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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 10/18/2013 Red Rocking Chair


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/272377

TabMan - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:14:36


My pick for TOTW is Red Rocking Chair. This song has been around for at least 100 years and counting its origins, many more than that. This Southern Appalacian  tune is suspected of being derived from some early Scottish ballads.



If you don’t recognize the title you may recognize one of the other  aliases it goes by. These include Red Apple Juice, Honey Babe, Sugar Baby and others. Like many of the old time crowd the lyrics are sometimes are a little different under the various titles.



When I first came across this song I learned to play it in gModal (capo 2) and continue to do so. The gModal (gDGCD) or Sawmill tuning tuning seems to capture the essence of the tune as loneliness,  rejection, hopelessness. Some say it is also about sex and prostitution . But I think that may be a stretch.  The following are lyrics under the  Red Rocking Chair title …. You can make up your own minds as to what it is about.



Red Rocking Chair 



I ain't got no use for your red rocking chair 

I ain't got no sugar baby now 

No I ain't got no honey baby now



And it's who'll rock the cradle, and who'll sing this song 

Who'll be your honey when I'm gone 

Who'll be your honey when I'm gone



I'll rock the cradle, and I'll sing this song 

I'll rock the cradle when you're gone 

yes I'll rock the cradle when you're gone



Laid her in the shade, gave her every dime I made 

What more could a poor boy do 

What more could a poor boy do



I've done all I can do, said all I can say 

I'll sing it to your mama next payday 

I'll sing it to your mama next payday



Some old rounder come along, took my sugar babe and gone 

And I ain't got no sugar baby now 

No I ain't got no honey baby now



 



Some versions say “my rocking chair” others say “your rocking chair” and the verses may be in a different order. Maybe that represents the viewpoint of the song.



I was a little surprised by the number of people who have performed this song but even more so by who they were. Going back to the 1920’s there is some hint that Bascom Lamar Lunsford made a recording but I could not find anything. I wish I could because I love his sound.

Performers include:



Doc Watson (stick with this one to the end)



 youtube.com/watch?v=r26bJ9vcGV...p;index=9



Mac Wiseman  youtube.com/watch?v=eZtYbdF6UDU



The Country Gentlemen youtube.com/watch?v=WwP5VyRK3Qs



Grateful Dead  youtube.com/watch?v=mpf082C99d4



….and many more.  The above few give a wide sampling of different styles for the same song.



By now I’m sure you want to play Red Rocking Chair in your own style so here is a tab for it …. Have a go.



banjoteacher.com/Old%20Time%20...ynerd.JPG



 



I hope you found this worth your time, Keep on pick’n.



Best regards to all,



Herb


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:31:35


Diane Jones and Hubie King play this on their CD, “There Are No Rules”:



countysales.com/products.php?p...-Rules%27



This is a unique version, one I’ve never heard:



 



 



 


Noah Cline - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:44:30


How ironic -- I just uploaded this tune last night as "Sugar Baby."



I thought that it was best done on my mountain banjo, tuned dBEAB (fDGCD tuned down three half-steps); I play old-time three-finger and clawhammer on this one, trying to get the finger style sound like Dock's.



This is the recording of Dock Boggs that I learned it from --





Edited by - Noah Cline on 10/17/2013 13:47:11



VIDEO: Sugar Baby
(click to view)

   

alubin - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:44:35


My favorite version of this tune has always been Dock Boggs' (he called it Sugar Baby). I think he's playing it out of standard open G tuning, down a half step or so. That's the way I've been playing it when I try to imitate him. Could anyone confirm that he is in fact using that tuning?


Noah Cline - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:49:14


quote:

Originally posted by Brooklynbanjoboy

 

Diane Jones and Hubie King play this on their CD, “There Are No Rules”:



countysales.com/products.php?p...-Rules%27



This is a unique version, one I’ve never heard:



 



 




 






Sounds like "Rain and Snow."


Noah Cline - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:51:17


quote:

Originally posted by alubin

 

My favorite version of this tune has always been Dock Boggs' (he called it Sugar Baby). I think he's playing it out of standard open G tuning, down a half step or so. That's the way I've been playing it when I try to imitate him. Could anyone confirm that he is in fact using that tuning?






I've listened to his recording several times, and I believe he's using G modal or fDGCD down half a step. I played guitar along with this, and it confirmed the pitch.


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/17/2013:  13:56:17


NICE SOUND NOAH!


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/17/2013:  14:00:10


I believe I learned this tune from Diane Jones at a workshop in northern Virginia in the mid- or late 1990s.  I think Diane had a West Virginia source for this version but I don't recall what she said about the tune.  She plays and sings it on her CD withe Hubie King, "There Are No Rules.  I'm using my severely overworked little A scale -- Wyatt Fawley neck+ Vega pot with a Little Wonder tone ring.  Diane, as I recall, played it in a gDGCD tuning.  I was just too lazy to get up and fetch another banjo.



