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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 6/14/13 - Rag Rug

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LyleK - Posted - 06/14/2013:  04:22:15

Rag Rug (with banjo for scale) (get it? --- scale?)

The last time I did a TOTW was over a year ago (04/06/2012 to be specific).  Partly out of laziness, I picked a pretty obscure tune then so that I wouldn't end up with a lot of URLs and text.  This time I'm going with a tune that might be even more obscure.  In fact, this is a tune that I've never heard before, but instead learned from Garry Harrison's transcription in "Dear Old Illinois."   ERB's pick a few weeks ago ( was also from this collection, so you can read a lot about "Dear Old Illinois" there.   The tune is from Harry Elie (1906-1986, Dundas, IL).  I do not believe that there is a recording of this one anywhere, except for the original recording from Elie.  The tune is not on the 3 CD set that came with DOI.  So below I've pasted a youtube video, *.mp3, and tab.  The "A" part sounds a fair amount to me like "Belle of Lexington" (aka, "Smith's Reel," aka "Kitty's Wedding," aka probably a lot of other stuff).  The B part seems familiar, but I can't place it.  I think part of the reason I like the tune so well is that it is sort of "Belle of Lexington Lite" (less filling!).  It has most of the nice sound of that tune with a lot simpler fingering on the fretboard.  The downside of the tune is that I haven't found anyone to play it with - - - yet.

And be forewarned, I have my own inevitable thread drift anticipated.  I went through a bunch of other Illinois tunes (and even a couple of Nebraska tunes) before settling on "Rag Rug."  So those are in the hopper.  

Here's seeing you at the next jam, when we can all play Rag Rug.  Battleground anyone?


P.S. - The above photo is our welcome mat / rag rug.  The banjo is just for scale.  Get it?  - - - scale?

Edited by - LyleK on 06/14/2013 04:49:27

Rag Rug Tab

Rag Rug

VIDEO: Rag Rug
(click to view)

SCclawman - Posted - 06/14/2013:  07:53:41

Every time I do a TOTW, I'm scared to put up an obscure tune in fear that it may not go over very well. You've encouraged me to try something a little more obscure next time, because this is wonderful.

I've obviously never heard of the tune, but I really enjoyed listening to it. It's a lovely catchy tune that I hope will catch on with many others. Thanks for the perfect tab and recordings to learn from. Pretty cool that you have one of the only recordings out there....for now! smiley

Great pick for TOTW.

banjo bill-e - Posted - 06/14/2013:  12:20:23

Sure sounds familiar for an obscure tune. Seems like it would be easy to pick up.  Great playing, as always, Lyle. 

vrteach - Posted - 06/14/2013:  14:03:07


I'm sitting here, not interested in my work. So I'll put up a first draft of a simplified version.

Rag Rug?


vrteach - Posted - 06/14/2013:  14:08:38

So I did a google search for Dundas, IL. It must be pretty small because google found it, but the mailing address is Preston, IL. Dundas is a few miles north of Olney, which is famous for having an endemic population of white squirrels.,_I...opulation

Edited by - vrteach on 06/14/2013 14:09:21

LyleK - Posted - 06/14/2013:  14:14:45

Thanks guys.  Cool version Erich and I think it would fit well with my fiddling of this tune, provided I can speed up a bit.  OK, provided I can speed up a lot.  

And that should have been "Battle Ground anyone?" not "Battleground anyone?" in my OP.  Speaking of which, how many of the Midwestern brethren & sistern, not to mention "foreigners," are making the trip to Fiddlers' Gathering weekend after next?

vrteach - Posted - 06/14/2013:  14:19:55

I'm planning to go. Maybe even camp this year.

JanetB - Posted - 06/15/2013:  11:13:42

Thanks, Lyle, for an obscure tune wonderfully played by both you and Erich from Garry Harrison's collection.  It's only recently that I've heard of this book and the 3-CD set and also of the great Midwest as a fiddling mecca, thanks to Rhys Jones' visit to California last year.  I'm playing Rag Rug in open G tuning instead of double D and wonder if you perceive any difference.

Do you know if Garry Harrison's book, Dear Old Illinois, and CD set are available at a reasonable cost?  I heard they're hard to get.

Rag Rug


vrteach - Posted - 06/15/2013:  13:33:11

I had heard that Genevieve Koester (Garry Harrison's daughter) was exploring making Dear Old Illinois available again. But she recently became a new mother so there might be other things on her mind at the moment. Still, we can hope to see a new printing.

