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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 11/30 - Sweet Sunny South


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/250495

jduke - Posted - 11/30/2012:  06:22:51



Sweet Sunny South.  Tune of the week 11/30/12



One of the first tunes I was asked to learn when taking banjo lessons was Sweet Sunny South.  I loved the tune without even being aware of the lyrics.  One of the first recordings I came across was on Tommy Jarrell’s banjo album on County Records, Come And Go With Me.  It too is without lyrics, but is a great instrumental.          



A  pre Civil War poem later set to music, the song first seems to appear in print in 1853 as Take Me Home, published by Firth Pond and Co.  W.L. Bloomfield is credited as composer and Edwin P. Christy (Christy’s Minstrels) as a performer who sings the song on stage.   An 1856 cover published by Blackmore Brothers lists Bloomfield as the writer and Eugene Raymond as the arranger.       



The song was, no doubt, performed in the minstrel tradition .  In some much later recordings, a few of the lyrics have been changed to be more politically correct.



Two recordings were released in 1927.  The first was by Red Patterson’s Piedmont Log Rollers and the other by Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters.  Da Costa Woltz was mayor of Galax, Virginia and the group featured Ben Jarrell (Tommy Jarrell’s father) and Frank Jenkins (Oscar Jenkins’ father).  The Southern Broadcasters is listed at Amazon.com and you can sample their version.



The Southern Broadcasters called it Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South and the Log Rollers used the Take Me Home  title.  I don’t know which of the two titles is more commonly used today.



Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s  recording on their  Shady Grove  album is probably my  favorite.   



I first learned this song in Open G tuning, but now prefer to play it in Sawmill on my fretless banjo.  I don’t sing, so usually play it as an instrumental.  I occasionally preform it with a friend whose vocal in the modal tuning is excellent. 



 



Tommy Jarrell recording:    youtube.com/watch?v=U1RmAkwH4BY



Firth Pond cover:    memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?...sm:@field(NUMBER+@band(sm1853+710410))&linkText=0



 Piedmont Log Rollersyoutube.com/watch?v=r03kPNCfgh...=youtu.be



 Garcia / Grisman’s recording:   youtube.com/watch?v=yxfaFKEeZfA


vrteach - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:00:22


I've always liked this song, but somehow I never played it. Good choice.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:09:50


Sounds great in A modal without lyrics.

I have numerous versions in my collection. Some are played in "country" style. One by Joan Baez on her Western album is a good version with lyrics.

I prefer the Charlie Poole version over any others with lyrics. I suspect it is played in old C.

So many versions, so many style. Great pick!

Tatersoup - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:20:30



Very nice. Thanks so much for your effort.


hendrid - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:29:47



Sheet music and Lyrics  traditionalmusic.co.uk/bluegra...09921.HTM


UncleClawhammer - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:35:14



Good tune! I've also heard it called the Bright Sunny South, which is confusing because there's also a completely different song with that name. I think that's the way I learned it, anyhow. My favorite recording is actually Ernest Stoneman's on the autoharp. Dock Boggs has a good version.


ScottK - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:41:59



Great write up Jeff!



One of my favorite versions of Sweet Sunny South is played on fiddle by Buddy Thomas.  You can here that version at the Digital Library of Appalachia or on his (great!) Kitty Puss CD.



Scott


Tatersoup - Posted - 11/30/2012:  07:42:46



Very nice. Thanks so much for your effort.


chadp - Posted - 11/30/2012:  08:33:18



man how has this not been covered yet? just picked it up a few weeks ago, oddly enough. great song. 



 



youtube.com/watch?v=hQTB0wBk-04 i dig this version a lot. it's what i learned from. the clawhammer part anyway.



Edited by - chadp on 11/30/2012 08:33:52

commodoremac - Posted - 11/30/2012:  09:26:06



Nice little version with lyrics in Wayne Erbsens book Clawhammer Banjo For The Complete Ignoramus.


RG - Posted - 11/30/2012:  11:16:56



Great tune!


plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 11/30/2012:  12:11:34



great choice of tune, it's one that I can't get out my head and it's just as fruitless trying to get it out of my fingers too.



Is Doc Bogg's "bright sunny south" a derivative/shared ethnomusicthingamjigmy?  His version deals with a theme of war rather than home and really makes use of the minor tuning. 



Edited by - plunknplinkntwang on 11/30/2012 12:16:10

Gadaya - Posted - 11/30/2012:  12:13:11



 A really great song and tune and many wonderful versions out there, (Charlie Poole, Tommy Jarrell) but my current favorite is Norman Blake singing it with the Boys of the Lough. 


cmic - Posted - 11/30/2012:  12:13:24



quote:


Originally posted by chadp




man how has this not been covered yet? just picked it up a few weeks ago, oddly enough. great song. 



 



youtube.com/watch?v=hQTB0wBk-04 i dig this version a lot. it's what i learned from. the clawhammer part anyway.






...I learned the two fingers part from this version too. I'm a bit proud: that was the first time playing from listening !

Cheers


UncleClawhammer - Posted - 11/30/2012:  12:57:50



quote:


Originally posted by plunknplinkntwang




great choice of tune, it's one that I can't get out my head and it's just as fruitless trying to get it out of my fingers too.



Is Doc Bogg's "bright sunny south" a derivative/shared ethnomusicthingamjigmy?  His version deals with a theme of war rather than home and really makes use of the minor tuning. 






That's the other song. Doc Watson also did it, and a bunch of other people. I think I was confused when I said Dock had a version of the song this thread is about. The thing about Ernest Stoneman stands, though.


deuceswilde - Posted - 11/30/2012:  14:54:26



Here is a musical arrangement for the banjo by George Dobson.



I'm surprised that folks who love any banjos named after the ones that the Dobson family marketed are not all over his books.





JanetB - Posted - 11/30/2012:  14:57:25



I like it best on the Little Grascal's "Bluegrass" CD with Dave Talbot on banjo and Jason Carter's fiddle.



My husband, Kit, and I sing the verses we like best in the unusual key of E, so I spike the 5th string to a B note and play out of chordal position in open G tuning. 



 



Edited by - JanetB on 11/30/2012 15:05:02



Sweet Sunny South

   

Slick Salmon - Posted - 11/30/2012:  15:12:21



Lovely version.


Penchaser - Posted - 11/30/2012:  15:47:12



Great tune.  Here in Northern California we are lucky to have Debbie McClatchy who is one of the finest old time singers and banjo players I have ever heard.  I was introduced to this song at one of her concerts and also enjoyed it at one of her old time jams.  She has an album titled "Sweet Sunny South" and can be ordered from her web site: debbymcclatchy.com/sweetsunny.htm 



I highly recommend adding this album to your collection.


Mtngoat - Posted - 11/30/2012:  16:23:23



I've always liked this in two-finger style but it's a great tune either way. 


jduke - Posted - 11/30/2012:  18:57:35



Thanks all for sharing additional info on this song and   and for giving links to your favorite versions.  I enjoyed them all, and even saw some licks I'd like to incorporate into my on version.  It's also worth noting that there are some great versions of this tune on the Juke Box by our on BHO members.



Jeff


Califiddler - Posted - 11/30/2012:  22:33:19


My favorite version is the Tim & Molly O'Brien version from their album "Take Me Back". There is also a great version on one of the Bluegrass Album Band's albums, with Tony Rice singing.

harvey - Posted - 12/01/2012:  02:28:30



Brad Leftwich's  Round Peak Style Clawhammer Banjo book has a tab for Tommy Jarrell's version of this - pretty much as Tommy plays it in the video posted by Jduke above.


aeroweenie - Posted - 12/02/2012:  10:27:43



I learned this song in 1975 from a Bluegrass Alliance recording, its been a favorite ever since.  Here is my take, played in standard G tuning.  Even though I'm using clawhammer, this is very similar to how I play it bluegrass style.  Its quite different than Janet's rendering, which is simply beautiful.




Sweet Sunny South

   

matechik4 - Posted - 12/02/2012:  12:58:07



Wow, these versions are all really good.  I liked the background information too.  Some of you may have already seen this (because I just coincidentally posted in a different thread) but here is my version.  I usually play it in A modal (Sawmill capo 2) but occasionally I play with a viola player so we play in G modal (Sawmill).  It sounds cool, but it's harder for me to sing in that range.



I was explaining on the other thread that this song had special meaning to me when I left my home in FL to go work in the desert of WY.  I was working with a field crew, living in a tent, and cooking over fires.  I felt an interesting connection with the wandering musicians of old.  I loved every minute of it, but once October came and the snow started falling, I occasionally missed the sweet, sunny (not to mention warm) south.  So, I would just sit and the desert and play this song.


Robxx - Posted - 12/02/2012:  13:27:03



quote:


Originally posted by Penchaser




Great tune.  Here in Northern California we are lucky to have Debbie McClatchy who is one of the finest old time singers and banjo players I have ever heard.  I was introduced to this song at one of her concerts and also enjoyed it at one of her old time jams.  She has an album titled "Sweet Sunny South" and can be ordered from her web site: debbymcclatchy.com/sweetsunny.htm 



I highly recommend adding this album to your collection.






I was about to mention this version until I spotted your post, but I agree this is a good track, and worth listening to, as are all of her recordings.  She is a very entertaining performer, and a lovely person..


jojo25 - Posted - 12/03/2012:  12:50:54



my fav cover of this tune is by the late, great John Hartford



artistdirect.com/nad/window/me...2,00.html



from the project John did with his son Jamie



you can only hear a snippet here...but, IMHO, it is worth the 99 cents...or whatever Itunes charges these days



 

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 12/04/2012:  08:59:41



Just to add a version that's been on my Walkman for a while, it's by a Virginian musician called Janis Trail.  I enjoy listening to different versions of tunes and feel that there may be quite different accents to tunes by both geography & ethnicity. 



I refer to this style as frailling



 



 



NB:  this and other recordings are available at the Digital Library of Appalachia, the only Library where there isn't a 'QUIET PLEASE' notice :)




Sweet Sunny South - Janis Trail

   

Helix - Posted - 12/08/2012:  03:54:32



Thanks, this is a great thread, I learned a lot.   



Loudon Wainwright was where I first heard it, then I really enjoy the research and history.


plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 12/08/2012:  13:30:55



Added this version - a very upbeat version



 




Sweet Sunny South - Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters

   

cbcarlisle - Posted - 12/08/2012:  20:54:01



The Da Costa Woltz recording was the origin of the NLCR version, which was the basis of all the West Coast performances I knew since the early '60s. Always a favorite; my own tribute (with Bob Webb) is on our "Waiting for Nancy" CD, utilizing fretless and fretted banjos.


oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 12/08/2012:  21:05:39



And here on the east coast the NLCR was the first group I ever heard do the tune. I never heard of Dock Boggs until I finally discovered the Folkways Anthology in the mid 1960s.


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