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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 12 December 2014: Marching Jaybird (Jaybird March)


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/295934

Zischkale - Posted - 12/11/2014:  23:31:44


“I like that ol’ Marchin’ Jaybird”



 



Etta Baker laughs and sets into her fluid, breezy fingerpicking style, with sister Cora Phillips backing up the easy chord changes on guitar. It’s a real pastoral sound, I can almost feel the country air. It’s Etta’s only appearance on the Black Banjo Songsters CD, but it certainly got my attention, and I knew I wanted to pick it for myself. I’m also a sucker for tunes about wildlife, and this Christmas I’ll hope to see a few mountain jays when I venture out to New Mexico to be with family.



 





i.imgur.com/QON0xUk.jpg



There’s really nothing to it. About the simplest 8 bars you could ever ask for melodically; two measures of the A-part seem to be just keeping time. The B-part’s even more straightforward. Etta finds bountiful expression in it though. You won’t find much about the tune in The Fiddler’s Companion, which helps to suggest this is more of a solo banjo tune than a fiddle tune. The only source it offers is Lacey Phillips’ 1956 snappy recording, a flurry of reverse three-finger rolls syncopated nicely. Lacey may have been Etta’s uncle or brother-in-law (y’all speak up if you know...sister-in-law?), so it seems the tune was in the family, though Peter Hoover first happened upon it when he met a fellow banjoman at a gas station in Maryland (from the liner notes in a Reed Martin CD).



 



But while the tune doesn’t get mentioned much in history, we are given some insight into its origin. The Traditional Tune Archive cites a book by Stephen Wade, in which the author asks Etta if she hears any resemblance to Spanish Fandango (the one Elizabeth Cotten wonderfully calls Spanish Flang Dang), to which Etta replies, “The chords in there are so much alike, it keeps you kindly on the go to keep them separated.” Which to an amateur like me could describe my experience with about 90% of all fiddle tunes (it all sounds the same, right??)! But listening to a few versions of Spanish Fandango (linked below), I definitely hear the resemblance. The B-part’s just about a mirror image! The obvious difference would of course be the Fandango’s in played in ol’ romantic 3/4, where our tune is rooted firmly in 4/4. I can easily imagine the evolution--a country boy comes to town, hears Spanish Fandango played on a parlor guitar, excitedly travels home, picks up the ‘jo, recalls faintly the melody but forgets the meter. That’s folk music, right?



 



Cece Conway in Black Banjo Songsters lists the tuning as dDF#AD (where the 5th string would be tuned down to match the 1st string in pitch). I’m not totally sure this is accurate, but BHO user Blake Bamford’s example below is convincing. Chip Arnold mentioned in an old thread that he’d worked up a version in the +same tuning -- hey Chip, I’d love to see a video! Chris Berry follows Lacey Phillips’ choice of tuning, gDGBD, and really nails the reverse three-finger style. After learning from his video, I’ve decided to play the tune in G as well, but in clawhammer style, and with another twist: I’ve tuned to Old G (fCFCD, capo II, so gDGDE). I really enjoy the drones in this tuning.





 



Let’s take it to Youtube:



 



Take some time outta your day to learn some 3-finger style from Chris Berry’s video, you’ll be better off for it. And if you’re into ol’ jug band and hokum 78’s (or if you’re not), the Sausage Grinder CD is a blast.





youtube.com/watch?v=t3aIsJhEq8w



 



The Lacey Phillips original:





youtube.com/watch?v=aylEUHCITy0





Unfortunately, I can’t find full streaming audio of the Black Banjo Songsters version, but here’s Etta’s Marching Jaybird from One-Dime Blues. I don’t favor it, it’s a bit more subdued:





youtube.com/watch?v=LdIa-hvkHU4



 



Quite possibly my favorite one so far, very unique take by Adrienne Young & Little Sadie, with some nice Dobro:





youtube.com/watch?v=kZmeVc18ukA





Great one by Dave Stacey and Frank Weston:





youtu.be/3EsujOgTaKg?t=2m21s



 



