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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 11-22-2013 Rat's Gone to Rest

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:

Mtngoat - Posted - 11/22/2013:  15:36:53

TOTW  11-22-2013   Rat’s Gone To Rest

I’ve chosen Rat’s Gone to Rest by Bath County, Kentucky, fiddler George Lee Hawkins (1904 – 1991) for this installment of TOTW.  All the sources I researched for this narrative quoted Mr. Hawkins as having learned the tune around 1915, when he was eleven or twelve years old, from African-American fiddler Bill Trumbo.  Trumbo, according to information unearthed in the 1920 Census by Joseph Scott, was born in 1892 and worked as a farm hand for Hawkins’ parents.  Here is some additional biographical information on George Hawkins  .

Musicologist Jeff Titon, in his book Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, says Hawkins is the sole source of Rat’s Gone to Rest.   Barbra Kunkle recorded Hawkins playing the tune for the Digital Library of Appalachia on March 23, 1974 and Mark Wilson and Gus Meade recorded him again two weeks later on April 6, 1974. The second recording seems to be more polished and of higher quality.   In both instances Mr. Hawkins is accompanied on piano by his daughter Mary Hawkins Curry.  Those recordings can be found on the DLA and Slippery Hill  websites respectively.

An internet search returned ten hits for Rat’s Gone to Rest including this posting by our own J-Walk.

The young lady playing the banjo has a good clawhammer stroke on this performance by the Elm Street Alleycats and young Walter King plays a nice fiddle version here:  Walter

This version by Kentucky Memories  features a bluegrass banjo.

I was unable to find a tab for Rat’s Gone to Rest but the tune is simple enough in standard G tuning.  The coarse part is a series of rolling hammers descending the scale and coming back up.  You can get by on the fine part just playing chords in the first position.   The Magnolia Serenaders  posted this seven minute recording that gives plenty of time to learn the tune while playing along.

Those who read music may find this transcription from Titon’s book featuring standard notation helpful.

Rat’s Gone to Rest is easy to learn and fun to play.  Your jam mates will appreciate your introducing it.

J-Walk - Posted - 11/22/2013:  16:34:26

Good choice, goat. I've played it many times -- but always while listening to the Light and Hitch recording (always slowed down). I'm still waiting to play it in a jam. 

BTW, the video you linked to features one of the Light and Hitch players. That's Mary Jane Epps, barefoot with the long pony tail. 

I've heard a recording by George Lee Hawkins where he says, "With D-Con". I thought I had that recording, but I don't. 

Mtngoat - Posted - 11/22/2013:  18:14:37

I've heard a private recording where he said that too, but I can't remember who recorded it or the occasion.  It might have been at the Berea College festival.  Anyone know where one of these recordings can be found.?

Edited by - Mtngoat on 11/22/2013 18:15:45

maxinegerb - Posted - 11/22/2013:  23:04:08

I do have that recording where George Hawkins says, "Rat's Gone To Rest... with D-Con!" But I'm halfway across the country from my home and my recordings and won't be home till the week after next, so I can't post it till then. I love this tune, and associate it especially with Mary Jane Epps, because I've probably played it with her more than anyone else, especially late at night at places like Clifftop. I may have a recording of MJ, Joe DeJarnette (aka Joebass), and myself playing it at my home one December night several years ago, but again, I can't check till I get home. great choice for TOTW!

banjered - Posted - 11/23/2013:  09:06:26

Could someone post the transcription here for the computerly-challenged? Banjered

JanetB - Posted - 11/23/2013:  09:39:29


Originally posted by Mtngoat


I've heard a private recording where he said that too, but I can't remember who recorded it or the occasion.  It might have been at the Berea College festival.  Anyone know where one of these recordings can be found.?

