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:
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 bookKinfolk 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.
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.
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.
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.