Another good one in D (f#DF#AD):





youtube.com/watch?v=SsnshbUdsl4



 



Pretty loose and crazy clawhammer one I like:





youtube.com/watch?v=2OF6lnBJvHk







A full band version by Kansas City old-time band the Finsters:





youtube.com/watch?v=0ebcQSSccaQ



 



A few BHO versions:



 



Here’s Blake Bamford’s Marching Jaybird in dDF#AD tuning:



banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...p?id=2666



 



On BHO user Tor Hougen’s Music page, you’ll find an excellent version of the tune, with some great harmony work using partial chords: banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...?ID=21230





 



And finally, a few links to Spanish Fandango so you can compare (plus you can’t beat these two):



 



youtu.be/t-eM8_DwEQo?t=29m30s



 



youtube.com/watch?v=Nsbq0gkHR0w



 



This last one, by John Dilleshaw & The String Marvel, I really dig, I just stumbled upon it. Happens to be in 4/4.,,



youtube.com/watch?v=ztTG65KMQ58



 



 



Sources, info, etc:



 



Traditional Tune Archive:



tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:M...g_Jaybird



 



Fiddler’s Companion:



ibiblio.org/fiddlers/MARA_MARO.htm



 



Some interesting BHO discussions on the subject:



 



banjohangout.org/archive/146171 (BHO user Don “whyteman” figures Marching Jaybird’s a bit like Flop-Eared Mule on quaaludes, I don’t disagree)



 



banjohangout.org/archive/136867



 



banjohangout.org/archive/203226



 



And Jan Olov, being the cool dude he is, tabbed ‘er out:



banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...;ie6fix=1



 



Chime in, y’all -- please post your own takes on it and have an awesome weekend!



Edited by - Zischkale on 12/11/2014 23:36:41

janolov - Posted - 12/12/2014:  05:45:35


Here is another tab: banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...p;v=20911 based on the version Chris Berry teaches.



 


vrteach - Posted - 12/12/2014:  08:32:32


Fine tune. As I was humming it to myself I suddenly realized that I had morphed into the Pete Seeger tune "Living in the Country." Another tune for which "it keeps you kindly on the go to keep them separated." Thanks for passing on that quote!


ramjo - Posted - 12/13/2014:  05:40:34


Great idea for TOTW. I'm always happy to be reminded to think of Etta Baker and her wonderful music making. 



You posted a very cool anthology here, including Chris Berry's lesson. How often do we get a lesson in TOTW? (And I'll give another shout out to Sausage Grinder.)  I really like your version, and I think that tuning suits the tune really nicely.



Thanks for this one!


gailg64 - Posted - 12/13/2014:  15:52:06


Margaret Martin, who plays in the Happy Valley Pals with her husband Wayne, my husband Dwight & me, plays a very nice relaxed Marching Jaybird. She spent a lot of time with Etta Baker & learned it directly from her, 2 finger style. Etta's & Margaret's version are slightly different but both very sparse and the left hand fingers individual notes up the neck on the high part. The low part uses partially open I, iV, V chords down by the nut.


Lacey's version requires fuller chords because of the 3 finger rolls. (stoppy starty old-time rolls, not bluegrass!) You might say, Marching Jaybird is a fandango that had "gone wild", formed by several generations of banjo players passing it around by ear. A. C. Overton, a 2 finger banjo player who lived a hundred miles to the east of the Bakers & Phillipses played a similar tune, in 3/4 time and called in Railroad Bill.


