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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 2-28-2014 (OT): Black Eyed Suzie


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/280540

whytelaydie7 - Posted - 02/27/2014:  17:45:23


Yeah, I'm posting this a little early because I don't think I'll be able to steal the time at work tomorrow to get it done on the correct date, but I don't imagine anyone will complain too much eh?



 



BHO TOTW 2-28-2014 (OT): Black Eyed Suzie



 



I first came across this song on the Ralph Stanley CD “Old Time Pickin’: A clawhammer collection”



 



amazon.com/Old-Time-Pickin-Cla...001EKUI2U



 



play.spotify.com/album/6BCalJ1...w9g94i7Sh



 



I really enjoyed, it, for a couple reasons, it was so simplistic, that I was able to pick it up by ear, and it had a great drive, and a bounce to it that spoke to me. (Of course that may have just been Ralph Stanley’s playing)



 



Like many of the songs we play on the banjo, it appears to have originated with a fiddle tune



 



Some history of the origin of the tune is quoted below, you can visit the full source page at:



ibiblio.org/fiddlers/BLACK.htm



 



“Bayard (1981) traces the history of the tune, beginning in the British Isles with a melody called "Rosasolis," set by Giles Farnaby (c. 1560‑ c.1600), which appears in the the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Another version of the melody is called "Morris Off" and appears in Jehan Tabourot's Orchesographie (1588); it is still used for English morris dances and has been called the earliest recorded morris tune. Still another version appears as a Welsh harp tune, "Alawon Fy Ngwlad." Later developments of the tune were popular in England and Scotland from the early 17th century through the 18th, under the title "Three (Jolly) Sheep Skins [1];" while in Ireland a variation became known as "Aillilliu mo Mhailin" (Alas My Little Bag) {a humorous lament for a stolen bag of sundries}.”



 



“Transported to the United States from various overseas sources the melody developed into an old-time standard, "Black Eyed Susie," well-known throughout the South and Midwest. It was mentioned in reports from 1926‑31 of the De Kalb County, northeast Alabama, Annual (Fiddler's) Convention, and at a 1929 Grove Hill, southwest Alabama, contest (Cauthen, 1990). It appears in the lists of tunes played at the 1924 Berea, Kentucky, fiddle contest, and in tune lists dating from 1915 from Berea fiddlers. Musicologist Vance Randolph collected and recorded the breakdown in the early 1940's for the Library of Congress from Ozark Mountains fiddlers, and it was similarly waxed in 1939 from the playing of Tishomingo County, Mississippi, fiddler John Hatcher for the same institution.”



 



It is also noted there are several other alternate titles, including "Hop Up, Kitty Puss]" (northeast Ky.), “Kitty Puss,” “Possum Up a Simmon Tree,” “Puncheon Camp(s)



 



Black Eyed Suzie has a large selection of lyrics. Many recordings I have heard may only use 3-4 verses. While not claiming hundreds of verses like Old Joe Clark, for example, there are quite a few. (feel free to add to it)



Source: bluegrasslyrics.com/node/1145



 



Black eyed Susie went to town



All she wore was a gingham gown



 



CHOURUS



Hey Black eyed Susie



Ho Black eyed Susie



Hey Black eyed Susie Jane (Brown, et al.)



 



I may get drunk I may get woozy



But I'm comin' home to Black eyed Susie



 



Black eyed Susie's long and tall



Sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall



 



Hey old man I want your daughter



To chop my wood and carry my water



 



Black eyed Susie lives in a holler



She won't come and I won't call her



 



All I want in this creation



Pretty little wife on a big plantation.



 



All I need to make me happy



Two little boys to call me Pappy.



 



One name Sop and the other name Gravy



One sop it up and the other gonna save it.



 



Up Red Oak and down salt water



Some old man gonna lose his daughter.



 



Black eyed Susie went huckleberry pickin'



Came home late and took a lickin'.



 



Love my wife and love my baby



Love my biscuits sopped in gravy.



 



Goin' back home with a pocket full of money



Somebody there to call me honey.



 



Usually structured as AB (Verse, Chorus, Verse, etc)



 



Roscoe Holcomb:



youtube.com/watch?v=pQNGX0o3ay8



 



Old Crow Medicine Show



youtube.com/watch?v=qEouSw1UVaE



 



Even a bit outside the usual…….



AntiSeen (punk rock)



youtube.com/watch?v=SnMUYP12k6M



 



and my own attempt at it…..



youtube.com/watch?v=ArOBH6iyF2...=youtu.be







ENJOY!


vrteach - Posted - 02/27/2014:  19:50:13


Very interesting, thanks. I'll see if I can post a version.

