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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 08/30/13 - Dusty Miller (Mississippi version).

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:

Dean-O-Craft - Posted - 08/30/2013:  08:38:44

The TOTW this week is a Mississippi recording from a 67 year old Itawamba County fiddler named John Alexander Brown. It was recorded in 1939 by Herbert Halpert of the Library of Congress. The original recording has an odd rhythm, as Mr Alexander held the first note of the second part. The Fiddler's Companion claims that the tune was recorded in cross G fiddle tuning, (GDgd). My wife and I play it in cross A, (AEae) on the fiddle and sawmill, (aEADE), on the banjo. 

Although there are several other tunes of the same name, they are different and appear to be unrelated. This is kind of a rare tune, and I could not find any other recordings of it besides Mr . Alexander and one other source. The original version can be found here:

It can also be found on a compilation of tunes from Mississippi called "Great Big Yam Potatoes / Anglo-American Fiddle Music from Mississippi", but that is out of print. I was able to find a used copy listed on e-bay for $29.99, so there are some copies out there!

The other version of this tune comes from a group called Soundwagon, with Jack Magee on the fiddle and Ritchey Stearns on the banjo. You can buy that CD on CD Baby here:

It is not a particularly difficult tune on the banjo. My wife, Judy, and I made a video of our version and it is attached at the bottom. I had a technical difficulty with the audio recording and so the video is using the audio from the camcorder. I did also include the mp3 audio from the Zoom, which is a better quality.

Hope you guys learn this one! It deserves to be played.



Dusty Miller

VIDEO: Dusty Miller
(click to view)

ABK - Posted - 08/30/2013:  09:18:13

This is awesome Dean! Coincidentally, I've been working on a 3-finger, melodic version from Alan Munde that I pulled out of one of Tony Trischka's books. I'll get it posted this weekend at some point, just trying to smooth it out and play up to speed. Your version with your wife is really nice, and I love that modal feel!

orangikan - Posted - 08/30/2013:  10:19:12

Love this tune. For those who haven't had the pleasure, here's a killer solo banjo version by Hunter Robertson:

JRushing - Posted - 08/30/2013:  10:34:12

If I'm not mistaken when they showed up to record John, he was plowing a field in a suit. He came in sat down and recorded then went right back to plowing in his suit.

I reckon he wanted to look his best for the recording! Hahaa

ScottK - Posted - 08/30/2013:  12:07:38


Originally posted by Dean-O-Craft

It can also be found on a compilation of tunes from Mississippi called "Great Big Yam Potatoes / Anglo-American Fiddle Music from Mississippi", but that is out of print. I was able to find a used copy listed on e-bay for $29.99, so there are some copies out there!  

Great tune, Dean.  Really love your video!

That Great Big Yam Potatoes has been posted to the Times Ain't Like They Used to Be blog.  You can find it here.  Archived BHO discussion about it here.


J-Walk - Posted - 08/30/2013:  14:31:18

Although there are several other tunes of the same name, they are different and appear to be unrelated. 

Well that would explain my difficulty in learning this one in the past! I have about 30 different recordings, and I couldn't never find one that seemed "definitive." I've always liked the Soundgarden recording best (i.e., the tune featured here), but I kept confusing it with Cluck Old Hen. But this post forced me to listen to about 10 times in a row, and now I'm getting it.

BTW, Tatiana Hargreaves recorded this version on her Started Out to Ramble CD. It's part of a medley with "Raleigh and Spencer."

Good choice, Dean -- and great playing on the video.

Dean-O-Craft - Posted - 08/30/2013:  15:10:28

Excellent contributions from the crowd! I could not find any other versions of the tune... Also, I am grateful for the link to download the Great Big Yam Potatoes compilation. Free is best!


atleson - Posted - 08/31/2013:  08:58:09

i have long enjoyed the lp "great big yam potatoes"  but i notice that the link to the mp3 version on Gadaya's site doesn't work.  Any suggestions?



Dean-O-Craft - Posted - 08/31/2013:  09:19:37

Jim, I found it on Scottk's link above.


Gadaya - Posted - 08/31/2013:  09:28:21

Hi everyone, being the guy behind the "Times ain't like they used to be" blog, I'm sorry to say that all the files have been erased from the Mediafire website. But if someone is interested by the "Great big yam potatoes" lp, send me a PM and I'd be happy to share it with you.

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/31/2013:  13:23:24

This TOTW is a nice one, another mesmerizing tune that one might play in solitude for a long, long time – as I did while trying to come up with a credible version.


I said it before but it is worth repeating: All the Youtube music videos that come out of the fiddle/banjo pairing of Dean and Judy Robinson are great. They make high-grade old time music together. 


Here’s my crack at the tune. 


By the way, I really like what Hunter played.  Gotta go back and study that now.


Thanks, Dean and Judy.


Play hard,


atleson - Posted - 08/31/2013:  14:48:19

Judy and Dean,


excellent work on this tune.  With "Sally coming through the Rye" and "Little Rose"  in the last few weeks, I am overcome with wonderful model tunes to work on---my favorite tuning!



JanetB - Posted - 08/31/2013:  18:31:33

Thanks for an excellent TOTW choice, Dean.  You and Judy play a beautiful old-time duet together.  

banjo bill-e - Posted - 09/01/2013:  08:13:14

Really liking this tune, and it's new to me. Some great versions posted here. Good TOTW!

llrevis - Posted - 09/01/2013:  13:08:04

For those addicted to tab like myself; there is a tab of  Dusty Miller in "Clawhammer Banjo String Band Favorites" by the late Steve Parker available from Elderly.


Steve Donnelly - Posted - 09/01/2013:  14:02:42

There's a tab version of Dusty Miller  in Bob Flesher's "Old-Time

Clawhammer Banjo Tablature".

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 09/01/2013:  14:48:43

Here's Bob Flesher playing his version:

Tamarack - Posted - 09/01/2013:  19:49:29

Great tune! One listen and it has been stuck in my head all day.

Dean-O-Craft - Posted - 09/04/2013:  15:56:44

Thank you guys for the kind words on our homegrown version! We appreciate that!



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