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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW Indian Nation


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/240093

JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2012:  06:34:30



Indian Nation is this week’s TOTW.   Its history goes back to the Hammons family of West Virginia, but it was after hearing Adam Hurt’s gourd banjo version on his Earthtones CD that I became interested.  With 12-year old Victor Furtado’s post on BHO  I knew somebody else was equally inspired.



 



The Tune of the Week forum encourages research, so I sought the sources of Indian Nation through contact with Dwight Diller, Alan Jabbour, Bruce Molsky, Adam Hurt, Dan Gellert, and David Hyatt.  BHO member Yigal Zan located the three older fiddle versions, with #400 from Burl Hammons being the subject of this discussion:  slippery-hill.com/M-K/  The Slippery Hill site is an independent site from the Milliner-Koken fiddle tunes collection and is most helpful in providing easy access to listening to the tune sources.  Numbers 398 and 399 are also called Indian Nation, played by the great fiddlers Ernie Carpenter and Ed Haley, but differ in one part, discussed below in the Fiddlers Companion.



 



                



                     Burl Hammons and his sister Maggie Hammons



Dwight Diller and Alan Jabbour credit the song to West Virginian Burl Hammons.  A story of an “Indian Nation” is told at the beginning of a 77 page on-line article/interview with Dwight Diller,  Alan Jabbour and Carl Fleischhauer:   The Hammons Family, A Study of a West Virginia Family's Traditions    In it Maggie Hammons (1899 – 1987) and her brother, Burl, relate how their great-grandfather’s family was in Kentucky, but had to escape the "Indian Nation" around Whitley, Kentucky.  There were only two white families and they’d been befriended by an old Indian and his grandson.  During one if his many visits, the old Indian shared a dream about receiving the white man's gun and said that Indian dreams always came true.  Out of fear Mr. Hammons gave him the gun, but later concocted a dream of his own that he was to receive back his gun, as well as a pony.  So the old Indian had to give it back along with a pony.  When the Indian continued visiting, his troubling silence finally became a confession that the Indian tribe was going to plan a massacre against them.  The two families rapidly left Kentucky and went to Virginia.   Whether this story is the source for the song title is an interesting question.



 



 Alan Jabbour’s album Sandy’s Fancy with his Hollow Rock String Band in the 70’ credits Indian Nation to Burl Hammons.  Here’s what Alan says on the tune:  “I’ve said for years that I learned ‘Indian Nation’ from Burl Hammons… I learned it directly from him…You’re probably aware that it’s in a special tuning of the fiddle, where the E-string is tuned down to D, and I sometimes teach it in fiddle classes as a simple but lovely example of retuning the fiddle for special effect. The tune, as you know, is in the key of G, and the lowered string gives the fiddler the opportunity to double the D on two strings at once (this is called a ‘unison’) to emphasize it more.”



 



Dwight Diller, who spent a lot of quality time with the Hammons, as well as recording them, made a 1983 cassette recording called ‘Fiddle Tunes of Burl Hammons’ with Indian Nation on it, though it appears to be out of print.  He believes that tunes should be learned from their original source and has strong feelings about how the music should sound.  He wrote, “Our old mountain music is drawing its last breaths and it is hard to see such beautiful, powerful, but fragile music dying such a slow death.”  For him the Hammons Family music represents an entire culture and way of life.



 



There are two Indian Nations in Stacy Phillips’ book Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, Volume 1.  I’m focusing on Indian Nation 2, but because of the following references to Dan Gellert’s version and Walt Koken’s reference to the Hammons family recordings, here’s information from the Fiddlers Companion on both versions:



                                                                                       



 INDIAN NATION [1]. Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major. Standard. AABB. The melody is similar to "Paddy on the Turnpike." Source for notated version: Owen "Snake" Chapman [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 1, 1994; pg. 118. June Appal 0067, Roan Mountain Hilltoppers - "Seedtime on the Cumberland" (1992). Marimac 9038, Dan Gellert & Brad Leftwich - "A Moment in Time." Rounder CD 0397, Scott Nygaard - "Dreamer's Waltz" (1996). Rounder CD 0371, Mac Bendord and the Woodshed All-Stars - "Willow" (1996. Learned from Walt Koken, who claimed to have had it from West Virginia's Hammons Family).



