Well, I understand that the world may come to an end today but, if it does, you could do worse than to go out playing the tune Jim Shank. The tune is sometimes called Jimmy Shank, Jim Shanks or Jim Shenk.
This week's tune comes to us from Tennessee fiddle player Sam Dyer through a field recording by Bruce Greene. You can hear the recording here.
Old‑Time, Breakdown. A southern Kentucky tune in the repertoire of fiddler Bruce Greene. See also the similar tune “Henry Richmond.” Kerry Blech suspects the title may have derived from a mishearing of ‘Gin Seng’.
The tune seems somewhat obscure at least insofar as it hasn't been recorded all that often though I know it comes up in jams in a number of places. I think it's one of my favorite tunes that I've learned in the past year. There's just something about it that seems very compelling to me. One of the things that I like about it is that it seems to lend itself to interpretation. It's a fairly simple tune, in the key of A, and basically square although different folks will play either once or twice through the B part. Maybe because of that or maybe despite that, nearly all of the versions of this tune that I have run across have a different flavor. My favorite might be from Rhys Jones and Christina Wheeler on their album Starry Crown. I love the way their dual fiddles weave in and out of each other and the melody. It's hypnotic. But my fiddler friend who taught me the tune dismisses their version as "too pretty." Pharis and Jason Romero do a nice version with fiddler Sophie Vitells on their album Back Up and Push.
The Clawhammer Tune of the Day blog has a nice solo banjo version here.
Here on the Hangout, Dean "FretlessinTexas" Barber has a coffehouse performance with banjo, fiddle and guitar here.
Hangout member Lyle K provides a tab version here.
I've uploaded a solo banjo version recorded on my Romero with nylgut strings. I had originally started to gussy it up with some guitar backup (not quite up to it yet on the fiddle but it's coming), but decided I liked the way it sounded just stripped down to its skivvies.
I hope more people will post their own versions before the meteors start to hit. See you on the other side!
How cool is that! For some years I've played along with this and then asked at the end "what's THAT one?" They answer "Jimmy Shanks" and I think to myself "I'll remember that."
I learned this one (at some point) by accident. I was at a local jam trying to fiddle "Little Dutch Girl" and all that would come out was a tune that we all knew was not "Little Dutch Girl." Someone at the jam used a "life line." They phoned home and hummed the tune and it was quickly identified as Jimmy Shank. I think I had learned the tune at a 'foreign" jam (probably Bloomington-Normal).
Very nice versions here. Much better than my "Little Jimmy Dutch Shank Girl."
This is a new one to me, I like it. The link to "clawhammer tune of the day" was especially helpful since it has the Sam Dyer version. As always, the variety of versions presented here is fantastic. Here is my take, played on a walnut A-scale fretless with Nylgut strings.
A fun tune indeed with great versions posted already. Thanks, Mike, also for introducing me to the San Dyer recording which I found on the Slippery Hill fiddling website. (The amount of authentic recordings on that site is astounding. I found that I could slow them down when learning using my Windows Media Player.) I play this on a Gold Tone mini, so it's in the key of C.
A good choice for tune of the week, Mike. This gets played a lot in jams around Boston. Some fine versions posted here, I enjoyed them all. Here is my take on it; I am a little late because I had to get Christmas over with before I could turn to important stuff!