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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW - Elzic's Farewell 8/31/12


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/244019

blockader - Posted - 08/30/2012:  20:16:16



This is a hell of a tune. It is one of my personal favorites and a very common inclusion in pickin circles in these parts and, I suspect, in others areas as well. Elzic’s Farewell is one of those groovy tunes that can go on forever and still be fun to be play the next time around. It goes over especially well with audiences as it has a unique and engaging character, haunting but lively. It also works very well for circle dances and really gets the dancers goin.



I learned it from friend and local fiddler, Russell McCumber.  His band recently recorded it with a “new time” kinda feel as part of their latest album: thecorduroyroad.bandcamp.com/t...-farewell .



There are a good many permutations of Elzic’s Farewell but the melody is generally very similar across versions. They vary mainly in the inclusion, order, and repetition of the parts. It is usually a 3 part tune but some folks square it off into 2 parts and others play the parts in various orders. Here is an excellent and representative full band version: youtube.com/watch?v=92L1m2ktHKE . Notice they play the standard 3 parts but mix them around a bit. AABBCC is the most common order, I believe.



Heres a 10 year old fiddling it with some nice banjo as well: youtube.com/watch?v=ghzD-zLPXI...e=related . If theres a better inducement to get your kids a fiddle I don’t what it might be!



As far as origin goes, there are two competing stories. Fiddler’s Companion sheds some light:



ELZIC'S FAREWELL [1]. Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA, W.Va. A Dorian (Am). AEae or Standard tunings. ABB (Phillips, Reiner & Anick): AABB (Phillips). AABBCC (Brody, Songer): ABCBABC (Krassen). This tune has been described as “an old bagpipe tune” from the repertoire of W.Va. fiddler French Carpenter who stated his ancestor (the Elzic or Elzick of the title) played the melody as a farewell before marching off to fight in the Civil War. Elzic went missing in the conflict and never returned, but the tune survived and entered local tradition as "Elzic's Farewell." Wilson Douglas, a younger fiddler distantly related to his mentor French Carpenter (his grandfather and Carpenter’s father Saul were half-brothers), thought that Elzic was from Wood County, W.Va. In fact, this is a bit of fanciful embroidery on the part of Douglas and/or Carpenter. The tune’s origins have been researched by Jim Comstock of Richwood, W.Va., and were published by him in the West Virginia Songbag (1974). The tune was actually written by one Harvey G. Elswick who was born in Pike County, Kentucky in 1838, and who did serve in a unit from that state during the Civil War. After that conflict Elswick returned to Pike County, but in 1875 he and his family removed to Kanawha County, West Virginia, to live on 80 acres in Malden and Elk districts, and it was there that he wrote the melody now known as “Elsic’s Farewell” in April, 1889. Harvey lived on until 1915 and was buried at the Elswick Cemetary at Quick, Kanawha County. Comstock cites the researches of a descendent, the Rev. Albert Elswick of Wallkill, New York, into the Elswick family and finds that Harvey Elswick played the tune at the request of his mother, who was on her deathbed. Complying with her request to "play his fiddle for her once more before she died," Elswick was inspired to play the tune as his farewell. Wilson Douglas plays the tune in standard tuning.



So either a civil war soldier’s final farewell to home or a civil war veteran’s eulogy to his mother, it’s a good story either way.



Theres a tab in the BHO archive: banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...p;v=15709 but this is a pretty easy tune to get the gist of by ear. Its probably best learned by ear anyhow since you will encounter so much variety when playing it with different people.



A search of the BHO music files nets more than a few examples; I hope some will get posted by TOTW participants.



Lastly, here is my rendering of Elzic’s Farewell in aEADE on my Romero:




VIDEO: Elzic's Farewell
(click to view)

   

BrendanD - Posted - 08/31/2012:  04:24:06



There are still Elswicks (the proper spelling, but pronounced "Elzick") around West Virginia. My wife and I came upon Elswick's Lumber Mill on a dirt back road deep in Clay County many years ago, and while shopping for Clifftop supplies several years ago, I saw a guy in a store wearing a t-shirt that advertised "Elswick's Lawn Care". I wish I'd thought to ask him where I could get one of those shirts.