INDIAN NATION [2]. Old-Time, Breakdown. G Major. GDAD. AA'BB'. A vague resemblance in the 'A' part to version #1. Source for notated version: Bruce Molsky [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 1, 1994; pg. 118.



Bruce Molsky is credited with Indian Nation 2, above, and says:  “I never recorded Indian Nation, but have played it for years. My version is kind of an evolution of others played by old Kentucky fiddlers, but mostly it's how we played it around Rockbridge County, VA when I lived there in the 1970's.  Plank Road Stringband did record it that way on their first LP, re-released a few years back on FRC label.”  



 



Dan Gellert and Brad Leftwich’s recording of Indian Nation, also noted above, is downloadable on an on-line source for their 1993 cassette with Linda Higginbotham titled  A Moment in Time.   According to the liner notes, Brad learned this tune from Walt Koken of the Highwoods String Band, and Walt recorded it solo on his Hei-Wa Hoedown CD.  Dan’s source was Martha Burns.  Dan and Brad’s version sounds like Indian Nation 2, resembling the original Burl Hammons recording found in the Milliner-Koken collection.



Adam Hurt’s Indian Nation in Earthtones on a gourd banjo is, in my opinion, a true work of art, so I asked him about it.  He says:  “To tell you the truth, I cannot recall my precise source for this tune; rather, it feels like one that I have just always known.  Burl Hammons' setting is the primary-source version that sounds the most familiar to me, but I did not learn the tune straight from his recording. Similarly, I have enjoyed the more modern recordings of this version by Brad Leftwich & Dan Gellert (on their ‘Moment in Time’ album) as well as by Walt Koken (on one of his solo banjo CDs), but I likewise was already familiar with the tune before hearing either of these takes on it.  Sorry to be so vague; a handful of tunes are simply like this for me, just a part of my consciousness for as long as I can remember!”    



 



You can hear him on an Eastman Whyte Laydie banjo:  Adam Hurt video playing Indian Nation    In addition, he says, “A minute-and-a-half preview of the CD track on Earthtones can be heard through the iTunes store, along with a considerably shorter preview on CD Baby.”  He graciously would have made a video with the gourd banjo, but doesn’t have the banjo with him at the present time.



David Hyatt, who made the gourd banjo Adam plays, says: "Adam’s rendition of Indian Nation draws sounds from that banjo I never thought possible. It's often set to ‘repeat’ on my iPod!  Adam takes the gourd banjo to new levels…The strings were nylgut. The head is goat skin.  This banjo was made from a Bottle Gourd grown in a mold - it is flat on the top and bottom,…grown by Don Mellon in Mountain View, Arkansas.  This is a special banjo made with a tiger wood neck and snakewood overlay. The 26 inch scale neck separates from the dowel stick to form a ‘travel banjo’ about 27” long.”  David says that he’s a “promoter” of gourd banjos and doesn’t sell them.  Below is a picture of it.  More information is on his website:  dhyatt.com  (Did you catch Mr. Mellon’s name as it relates to the gourds he grows?!)



 



Here’s an Indian Nation video with a good Buckbee banjo view:



Banjo and fiddle split screen video



 



This is Victor Furtado’s BHO clawhammer post (linked correctly now):



hangoutstorage.com/jukebox.asp...D%3D25083 



 



 



 



Next, from the French Village Chavignot (famous for its cheese) with Bob Willoughby calling and fiddling:



Square dance to Indian Nation



 



 



Ken Perlman included a clawhammer tab in the July, 1991 issue of Banjo Newsletter, but had no information in his article other than it was a “very interesting southern tune.”  (The article was called “Nail Wars” and was about his strengthening process for his clawhammer nail.)  I couldn't find any other tabs for Indian Nation.



