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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 9/27/13: Stump-Tailed Dog

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:

J-Walk - Posted - 09/27/2013:  08:54:30

This week, it's Stump-Tailed Dog. I first heard this tune on Chirps' excellent Midwestern Harvest CD (which seems difficult to find these days).

Jody Kruskal writes:

Stump-Tail Dog is a downstate Illinois tune collected by Garry Harrison in 1977 from the playing of Howard Sims, then 80 years old. Fiddler Lynn "Chirps" Smith was involved in the collecting project and in 1994 recorded the tune on his album Midwestern Harvest.

A recording of this tune by Howard Sims appears on the Dear Old Illinois CD 1, which is out of print. You can listen to this track here.

There might be some connection with a tune called "Stump Tailed Dolly" (or just "Dolly"), but I can't hear much of a resemblance.

It's a catchy little tune, and is pretty easy to learn.

If you're not used to learning tunes without tab, this might be a good one to get you started. It has all of the notes you play every day, but just in a different order and with different timing.

In the key of G, the chords go like this (it's played AABB):

A Part:
G/// G/// G/// D/ G/
G/// G/// C/ G/ D/ G/

B Part:
G/// G/// D/// D///
G/// G/// C/ G/ D/ G/

Other online recordings:

I've been playing this tune for about two years, but (to the best of my recollection) I've played it in a jam exactly one time. That was last week at Steve's place. Nobody had heard it before, but just about everyone got it after 1-3 times through.

Give it a try and post your recording or video. I turned on the recorder while I played it in Double G tuning on my low-tuned Jason Mogi fretted 13" banjo. Here's an excerpt that has the fewest mistakes. With this tuning, I play the low part high and the high part low.

And finally, here's a random stump-tailed dog:

Stump-Tailed Dog


csbdr - Posted - 09/27/2013:  09:34:30

Nice one! Gonna try it out tonight. Thanks for the great write-up

hendrid - Posted - 09/27/2013:  09:39:14

Interesting tune. shows 2 different tunes, one with John Hartford.  Which is this one.  Don

Here is a version:


J-Walk - Posted - 09/27/2013:  09:47:24

hendrid, I tried playing the ABC notation provided for the second one (Hartford), and that's definitely not the same tune.[1]

vrteach - Posted - 09/27/2013:  12:34:15

I have to add a link from one you have in your first post. Following the Jody Kruskal post takes you to the original blog post from 2007, which has a great mp3 that has the tune from Chirps' cd, then from a dulcimer jam with the tune, then Jody's version on concertina.

I'll see if I can come up with a worthy version to add to the mix.

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 09/27/2013:  14:59:29


Great tune choice.

Very fine playing, and a great sound on that Jason Mogi banjo.

Seems the equation is just right:

low tuned banjo, clever reversing of high and low parts,

and your clear right hand stroke. 

I confess to having heard of Lynn Chirps Smith,

but I hadn't heard him play until now. 

This TOTW was a chance to learn about a great fiddler.


I’ll take a crack at it.

The hounds in the background are not repeat not drugged.
Nor do they object to OT music, or even banjo.
You are seeing the impact of shampoo and soap and a nice cold water bath on a late September afternoon
out here in Shenandoah Valley. Might be the last backyard bath of the season...




Thanks for sharing.


J-Walk - Posted - 09/27/2013:  18:32:44

Lew, your playing is so awesome. It's exactly how I'd like to play.

J-Walk - Posted - 09/27/2013:  19:57:51

I just checked the stats, and this is my 13th TOTW post. I should step aside for a while and let some others join in the fun of posting a TOTW.

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 09/28/2013:  00:03:50


Originally posted by J-Walk


I just checked the stats, and this is my 13th TOTW post. I should step aside for a while and let some others join in the fun of posting a TOTW.

Well, that's 13 posts over a span of 270 weeks - about one post every five months or so.  I don't think you are in danger of hogging the TOTW.  I figure the more volunteers the better, so if you still enjoy posting tunes I'd say there is no need to step aside.

I am enjoying this Tune of the Week very much. Catchy, fairly straightfoward  - a great jam tune.  I ran across Howard Sims when I was considering posting one of his central Illinois tune awhile back - Old Mose, I think.

Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 09/28/2013 00:08:00

jojo25 - Posted - 09/28/2013:  19:09:15

nice...which I can say about most anything Chirps does

banjo bill-e - Posted - 09/29/2013:  10:26:35

I really like this one, nice bouncy rhythm that makes ya happy! Thanks for the TOTW, John.


LyleK - Posted - 09/29/2013:  15:39:19

It's a catchy little tune, and is pretty easy to learn.

  • Banjo tab (PDF) by LyleK. Note that this is for gEADE tuning.

We play this one pretty frequently in "Chambana" though somehow it has fallen off the radar of late.  I really liked what I heard here, so yesterday at the Farmer's Market we cranked-up this pup again.  I was on fiddle so when I got home I went to the banjo and tried both gEADE tuning and gDGBD.  My choice to tab the tune in gEADE is regrettable because you lose the low D that is so characteristic of the first measure of the A part.  So I'm attaching a *.pdf copy of a tab in standard G tuning.  Also did a youtube video starting in gEADE tuning and then going to gDGBD.

VIDEO: Stump-Tailed Dog
(click to view)

Stump-Tailed Dog Tab

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 09/29/2013:  16:14:47

Nicely done, Lyle.  You convinced me to try that tuning.  Your TABS are a real public service.  Thanks for all that work.

Play hard,


JanetB - Posted - 09/29/2013:  16:24:29

Oh, I like these versions!  Thanks, J-walk for posting one from the Dear Old Illinois set of recordings.  I had a dog with a docked tail named Prince Ginger when I was very young.  My sister and I would race from the car after being gone on vacation to see who could get to the backyard first and watch Prince's happy tail wagging at our homecoming.

Stump Tail Dog


cornfed - Posted - 09/30/2013:  08:36:40

Great tune, John. I really enjoy your TOTW posts. If I wasn't such a technokluz I would post the version I put together. I guess that I'll just call the tune at the next jam we're both at. And, after all his is Banjo Hangout, not Fiddle. I really enjoy listening to the different banjo takes on tunes that I play. Its edjamacational. Very well done JanetB. (and Lyle, and Lew And....)

SCclawman - Posted - 09/30/2013:  11:33:33

That's a really fun sounding tune! Great job by all on the recordings posted.

J-Walk, I'll be looking forward to your 14th TOTW in the near future. big

aeroweenie - Posted - 10/01/2013:  19:25:29

Really nice tune J-Walk!   I've learned this but don't have time to record and post it until I get back from a trip in a week.  I like the versions people have offered up so far, this is for me one of the most enjoyable things about TOTW.

vrteach - Posted - 10/06/2013:  13:59:19

Better late than never (or after the topic gets archived). I had some time to give it a try today.

VIDEO: Stump-tailed Dog
(click to view)


J-Walk - Posted - 10/06/2013:  19:45:35

Excellent job with that one, Erich!

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