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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 11/16/12: Let's Hunt the Horses

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Adam Kiesling - Posted - 11/15/2012:  07:23:32

I'm going to be out of town tomorrow, so I'm submitting this a day early.

"Let's Hunt the Horses" is a tune from West Virginia fiddler Edden Hammons. According to Wikipedia, he was born in 1876 in Webster County and grew up in a musical family. He generally preferred playing music to working (a sentiment I think a lot of us could agree with), and is one of the primary sources for some tunes like "Sandy Boys" and "Old Greasy Coat" (among others). He recorded 52 tunes for Louis Chappell in 1947 (which were used for the Edden Hammons Collection Volumes 1 and 2), and passed away in 1955. Here's some more info on Edden (which is at odds in some spots on the Wikipedia page). Here's a page from Alan Jabbour about some of the tunings that Edden uses.

Anyways, on to the tune. Thanks to the fine folks at Slippery Hill here is Edden's version of "Let's Hunt the Horses". It's an A modal tune, and I have to be careful to not start playing "Cluck Old Hen" during the A part.

I became interested in this tune in a roundabout fashion. My fiddling friend Meghan Dudle was one half of an old-time duo called The Phonola Winders (Tim Foss, a great old-time musician, was the other half), and they released a home recording back in 2004 on cassette. Tim had a solo banjo piece on there called "Up Jump'd the Horses". I wasn't able to dig out the liner notes so I wasn't able to see what Tim's source was but I'm guessing that it was the late Craig Johnson from the Double Decker Stringband . A couple of years ago, I was given a field recording of Craig playing some solo banjo pieces in 2002 at the Bluff Country Gathering (in Lanesboro, MN). The recording was tagged as "Up Jumped the Horses" even though Craig says at the beginning of the track "If I remember it's called 'Let's Hunt the Horses' ", so I think the differing names came about due to a transcription error. Craig also included the track on his solo recording "Away Down the Road" as "Let's Hunt the Horses."

I usually learn my tunes from the fiddle versions, but I ended up taking Craig's banjo version as the main source for mine (I like the extra beat in the A part). I recorded a quick and dirty version just using the laptop mic.

BHO member Isaac Enloe also has a">version with fiddling by Bosco.

Let's Hunt the Horses

RG - Posted - 11/15/2012:  11:25:11

Great tune Adam and liked that version you play, good pick!

ScottK - Posted - 11/15/2012:  17:05:39

I'll second that. Good write-up, too!

I really like that Edden Hammons Collection. That "High Up on Tug" from Vol 1 is high up on my "to learn" tune list.


JanetB - Posted - 11/16/2012:  06:09:19

It's always a pleasure to hear Adam's banjo.  The 77 page essay "The Hammons Family, a Study of a West Virginia Family" has information about Edden beginning on page 25.  The photo (from page 16) helps me visualize the meaning behind the TOTW title.


From the Hammons family photo collection


Tamarack - Posted - 11/18/2012:  05:19:27

A fine tune with deep roots! This one was new to me -- always room for another modal West Virginia tune.

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