Lacey Phillips was Etta's sister Cora's husband. They were family & near neighbors, but you have different takes from 2 people.  Etta played 2 finger style on both guitar and banjo.  Lacey's was a 3 finger style derived from 19th century parlor guitar instructors, though I'm not sure how he played guitar. Both 2 & 3 finger chord style were popular banjo styles in North Carolina.


quote:


Originally posted by Zischkale

“I like that ol’ Marchin’ Jaybird”




 




Etta Baker laughs and sets into her fluid, breezy fingerpicking style, with sister Cora Phillips backing up the easy chord changes on guitar. It’s a real pastoral sound, I can almost feel the country air. It’s Etta’s only appearance on the Black Banjo Songsters CD, but it certainly got my attention, and I knew I wanted to pick it for myself. I’m also a sucker for tunes about wildlife, and this Christmas I’ll hope to see a few mountain jays when I venture out to New Mexico to be with family.




 







i.imgur.com/QON0xUk.jpg




There’s really nothing to it. About the simplest 8 bars you could ever ask for melodically; two measures of the A-part seem to be just keeping time. The B-part’s even more straightforward. Etta finds bountiful expression in it though. You won’t find much about the tune in The Fiddler’s Companion, which helps to suggest this is more of a solo banjo tune than a fiddle tune. The only source it offers is Lacey Phillips’ 1956 snappy recording, a flurry of reverse three-finger rolls syncopated nicely. Lacey may have been Etta’s uncle or brother-in-law (y’all speak up if you know...sister-in-law?), so it seems the tune was in the family, though Peter Hoover first happened upon it when he met a fellow banjoman at a gas station in Maryland (from the liner notes in a Reed Martin CD).




 




But while the tune doesn’t get mentioned much in history, we are given some insight into its origin. The Traditional Tune Archive cites a book by Stephen Wade, in which the author asks Etta if she hears any resemblance to Spanish Fandango (the one Elizabeth Cotten wonderfully calls Spanish Flang Dang), to which Etta replies, “The chords in there are so much alike, it keeps you kindly on the go to keep them separated.” Which to an amateur like me could describe my experience with about 90% of all fiddle tunes (it all sounds the same, right??)! But listening to a few versions of Spanish Fandango (linked below), I definitely hear the resemblance. The B-part’s just about a mirror image! The obvious difference would of course be the Fandango’s in played in ol’ romantic 3/4, where our tune is rooted firmly in 4/4. I can easily imagine the evolution--a country boy comes to town, hears Spanish Fandango played on a parlor guitar, excitedly travels home, picks up the ‘jo, recalls faintly the melody but forgets the meter. That’s folk music, right?




 




Cece Conway in Black Banjo Songsters lists the tuning as dDF#AD (where the 5th string would be tuned down to match the 1st string in pitch). I’m not totally sure this is accurate, but BHO user Blake Bamford’s example below is convincing. Chip Arnold mentioned in an old thread that he’d worked up a version in the +same tuning -- hey Chip, I’d love to see a video! Chris Berry follows Lacey Phillips’ choice of tuning, gDGBD, and really nails the reverse three-finger style. After learning from his video, I’ve decided to play the tune in G as well, but in clawhammer style, and with another twist: I’ve tuned to Old G (fCFCD, capo II, so gDGDE). I really enjoy the drones in this tuning.







 




Let’s take it to Youtube:




 




Take some time outta your day to learn some 3-finger style from Chris Berry’s video, you’ll be better off for it. And if you’re into ol’ jug band and hokum 78’s (or if you’re not), the Sausage Grinder CD is a blast.







youtube.com/watch?v=t3aIsJhEq8w




 




The Lacey Phillips original:







youtube.com/watch?v=aylEUHCITy0






Unfortunately, I can’t find full streaming audio of the Black Banjo Songsters version, but here’s Etta’s Marching Jaybird from One-Dime Blues. I don’t favor it, it’s a bit more subdued:







youtube.com/watch?v=LdIa-hvkHU4




 




Quite possibly my favorite one so far, very unique take by Adrienne Young & Little Sadie, with some nice Dobro:







youtube.com/watch?v=kZmeVc18ukA






Great one by Dave Stacey and Frank Weston:







youtu.be/3EsujOgTaKg?t=2m21s




 