Grey Dog - Posted - 08/31/2012:  04:24:48


Love that tune. I play it as a bluegrasser, even.
(Trischka has a tab for it, very single-string oriented, AAAABBCC is the general "idea")

I love how everyone plays it very differently, due to all the variations. And they all sound superb.

tfaux - Posted - 08/31/2012:  04:53:50



Not banjo, but sweet and smooth...



youtube.com/watch?v=GZ9EY-mPtwU



 


carlb - Posted - 08/31/2012:  05:21:31



quote:


Originally posted by blockader

A search of the BHO music files nets more than a few examples; I hope some will get posted by TOTW participants.




 Here's my take derived from the fiddling of French Carpenter and Alan Jabbour (Doc White version):



Edited by - carlb on 08/31/2012 05:22:50



Elzick's Farewell

   

blockader - Posted - 08/31/2012:  07:01:35



nice carlb!



i noticed there was a nice bluegrass version in the music files, maybe the owner will post it! i'd really love to hear don bochelt and ed britt tag team it in their superb way.



-justin


blockader - Posted - 08/31/2012:  07:36:52



heres the bluegrass version, its too great to not include here and it doesn't look like the member has been on in awhile.



banjohangout.org%2Fmyha...ID%3D19814">banjohangout.org%2Fmyha...ID%3D19814" target="_blank">hangoutstorage.com/jukebox.asp...D%3D19814


blanham - Posted - 08/31/2012:  08:31:30



Carl Baron's recording of Elzick's Farewell has been among my favorites for a couple of years!  Another excellent banjo version is played by Tommy Thompson on the LP "Old Time Banjo in America," if you can find a copy of that out-of-print album.  Still available is a fiddle version played by Gaither Carlton, found at the Field Recorder's Collective.



Here is the one I learned directly from Miles Krassen's tab, a few years ago.  I think Krassen tabbed it more to accompany a fiddle, not as a banjo solo, but still it has a good rhythm.



 




Chapter2k - Elzic's Farewell

   

vrteach - Posted - 08/31/2012:  09:59:20


Here is a mini-tutorial by YouTube user fiddlnred for the Elzick's Farewell on fiddle:

youtube.com/watch?v=nMWEjtx_2Eo

ramjo - Posted - 08/31/2012:  11:28:54



Justin--



Nice write-up of a nice story (I side with the dying mother sendoff!)

Nice playing.

Nice banjo.

Nicely stocked bar behind your right shoulder.

 


atleson - Posted - 08/31/2012:  12:16:27



this is a wonderful West Virginia tune, and Carl's and Blanham's versions are very fine indeed.  In my Augusta Heritage experiences in West Virginia,  Elzics was taught and played in two parts.  When did parts 3 and even 4 appear?



 



jim


Tamarack - Posted - 09/02/2012:  06:10:13


Great tune -- "haunting but lively" is a good description. Thanks for all the fine versions posted.

maryzcox - Posted - 09/02/2012:  07:22:42


We play a 3 part version of Elzic's Farewell on our Vintage Banjo cd. We learned this version in the campgrounds jamming at festivals :) over the years, we have come to stress one part a little more than the others-- because that is what happens when you play a tune by ear out in the field for years. There seem to be many versions of this tune because so many folks learned it by ear instead of recorded versions :) there is also a simple tab to this version in my Vintage Banjo Tab book :) we like all the different versions we've heard :)

maryzcox.com

BrendanD - Posted - 09/02/2012:  16:31:06


There are several versions of this tune that were played by various West Virginia fiddlers, many from Clay County. The best known version probably came from French Carpenter, and his protege, Wilson Douglas, played a similar, but slightly different version. There is a more crooked version with three parts played by Doc White which has morphed into a popular three-part version, played by some contemporary players, that has one part that "dwells" on a D chord. Delbert Hughes and Ernie Carpenter also had their own great versions of the tune.


