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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW GILSAW (2-22-2013)


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/256767

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/21/2013:  19:29:23



 



 



We enjoy playing together regularly with a small, compatible group of old-time musicians in Albuquerque.  These jams occur several times a week, during the noon (lunch) hour, as some are not yet retired.



 



One day a new member of this group, a recent transplant from another city, but certainly not new to old time music asked if we had ever heard a tune which he thought was Gil something, and he played it on fiddle.  We eventually figured out it was Gilsaw, and a quick look at my music folders showed two versions stored on my computer.



 



The first version was by mid-western fiddler, Chirps Smith.  Chirps says, according to something I read on the Fiddle Hangout, that the name Gilsaw is just a name, and there is no other meaning to it.  No, it is not a saw for fish gils, or whatever else you’d like to think.  



 



The second version I have is by the Big Foot Jam, which I believe was recorded a few years ago live at Clifftop.  Playing it were Rhys Hones, Cleek Schrey, John Herrmann and Susie Goehring.   A fellow Banjo Hangout member gave this to me - so, Paul D., if you are reading this, feel free to correct any errors I’ve made.



 



It is an easy tune in double D to play on the banjo, and I’ve listed below some links to it.  I also included one of the lunchtime jam recordings of this in my audio files on the Hangout.



 



Hugh Strawn, in The Banjo Newsletter, March 2012 edition, wrote two pages about it and included a tab.  Hugh wrote, “This month’s tune, Gilsaw, is taken from the playing of central Missouri fiddler, Pete McMahan.  This is another of Charlie Walden’s”100 Essential Missouri Fiddle Tunes.  I have no idea what a Gilsaw is or was, but I’m sure there’s a story there.”  The video and mp3 are posted at courses.missouristate.edu/HStrawn/



 



We seem to play Gilsaw frequently these days.  We recently recorded a video in preparation for this TOTW presentation.  Featured on banjo is yours truly, on guitar, my husband, Michael Muldawer, and on fiddle, Miles Krassen, the newest member of our group.  This is such a nice tune that I wonder why I had not heard of it until recently.  Here’s the link:



youtube.com/watch?v=0nVMga8x6Z8



 



 



Below are additional links to audio and video files:



oldtownschool.org/connect/fidd...s-week-4/



 



youtube.com/watch?v=-fukTME3cac


vrteach - Posted - 02/21/2013:  20:05:18


Gilsaw! Cool! This is something that the guys I play with do pretty often, but I've yet to work out a solo version. I'll see what I can do about that.

LyleK - Posted - 02/22/2013:  02:02:23



Excellent pick!  There is a Charlie Walden *.mp3 of this, but it is a bit hard to find.  It's in his "Project (a.k.a. Fiddle Tunes I Can't Quite Recall)", where he's made recordings of a bunch of tunes so that he can refresh his memory.  Hmmm, seems to me that I've seen a recent BHO thread about such memory proding devices - - but I can't really remember!  Anyhow, for Charlie's *.mp3 go to: charliewalden.com/TheProject/T...oject.htm, then "Volume 3" and it is the last track (#25).


JanetB - Posted - 02/22/2013:  06:39:27



Great choice, Judy!  And to play with Miles Krassen--how fortunate! 



I have the liner notes of Bigfoot's CD, I've Got a Bulldog.  Rhys Jones says of Gilsaw that Pete McMahan said the tune was named after an old MIssouri fiddler who played it.  By the way, to get this CD you can contact John Herrmann at Yodelayhee@hotmail.com or call 828-683-0012. 



I'd like to learn more about Pete McMahan.  After listening to him on the above link I'm thinking to play this out of open G tuning in the key of D.  Any other suggestions?


J-Walk - Posted - 02/22/2013:  17:23:03



Good tune! A few weeks ago I was at a jam in Ajo, AZ, with Dan Levenson. That tune came up, but we never played it.  I forget why.



But I think that Bigfoot band may be responsible for an an increase in the popularity of this one. And this post, too.


ScottK - Posted - 02/22/2013:  18:50:23



quote:


Originally posted by JanetB




I'd like to learn more about Pete McMahan.  After listening to him on the above link I'm thinking to play this out of open G tuning in the key of D.  Any other suggestions?






Hi Janet,



You can find a reissue of Pete McMahan's recordings on the Voyager Records web site.  Click here and scroll down to "Pete McMahan: 50 Old-Time Fiddle Gems".  There's a link there to liner notes with extensive information about Mr. McMahan.  The recording doesn't include Gilsaw, though.



Great TOTW choice and fine playing, Judy!  This tune quickly made its way into the Portland Parlor Pickers jam rotation after the Bigfoot CD came out.   I've learned it on fiddle, but haven't tackled it on banjo yet.



Scott


Paul DeBlois - Posted - 02/22/2013:  19:05:38



Nice choice, Judy.  You got the Big Foot Jam right with the addition of Meredith McIntosh on bass.  It was a great tune in a marathon of great tunes.  


Paul DeBlois - Posted - 02/22/2013:  19:06:43



Nice choice, Judy.  You got the Big Foot Jam right with the addition of Meredith McIntosh on bass.  It was a great tune in a marathon of great tunes.  