The book and cd set are pretty hard to find these days. Those that have them are keeping them.

LyleK - Posted - 06/15/2013:  19:56:14


Originally posted by JanetB


...  I'm playing Rag Rug in open G tuning instead of double D and wonder if you perceive any difference.

Nailed it, so no I don't perceive any difference.  But is that aDGBD instead of gDGBD?  I hear an "a" drone.

And as Erich said, used copies of the book and/or CD are not really an option.  Unlike "Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife" which can be had at a "reasonable" $181 used from Amazon, DOI is not even available. 

JanetB - Posted - 06/15/2013:  21:09:47

You're right, Lyle, the 5th string is tuned up to an A.  You sure did a nice job with a tune having only the musical notation to go by.  That's what I'd have to do using the Bayard book or the Ozark's Fiddle Music Book (though it has 37 of the 308 tunes on a CD).  It sure lets one appreciate the recorded sources available.  You're setting a high standard here.

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 06/16/2013:  15:30:14


Originally posted by LyleK


And as Erich said, used copies of the book and/or CD are not really an option.  Unlike "Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife" which can be had at a "reasonable" $181 used from Amazon, DOI is not even available. 

The Dear Old Illinois set is in a very frustrating situation - only six years old but already out of print. Not available new, and yet nobody who bought a copy is ready to part with it yet.

I inquired about it over on the FiddleHangout while writing up another tune from the collection last month.  There are some people over there who will copy the CDs for you, perhaps for a small fee, which I guess is okay since it is out of print.  Not sure about the ins-and-outs of that.  Given its size, copying the actual book isn't really practical.

I certainly hope Genevieve - or somebody else - finds a way to make it available again. I'll be sure to get a copy right away next time around.

Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 06/16/2013 15:35:29

strokestyle - Posted - 06/17/2013:  07:44:08

Would love to hear your fiddle version of this?:) Hearing the fiddle is what helps me understand the tune better. Lovely playing and versions once again.

Clarke Buehling will be at Battleground, Billy Mathews, the Flamingo gang and we may have the pleasure of Kim Lansford. Of course the schedule has many wonderful plaayers!

LyleK - Posted - 06/17/2013:  08:16:21


Originally posted by strokestyle


Would love to hear your fiddle version of this?:) 

I don't think you would be feeling the love if you heard it.  It is still quite rough.  But maybe a banjolin version in the not too distant future?

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 06/17/2013:  13:05:13

This one was harder than it looked, and harder than it sounded.   Lyle has a great right hand, and a real finesse in getting at those notes.  Erich’s crack at it was, in spite of his characterization of his effort, far from simplified.  Nicely, uniquely nuanced.  Janet has this great way of finding different tunings for these pieces that work really well.   I tried an up-picking version of it in standard G tuning, and ended up reversing the parts, playing the “B” part up the neck, and the “A” part down the neck.  That’s still a work in progress.

Here’s my attempt at a sledgehammer version:

Clarke Buehling will spend tonight at my place in Staunton, VA.  Maybe tomorrow morning, after he gets some sleep, and before his breakfast (thus giving me some leverage), I can convince him to play this tune for this TOTW.

Play hard,


LyleK - Posted - 06/17/2013:  19:23:48

Thanks Lew.

Christine, against my better judgment I've added a video and *.mp3 of me fiddling this one.


VIDEO: Rag Rug - Fiddle
(click to view)

Rag Rug - Fiddle

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 06/18/2013:  03:59:10

Clarke Buehling pulled into our driveway about 2200 hours, after driving through a storm, etc.  He was pretty tired, but I did mention the tune to him.  Not one he recognized by name.  I'll play him some of the fine TOTW recordings of Rag Rug for him this morning and see whether that shakes loose some memory cells.  He did live in Chicago for a while, and he does get back there for gigs at the Chicago school, so maybe it is a tune caught in the recesses of his musical brain, and perhaps I can nudge him toward taking a whack at it.  We'll see. 

Nice fiddling Lyle. 



strokestyle - Posted - 06/18/2013:  13:28:24

I am not afraid !

Sounds like a version of Smith's Reel on the a part as you noted in your post,. Nice fiddling and thanks for using your other judgment, your a brave fellow.

Brooklynbanjoboy, its quite a small world as LyleK is hosting Clarke when he comes to Champaign on July 3rd:) Thanks Lyle!

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