 


alubin - Posted - 10/17/2013:  14:49:18


Yes, you are absolutely correct, Noah, about the modal tuning for this one. I had a brain freeze there for a moment. I was thinking of the other Dock tune I regularly play, Wild Bill Jones, which I do think is in open G. 


Jim_R - Posted - 10/17/2013:  16:37:11


I love this version by Bruce Molsky and friends.



 



youtube.com/watch?v=0rfFGvlGlpk



 



 



 



Edited by - Jim_R on 10/17/2013 16:37:45

janolov - Posted - 10/18/2013:  08:14:05


Red Rocking Chair seems to be playable in several tunings besides sawmill tuning:



David Stacey seems to play it in "standard" G tuning in E minor position.



Dwight Diller used eEABD (dDGAC capo 2) according to a tab that I once downloaded from his site (he called the tune Sugar Babe). This tuning seems to have been used by the Hammons family according to Anita Kermode's 5 String Banjo Tunings


janolov - Posted - 10/18/2013:  08:17:16


quote:

Originally posted by alubin

 

My favorite version of this tune has always been Dock Boggs' (he called it Sugar Baby). I think he's playing it out of standard open G tuning, down a half step or so. That's the way I've been playing it when I try to imitate him. Could anyone confirm that he is in fact using that tuning?






I think he used sawmill tuning (gDGCD) tuned down a half step or so (youtube.com/watch?v=AJBhAwLdjyA)


janolov - Posted - 10/18/2013:  08:33:22


I think Roscoe Holcomb version (I Ain't Got No Sugar Baby Now) is worth a listening.


Emiel - Posted - 10/18/2013:  09:36:27


Dock Boggs played it in Sawmill tuning, but not in G-modal. He played it in D-modal out of this tuning. (Or any numbers of half steps tuned down, don't remember.)


slider03 - Posted - 10/18/2013:  12:10:06


slider03 - Posted - 10/18/2013:  12:11:36


My favorite version is by BHO member Debbielee.

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 10/18/2013:  22:16:19




 



From the concert 'The Harry Smith Project Live' a couple of years ago or so.



Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 10/18/2013 22:18:19

melinux - Posted - 10/19/2013:  01:57:22


Another version that I particularly like with Molsky, Bradley and Haas

youtube.com/watch?v=-XhprTR3tHM

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/19/2013:  02:18:08


Molsky, Bradley and Haas:



 



 


Steve Donnelly - Posted - 10/19/2013:  14:23:45


Molsky and Eggleston - really good



 



         youtube.com/watch?v=0rfFGvlGlpk



 



 


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/19/2013:  15:03:41


raybob - Posted - 10/21/2013:  09:01:21


Great choice for TOTW!  I remember a few years ago a thread about this tune where frailin' (Craig Evans) had shared a video of some Berklee music students playing it. I thought they did a great job, and I wouldn't mind seeing that again.


slc - Posted - 10/21/2013:  12:28:42


Interesting coincidence! I've been noodling around in A sawmill, playing in Em key, and what's come out is this tune! I was thinking, "I'm gonna have to dig up recordings to see how it really goes..." and voila! they appear the next day. Perfect!


mojo_monk - Posted - 10/22/2013:  08:09:07


Great choice!



I did this one on my website Thumb-Lead Banjer back in 2011. Great song with an interesting history. HERE is the write-up based on my research.



Also, here's an Mp3 & the accompanying Tab (eEABD tuning) for anyone interested in fooling around with a non-clawhammer arrangement.



 



-Sean


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/22/2013:  08:21:07


Seth,



Nice playing.  Great website.  You are very generous with your tabs and your sound files.  Thanks.  A morning with your website reminded me of how much fun the thumb lead two finger style can be.



Play hard,



Lew


LyleK - Posted - 10/22/2013:  08:50:21


quote:


Originally posted by raybob

 

Great choice for TOTW!  I remember a few years ago a thread about this tune where frailin' (Craig Evans) had shared a video of some Berklee music students playing it. I thought they did a great job, and I wouldn't mind seeing that again.







I think that would be youtube.com/watch?v=JP4_-ZuHl3Y though maybe there's another youtube of them playing this in a more listening friendly environment.  The banjo player is Lukas Pool ("picmobanjo" at BHO).  He's got an *.mp3 without the background noise at banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...p?id=5228.  He played a fantastic Marcus Martin variant of "Boatman" in the competition last month (youtube.com/watch?v=AJdI6wQgrvo).


robbyosullivan - Posted - 10/22/2013:  10:23:02


My band had a singer sit in with us at a gig last weekend, and she asked if we could play Red Rocking Chair. We hesitated, and then agreed that we could piece it together well enough...but then we proceeded to butcher it. We re-named our version to be "Red Rocking Trainwreck."

staronjeff - Posted - 10/22/2013:  12:17:31


great pick, love this song. i did this up a bit ago. Hope you like it. little two finger stile, on a half-fret, sitting in my basement studio.



