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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 8/29/14 - Fortune


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/290478

blackrim - Posted - 08/28/2014:  19:44:33


I was a little surprised that Fortune had not already been done on the TOTW. I am a huge fan of Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed, and Jarrell so couldn't resist doing the first song on the Camp Creek Boys Old Time String Band album. Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of information available for the tune. Nevertheless, it is a classic and so here goes!



Again, there isn't much information but the main sources of information are Ceolas Fiddler's companion (ceolas.org) and Krassen's Clawhammer Banjo (1974) and Appalachian Fiddle (1973), and of course Ceolas references Krassen's so there is a little bit of circularity there. There is spotty information in some other sources (liner notes, etc).



Generally, folks (in particular information associated folkways) just refer to it as a “traditional Appalachian” or “traditional Blue-Ridge” or just “traditional” song. The only other name that comes up with this is “Once I had a fortune” which is also the first lyric (see below) if lyrics are sung. According to the sources mentioned above, it is an old-time song from the USA and particularly western North Carolina and Virginia and particularly the round peak and Galax areas (Krassen). As for the age, it is unclear. According to “Far in the Mountains Vol 4”, there have been versions floating around since the 1890s and Jarrell is quoted in the same source as saying "I can recollect hearing my daddy play it as far back as I can recollect. I don't know where that started from...it was more just an old, well, a flat foot dance tune I'd say." 



It is usually played in the key of D (with double D tuning aDADE). Often tablature and other information suggests AABB style however, the recordings vary quite a bit. This is probably because it is something of a breakdown song and some of the B's tend to be repeated a bit more than just twice. There are distinct differences in how some play the song. In particular I find the versions played by the round peak folks and Galax crowd to be pretty different than what seems to be the “festival” version. 



Lyrics



Sometimes you can hear lyrics (but not that often). Tommy Jarrell's seems to go like...

 



Once I had a fortune all locked up in my trunk 

I lost it all a-gambling, one night when I got drunk



Wish I had a pretty little horse, corn to feed him on

And a pretty little wife to stay at home and feed him when I'm gone



These are the lyrics according to Ceolas (but I haven't heard the recording that has this one) 

Once I had a fortune, I put it in my trunk,

I lost it all a-gambling one night when I was drunk.



Wish I had a pretty little hog/horse, corn to feed him on,

And a pretty little wife around the farm to feed him when I'm gone. 



Sometimes the lyrics include this bit

Fortune I had it, fortune I lost

Fortune I lost it, one night when I got drunk



Tabs



There are a number of tabs floating around for this. I will highlight the ones that I found





Recordings This isn't an exhaustive list but here are some of the recordings I could find




  • Dan Levensen, “Barenaked Banjos”

  • Camp Creek Boys, “Old-Time String Band”

  • Glen Smith, “Traditional Music from Grayson and Carroll Counties, Virginia: Songs, Tunes with Fiddle, Banjo and Band”

  • Fred Cockerham, “High Atmosphere: Ballads and Banjo Tunes from Virginia and North Carolina Collected by John Cohen in November of 1965”

  • Tommy Jarrell, “The Legacy Of Tommy Jarrell, Volume 4: Pickin' On Tommy's Porch”

  • Roger Sprung, Hal Wylie and the Progressive Bluegrassers “Bluegrass Blast: A Mixed Bag of Ol' Timey Music”

  • Glen Neaves, “Glen Neaves and the Virginia Mountain Boys: Country Bluegrass from Southwest Virginia

  • The Bogtrotters, “The Original Bogtrotters 1937-1942”



Videos There are plenty you can search but here is one with a group and some flat footing youtube.com/watch?v=dtdPQ4H2jTU



My attempt is below



Edited by - blackrim on 08/28/2014 19:52:22



VIDEO: Fortune
(click to view)

   

chip arnold - Posted - 08/29/2014:  05:11:11


I think this was recorded in 1927 ... The lyrics are easily heard.



youtube.com/watch?v=y43rTRUTqB8


blackrim - Posted - 08/29/2014:  06:08:58


That is a great recording that I didn't know about. Thanks for sharing!


