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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW/Cherry River Line/ 01/23/2015


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/298197

maryzcox - Posted - 01/23/2015:  12:49:16


Hello Banjoists,



Cherry River Line has been one of my favorite tunes for a long time & I just spent 6 months recording a traditional/original version for my new cd, Blue Sky Banjo & since its not easy to come up with a tune that hasn't already appeared in TOTW--I'll start it out here & invite folks who are more historically oriented than I to discuss the two radically divergent versions of Cherry River Line that seem to have evolved.  



I remember first hearing this tune about 25 years ago when Mary & Lo Gordon recorded it with their two boys, Matt & Tim Gardner on a cassette tape. It was very pretty, but I did not learn it  & not sure where they did--although I know they had quite a bit of contact with Dwight Diller our of West Virginia at that time. 



The next time I became aware of this tune was when Tim Gardner (he's now a grown man & awesome fiddler, banjoist, guitarist & builds awesome old time banjos --Cedar Mountain Banjos) recorded it with a friend on his cd --and here's a link to where you can hear it. 



reverbnation.com/timgardner



Then I took a ballad course with Sarah Grey & she played it and sang it on the banjo more like this & her words, like the ones I had heard before--were words of lost love of a railroad man who worked the Cherry River Line in WVA.



Here's a link to her version.



youtu.be/8ION7Vh23Xw



While I was looking up versions on Youtube for this TOTW--I found that Lester McCumbers--a fiddler over 90 years old is playing a totally different Cherry River Line in fiddle contests & most of the other Youtubes I found were of folks picking his instrumental version.   IMHO--his version sounds very much like Rueben or Cold Rain & Snow or even an early version of Train 45--take a listen & see what you think :) 



youtu.be/idp5U2DAAgQ



As you can imagine-- as with most of the older traditional tunes, there are many, many verses to this song--and they tell a very scattered story--some about lost love, the mountains, the railroad men & miners.  



I really liked the verses about lost love and railroad men & miners--so I visited the copper mine museum in Copperhill/Ducktown & just studied the faces of the miners--they had group pix--from the 1890-through the early 1900s.  Most of them appeared to be young poor immigrants from middle Europe--with brown eyes and dark hair--and their eyes spoke yearning & hope--at least in the pix. Realistically--they were probably mostly dead in the next few years from mining accidents and copper poisoning--& I doubt any of them would have been able to afford a wife or girlfriend of their dreams--but it made me ponder how a young miner or railroad man must feel. 



So I started out with this traditional verse. "He told that little girl, do the best you can, I'll get me anothe woman, you can find you another man. "



And I wrote a newer version, but tried to capture the feeling of the original with the miners of Copperhill & Ducktown as well as the Cherry River Line railroad men .



At first--I played it with clawhammer guitar & it sounded like this :)



 



 



 



 





For the Blue Sky Banjo recording--it has been shortened a bit & I play banjo instead of guitar--but it still is in the tradition of the Tim Gardner & Sarah Grey versions. Hope this helps :) Best wishes always, Mary Z Cox



maryzcox.com


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/23/2015:  15:39:36


Nicely done, Mary.



The version that sticks in my mind is on a CD by Hubie King and Diane Jones, called "There Are No Rules."



reedisland.com/RIR/norules.htm



I'm not turning up a recorded version of this in a simple google search. 



Lew


Mtngoat - Posted - 01/23/2015:  16:01:00


A live performance by Jimmy and Ada McCowan is a real treat.


OldInTheNewWay - Posted - 01/23/2015:  16:06:29


I had to go and learn the Sara Grey version of this one. Thats great stuff.



I also found this video of her playing it solo: youtube.com/watch?v=HjCcjpanVZ0



If I can get some time later maybe I can post a video of my version.



Also found a Chris Coole version: youtube.com/watch?v=t2L4XyEF7hw



 


Jimmy Sutton - Posted - 01/23/2015:  16:23:06


Hi Mary,

Haven't had time to listen to the above as I am about to hit the sack. I'll do it tomorrow.

The first recording that I heard and still have on my shelf was recorded by Jenes Cottrell from Deadfall Run, Clay County W.Va on the Folk Promotions Label which I believe later beacame Kanawha, Ken Davidson's label. I think it was issued around 1965. I don't recall a previous recording of this number.

