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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 8/9/2013 Warfield

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Mtngoat - Posted - 08/09/2013:  19:19:44

I’ve chosen Warfield a tune from Kentucky fiddler Perry Riley for this TOTW.  I learned the tune more than a decade ago from Jimmy McCown, who learned it from Roger Cooper, who learned it from Perry Riley, who learned it in West Virginia.  I’m only four degrees of separation removed from the source!   I hadn’t played Warfield in years until a friend brought it up at our regular jam last month.

The Fiddler’s Companion says Warfield is an Old-time Breakdown from Kentucky and West Virginia. The Companion goes on to describe Warfield and Naugatuck as two towns on opposite sides of the Tug Fork River, the official boundary between Kentucky and West Virginia and the unofficial boundary between the Hatfield and McCoy clans.  Warfield supposedly got its name from a fight that occurred on the site of what later became the town.

After the dry law passed in Naugatuck, those West Virginians wishing to savor a cool beverage had to cross the river to Warfield, Kentucky where alcohol remained legal.  The tune celebrates that bit of local history with these lyrics:  “C’mon boys let’s go to Warfield, C’mon boys let’s go to Warfield, C’mon boys let’s go to Warfield, Naugytuck’s done gone dry, dry, Naugytuck’s done gone dry.”

Perry Riley, who worked and resided in West Virginia for several years, remembered a similar lyric.

An internet search returned three hits for Warfield:

The Riley recording can be found on the Slippery Hill web site here:

Slippery Hill also has a 1927 recording by the Williamson Brothers of Logan County, West Virginia:

A snippet of the Roger Cooper version is here:

I was unable to find a tab for Warfield but the tune is simple enough in open G tuning that most folks should be able to pick out the melody after hearing it a time or two.   A nice banjo tutorial can be found here:, and for you multi-instrumentalists here’s a fiddle tutorial;index=2.

The Milliner – Koken Collection has transcriptions of both the Riley and Williamson recordings for those who read music and have access to the book.

This is another TOTW that cries out for Member input so I encourage you to post your musical interpretations and tabs.

Edited by - Mtngoat on 08/09/2013 19:21:29

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/10/2013:  03:05:07

As an aside, this is a good book on the Hatfield/McCoy dispute:

Lisa Alther, Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance.  Lyons Press, 2012.

I believe the book played a role in shaping a TV mini-series on the feud starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr and Tom Berenger:


We now return to your regularly schedule TOTW.


Play hard,




Mtngoat - Posted - 08/10/2013:  07:12:05


Thanks for the tip.  I'm a reader with an interest in Appalachia.  It's not so far off topic.  If you check out the imbedded link to Ms Alther's book Kinfolk you will find a picture of her Virginia cousin holding a banjo.

I can identify with that.  Going through through my mother and grandmother's old photo albums I find many pictures of distant Kentucky relatives from 1900 through the 1960's.  The males invariably are posed with one of three props: guns; dogs; or banjos.  It must be a cultural thang.

Bill - Posted - 08/10/2013:  09:22:04

A fine TOTW!

Versions can also be found on Adam Hurt's Intrigue album and on Having Fun with our Favorites by Dave Bing and David O'Dell.

Dave fiddles it on that album, but he also plays a whizbang syncopated version on the banjo.

I'm not up to his full version, but he helped me recently to work out this simple one that I could play along as he fiddled.  What a great half-hour that was!



Mtngoat - Posted - 08/10/2013:  09:51:13

A a nice job of priming the TOTW performance pump.

Here's the link to the Bing recording: .  Warfield is track # 9.  That's a good find.

Thanks Bill.

Edited by - Mtngoat on 08/10/2013 09:56:08

bd - Posted - 08/10/2013:  09:55:08

Here's a shot at it after a little while of messing around & following the video tutorial this morning. I'm in open D (dADF#A) tuning but it is in G. G chordin open D is the same fingering as the C shape in open G. Kept it mostly in 1st position as all the up the neck business is a might tricksy on a fretless.

VIDEO: Warfield
(click to view)


Mtngoat - Posted - 08/10/2013:  10:07:40


That's a nice take. Thanks for posting.

By coincidence I was on the back porch this morning playing Warfield on a low tuned homemade fretless gourd banjo with fishing line strings.   Who made your banjo?  It sounds great.

bd - Posted - 08/10/2013:  10:31:23


Originally posted by Mtngoat



That's a nice take. Thanks for posting.

By coincidence I was on the back porch this morning playing Warfield on a low tuned homemade fretless gourd banjo with fishing line strings.   Who made your banjo?  It sounds great.

Thanks! Eric Prust made it for me.

JanetB - Posted - 08/10/2013:  14:18:46

All the recordings are sounding good.  I have the CD with Perry  Riley and it's always nice to have my attention drawn to a tune otherwise gone unnoticed.  My tab has several slurred notes to follow his fiddle's swinging beat.

The story about the tune reminds me of the Rough and Ready Secession Day we have in California once a year to celebrate an actual 1850 historical event.  Rough and Ready seceeded from the Union and then re-joined by July 4th because the neighboring townspeople wouldn't sell liquor for the holiday to the secessionists.  What men will do for a drink......

I saw this sign on-line and thought the story might be related to the town's name, but am not sure.


Warfield tab

bd - Posted - 08/10/2013:  14:34:23

Great sounding Warfield,Janet!

Mtngoat - Posted - 08/10/2013:  16:13:19

JanetB, I always look forward to hearing your rendition of TOTW.  Thanks for posting.

The historical marker is interesting too.

Edited by - Mtngoat on 08/10/2013 16:14:48

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/13/2013:  15:42:06

Nice TOTW selection.

Great contributions from the TOTW cadre.

Here's my stab at it.

Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 08/13/2013 15:43:12

Mtngoat - Posted - 08/13/2013:  19:18:28

That sounds good Lew.  Do I hear a head thump in there?

Mtngoat - Posted - 08/13/2013:  19:35:03

Here's an update on the town name.  Based on JanetB's tip I investigated a bit further and found that, despite the anecdotal story, the town was really named for it's founder, Mr. John Warfield, not a battleground.  It makes for a good story though.

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