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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 6/19/15 - Hobb Dye


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/305343

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 06/19/2015:  17:26:11


 



Today's volunteer is unable to post, so here is a quick 'emergency back-up tune'.  Since last week's tune was Cora Dye, I thought I'd keep things in the family and post the tune Hobb Dye.



Actually, the name of the tune probably refers to items used in the machinist trade, not to a person - and if it a person, certainly not one related to Cora (unless she happened to be importing Texas bootleg liquor to Benton, Illinois).



 



Here's what the Traditional Tune Archive has to say:



HOBB DYE. Old Time, Country Rag. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB'. A "slightly crooked" tune from the playing of California mandolin player Kenny Hall, who said he had the tune from a Texas piano player by the name of Clara Desmond, who had learned it from sheet music (although she may have had it from a Texas fiddler). Desmond had moved to Oakland sometime in the 1930's, a city where Hall worked in a broom factory while playing music and collecting 78 RPM records in his spare time. Hobs and dies are terms from the machine trade (i.e. 'gear hobber'), although the lore attached to the tune has it that the tune was composed after one Hobb Dye, who was a bootlegger from Texas.



The title is often spelled Hob Dye, and less often Hob(b) Die.  Some have speculated that it was originally entitled Hob Died.



 



KENNY HALL



 photo kh-cov1.jpg



Kenny Hall, our source for Hobb Dye, was for many decades a major figure in the California old-time music community, known for tirelessly preserving, protecting, and passing on the great wealth of old-time music knowledge he began gathering as a young boy.  He played regularly up until his death in September, 2013, just shy of his 91st birthday.  A few years earlier, Alan Jabbour summed up Kenny's contributions to the music when he wrote: "For one thing, he has a phenomenal repertoire. Hang out with him for several days, and you will discover that his memory bank of great fiddle tunes seems well nigh inexhaustible. For another thing, Kenny's musical style is pure distilled passion and energy. He plays the fiddle with a driving vigor that is utterly infectious, and his stories are equally engaging. And finally, Kenny has been a warm and encouraging mentor to all the younger musicians who flocked around."



Kenny was born in 1923 in San Jose, California.  Blind at birth, in 1929 he was enrolled in the California School for the Blind in Berkeley, where music was considered to be basic vocational training for the sightless.  He started piano lessons immediately, but as the years passed he rejected both the classical music taught at the school and the big band jazz and western swing the dominated popular music at the time.  Instead, he developed a strong interest in traditional folk songs and stringband music from various parts of the U.S., in large part from listening to "The Happy Hayseeds" radio show on KGDM in Stockton.  At age eleven he met W.D. Sanford, a blind fiddle and mandolin player from Texas who at the time resided in Kenny's hometown of Campbell, California, a meeting which inspired Kenny to take up the fiddle and mandolin.  Through Sanford, he was soon introduced to and mentored by a number of "old-time" musicians from Missouri, Georgia, and other parts of the country.  By the late 1930s, Kenny had started actively collecting 78 records, and his repertoire quickly increased to encompass folk music from other countries as well as from almost every region of the U.S.  After leaving school, he got work in a broom factory, while continuing to play music. When interest in folk music waned during the mid-and-late 1940s, Kenny played in a western swing group, The Desmond Family Band, before eventually giving up playing on a regular basis.  He was "rediscovered" during the folk revival of the 1960s, and recorded a few albums in the early 1970s. For the next 40 years he was a beloved and respected mentor to countless young old-time musicians on the west coast.



You can read about Kenny's life in more detail in this article from the Old-Time Herald tinyurl.com/o4hbgac  and in this except from "Kenny Hall's Music Book":  tinyurl.com/obvg4nh

 



CLARA  DESMOND



As noted above, Kenny learned Hobb Dye from Clara Desmond, a piano player and band leader originally from Texas, who was active in the central valley of California in the 1940s and 50s.  As Kenny wrote in "Kenny Hall's Music Book":



I was taught this tune in 1946 by Mrs. Clara Desmond of Texas who was the leader of the Desmond Family Band. And she could play it on the piano. She was a terrific leader. She would set the pace for that band and you didn't move any faster or slower - you kept that pace.  And she didn't  mind us drinking, as long as we did it outside.  If you want to drink, go outside and drink it and then come inside and go ahead and play music. That was her way.  I met the Desmonds at their home in Hayward, California, through a cousin to the girl I got kicked out of school over. He took me over and introduced me.  I was playing with the Desmond Family for four or five years, from 1946 to 1952.  Yeah, they taught me several pieces of music." 



 



THE TUNE



Hobb Dye has a strong polka or schottische feel, and almost certainly originated in Texas.  After first appearing on record in 1974 on Kenny Hall's self-titled LP, it became a standard among west coast fiddlers during the 1970s.



It is in the key of G and follows the standard AABB pattern, but the B part has nine measures.