Edited by - BrendanD on 09/02/2012 16:32:38

BrendanD - Posted - 09/02/2012:  16:53:56


blanham: Not to discount Gaither Carlton's version in any way (he was a wonderful fiddler!), but he almost certainly learned the tune from French Carpenter, probably when they were both featured at the Newport Folk Festival, as this tune was probably otherwise unknown in the North Carolina repertoire. Gaither also learned "Yew Piney Mountain" from French Carpenter, which he calls "You Climb the Mountain"! It's easy to see how he likely misheard the name from French. But I'm all for fiddlers learning tunes from other regions and adapting them to their own style; this is what enriches our traditional music and makes it so fascinating to try to trace the origins of tunes and try to separate myth from true history! These old guys weren't purists; they played what they liked, wherever it came from. For instance, I always wondered where Albert Hash picked up the Québécois tune "Hangman's Reel", which (to the best of my knowledge) he then introduced into the southern old-time repertoire.


Edited by - BrendanD on 09/02/2012 16:54:44

blockader - Posted - 09/04/2012:  08:28:27



i believe the version popular around here (3 parts with the B part being 1/2 as long and hanging on the D in the C part like in my video) is based on  Doc White's playing. i also believe Mary is dead on with the cause for so much variation.



-justin


jojo25 - Posted - 09/05/2012:  08:06:16



great tune of course...this is one of those tunes with many versions...so many that it is not played in some sessions I attend due to differing versions...my fav version is by The Hillbillies from Mars...it starts very slow...with flute and bass only and sounds like something out of Henry Mancini...eventually kicks in with fiddle and then picks up speed...and uses all 3 parts...you can here their version via Amazon...only 99 cents



amazon.com/Elzics-Farewell/dp/B0019DZKZW



 

Couchie - Posted - 09/06/2012:  05:20:16



Hangout memeber Tommy Neal recorded an exellent 3 finger bluegrass style version of Elzics Farewell on the classic Old Time album "Pickin Around The Cookstove" on Rounder 0040.



 



Don Couchie


blockader - Posted - 09/06/2012:  06:54:38



excellent indeed, couchie. i posted the link to it in the 7th post from the top.



-justin


leemysliwiec - Posted - 09/06/2012:  09:31:24


The 10 year old in the quoted segment shown below appears to be a young Will Brauneis. He is about 14 now and is a good 18 inches taller. At Clifftop this year he played Cauliflower. He is really great for his age. I forget his mother's name. They are both very wonderful and sweet people. LEE

"Heres a 10 year old fiddling it with some nice banjo as well: youtube.com/watch?v=ghzD-zLPXI...e=related . If theres a better inducement to get your kids a fiddle I don’t what it might be!"
-----------------------------------------------------

Couchie - Posted - 09/06/2012:  14:47:04



Here's my take on it.  I hope you enjoy.



youtube.com/watch?v=hO9gnS2X574



Don Couchie.


blanham - Posted - 09/06/2012:  16:03:58


Couchie - Wow! Cool version, nicely done.

blockader - Posted - 09/07/2012:  08:11:15



well done, couchie. i specifically like your A part (C part for me). i may appropriate some of it!



-justin


maryzcox - Posted - 12/05/2012:  10:05:35



quote:


Originally posted by maryzcox



We play a 3 part version of Elzic's Farewell on our Vintage Banjo cd. We learned this version in the campgrounds jamming at festivals :) over the years, we have come to stress one part a little more than the others-- because that is what happens when you play a tune by ear out in the field for years. There seem to be many versions of this tune because so many folks learned it by ear instead of recorded versions :) there is also a simple tab to this version in my Vintage Banjo Tab book :) we like all the different versions we've heard :) maryzcox.com





This version is on our Vintage Banjo CD which we recorded 13 years ago.  Now until December 31st--there is a special offer on this CD. Go to my blog here on the BHO--or to my website to get the details.



Happy Holidays,



Mary Z Cox



maryzcox.com


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