RG - Posted - 02/27/2014:  21:52:35


My favorite banjo version of all time, based on fiddler Robert Sykes version I believe, but with that unmistakable stamp of Mr. Gellert...



 



 



 



 





 



Never get tired of listening to that...


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 02/28/2014:  01:32:44


That fretless version has energy.



Here's my favorite rendition:



 





 



carlb - Posted - 02/28/2014:  04:19:09


My favorite version is Luther Strong on fiddle. What I play on fiddle and banjo is heavily influenced by this version.

juneberry78s.com/sounds/Luther...Susie.mp3



Another really good fiddler version is from Elmo Newcomer

memory.loc.gov/afc/afcss39/263/2634a1.mp3



Edited by - carlb on 02/28/2014 04:26:22

strokestyle - Posted - 02/28/2014:  06:54:33


Here is a recording of Banjo Billy Mathews playing Black Eyed Suzie Brown from 2009. It sounds good on a fretless. He played this for me back in 2009 and I am still working on it:)

 




Black Eyed Suzie Brown

   

John D - Posted - 02/28/2014:  09:10:02


I've liked this tune since the 60s when I heard it on a Dillard's album.  It's a great tune and, in an ideal session, should be played at least 35 times before stopping.



Looking forward to different versions.  Here's mine recorded this morning:




Black Eyed Susie TOTW

   

Don Borchelt - Posted - 03/01/2014:  04:04:39


A great choice for tune of the week.  Great performances from Alan and John, reminded me why I have always loved this tune.  I have attached two versions.  The first is a video of Ed Britt and I busking in Harvard Square, back in September, 2011.  Ed is playing clawhammer style in double C tuning, capoed on 2, I am three finger picking in open D tuning.  The second is an MP3, the only recording I have from my brief days as a clawhammer picker. This is from the album produced for the Seventh Annual Banjo Contest, held in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, in 1974. I am picking out of double C.   I think this was basically Art Rosenbaum's setting from his original Oak publication, now out of print. 



- Don Borchelt




VIDEO: Black Eyed Susie
(click to view)


Black Eyed Suzie

JanetB - Posted - 03/01/2014:  13:21:26


These are so good!  Here's my favorite version from Bigfoot, based on Robert Sykes' fiddling:  youtube.com/watch?v=4BJM3iN40O8  They swing it with a bluesy beat.  I find that anything John Herrmann plays is gold.  And Rhys Jones' fiddling equals that.


whytelaydie7 - Posted - 03/01/2014:  14:20:37


quote:

Originally posted by Don Borchelt

A great choice for tune of the week.  Great performances from Alan and John, reminded me why I have always loved this tune.  I have attached two versions.  The first is a video of Ed Britt and I busking in Harvard Square, back in September, 2011.  Ed is playing clawhammer style in double C tuning, capoed on 2, I am three finger picking in open D tuning.  The second is an MP3, the only recording I have from my brief days as a clawhammer picker. This is from the album produced for the Seventh Annual Banjo Contest, held in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, in 1974. I am picking out of double C.   I think this was basically Art Rosenbaum's setting from his original Oak publication, now out of print. 




- Don Borchelt







I was hoping you'd post that video! I have to say that those videos of you and Ed are some of my favorites, always great stuff.



 


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 03/01/2014:  14:39:37


Great TOTW drill.  So nice to see such fine playing.



It's just plain hard to chose a favorite...

 



Here's my crack at it:



 



ajisai - Posted - 03/02/2014:  08:06:24


I'm with RG. I don't think I'll ever get tired of listening to Dan Gellert's version of the tune.



But, that said, here's a very different take on it from Jonas Friddle's band that I also enjoy. 




Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 03/02/2014:  08:21:20


Cyndy, That had energy.  Thanks for sharing.



The first version I heard that stuck with me was David Holt's, on one of his earlier albums.



He has a version with Doc Watson on their mutli-CD album, but here's an outtake from that early CD of his:



youtube.com/watch?v=IxkONeCreZM


camcumberland - Posted - 03/02/2014:  13:34:10


youtu.be/xtKgg-T-pZQ  Here's my attempt (complete with hockey and baby)


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 03/02/2014:  13:37:50


That was some impressive singing from off in the corner.



I kept trying to figure out what you were doing differently in playing the tune, what twist made this a unique departure, and then I realized: you're playing without your beard.  Makes a difference.