Another good one in D (f#DF#AD):







youtube.com/watch?v=SsnshbUdsl4




 




Pretty loose and crazy clawhammer one I like:







youtube.com/watch?v=2OF6lnBJvHk








A full band version by Kansas City old-time band the Finsters:







youtube.com/watch?v=0ebcQSSccaQ




 




A few BHO versions:




 




Here’s Blake Bamford’s Marching Jaybird in dDF#AD tuning:




banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...p?id=2666




 




On BHO user Tor Hougen’s Music page, you’ll find an excellent version of the tune, with some great harmony work using partial chords: banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...?ID=21230






 




And finally, a few links to Spanish Fandango so you can compare (plus you can’t beat these two):




 




youtu.be/t-eM8_DwEQo?t=29m30s




 




youtube.com/watch?v=Nsbq0gkHR0w




 




This last one, by John Dilleshaw & The String Marvel, I really dig, I just stumbled upon it. Happens to be in 4/4.,,




youtube.com/watch?v=ztTG65KMQ58




 




 




Sources, info, etc:




 




Traditional Tune Archive:




tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:M...g_Jaybird




 




Fiddler’s Companion:




ibiblio.org/fiddlers/MARA_MARO.htm




 




Some interesting BHO discussions on the subject:




 




banjohangout.org/archive/146171 (BHO user Don “whyteman” figures Marching Jaybird’s a bit like Flop-Eared Mule on quaaludes, I don’t disagree)




 




banjohangout.org/archive/136867




 




banjohangout.org/archive/203226




 




And Jan Olov, being the cool dude he is, tabbed ‘er out:




banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...;ie6fix=1




 




Chime in, y’all -- please post your own takes on it and have an awesome weekend!







 


JanetB - Posted - 12/13/2014:  18:36:27


This Tune of the Week has been a revealing one for me, Aaron.  I really didn't know much about Etta Baker before, but have listened and read up a bit to know more about this woman who was admired by so many.  She wrote about her life in the book Blue Ridge Music Trails.  Etta says she learned to play guitar at age 3 watching her father--that's what I'd call a precocious child and a young protegy.  She writes of her "very, very happy life" and and says, "the good Lord has blessed me with merry chatter."  In Stephen Wade's book The Beautiful Music All Around Us he quotes Etta as referring to Marching Jaybird as a special piece played as a dance tune at a happy gathering, much like at a corn shucking.



Thanks, Aaron, and also thanks to Gail, whose contributions are always so close to the sources.  I chose to arrange this in double C tuning, clawhammer style.



Edited by - JanetB on 12/13/2014 18:49:02



Jaybird March (TOTW)


Jaybird March tab

5Stringtrout - Posted - 12/14/2014:  09:51:27


The Music Maker Relief Foundation  musicmaker.org released a CD titled "Etta Baker - Banjo" that has Etta playing banjo on 23 cuts including "Marching Jaybird".  They also have other CDs available featuring her playing guitar and banjo with her sister Cora Phillips and Taj Mahal. 


Zischkale - Posted - 12/14/2014:  10:42:57


Janet -- I was hoping you'd post an arrangement and tab, always welcome on these TOTWs! Good work as usual, you really have got an ear for capturing melody and variations in the piece, I was never quite sure what to do with the B part but that descending bass thing you're doing does the job right.



Gail -- thanks for the background, and for settling the identity of Lacey! Interesting to think of both Lacey and Etta playing guitar and taking those skills to banjo. Also the "fandango gone wild" term is great. I hope someone does Spanish Fandango soon, it qualifies as an old-time tune in my book even though fandangos aren't typically in the repertoire. I do wonder if any of the "fandango" social dances Stephen Wade mentions in the link above were played in triple meter, or if they had all gone wild to 4/4.



Thanks all y'all, for the good words and input!


bhniko - Posted - 12/19/2014:  09:22:29


Thanks all...wonderful post.


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