J-Walk - Posted - 02/23/2013:  15:28:43



I've been having fun with this tune all day, attempting to get the fiddle part down note-for-note on the banjo.



I've played it before, just superficially. Getting all of the notes is a bit more challenging. 


JanetB - Posted - 02/23/2013:  16:34:01



You made it look easy, Judy, but as I watched your left hand it also looked like it would be hard.  I agree with John--it sounds simple, but is challenging.  I sure like the tune and get the feeling that Missouri fiddlers must have a great repertoire.  As I played it many times through I pictured your amiable friends sitting around and playing together--what fun!



I appreciate Scott's link to learn more about Pete McMahan (1918 - 2000).  In the Milliner-Koken book it says that he came from Bluffton, Montgomery Co., MO and won many fiddle contests in the mid-west. 



                                                                                     



Edited by - JanetB on 02/23/2013 16:46:13

J-Walk - Posted - 02/23/2013:  17:49:33



Judy, does Miles Krassen live in NM now? I thought he was in Colorado.


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/23/2013:  21:30:24



quote:


Originally posted by J-Walk




Judy, does Miles Krassen live in NM now? I thought he was in Colorado.






He is in Albuquerque.  Moved last summer.


JanetB - Posted - 02/24/2013:  13:18:35



It would be interesting to know where Miles learned the tune from.  He's a venerable icon in the music world and I learned much about clawhammer from his book Clawhammer Banjo, published in 1974 when I first began learning the style.  "Estoy muy feliz que Miles esta tocando con ustedes."



Here's my effort at playing Gilsaw.  It may be too notey.  I listened to Pete McMahan, who I learned is known to fiddle lots of notes.  I simplified it, but may end up doing more.  It's in the key of D, open G tuning except for the 5th string tuned to A.  What tuning did you use, Judy?




Gilsaw

   

LyleK - Posted - 02/24/2013:  19:03:12



Here's an *.mp3 out of aDADE tuning as close to the Charlie Walden version I mentioned above as I can get.  Be forwarned that there are some G-sharps played in the B-part.  Those "shouldn't" be in a D-major tune, but it is not uncommon to find that G# among some Missouri fiddlers when they play D-major tunes (and Charlie Walden's "Gilsaw" certainly has 'em).




Gilsaw

   

aeroweenie - Posted - 02/24/2013:  19:04:47



Very nice tune, I've never heard of it before.  I haven't had time to learn it yet, hopefully I can do so later this week.  Judy & Janet, you've both offered fine versions of the tune, they will help with learning it.  A final thought, TOTW is great!


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/24/2013:  20:50:13



quote:


Originally posted by JanetB




It would be interesting to know where Miles learned the tune from.  He's a venerable icon in the music world and I learned much about clawhammer from his book Clawhammer Banjo, published in 1974 when I first began learning the style.  "Estoy muy feliz que Miles esta tocando con ustedes."



Here's my effort at playing Gilsaw.  It may be too notey.  I listened to Pete McMahan, who I learned is known to fiddle lots of notes.  I simplified it, but may end up doing more.  It's in the key of D, open G tuning except for the 5th string tuned to A.  What tuning did you use, Judy?






Miles says he is reminded of Gilsaw when he plays Bob Walter's Hornpipe.  They go really well together as a medley.  Chirps Smith can be seen and heard fiddling Bob Walter's Hornpipe on youtube.  The two really go well together.  So, now you can learn Gilsaw and Bob Walter's Hornpipe and they'll be two great additions to your repertoire.  Both are played in double d tuning on the banjo.


J-Walk - Posted - 02/25/2013:  07:53:32



And the first part of "Bob Walter's Hornpipe" is very similar to "Folding Down the Sheets." 


LyleK - Posted - 02/25/2013:  08:24:10



quote:


Originally posted by J-Walk




And the first part of "Bob Walter's Hornpipe" is very similar to "Folding Down the Sheets." 






And "Bob Walter's Hornpipe" is similar to another one of his signature tunes - "Shoot Two Bits."  Unfortunately, I can't find a recording of that on the web, but maybe that can be rectified.


J-Walk - Posted - 02/25/2013:  16:20:59



I really like your recording, LyleK. That's exactly what I aspire to sound like.



Just for fun, try playing it in the key of G, using standard G tuning. I was messing around with that today, and I think it works much better for solo banjo. 


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/25/2013:  17:01:09



quote:


Originally posted by J-Walk




I really like your recording, LyleK. That's exactly what I aspire to sound like.



Just for fun, try playing it in the key of G, using standard G tuning. I was messing around with that today, and I think it works much better for solo banjo. 






Lyle - great playing as always.  Thanks for sharing.



J-Walk - if you use open G, then you'll have to learn Bob Walter's Hornpipe in G too smiley



When are you two guys coming to Albuquerque?  Sure enjoy your visits, Lyle, and J-Walk - we owe you a party or something - come to ABQ one of these days, ok?



 


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 03/05/2013:  17:31:27



There is a good bit of research and info about Gilsaw in a current FiddleHangout discussion: fiddlehangout.com/topic/32342/ .  It might all have been covered already in this TOTW thread (I haven't compared the two in detail), but thought I'd post the link here just in case it would be of interest.


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