 



My versions are clawhammer, based on Burl Hammons, and 3-finger picking, based on Adam Hurt’s clawhammer in the Earthtones CD,  played in the key of G.



 



If you have further information about Indian Nation, please pass it on.  If you have a version or tab,  please post it.  And if you haven’t listened to Adam Hurt’s version on Earthtones with the David Hyatt gourd banjo and produced by BHO member Paul Roberts, I highly recommend it. 



Edited by - JanetB on 07/07/2012 12:38:30



Indian Nation (CH)


Indian Nation clawhammer tab


Indian Nation


Indian Nation 3-finger tab


David Hyatt's Bottle Gourd Banjo

   

ramjo - Posted - 07/06/2012:  07:05:31



Wow, Janet. You certainly have raised the standard for research in the TOTW. Such a fine job. Impeccable writing too. Oh, and your banjo playing is pretty durn good as well. (But we knew that already.) Thanks for a most enlightening and enjoyable post.



-Robert


janolov - Posted - 07/06/2012:  07:17:26



Today is my last working day before the vacation, and this TOTW seems to give the vacation a good start.


blockader - Posted - 07/06/2012:  07:40:03



What a write up, Janet! And both your versions sound awesome. Sure wish i had time to work on this and get a version up, i've faked along to it once at a jam and thought it was a cool tune. I assumed the title came from what people used to call the area that is now Oklahoma, "The Indian Nations" or just "The Nations," where the government removed (mostly) the eastern tribes to.

 



-justin


rickhayes - Posted - 07/06/2012:  07:45:34



Couldn't decide which one of your versions I liked best Janet.  Different but both very good.


kmwaters - Posted - 07/06/2012:  08:00:26



You are reminding me of the great Hank Thompson.  He liked to sing about Indians.  "Way Down Yonder In The Indian Nation I lost my pony on the reservation - something like that.  Then he had that goofy jingle he called "ooga mooga mushka" or however it was spelled.  Flashbacks.


AZJohnB - Posted - 07/06/2012:  08:35:09



I believe the Hank Thompson tune mentioned is "Oklahoma Hills"  popularized by Woody Guthrie.  A much different tune.


JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2012:  08:54:56



The part of this song that gives me the feeling of an Indian tribe is in the B part, when it slides up to the D note.  It adds a feeling that might accompany an exciting announcement, as if to a village during a busy morning.  The two families in the Indian nation story got along well for a long while with their Indian neighbors. 



You can see how fiddle tune titles work in my mind.


bhniko - Posted - 07/07/2012:  08:50:53


Surprising what one finds just by poking around. Wonderful shot of the double gourd banjo we chatted about. Would love to hear more music
on the that banjo. Being one of those three fingerers I have now become bipartisan by voting for the clawhammer version. Thought it might
be the different volumes at which they were recorded but even boosting the volume up the three fingered version I have to fessup that the
clawhammer version wins by an ear. Possibly it is because that the slide is more pronounced in the clawhammer.
And...I enjoyed being in your classroom and getting a great lesson on 'Indian Nation'.

smellyoldfatguy - Posted - 07/07/2012:  12:02:17



Hey Janet.  Victor's dad here. Thanks for all your effort on this! Jeesh what a lot of research!



Thought I would let you know that for some reason when I attempt to go to Victor's post and mp3 through the link you posted, the juke box comes up, but with no sound!?? Thought I would try this direct link to see if it works.



 



Tom



 



hangoutstorage.com/jukebox.asp...D%3D25083


JanetB - Posted - 07/07/2012:  12:46:58



Thanks, Tom.  How commendable that your kids all play banjo, and better than you, you say?  Victor was able to capture Adam's fluid, mellow tone and rhythm.  Very nice!  A 12-year old learning the beautiful old-time tunes is holding the torch for us.



As for my mega-research, gosh! it's so fun.  I think of someone like Mike Seeger who was impassioned with lifelong learnin-from-the-source.  Alan Jabbour is still active like this, as is Ken Perlman, and so many others.


JanetB - Posted - 07/07/2012:  12:50:14



quote:


Originally posted by bhniko




Surprising what one finds just by poking around. Wonderful shot of the double gourd banjo we chatted about. Would love to hear more music on that banjo.






 Thanks for tuning in, Richard.  Adam Hurt's Earthtones CD is solo gourd banjo, highly recommended listening.



Edited by - JanetB on 07/07/2012 12:52:23

Kitt - Posted - 07/07/2012:  12:52:05



Nice tune and playing of it, Janet. Nicely put together tab too.



While I'm replying to this post, I can't help but ask and encourage you to please post - when ready - your version of Black-Eyed-Suzie that you've been working on based on the Chicken Train/John Herrmann version.


JanetB - Posted - 07/08/2012:  13:01:20



Hi Kitt,  I'm including here a link you put in my other post called "Older than minstrel" where Adam Hurt was also included, due to the gourd banjo, which is the same banjo as in Indian Nation.  Your link is to Paul Roberts' interview with Adam and you say to go to page three for Adam's comments about tone.  It's interesting and unique, and I also hope that readers here will find a way to listen to the Earthtones version of Indian Nation, as the tone is remarkable.



banjocrazy.com/articles/ah_insp1.shtml 


YorkshireWannabeOldTimer - Posted - 07/08/2012:  16:42:44



Lovely tune, great write-up and marvelous versions posted! I've attempted a version myself: some clumsy playing follows but I've greatly enjoyed having a go. Many thanks for an excellent TOTW and for introducing me to the tune.




Indian Nation

   

rickhayes - Posted - 07/09/2012:  12:35:01



I didn't hear anything clumsy YWOT.  Nice addition to the thread.


JanetB - Posted - 07/10/2012:  04:45:07



I also like the new version posted by YorkshireWannabeOldTimer (got a shorter name?).  Looking at his picture, it really took me to a rocking chair on a cabin porch.  Nice picking by ear.



I was thinking about Justin's comment in assuming that the Cherokees were in Oklahoma, and not in Kentucky, after the Trail of Tears in 1837.  The incident with the Hammons family and the Indians in Kentucky happened after that.  Though no date is given, the family's birth records mentioned in the Diller/Jabbour/Fleischhauer article/interview indicate that it probably happened in the 1840's.  These Indians were very possibly Cherokees who had escaped the government round-up and removal.  The territory is rugged, wooded, and mountainous and to survive there you had to have keen woodsman skills.  The white families hunted, trapped, collected ginseng, and logged.  Someone who knows more history could probably comment on the Indians who remained as the pioneers kept moving in.



Any thoughts on Indian Nation and the Hammons family?


YorkshireWannabeOldTimer - Posted - 07/10/2012:  05:07:32



Many thanks! I've no further info on the Hammons's but all the background to this tune is really interesting. I'm sorely lacking in woodsman skills myself but the thought of the tune's historical connections can at least add an imaginative dimension to playing the tune.



 



Dominic



Edited by - YorkshireWannabeOldTimer on 07/10/2012 05:10:08

LyleK - Posted - 07/10/2012:  07:16:24



quote:


Originally posted by JanetB




Whether this story is the source for the song title is an interesting question.






John C. Scherpf's "African Quadrilles" arranged for Piano Forte (late 1840's?) has a tune in F-major called "Indian Nation."  (see levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/lev...range=1-1) The tune seems to be completely unlike the fiddle tunes, but the title may be a "floater" applied to anything that has a presumed "Indian sound" to it.


JanetB - Posted - 07/10/2012:  09:07:37



Here's what the Hammons say in their interview about composing their many fiddle tunes.  Because they say many were written in Kentucky, it would explain how fiddlers like Ed Haley and Ernie Carpenter also played a version of Indian Nation (#398, 399 in Slippery Hill).



______________________ The Music



Just as the Hammonses think of the family's origins in connection with the frontier and the story of the escape from the Indians, they see the frontier as the place where their music was created.



