styles. Speaking for myself, this recording completely changed my banjo life and awakened me to the complex genius of clawhammer in that region. This awakening is still important to me 47 years after I first heard it.

stay tooned....

Glenn Godsey

This tune rocks man. Really enjoyed listening to different takes of this, always looking to add to my own, but saying that I want my version to sound more like Wades Wards. I know the whole make the tune your own thing, and thats impossible not to do, you can't play anything exact, but close. Some tunes I hear, I just want my versions to sound similar to. Wade Wards is one for sure, rockn.

Anyhow I'll post my go. Turned on the recorded and did one take as if you guys asked to hear me on the spot...almost broke into cripple creek part way through, but caught myself.

Not completely happy with my B part yet, .....Bisbonian plays it closer to what I'd like to figure out.

June Apple


Musicophilia - Posted - 03/23/2012:  19:53:31

Wonderful tune, this is a version that my wife and I recorded ( that is a conglomeration of several versions, Zepp's included.

June Apple


Don Borchelt - Posted - 03/24/2012:  03:16:58

The best TOTW's are the ones that bring everyone out of the woodwork with their own MP3s and videos. And wow, just listen, a whole bunch really fine performances, a whole cornucopia of styles, and it's only dawn on Saturday!  Here's mine. Ed Britt and I recorded this double banjo version about five years ago. Ed is playing clawhammer style on his Ome, in open G tuning, capoed on the second fret; I am three-finger picking on my short scale semi-fretless Paramount, in G Variant tuning, but tuned up a whole step (aEABE). 

- Don Borchelt

June Apple


Bill H - Posted - 03/24/2012:  04:06:16

So many great renditions. I humbly offer mine.

June Apple


Bisbonian - Posted - 03/24/2012:  06:31:21

Don, you and Ed Britt always blow me away.  There's just a magical interaction between two banjos playing in different styles...and you two have mastered it.  It reminds me of another duo, here in Arizona, that do something similar.  Here is their (Fred Coon and Bill Burke's) version:  It reminds me that I've stolen a little bit from them, too.

And heck, since I'm back, to edit this, (why can't I ever remember to make a link a link in this format?), I'll throw in a clawhammer guitar experiment from several years ago:

Back again!  Don, my partner REALLY likes your version, especially the pace.  I have to agree, one thing that really sets your versions apart is that so-relaxed, casual pace that the two of you play.  It's so easy to go faster!  But it sounds SO GOOD to make it relaxed.

Edited by - Bisbonian on 03/24/2012 06:42:58

rickhayes - Posted - 03/24/2012:  10:27:30

Don, I second Bisbonian's remarks.  You and Ed give us some of the most pleasurable listening on the BHO.

blockader - Posted - 03/24/2012:  13:03:47

y'all should really make a record, Don.

lots of great versions so far, keep em comin!


Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/24/2012:  16:36:06

I'm really glad you chose this particular Tune of the Week, blockader. It's one I've been tempted to do as a TOTW for a while, but hadn't gotten around to yet, because I had this foolish idea of playing a whole bunch of different versions that I do in slightly different tunings. The plan was too ambitious, and I never actually started the recording, so I'm very happy to have the impetus to record one of them, at least. This version is in dAEAE, which I find emphasizes the "modal" character of the tune.

It's played here on a wonderful banjo that I just acquired from BHO member David Emery, which has a 10" Tubaphone pot from 1922 wedded to a marvelous new neck by Dan Knowles. It's a stunning banjo, and I can't keep my hands off it. This is the first time I've recorded with it.

Here's the tune on YouTube:



And here's the same thing, in the smaller version on my Hangout Page:

Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 03/24/2012 16:38:07

VIDEO: JUNE APPLE - Marc Nerenberg, March 2012
(click to view)


DEmery - Posted - 03/24/2012:  17:03:41

Marc I am glad to see the little Vega in your hands and sounding great. Enjoyed the tune and hope you continue to enjoy it. David E.

Edited by - DEmery on 03/24/2012 17:04:12

J-Walk - Posted - 03/24/2012:  17:25:28

June Apple is a staple at the Tucson jams. If we're playing in A, there's a 90% chance we'll do June Apple. 

Here's a recording from the most recent jam, recorded by Banjo Brad -- and snagged from his web site:


June Apple


JanetB - Posted - 03/24/2012:  20:04:44

Great thread, Justin.  I'm out-of-town until later this week, so I thought I'd try my first video and had to use a mini banjo tuned to open C.  It ends up being played in D.  This version is meant to be played in the key of A using open G tuning.  It's in one of Eddie Collin's book presented as an exercise to learn to play without re-tuning or using a capo.   I'm at my childhood home with my 91-year old mother.  No June apples here, but she's got fresh lemons and oranges right now.


Edited by - JanetB on 03/24/2012 20:09:45

VIDEO: June Apple
(click to view)


Kitt - Posted - 03/24/2012:  21:24:26

Wade Ward's June Apple was one of the more demonstrable inspirations to me picking up on clawhammer banjo. I think it was partly the eloquent  simplicity Ward brought to the tune that really attracted my interest. I'm sorry to say that I don't have recording tools with which to post a version of myself playing June Apple,or any other tune. I've enjoyed listening to all of the renditions that you all have shared.

I play two versions of the tune. One version is based mostly on the playing of Tom Joad. The other version that I play has turned out to be one of my favorites of all of the tunes that I've learned, because I've gotten a lot of nuance into the playing of it. I guess that's partly because I like the tune so well that it has sunk into my musical instincts. That version is based on the playing of R.D Lunceford.