Great playing.  Thanks for sharing.  Here's the imbed:



 





Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 03/02/2014 13:38:12

JanetB - Posted - 03/02/2014:  14:13:06


After working on Bigfoot Stringband's Black Eyed Susie and Rhys Jones' fiddling, I listened to the above link of Dan Gellert and enjoyed his bluesy slides.  The Robert Sykes version inspired both Dan and Rhys.  Here's a link to it:   slippery-hill.com/M-K/AEAE/Bla...Susan.mp3  It seems that Robert Sykes (1914 - 1994) is definitely a fiddler worth studying.  I only know that he learned from his father and uncle, lived in Surry County, NC, knew Tommy Jarrell well and played in bands during different times of his life who included both Tommy's sister Edith and Paul Brown.



My MP3 is mostly from listening to Rhys Jones.




Black Eyed Susie

   

whytelaydie7 - Posted - 03/02/2014:  14:58:56


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

After working on Bigfoot Stringband's Black Eyed Susie and Rhys Jones' fiddling, I listened to the above link of Dan Gellert and enjoyed his bluesy slides.  The Robert Sykes version inspired both Dan and Rhys.  Here's a link to it:   slippery-hill.com/M-K/AEAE/Bla...Susan.mp3  It seems that Robert Sykes (1914 - 1994) is definitely a fiddler worth studying.  I only know that he learned from his father and uncle, lived in Surry County, NC, knew Tommy Jarrell well and played in bands during different times of his life who included both Tommy's sister Edith and Paul Brown.




My MP3 is mostly from listening to Rhys Jones.



 




Top notch, Janet!



 


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 03/02/2014:  15:19:53


I agree.  Janet wrestled that one to the mat, and managed at the same time to impart some interesting information and a lead on a fiddler to add to the "study list." 


Paul S - Posted - 03/02/2014:  17:10:36


Great TOTW choice Whytelaydie. Brooklyn, I like the way Dwight Diller plays the 4th string and I will incorperate that into my playing the tune as well.

Paul

jaydobro - Posted - 03/04/2014:  10:19:09


Very enjoyable. Thanks,  Jay


blockader - Posted - 03/04/2014:  12:14:45


Heres one of my favorite banjo versions of Syke's BES, from BHOer Nick Bachman. I especially love the stutters he uses in the low part, with something like a galax lick i think.



Justin



 



 


RG - Posted - 03/04/2014:  18:03:42


Yep Justin, that's a good'un from Nick!!  He built that banjo by the way...it sounds really cool...


BrendanD - Posted - 03/06/2014:  04:59:21


It's fun to hear all the different takes on the myriad versions of this tune! My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Robert Sykes and his wife at their home in North Carolina many years ago, in the company of Paul Brown (and probably his wife Terry McMurray; I don't quite remember who all was there). He was a sweet and gracious man as well as a fine fiddler, and I still have the copy of his vinyl album, also titled "Black-Eyed Susan" that he inscribed and gave to us.



Another favorite version of mine is Luther Strong's, which Carl Baron posted above. Carl, I also enjoyed the Elmo Newcomer version you posted, which I hadn't heard before! Some years ago, I recorded a version based on both Luther Strong's and J. W. Day's versions with my band the Cliffhangers, which I've uploaded below. Here's some info about that recording from our album notes:



Tunings: fiddle - ADAE, banjo - aDADE



Sources: Luther Strong, Dalesburg, Kentucky; James William "J.W." Day, Catlettsburg, Kentucky



 



Many of the tunes we play are drawn from the repertoire of great solo fiddlers, such as J.W. Day, who performed as Jilson Setters, the "Singing Fiddler of Lost Hope Hollow." Here we blend two versions of a classic tune, journeying from Strong’s setting to Day’s and back again (catching a brief glimpse of J.W. Twilight along the way).



 



The players are Mark Simos, fiddle; Brendan Doyle, banjo; Jody Platt, tenor guitar; Rusty Neithammer, guitar; Karen Falkowski, bass. Recorded in October 2005 in West Chester, PA by Tim Brown.



 



I hope you enjoy it!



Edited by - BrendanD on 03/06/2014 05:02:10



Black-Eyed Susie

   

mbuk06 - Posted - 03/06/2014:  05:39:57


Brendan, I did enjoy it. A lot. smiley


vrteach - Posted - 03/06/2014:  09:18:58


Well, I finally got around to doing a quick version this morning before heading out for Breaking up Winter. I believe that I learned Suzie from the Art Rosenbaum book, and I've never really settled on lyrics.




Black-Eyed Suzie

   

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