Burl: Yes sir, they made all them old tunes—them old pieces, they made up—



Maggie: Now they made 'em up and named 'em.



James: And made words to 'em.


 


Burl: Yeah, they originated away back down there in Kentucky, from where they was borned and raised, a batch of 'em, they made a lot of them tunes and brought 'em here to this country. Now there's where all—


 


James: Yes sir.


 


Burl: —the better part of all of 'em originated from, if you want to know the truth.


 


James: Big Sandy River—Catlettsburg—down in Kentucky.


. Burl: Yes sir. In Kentucky and down around there. James: Brought 'em all up and into this country.



Dwight: Well.



Burl: Yes sir, now. There's where they originated from—all them old tunes that you hear.



James: Oh, yes sir. That "Stony Point," and it's got—



Burl: Made 'em up and—and played 'em, you see.



James: Yeah. According to Maggie, other songs were written in West Virginia.



Maggie: "The Lonesome Pines" was made right over here on Cherry. Yessir.



 



Edited by - JanetB on 07/10/2012 09:08:54

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 07/10/2012:  09:18:44



quote:


Originally posted by JanetB




I also like the new version posted by YorkshireWannabeOldTimer (got a shorter name?).  Looking at his picture, it really took me to a rocking chair on a cabin porch.  Nice picking by ear.



I was thinking about Justin's comment in assuming that the Cherokees were in Oklahoma, and not in Kentucky, after the Trail of Tears in 1837.  The incident with the Hammons family and the Indians in Kentucky happened after that.  Though no date is given, the family's birth records mentioned in the Diller/Jabbour/Fleischhauer article/interview indicate that it probably happened in the 1840's.  These Indians were very possibly Cherokees who had escaped the government round-up and removal.  The territory is rugged, wooded, and mountainous and to survive there you had to have keen woodsman skills.  The white families hunted, trapped, collected ginseng, and logged.  Someone who knows more history could probably comment on the Indians who remained as the pioneers kept moving in.



Any thoughts on Indian Nation and the Hammons family?






 



Around 1,000 of the Cherokee managed to avoid the forced removal to Oklahoma, by either evading or assisting the soldiers, or because they lived on private property already owned by whites (the Indian Removal Act applied only to those on communal tribal land).  Their descendants today make up the 13,000 member Eastern Band of Cherokee, a federally recognized tribe in North Carolina  (the two other federally recognized Cherokee tribes are in Oklahoma).



 


JanetB - Posted - 07/10/2012:  12:59:34



This photo of Burl Hammons taken by Dwight Diller shows the dense woods that probably made it possible for the Indians to hide and avoid removal by the soldiers.  The photo also impresses me with the woodsman skills that it took for pioneers to survive.  The music they enjoyed must have been a most welcome relief and entertainment from their daily work.  It gives a different context to the title Indian Nation when I think of those woods as their "nation."   it    I




Burl Hammons in the woods

   

YorkshireWannabeOldTimer - Posted - 07/10/2012:  15:39:04



To add another interesting Kentucky recording, the Digital Library of Appalachia has a recording of an 'Indian Nation' played by Hiram Stamper, reporting that the relevant tune is also known in eastern Kentucky as 'Betty Baker' (although there's another different tune called 'Betty Baker' played by Stamper on the site too): dla.acaweb.org/cdm/singleitem/...135/rec/1 .  


JanetB - Posted - 07/10/2012:  17:15:05



Thanks, Dominic, for the addition of another legendary Kentucky fiddler to the Indian Nation collection.  Hiram Stamper's A part, along with Ed Haley, Ernie Carpenter, and others who played "Indian Nation 1" is similar to Burl Hammon's B part.  Its melody is quite distinctive, where it slides up and holds a note for a whole measure.  The song certainly must have traveled.  Ed Haley, Ernie Carpenter, and Burl Hammons are from West Virginia and we know that the Hammons family was first in Kentucky before moving to West Virginia.  When tunes are learned by ear, they tend to evolve and change from one fiddler to another.  This must have happened with Indian Nation.


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