JanetB - Posted - 08/29/2014:  06:36:08


Wonderful performance on your video, Stephen!  I'm motivated by your TOTW to get Bob Carlin and Dan Levenson's Kyle Creed book, whose tab is linked above.




blackrim - Posted - 08/29/2014:  07:27:38


Thanks! Yes, that book has some nice tunes in it. Obviously they can't really capture the complexity of the performances (or the rhythm) but good starting points it seems.


vrteach - Posted - 08/29/2014:  13:59:25


What a fun tune. I think I've only played it 2-3 times in 30 years. Listening to your version, and also the video of "Danny Knicely and friends" makes me wonder why. Thanks for bringing it to the TOTW.



Edited by - vrteach on 08/29/2014 14:09:17

vrteach - Posted - 08/29/2014:  14:20:40


I did a search and found an A cappella version from the Ozarks of I'LL NEVER GET DRUNK ANY MORE

(OH, ONCE I HAD A FORTUNE) with the lyrics:



Oh, once I had a fortune

All locked up in my trunk

I lost it all at gambling

One night when I was drunk.



Chorus: I'll never get drunk any more, any more.

I'll never get drunk any more.

I'll keep myself from the barroom door.

I'll never get drunk any more.



Money I had plenty,

And friends all 'round me stood,

But now my pockets are empty,

And not a friend in the land.



(Chorus)



When I go out in the morning,

My head's all racked with pain.

I promised my little darling

I'd never get drunk again.



(Chorus)



. . .

. . . joy and hope,

. . . my soul to think,

And makes me happy while I live,

Too soon was called away.



[There is one more verse, mostly incomprehensible.]



The full page and a link to the original recording at: web.lyon.edu/wolfcollection/so...1265.html



Edited by - vrteach on 08/29/2014 14:21:28

Paul Meredith - Posted - 08/29/2014:  19:33:13


Stephen, great pick!  I first learned the tune from the Krassen book, it is somewhat different than the version you play in the video (nice job by the way!).



I recorded a version on my minstrel banjo about a year ago, its in open D tuning (like open G but tuned down to D).  It is a lot of fun to work out D tunes in "G" tuning.




Fortune

   

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 08/29/2014:  20:00:35


I like to sing the words as heard on a Peggy Seeger album:



"Racoon's got a bushy tail



Possum's tail goes bare



The rabbits got no tale at all



Just a little ole bunch of hair



 



There are more verses - it fits nicely into the notes of Fortune, and that's how I sing it.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 08/30/2014:  04:31:52


Some really fine picking by Stephen and Paul, very enjoyable. This is a great choice for Tune of the Week, and well laid out.  Ed Britt and I just made a video of our picking out Fortune in Harvard Square a week or two ago.  I'm playing around with harmonics a little bit on this one.  Ed is clawhammering his OME in double C tuning capoed on the 2nd fret, I am three finger picking my Ode in open D tuning.  



- Don Borchelt




VIDEO: Fortune
(click to view)

   

Paul Meredith - Posted - 08/30/2014:  08:30:19


quote:

Originally posted by Don Borchelt

Some really fine picking by Stephen and Paul, very enjoyable. This is a great choice for Tune of the Week, and well laid out.  Ed Britt and I just made a video of our picking out Fortune in Harvard Square a week or two ago.  I'm playing around with harmonics a little bit on this one.  Ed is clawhammering his OME in double C tuning capoed on the 2nd fret, I am three finger picking my Ode in open D tuning.  




- Don Borchelt







Don, that is a really nice rendition of Fortune.  I used to cringe at twin banjos but you and Ed Britt show how wonderful it can be! Picking and clawhammer compliment each other but more important is the choice of notes and how you two play them - it reminds me of brothers singing!