BrendanD - Posted - 01/23/2015:  18:26:53


quote:

Originally posted by Jimmy Sutton

Hi Mary,



Haven't had time to listen to the above as I am about to hit the sack. I'll do it tomorrow.



The first recording that I heard and still have on my shelf was recorded by Jenes Cottrell from Deadfall Run, Clay County W.Va on the Folk Promotions Label which I believe later beacame Kanawha, Ken Davidson's label. I think it was issued around 1965. I don't recall a previous recording of this number.






Ah, I was going to say that I associate this song with Jenes Cottrell. I have a tape copy of that LP somewhere (Jenes on one side, French Carpenter on the other, if I remember rightly). I visited Jenes and his sister Sylvia O'Brien at their home on Deadfall Run, outside of Ivydale, in the summer of 1979, and I may even have a recording of Jenes singing this song. He wasn't singing much at the time, because he was recovering from cancer surgery at the time and in a lot of discomfort; I think he died within a year after that visit. I do remember that we had to ford a creek in our rented junker to get up their house, which had been built many years before by Jenes, his father, and his brothers, if I'm remembering correctly. I also remember that they had no electricity, and probably no indoor plumbing.



 



Edit: I see that the album I mentioned had the two musicians' tracks interspersed, rather than one on each side. I don't believe they play together on any tracks, and I'm guessing they were recorded at different times.



Edited by - BrendanD on 01/23/2015 18:32:47

jduke - Posted - 01/23/2015:  19:56:02


I particularly like Jenes Cottrell's version of Cherry River Line.  Probably the first I heard that song, as Elzics Farewell, the old LP that Brendan mentions above is one of the first banjo records I bought when I started playing back in the 80s.  Not only were Cottrell's banjos unique, but so was his playing style. 



An by the way, I just looked on Amazon.com -- they have one for sale for 49 bucks !!


JanetB - Posted - 01/23/2015:  20:48:12


Another moving choice of songs for TOTW, Mary.  Best wishes on your new CD with lots of your fantastic banjo work.  I listened to Lester McCumber's and Jenes Cattrell, but think I'd like to learn the beautifully clawed version by BHO Neill Connor.  He won a third place in the video challenge contest for Love Songs.



 




neillconnor - Posted - 01/24/2015:  02:15:36


I learned the tunedirectly from Sarah Grey at a workshop i attended several years ago in Shropshire, England. Beautiful setting overlooking the rolling hills and spring lambs.
She just said who wants to learn this Kentucky tune and began playing. Magical.
Luckily i videod it with my iphone



youtube.com/watch?v=HjCcjpanVZ...ta_player

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/24/2015:  04:13:52


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/24/2015:  05:11:18


Bob Heyer has a version on his CD "That Lonesome Road:  cdbaby.com/cd/bobheyer



That sort of brings it one step closer to Dwight Diller, who Heyer credits as an early inspiration.



I'm partial to Diane Jones' version on her DVD: reedisland.com/RIR/dvdjones.htm



Here's my quick and dirty crack at the tune, before morning coffee.



maryzcox - Posted - 01/24/2015:  09:40:46


Please keep them coming--lots of good versions here. That's what I love about so many of the older traditional songs & tunes--if they are basically melodic & memorable--they can take many interpretations :) The folk process :)



Best wishes,



Mary Z Cox



maryzcox.com



 



Edited by - maryzcox on 01/24/2015 09:41:25



Blue Sky Banjo

   

orangikan - Posted - 01/24/2015:  12:13:15


Ron Mullennex has a propulsive, train-driven solo arrangement on his Sugar In My Coffee CD: countysales.com/products.php?p...ffee'



There's no beating Sara Grey's rendition.


JanetB - Posted - 01/24/2015:  20:38:48


Mary, you're right; Neill and Orangikan, too -- Sara Grey portrays the song beautifully.  Neill posted a couple of videos of her workshop and from them I was able to get her clawhammer arrangement.  Interestingly, she seems to only use her middle left-hand finger to fret and slide to all the notes.  Here's a link telling about Sara Grey and her son, and I thank you, Mary, for bringing her music to us this week:  saragrey.net/sara.htm



The Lester McCumber video indeed plays a different melody than Sara Grey.   Erynn Marshall wrote a book, Music in the Air Somewhere, which explores the interplay between fiddle and song traditions in West Virginia.  One of the songs she delves in most deeply is Cherry River Line and her recording includes Lester's sister, Linda, playing while he fiddles.  Linda said she learned it from her aunt Phoebe Parsons, who played banjo while she sang.  Lester mentioned hearing Tom McCune, who married one of his aunts, sing the song and play it on banjo till "it would bring tears to your eyes." 