 




VIDEO: Red Rocking Chair
(click to view)

   

Zischkale - Posted - 10/27/2013:  23:08:30


I wanted to post my October contest entry before looking at this thread. Awesome renditions of the song here!



Noah -- the rendition I've been playing is close to the Dock Boggs version as well. That mountain banjo has a cool tone, I'm very jealous. You're working some great syncopation in there, too, sounds like some elements of the Roscoe Holcomb version. If you haven't you need to post that video to the contest.



Jim R -- that Bruce Molsky live at pickathon video is classic, it makes me wish old-time jams would include more songs with the instrumental fiddle tunes. Those vocals are great and the jam looks like a blast.



 Thank you for posting a link to your page, Sean. Very cool to see that excerpt from the Journal of American Folklore.



Attached is my stab at it for the October contest.




VIDEO: Sugar Baby
(click to view)

   

steelhead - Posted - 10/28/2013:  12:50:46


Since this is only one of the two songs I have uploaded to my homepage I guess I'd better jump at the chance to share it with the TOTW crowd.  I mostly copied Laura Boosinger's rendition of this song but I play it in Cm.....gCGCD#.  Sorry I don't know how to download it directly to this thread so you'll have to visit my homepage to access it.  In the meantime if someone could explain how to do the download I'd be grateful.



 



Edited by - steelhead on 10/28/2013 13:01:39



Red Rocking Chair

   

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/28/2013:  12:58:49


 



banjohangout.org/myhangout/med...archived=



 



great playing.



V/R,



Lew



Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 10/28/2013 12:59:49

steelhead - Posted - 10/28/2013:  13:03:53


Thanks Lew.  I seemed to have stumbled on the solution while you were posting.


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 10/28/2013:  13:10:18


Alan,



It's worth listening to twice...


ChuckJo - Posted - 10/31/2013:  18:05:13


Here's a version in f#F#BC#E.




VIDEO:
(click to view)

   

cashwo_wv - Posted - 11/01/2013:  01:46:21


Tim Bing plays this in the tuning that Burl Hammons used eEABD.



roanerecords.bandcamp.com/trac...ing-chair


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 11/01/2013:  05:30:37


Chuck.  Nice sound.  Great depth to that tuning. 



I like the fact that you are surrounded by devoted banjos paying rapt attention to your performance.  We see them crowding together in the background.



Play hard,



Lew


Delfield - Posted - 11/01/2013:  08:54:58


Here is a version of the tune played by Frank Lee (buried about halfway through the video).  This link should take you to the 2:21 mark, where he explains his tuning (dDGBD), then plays it.



Jeff


H Kimball - Posted - 11/01/2013:  16:08:20


Thanks to all who posted video links. I learned this tune early in my clawhammer journey from Wayne Erbsen's Ignoramus book. Recently I've been going back an playing some of these "early" tunes but working on learning the words. I've found tunes like this are good to have to pull out when playing with other folks (specifically bluegrass players)  that may not be as familiar with Old Time music. The great thing about these tunes is that others can pick up and follow along. To me that is one of the great things about OT music..


Joe Newberry - Posted - 11/02/2013:  19:16:08


Here's my band, Big Medicine, with our version of Red Rocking Chair.  It is a blast to play and sing.



bigmedmusic.com/?section=music-2


rinemb - Posted - 11/03/2013:  22:56:43


I would like to see chord charts for tab or various tunings people use for these tunes.  I think they would be most helpful to folks who learn based on chord positions.  Just sayin.....



Brad


lucyloo - Posted - 11/09/2013:  01:39:34


is it just me or is this song a bit crooked? Why is this song foxing me so much??! If anyone has figured out the structure I'd love to know what conclusion they came to.

My breakdown goes something like this (all the formatting disappears when i post this but I think you get the idea)

I ain't got no use
1 2 3 4 5 6

I ain't got no use for that
1 2 3 4

red rocking chair
1 2 3 4


I ain't got no sugar baby now
1 2 3 4 5 6

I ain't got no honey baby
1 2 3 4

now
1 2 3 4

youtube.com/watch?v=0rfFGvlGlp...p=desktop

banjomary - Posted - 12/13/2013:  09:48:16


Herb, thank you for the tab and all the Red Rocking Chair versions! I like the way Dock Boggs plays it, but I think my favorite version is by Karen Dalton. Here's a clip: youtube.com/watch?v=7_d6WXvMAIk The whole album, Green Rocky Road, is a winner. She gives me chills when she sings Little Margaret.



 



 



 


Mtngoat - Posted - 12/13/2013:  16:09:33


I've always liked this version:  youtube.com/watch?v=_cHcDL0ze4s


JoeDownes - Posted - 12/15/2013:  01:29:27


I play it in bluegrass style in Dm tuning.



hangoutstorage.com/banjohangou...12012.mp3



Edited by - JoeDownes on 12/15/2013 01:31:58

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