Tamarack - Posted - 08/31/2014:  06:14:07


A fine tune with classic old-time themes. I was introduced to the tune by a lively version by the Backwoods Band, circa 1980. Heard it repeatedly on a long trip in a small car to Nova Scotia, wherein my friend sang along with every tune.

JanetB - Posted - 08/31/2014:  13:17:22


This TOTW inspired me to do research on both the Stoneman Family and the Round Peak style.  The Stoneman's were from the same general area and experienced great popularity from 1926 - 1930.  I like their hoedown sound.  I also liked Don and Don's video with very clear melody to learn by.  Paul's (aeroweenie) Fortune on a minstrel banjo is ideal for fretless slides in the version I ended up learning from Kyle Creed and Brad Leftwich.



Listening to "Banjo Lessons on Kyle's Back Porch" revealed Kyle's philosophy of banjo playing--"...there's a lot of short cuts you can take on the banjo that didn't affect the sound of it and really sounded better to me."  I compared Kyle's with the one in Brad's book "Round Peak Style" and found them fairly similar.  The Galax lick and the slides are typical of the style and you'll hear lots of them in this recording on my Mac Traynham Whyte Laydie.



One side note:  My Galax lick was getting a twangy thumb sound with light guage steel strings, so I switched the 5th string to nylgut.


JanetB - Posted - 08/31/2014:  13:59:50


Here's my MP3 mentioned in the above post.  (I'd mistakenly uploaded the one with the twangy thumb sound before I changed to a nylgut string.  dead  )




Fortune

   

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/31/2014:  15:32:08


Nice choice for the TOTW, and great playing from the TOTW (OT) community.



Here's my stab at it:



 



Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 08/31/2014 15:34:35

Joe Newberry - Posted - 09/06/2014:  10:19:26


Here are the Jumpsteady Boys (that's me, Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, and Mike Compton) playing Fortune, along with the great dancer Nic Gareiss, during Celtic Colours a few years ago.





youtube.com/watch?v=GI9UI6P48eQ


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 09/06/2014:  10:31:43


Joe Newberry - your post reminded me to look at the videos I took at the 2013 BOTMC, and I realized I had uploaded to youtube one of Josh Ellis and Eddie Bond with Alice Gerard on guitar and Emily Mann on bass.  That sure was a great festival.



Here's the link BH Folks - and I hope to see and meet and greet a lot of Hangout people at this year's Berkeley Festival.



youtube.com/watch?v=fdA1mSXFlV...b0pe7lO-2



 


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 09/06/2014:  10:38:45


Hey Joe Newberry - I found the file of The Jumpsteady Boys playing last year at Berkeley.  Going up now on Youtube.



Look for it later folks, and if you are in the mood, subscribe to the banjojudy youtube site because there are always good videos being uploaded there.



Check it out.  



 



Judy


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 09/06/2014:  17:11:12


youtube.com/watch?v=Kd89PsW_L4...=youtu.be



 



Jumpsteady Boys perform Fortune at the BOTMC, 2013.



 


TO in JoMO - Posted - 09/06/2014:  17:57:21


quote:

Originally posted by Joe Newberry

Here are the Jumpsteady Boys (that's me, Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, and Mike Compton) playing Fortune, along with the great dancer Nic Gareiss, during Celtic Colours a few years ago.






youtube.com/watch?v=GI9UI6P48eQ






I like that a lot. Plus all the other YouTube videos of the Jumpsteady Boys. 



 


CamC - Posted - 09/11/2014:  14:07:04


Here's my attempt.  



youtu.be/w-MGEGhaF_Y


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 09/11/2014:  14:36:17


Cam, That old new banjo (or new old banjo) sounds better and better.



Lew


CamC - Posted - 09/11/2014:  14:51:17


Thanks Lew, I really wasn't expecting it to sound so good. Not sure why I'm getting such a sweet tone out of it, I did put an extremely thick goat skin on it. Maybe that's the reason?

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