AUDIO AND VIDEO



video



Madison County, NC, jam:  youtube.com/watch?v=yMDvMnmnkbs

Andy Alexis, on bottleneck guitar  youtube.com/watch?v=x6p_idWLA8w



cds



Jean Murphy and Scott Marckx, "The Time's Been Sweet" (2002):  cdbaby.com/cd/murphymarckx

"Pop Wagner and Bob Bovee",  (2003)  cdbaby.com/cd/popwagner4

The Dead Fiddlers Society,  "Livin it Up" (2010):  cdbaby.com/cd/DeadFiddlersSociety1



tab



Tab by Ken Torke can be found on his TaterJoe's website:

taterjoes.com/banjo/HobDye.pdf

 



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 06/19/2015 17:49:13

banjered - Posted - 06/19/2015:  19:49:44


It is a fun, lively tune. We play it often here at the weekly jam in Ashland (OR.) where some musicians learned it directly from Kenny. Yep, Kenny could play for days without repeating himself, really phenomenal! Banjered

LyleK - Posted - 06/20/2015:  06:49:05


Marble City String Band doing Hobb Dye in 2005... and yes, I'm playing banjo on this



 




Hobb Dye

   

JanetB - Posted - 06/20/2015:  08:50:00


Thanks, Brett, for yet another great choice of tunes.  I was lucky to see Kenny Hall at a music camp not that long ago.  He was flocked by young people, just as described above.  



What a happy, old-timey sound your band produced, Lyle!   I also really liked the Dead Fiddlers Society duet track of Hobb Dye.  They have a smooth, expressive fiddler in that group and it would be fun to learn more about them.



This is Kenny Hall's 1974 recording on Slippery Hill:  slippery-hill.com/M-K/GDAE/G/HobbDye.mp3



My Hobb Dye is slow and relaxed.  I tried it first in open G tuning, but found fDGCD easier to play.  There are two measures in a row with 6/4 timing in the B part.  That may be why in the Dead Fiddlers Society liner notes it's called a "quirky" tune.  I find it to be a pretty tune with "country rag" also being an accurate description.



 



 




Hobb Dye (TOTW)


Hobb Dye (CH) tab

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 06/22/2015:  16:45:32


quote:

Originally posted by banjered

 

It is a fun, lively tune. We play it often here at the weekly jam in Ashland (OR.) where some musicians learned it directly from Kenny. Yep, Kenny could play for days without repeating himself, really phenomenal! Banjered







 



Yes, most articles I read made reference to Kenny having a repertoire of "1,100 tunes".  Toward the end of his life Kenny said something to the effect of "Well now, if you want to learn all my tunes, remember that 1,100 number was from years ago - I've learned a lot more since then!"


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 06/22/2015:  16:47:25


quote:

Originally posted by LyleK

 

Marble City String Band doing Hobb Dye in 2005... and yes, I'm playing banjo on this




 







 



Thanks for posting your band's version, Lyle - I enjoyed it. And there are very few versions of Hobb Dye available online, so it's good to hear another one.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 06/22/2015:  16:52:00


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

 

Thanks, Brett, for yet another great choice of tunes.  I was lucky to see Kenny Hall at a music camp not that long ago.  He was flocked by young people, just as described above.  




What a happy, old-timey sound your band produced, Lyle!   I also really liked the Dead Fiddlers Society duet track of Hobb Dye.  They have a smooth, expressive fiddler in that group and it would be fun to learn more about them.




This is Kenny Hall's 1974 recording on Slippery Hill:  slippery-hill.com/M-K/GDAE/G/HobbDye.mp3




My Hobb Dye is slow and relaxed.  I tried it first in open G tuning, but found fDGCD easier to play.  There are two measures in a row with 6/4 timing in the B part.  That may be why in the Dead Fiddlers Society liner notes it's called a "quirky" tune.  I find it to be a pretty tune with "country rag" also being an accurate description.




 




 







 



I'm glad you enjoyed it, Janet.  I wish I had gotten to see Kenny play!



Thanks for the link to Kenny's 1974 version - that LP is long out of print, and I somehow missed the fact that the tune is in Milliner-Koken and thus on the Slippery Hill site.



Thanks also for your audio and tab.  I like your slow and relaxed version.


banjered - Posted - 06/22/2015:  17:31:13


Thanks Janet for the sound clip. The first time I heard Hobb Dye I said it had to be a Kenny Hall tune, just the kind of tune he liked to play. I have a tab written out in "G" because at a jam we don't wander into banjo tunings that take up playing time, beyond, "Should that tune best be played in "A" or "Am?" Besides not knowing how to post videos and sound samples, my computer talents spill over into not knowing how to post tabs. Oh well, it is still fun and not too hard to figure out if I am able to do so. Happy tunes Ahoy! Banjered

Paul Meredith - Posted - 06/25/2015:  19:36:13


Brett, thanks for coming through for TOTW.  This is a fun tune, it seems wide open to improvisation.  I've started playing around with it but have nothing worth posting at present.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/03/2015:  05:10:49


A very fine choice for the Emergency Tune of the Week.  I played this tune last night at a jam session with some friends of mine, and recorded it on my smart phone, so I could upload it for this Old Time TOTW. Okay, so I'm two weeks late, but us banjo pickers are busy people! Linda Henry and John Reddick are playing fiddle, Jerry Dallal is playing guitar, I am three finger picking on my 1902 Fairbanks Whyte Laydie, and Ed Britt is clawhammering on his Ome. I was learning this one on the fly, as they say.



I love the versions by Lyle and Janet, coming through for Brett like they always do.



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/03/2015 05:11:27



Hobb Dye

   

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