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/25/2012:  10:59:57

This Tommy Jarrell fiddle version on the Slippery Hill website is really worth a listen:

(It's got a good banjo part on there as well, but I don't know who's playing the banjo.)

Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 03/25/2012 11:01:11

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 03/25/2012:  12:33:06


Originally posted by Marc Nerenberg

This Tommy Jarrell fiddle version on the Slippery Hill website is really worth a listen:

(It's got a good banjo part on there as well, but I don't know who's playing the banjo.)

 I think that there's two banjo's Fred Cockerham in the background and Oscar Jenkins is the more prominent  less usual but wonderful sound.

One my all time favourite versions of this tune is by BHO's Fretless in Texas it's on his homepage


SCclawman - Posted - 03/25/2012:  16:24:39

I love this song! Great TOTW going on here. I've enjoyed listening to all of the versions.

Here is my take recorded a month or so ago. June Apple is the first song, and then Boatman follows it.

June Apple / Boatman


John D - Posted - 03/26/2012:  08:11:29

Great tune and great versions!  I play it in double D.

June Apple


Kitt - Posted - 03/26/2012:  08:54:21


Originally posted by John D

Great tune and great versions!  I play it in double D.

Fbombin' awesome.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 03/28/2012:  09:47:14

Some dang fine picking showing up here.  Time to practice.

stigandr5 - Posted - 03/28/2012:  16:21:29

I did this version not too long ago. I think I have the honor of being the first canjoist to put up a version!


Following Marc's lead, here's the tiny version too:


VIDEO: "June Apple" N.A. Wendte Fretless, Clawhammer Canjo
(click to view)


Bisbonian - Posted - 03/28/2012:  16:58:35

That is by far the best canjo version of June Apple I have ever heard!

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/28/2012:  17:20:00


Originally posted by Bisbonian

That is by far the best canjo version of June Apple I have ever heard!

That's 'cuz Nathan is one heckova great canjoist!

Mark Johnson - Posted - 03/29/2012:  08:27:08

Gawrsh... I'd been off-Hangout for a bit, and look what I almost missed.  This thread is a treasure trove!  I'm floored by how many very creative and original takes there are on this well-worn tune.  



It's one of the first I learned, and possibly the tune I've played the most.  Accordingly, I do all kinds of different things with it.  I tossed together a few examples, I hope you enjoy them.

junE applE is in the key of E, played out of double C capo 4.  I saw and super-dig JohnD's double-D version.  Makes me a bit ambivalent about posting mine.  But here goes anyway.

The other I've titled "Apples Ad Nauseum", a title I applied the last time I tried something like this.  I just go all out, kitchen sink, silly with the tune, doing anything I please.  Notes ONLY on the backbeat?  Sure, let's try it.  A Bb major chord in a G major tune?  Why not*.  It's a bit much, and I haven't been playing enough to make it clean and nice, but hopefully you'll get at least a morsel of enjoyment out of it.


junE applE

Apples Ad Nauseum

Mark Johnson - Posted - 03/29/2012:  09:25:59

Forgot the footnote:

* the Bb chord started once many moons ago when an authority on the subject said there were rules in OT music, for example there is no Bb chord in June Apple. If I'm recalling correctly, I looked over at Steve Srubas, who had a cuckoo look on his face, and we worked a Bb chord into June Apple over some PBRs later. Or maybe we just had the PBRs and the rest is faulty memory.

SCclawman - Posted - 03/29/2012:  11:20:47

Mark, you always impress me. Don't disappear for so long next time. Really glad to hear your recording of this as it always encourages me to practice more and get better! I loved both versions. 


ZEPP - Posted - 03/29/2012:  17:14:04

Man, Mark, it just don't get any better.  Phenomenal.



Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/29/2012:  17:37:51

"Apples ad Nauseum" is really great!

And it don't cause no nauseum at all!

My stomach feels jest fine, thanks.

rubicon - Posted - 03/29/2012:  19:37:19

Great version Mark quite an inspiration !

Joe Newberry - Posted - 03/31/2012:  15:22:08

Here is my pal Jim Collier and myself playing the June Apple....

stigandr5 - Posted - 03/31/2012:  15:34:17

Mark and Joe,

Real fine versions!

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 03/31/2012:  15:52:55


Originally posted by Joe Newberry

Here is my pal Jim Collier and myself playing the June Apple....

 Amazing, you make that look so effortless

atleson - Posted - 03/31/2012:  15:53:54

Joe:  outstanding playing as always.  Best,  it's been too long,



Joe Newberry - Posted - 03/31/2012:  16:49:01

Jim, come back to Augusta, and we'll pick June Apple!

Chip Booth - Posted - 04/01/2012:  15:22:46

Well, this version doesn't include any clawhammer banjo but I did learn to play it three finger style.  I play all the instruments on this, and recorded it about 5 years ago.


June Apple


SCclawman - Posted - 04/02/2012:  06:44:32


That's a great recording of some great pickin! Really enjoyed it. You are very talented.

majikgator - Posted - 04/02/2012:  13:09:16

We start our little jam with this tune about half the time, i play a slight variation on Wade Ward's version. i learned the Wade Ward version from Mac Benford which i believe is about note for note the same as Bob Carlin's transcription in the Carlin/Levenson Banjo Masters series book.

Some really interesting versions here, i liked JanetB's version on that little GT Plucky, a really interesting sound. All were good. .

However you play it, it's a classic - great pick.

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