 




Cherry River Line (TOTW)

   

neillconnor - Posted - 01/25/2015:  02:13:08


Sara has a deceptively simple style which is very minimalist but she has great control of her thumb. I remember during the workshop she said she primarily uses the banjo to accompany her songs and the banjo is secondary to the voice in a song. She explains a bit of the Cherry river line here and how the banjo follows the vocals in tesve





youtu.be/JRv81cz7CRw



Here is a great video of her many years ago recorded during a trip in europe with my mate Dave Burland.  Its along video but well worth watching.



 



youtu.be/_jttDilksnI?list=FLJg...HQiusmVCw



 



 



 



 



Edited by - neillconnor on 01/25/2015 02:19:31

neillconnor - Posted - 01/25/2015:  04:33:27


Janet, that was beautiful, really captured the way Sara played it. How about singing it as well?

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/25/2015:  07:30:27


I second the motion.


CamC - Posted - 01/25/2015:  19:16:14


Here's my attempt. I tried learning Sara Grey's arrangement and my banjo sounded a little boring by itself, so I dragged the wife down to the basement to sing along :).  youtu.be/S6fVHsjTMTo



Edited by - CamC on 01/25/2015 19:17:53

rudy - Posted - 01/26/2015:  08:16:08


Great song, Mary.



I like the it a lot, and especially like the form (with the measures between verse sections), but that's probably from my love of crooked tunes in general.  While poking around you tube I found this very different version done by Chris Coole and bandmates.  I'd be interested in what folks think about this version.



(Chris, If you happen to be reading, nicely done!)





 



Edited by - rudy on 01/26/2015 08:18:11

maryzcox - Posted - 01/26/2015:  10:28:16


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

Great song, Mary.




I like the it a lot, and especially like the form (with the measures between verse sections), but that's probably from my love of crooked tunes in general.  While poking around you tube I found this very different version done by Chris Coole and bandmates.  I'd be interested in what folks think about this version.




(Chris, If you happen to be reading, nicely done!)




LOve it--love any of the versions that sound lonesome. And if u like this version--think you will really like my new version--we sing it a tad slower, with different words & 2 ladies harmony instead of two men harmonies. :)



:) mzc




 







 


llrevis - Posted - 01/26/2015:  10:35:46


This a good tune. I would like to learn it. Anybody know of a source for a tab.



Larry


neillconnor - Posted - 01/26/2015:  14:09:38


Cam C, your version was excellent as your wife`s voice. 





Sara Grey didn't teach us with tab, she dosnt use it but I`ll have a go of tabbing it unless Janet can do it with her software, its so much neater than my pencil scrawl and i dare say more accurate. My tab is akin to John Burkes.



Edited by - neillconnor on 01/26/2015 14:11:37

maryzcox - Posted - 01/27/2015:  13:31:41


quote:

Originally posted by llrevis

This a good tune. I would like to learn it. Anybody know of a source for a tab.




Larry







Larry--I'm putting "Blue Sky Banjo Tab Book" together now & hope to have it available in February.  Cherry River Line (with clawhammer banjo) is the first song on the new cd.  :)  It will be available soon :)



Thanks,



Mary Z Cox




Blue Sky Banjo CD

   

maryzcox - Posted - 02/16/2015:  21:04:44


Hello,



My version of "Cherry River Line is now ready on my new cd, "Blue Sky Banjo".  If you go to my website & click on the "Listen to Music" button--you can listen to it. heart



maryzcox.com



Also--I just finished the "Blue Sky Banjo Tab Book"--which has a simple clawhammer tab to Cherry River Line.  It goes to the printer tomorrow & ready to mail on Friday. 



Hope you'll take a listen--IMHO--this is the best cd I've ever recorded :) enlightened



Best wishes,



Mary Z Cox




   

atleson - Posted - 02/22/2015:  13:50:09


I remember a very good tab of this tune in some tab  book, but i can't locate it, tho' i can see it in my mind.  Any ideas?


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