Mr. Hawkins says the D-con comment loud and clear on the CD called Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky, Up the Ohio and Licking Rivers, Volume 1, recorded by Guthrie Meade, John Harrod, and Mark Wilson.  It's on track 16.  Nine of the thirty-two tracks are from George Hawkins.  The comment is made in the liner notes that although there weren't many black Americans in the region at that time, their contribution to its early music was significant.  More of their influence is heard in Volume 2 of this series.

hendrid - Posted - 11/23/2013:  13:15:51

How about this one.  Runs for 6 minutes.  Roaring River - Oldtime fiddle jam

Edited by - hendrid on 11/23/2013 13:22:46

JanetB - Posted - 11/23/2013:  15:41:37

Well, Mountain Goat, you've again chosen a great tune and given me another Kentucky fiddler to learn about.  His story is touching and his dedication to music is apparent by reading the bio link you gave us. The title doesn't even hint at the beauty of this tune.  I worked out this slow version from the notation in the Titon book and by listening to his original recording.  I can clean up my tab if someone wants it.

Rat's Gone to Rest


J-Walk - Posted - 11/23/2013:  16:25:11

Ha! I do have that recording where he says "With D-Con". I was searching for rats (without the apostrophe). Thanks, Janet.

Mtngoat - Posted - 11/23/2013:  16:42:57


Originally posted by JanetB


I can clean up my tab if someone wants it.

 Janet, that's great. You've set a high standard for the those who regularly post their versions of TOTW.

Please post your tab.  Sounds like we play the coarse part pretty much the same but I'm curious to see how you get all those notes in the fine part!



Edited by - Mtngoat on 11/23/2013 16:46:45

JanetB - Posted - 11/23/2013:  20:42:13

Here's the tab.  If I had to play this fast, it would take much more practice, but then again, in a jam or with a fiddle one wouldn't need to play every note.

Beachbum Scott - Posted - 11/24/2013:  04:14:39

Hey Janet something is missing...

JanetB - Posted - 11/24/2013:  07:03:11

Sorry, here it is.

Rat's Gone to Rest tab


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 11/26/2013:  09:35:58

Good stuff.  Nice playing everyone.

Here's my contribution to the TOTW effort.''


slc - Posted - 11/26/2013:  15:43:39

I heard this last year on one of the wonderful clifftop Youtube clips. I tried to learn it (fiddle) but couldn't find the patterns. This material will be VERY useful! Thanks!

LyleK - Posted - 11/27/2013:  13:30:03

Nice versions Janet and Lew.  I do think though that playing this one out of gDGBD makes it more work than out of gEADE.  I'll record it out of the latter tuning when I'm back around a banjo (separated right now).  But for now, here's a tab in gEADE and then gDGBD for comparison.



Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 11/27/2013:  13:47:07


Thanks for taking the time to do these comparison tabs, a real service to the TOTW "community."  I'll give the gEADE tuning a test drive. 

Have a fine Thanksgiving, everyone,


aeroweenie - Posted - 11/27/2013:  17:38:51

Mtngoat - good pick, I'll add it to my list of tunes to learn but I won't get to it anytime soon.  Nice banjo versions presented so far.   I really appreciate the links with fiddles and banjos together, the roaring river jam is great!

Mtngoat - Posted - 11/27/2013:  19:05:25

Thanks Brooklynbanjoboy for your interesting take on the tune.

Thanks LyleK for the tabs.  Some of those licks will be hard for me but I'll have to try it in gEADE too.

Time is running out on this TOTW so procrastinators need to post soon,  There's bound to be a few more contributions out there.


LyleK - Posted - 12/01/2013:  19:50:16

Finally got it recorded (in gEADE).

VIDEO: Rat's Gone to Rest
(click to view)


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 12/02/2013:  02:06:41

Lyle, well worth waiting for.  Thanks for sharing.



Mtngoat - Posted - 12/02/2013:  17:46:44

Lew's right, Lyle, it was worth the wait.  I'm still working on it from your tab and this will help..

And these posts put this thread got over the magic 20 mark to get the little flames on the side.  How cool is that?

Thanks everyone for your support.

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