Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 09/07/12 - Walking in the Parlor

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:

Mtngoat - Posted - 09/06/2012:  22:09:16

I’ve chosen “Walking in the Parlor”, said to have been revered West Virginia fiddler French Carpenter’s (b 1899) favorite tune, for this installment of TOTW.  

The Fiddler’s Companion says WITP is known from West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas but strangely does not include Kentucky and Tennessee on the list.  This leaves an unlikely gap in the mapped distribution of the tune and is especially curious given that musicians from these two states have produced numerous recordings of WITP, some of which are presented below.  You can read more on the Fiddler's Companion .

Here are several recordings of traditional musicians, in chronological order, performing Walking in the Parlor.   At least a couple of different strains of the tune are represented.

The first recording of WITP featured a 1924 fiddle solo by Alabama native Dr. D. D. Hollis (b 1861).  That recording is here:  Hollis

Al Hopkins (b 1889) and his Hillbillies, a professional string band with roots in North Carolina, produced the second recording of WITP, with John Rector on banjo, in 1926.  You can find it here: Hillbillies  

A 1959 home recording of Virginian Norman Edmonds (b 1889) and the Old Timers String Band with Rufus Quesinberry on banjo is here: Old Timers

Virginia old-time greats Wade Ward (b 1892) and Glen Smith (b 1888) recorded this 1967 duet: Ward and Smith

A 1972 recording of Kentucky’s Vernon (b 1893) and Zora Judd is here: Judds

A 1982 recording of Tennessee’s Roan Mountain Hilltoppers with Creed Birchfield (b 1905) on banjo is here: Hilltoppers

A 1993 recording of West Virginia fiddler Wilson Douglas (b 1922) with Kim Johnson on Banjo is here: Douglas

A 1994 recording of West Virginian Frank George (b 1928) is here: George

A 2009 recording of West Virginia fiddler Lester McCumbers (b 1921) with possibly Mac Traynham on banjo is here: McCumbers

The best known revivalist version is probably this 1973 recording by the Highwoods Stringband with Mac Benford on banjo:  Highwoods

Two clawhammer tab versions are online.  David/Julian has a tab here:  Clawhammer UK , and the Banjo Hangout Tab Archive has a version here: Hangout Tab .

Walking in the Parlor is a great tune that seems, like a lot of the traditional repertoire, to have lost favor in jam circles lately.  I hope this TOTW exposure will rekindle some interest in what Tennessee old-time banjo player Pap Brewer (b 1906) called “the best dance tune that’s ever been invented.”


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 09/07/2012:  03:24:51

Here's a version played by Dwight Diller


bvh - Posted - 09/07/2012:  04:46:45

I don't know how to post a "sound bite" here, but if anyone is interested, go to my Homepage, and give a listen, to the Walkin' In The Parlor duet, that I played, with Radford Vance, the banjo player, for the Bluegrass group, Northwest Territory. Radford played, with Bill Monroe and Charlie Monroe, for a short while, so he's no slouch, on the 5 string. I'm playing clawhammer, and he, of course is playing Bluegrass style. He really made this, sound neat.


blockader - Posted - 09/07/2012:  08:14:21

this is one i've been meaning to work on because i really like it. haven't gotten around to it since none of the fiddlers i play with have pulled it out, puts it on the back burner for me!


Keith E - Posted - 09/07/2012:  09:46:11

Hi Bill, really enjoyed both of your renditions of the tune.

Couchie - Posted - 09/07/2012:  11:28:16


Here is my take, from the playing of the great Wade Ward.  What a wonderful legacy he left us.

aeroweenie - Posted - 09/08/2012:  12:04:55

Great tune, its on my list to learn.  I especially liked the Ward/Smith version.  It was intersting to hear the differences between the various musicians over time.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/08/2012:  15:06:12

Don, that's some mighty fine picking on a good old tune!  This was one of the first tunes I learned, over 40 years ago, by listening to the fiddlers on the square dance albums that my parents used to have around the house. I would try to hear the notes behind the callers chanting out the figures, and it took some doing.  I haven't played it in a long while, but here's my take on it.  WBJ, Couchie.

- Don Borchelt

VIDEO: Walking in the Parlor
(click to view)


Couchie - Posted - 09/09/2012:  12:26:22

Nice pickin Don.  I just love the old time sound you have.  WBJ

Edited by - Couchie on 09/09/2012 12:26:56

Mtngoat - Posted - 09/09/2012:  12:32:46

Thanks to all who have submitted.  Great job!  I had never heard a bluegrass version before.

Couchie's video here:   has a good view of the left hand which helps with learning the tune.ha   

How many different strains of the tune are there anyway?  At least 4 or 5? 

JanetB - Posted - 09/10/2012:  08:41:38

Thanks for a great TOTW, Mtngoat!  It's a song I began learning but didn't finish.  Now I've learned three versions--two from your links--Roan Mountain Hilltoppers and Franklin George-- and one from a related youtube video which included Lester McCumber on fiddle with Mac Traynham on banjo.  Most of the versions begin with the high part, but not all.  I chose to do the low part first, which I'd consider the A part.  I wish there were lyrics.  I can envision the title meaning several people walking into a parlor to share some music, dancing, and fun.  The music fits that vision--very upbeat and lively.  But if you listen to Stephen Wade's rendition on his CD Dancing in the Parlor, it's quite different--he calls it measured and tranquil and says he based it on Lee Hammons' playing. 

Walking in the Parlor


Don Borchelt - Posted - 09/10/2012:  09:46:21

Nice picking, Janet, well done.

csbdr - Posted - 09/10/2012:  09:54:04

Nice tune! I learned Dwights version and has become one of my regular warm up tunes. Its got a nice "flow" you can settle into for a while.

JanetB - Posted - 09/10/2012:  14:57:00

Here's a tab for the three fiddlers I listened to and the gourd banjo playing it.

Walking in the Parlor

Walking in the Parlor--gourd banjo

Mtngoat - Posted - 09/11/2012:  12:37:54

Janet, thanks for the tab!   And the nice picking.  I like gourd and cookie tin banjos.

Couchie - Posted - 09/13/2012:  08:41:07

I've just learned how to add an attachment so here is one for Walking In The Parlor.

VIDEO: Walking in the Parlor
(click to view)


XXXris - Posted - 09/14/2012:  20:26:46

There is a wonderful version on The Hammons Family: The Traditions of a West Virginia Family and Their Friends (Disc 2). This isn't quite the same as the typical version (and is much like the version at the start of the Diller video linked above).

Also a version by Sid Hemphill & Lucius Smith on Lomax's "Southern Journey" vol. 1.

Thanks for all the links......



Mtngoat - Posted - 09/15/2012:  06:40:45


Thanks for reminding me about the Southern Journey version.  Somehow it had escaped my memory.  Here's a link for those interested:  Hemphill and Smith

Here's the Hammons version:  Hammons

Another one I like, though it doesn't have banjo, is in the Digital Library of Appalachia.  Janis and Roy Carper play WITP on fiddle and piano:  Carper


Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories