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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 7/3/15 - Liza Jane

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:

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JanetB - Posted - 07/03/2015:  06:50:17

      At a recent music camp Bruce Molsky said that one needs to listen to at least as much music as one plays music.  This TOTW offers you an immense opportunity for such listening.

      I’ve heard that Liza Jane, also known as Eliza Jane, short for Elizabeth Jane, was a likeable, pretty, fictitious character, sung about since antebellum America, perhaps even acting on stage in minstrel shows and placed into parts with Jim Crow, the likable, satiric fellow first portrayed by a very popular, blackened performer named Thomas Rice.  Lyrics tells us that Liza Jane’s activities included blowing a horn, climbing persimmon trees, mixing sugar cane molasses, marrying, or refusing to marry, or being stolen for marriage, and riding and dying on a train.

     If you want to learn more of the facts about Liza Jane, dating back to 1871, check out this article on the history of L'il Liza Jane and also read these endearing quotes from a 101 year-old slave, including the Liza Jane lyrics she remembers from before the Civil War:  Narrative from Mississippi former slave Lucy Thurston.  Please share other sources of related history you discover.

     Rather than on lyrics, I wish to focus on the variety of melodies for Liza Jane.  I can imagine being in a jam where this song is announced by the song leader as the next one, only for you to find it’s different than what you anticipated.  A jam at music camp last month had one of those Liza Janes I couldn’t catch the first time through. Later I figured it out and next time maybe I’ll be savvy.

      Liza Jane has at least nine distinct melodies.  Listening allowed me to see that the majority of them fall within three basic melody groups (shown in red) which I’ll call Liza Jane, Big Liza Jane, and Little Liza Jane.


     I’m calling the basic melody Liza Jane, though you’ll see it goes by other titles.  Learning and tabbing it was my introduction into this complex topic.  My TOTW was conceived when a Hangout member expressed interest in having tab for Bob Thornburg’s fine version, learned from Dwight Diller and seen here on video with Bob’s unique grain measure banjo:  Bob Thornburg's Liza Jane.  

     A week later, coincidentally as part of an “extra credit homework assignment,” I discovered this version with a different title in a 1920’s recording by Al Hopkins and the Hillbillies, 1926, Mountaineer's Love Song.

     I began looking for other related Liza Janes and found this synchopated fiddle version in Clyde Davenport's Liza Jane.  Next I found North Carolina fiddler Marion Reece, #1183 on the Slippery Hill website. 

     Then at music camp in June Ernie Noyes, teaching assistant in Grass Valley, California delightfully sung the chorus “Whoopty Liza, pretty little girl, Whoopty Liza Jane” and thence I discovered Bradley Kincaid's Liza Up in the Simmon Tree  (from “The Story that the Crow  Told Me, Early American Children’s Songs, Vol. 1”, from the 1920’s and 30’s). 

     The following examples have no lyrics:   JP Fraley's Little Liza Jane and">Todd Phillip's Liza Jane.  Two nice MP3s on Banjo Hangout  are by bluemule 77 (Brian) -- BHO Liza Jane (Fraley's) – and by hayesdt (Dan) -- BHO Liza Jane by hayesdt

     The melody is a bit more melancholy when Pete Seeger plays Liza Jane on a children's album.   Art Rosenbaum has a new Old-Time Banjo Book with forty-seven tunings.  He uses Dan Gellert’s version, based on Pete’s, to teach this Liza Jane in f#BEAD tuning. 

     You can watch Cathy Moore's lesson "getting drive" as she plays Liza Jane.

     Though there are variations in titles, phrasing, notes, chords, and order of chorus and verse, all of the above are certainly one family of Liza Janes. 


     The second melody family is Big Liza Jane.  The oldest recording I could find is played by two great old-time musicians:  Franklin George's Big Liza Jane and Kyle Creed's Liza Jane at 16:00  (the video includes a full-length 40 minute CD called “Liberty”).  I hear Kyle Creed influence in Riley Baugus' Big Liza's Christmas Holiday.  Dan Levenson and Bob Carlin recently published a book called Kyle Creed:  Clawhammer Banjo Master.  Big Liza Jane is the first tune and Little Liza Jane is also covered.  I hope to have this resource soon. You can read more about Big Liza Jane in Banjo Judy’s 2010 post:  TOTW for Big Liza Jane. One highlight is this video:  Adam Hurt playing Big Liza Jane.  The Big Liza Jane melody is found twice on the Slippery Hill website, though simply called Liza Jane -- #849 Romie Aiken and #850 Troy Kimble.  


     Third, listen to versions of Little Liza Jane, remembered by the children of slaves.  Sam Chatmon says his father sang it in the fields, as he describes here:  Alan Lomax's 1978 recording of Sam Chapmon's Little Liza Jane.  Sam was a successful musician with the Mississippi Shieks.  The following sample is Alan Lomax' recording of Bessie Jones singing Steal Miss Liza, Steal Liza Jane.  Here are other historic, enjoyable renditions of Little Liza Jane:  Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band 1917, Li'l Liza Jane and  Stringbean on the Grand Old Opry in the mid 1950's.   And here’s the modern jazz sound many have come to associate with the song:   Wynton Marsalis' jazz band, 2012.  



     I really thought I’d stop with three Liza Janes, but others cry out to be included.  Yesterday I found one more Little Liza Jane on the same Kyle Creed Liberty album (linked above at #2), but different from any other.  You can hear it beginning at 10:24.  I’ll call it #4.   Liza Jane #5  is Goodbye Liza Jane, with a ragtime sound, as heard in Charlie Poole's Goodbye Liza Jane and  Henry Reed's Liza Reed.  Try these samples:  Highwoods String Band Goodbye Miss Liza Jane and Down Trodden Band Goodbye Miss Liza Jane.   Here’s #6 at the Grand Old Opry, countrified: Vince Gill's Little Liza Jane.   Listen to #7 if you like rock and roll (and can bear the photos):  David Bowie's Liza Jane.  

     You’ll hear a pure old-timey sound in #8 which may go back to minstrel times according to Jeff Titon in his Kentucky Fiddle Tunes book:  Isham Monday's Old Liza Jane, with a part B resembling Going Down to Cairo. 

     A final #9 is the familiar melody Going Down to Cairo, and was popularized by  Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys with the McKinney Sisters.  The best bluegrass version I’ve learned came from Bill Evans, my music camp bluegrass teacher for three years.  It resembles Ted Lundy's Goodbye Liza Jane on Rounder Banjo (go to track 23).  That banjo rolls, doesn’t it!  Stephen Wade includes on his “Dancing in the Parlor” CD:  Liza Jane  in a medley.  Beginning with Johnny Booker, next comes Liza Jane with banjo and penny whistle. Stephen states that Liza Jane “surfaced on the minstrel stage.”  And here’s BHO’s Lew Hendrix:  Banjovi's Going Down to Cairo

     Banjo Hangout members have posted lots more good versions, too.  Please include yours in this discussion so we can enjoy it and also share other favorite recordings out there.   Our own Eric Schlange offered the tune in the Bluegrass TOTW Liza Jane (3/15/15) and included several other videos.

     There are many people who fed me ideas and links, so thanks to the oldwoodchuck (Tony Spadaro), vrteach (Erich), Brooklynbanjoboy (Lew Stern), bd (Ben), Stephen Wade, Lew H, Tom Berghan, banjosnapper (Tim Twiss), and Ernie Noyes. Though Bob Carlin responded to my query, he couldn’t add anything about poor little ol’ Liza’s appearance in the minstrel circuit.  And of course thanks to my husband, Kit, who found the typos and expressed amusement at my many discoveries.

      With many Lizas to record, I’m tempted to steal the oldwoodchuck’s idea by calling them The Liza Jane Chronicles.  Taking time to sort them out makes it lucky I now have summer vacation, and better yet, that I’m newly retired.  See my MP3 details to know which of the Liza Jane settings you’re hearing.  The PDF file contains eight tabs.  The first three are in double C tuning and match one MP3.  The last five tabs are in open G tuning and match the second MP3.

     A happy 4th of July to all -- our music is as American as apple pie.  So are songs like Liza Jane.





Liza Jane (double C tuning)

Liza Jane (open G tuning)

Liza Jane CH tabs

roadkingjimmy - Posted - 07/03/2015:  07:28:16

Wow!you really did your homework Janet,never knew there were so many versions,loved your dbl,c
version that's the one fer me,regards Jimmy

J-Walk - Posted - 07/03/2015:  07:44:24

I've been tempted many times to compile and categorize tunes with Liza Jane in the title. I never could have done it as well as you, though. Nice work, Janet.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/03/2015:  07:56:24

What Jimmy said, very thoughtful and thorough work by Janet, and great picking, too.  I play a three or four of those versions now, but the Sam Chatmon/Stringbean tune is the one I first learned decades ago as a little baby banjo picker. I've attached a recording of that version, playing at a street fair one summer evening around 1999, recorded off the PA system. We called ourselves Wry Whiskey, with Richie Chaisson on resophonic guitar, the late Gene Ketelhohn picking guitar, and Tom Speth on bass. I am playing my semi-fretless Paramount in open D tuning.  We were cooking, ragged but right, I hope.

- Don Borchelt


Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/03/2015 08:00:25

Liza Jane with Wry Whiskey


CEParagon124 - Posted - 07/03/2015:  08:01:04

Interesting how disparate the different tunes happen to be, in spite of the titles being similar. I suppose geography and different styles account for that.

I'm going to look closely at your open G Diller/Thornburg version, as that is basically the version I play. I've never seen it tabbed out before. I'm sure I'll incorporate your example into my playing.

You're unbelievable Janet.

It's players like you, Rob MacKallop, Tom Berghan, John Balch, Mary Cox, R. D. Lunsford, David Brooks and many, many others here that sometimes causes me to wonder just why I even try to play banjo, but then, occasionally, something in my practice sessions "click" and I do something I've never done before and I know why.

Charlie Noyes

Edited by - CEParagon124 on 07/03/2015 08:02:16

roadkingjimmy - Posted - 07/03/2015:  08:04:24

That is a great version Don,enjoyed it😃

JanetB - Posted - 07/03/2015:  09:00:39

Thanks for the nice feedback.  Don, your group was smoking.  By the title I almost thought that Liza Jane was having a drink.  blush  Here's one of the common verses:

Well the old folks down in the mountain a’grinding sugar cane

Making barrels of molasses for to sweeten old Liza Jane


Whiskey by the gallon and sugar by the pound

Great big bowl to put it in and Liza to stir it around

Lew H - Posted - 07/03/2015:  09:31:58

Janet, Wow! Thanks for your scholarship on these related songs.  Here in Southern Illinois, few people play Liza Jane.  We play Goin' Down to Cairo, which is basically a lot of verses with either local references or references to Liza Jane, and a melody the same tune as Goodbye Liza Jane. We  locals tend to think of Cairo as its own song, despite the obvious derivation from  the widespread Goodbye Liza Jane. 

Goin' Down to Cairo was collected by local folklorists decades ago as a "play party song,"  that is a song that a group of people could sing while dancing, without instruments accompanying them. Reasons for play parties could be the lack of available musicians or the moral sense that playing instruments such as the fiddle is immoral or sinful.  Whatever the case, play parties happened all across the Ozarks, from Southern Illinois to northwest Arkansas.  Thanks again, and I'll have to dig into some of your historical references later.

Edited by - Lew H on 07/03/2015 09:34:32

jasper - Posted - 07/03/2015:  09:54:33

Great Job Janet. My personal Fav is Isham Monday's Version, so fun with fiddle and banjo.

jamesd - Posted - 07/03/2015:  11:04:59

Well, great work Janet.  I had never heard so many versions of this tune.  I know more about this tune now, than any other tune.  Thanks for your work and tunes, and tabs.  You always do a great job..  And I enjoyed Don's playing.

bhniko - Posted - 07/03/2015:  11:37:35

Kudos to our Janet Burton our own 'banjoologist' for a great post. Really spent some time with this one and enjoyed every second of the links and comments.


JanetB - Posted - 07/03/2015:  14:54:01

That's interesting background about Goin' Down to Cairo, Lew.  And thanks for the appreciative words.  I'm glad someone else may learn something from all of this.  When a TOTW gets this involved it's like doing a high school senior project again. 

I'm wondering if any other melodies may surface on this thread....It's gotten to be like a game when I hear a new version -- can I identify which melody group it belongs to?

hayesdt - Posted - 07/03/2015:  19:39:20

Very thorough and highly informative post.  Thanks, Janet, for all the research and work that went into this.  I too love all of these Liza Jane tunes / songs / variations.  They're among my favorites.

Clawed - Posted - 07/04/2015:  00:30:14

Excellent work Janet! I had no idea there were so many versions. I remember singing this song in grade school back in the 60's (Little Liza Jane) and recently learned the Dwight Diller "Liza Jane" version. You definitely went above and beyond with an interesting, entertaining, informative, educational, and historical article. This is what I love about old time music.....the story behind the song. 

jack_beuthin - Posted - 07/04/2015:  05:00:15

Great work Janet!  I have been enlightened.  I have a feeling these tunes are going to get played a lot at our local OT festival next week.

banjoholic - Posted - 07/04/2015:  07:09:34

My 10 year old daughter and I are in the midst of working up a set for an upcoming performance, so I've been searching for material to add. Earlier this week while listening to Kyle Creed's Liberty album the song "Big Liza" caught my attention. So we worked it up and recorded it yesterday for the youtube - then I spotted this thread. Serendipity!

And kudos to Janet for a fantastic write-up!


Edited by - banjoholic on 07/04/2015 07:10:21

carlb - Posted - 07/04/2015:  07:16:19

As far as I can read through all these posts, there's no mention of the Carter Brothers and Son's version. To me it's a wholly different tune but neat. I guess it's #10.

Liza Jane – Carter Brothers and Son 1928

A snippet can be heard at:

and a longer snippet at:

Also, there's a transcription in Stacy Phillip's "Traditional American Fiddle Tunes", volume 1, p. 144 as well as in the "Fiddler's Fakebook", p172.

It can also be heard at the beginning of the film on the New Lost City Ramblers "Always Been a Rambler".

As you might guess, I'm partial to this version.


Edited by - carlb on 07/04/2015 07:18:04

JanetB - Posted - 07/04/2015:  07:55:11

That's going to be a great live performance, Josh.  Your daughter is sure a sweet 10 year-old.  There's nothing like seeing talented youth on stage when I'm at a festival or music camp.

And, Carl, you're the top of the top ten in my book!  Thanks for revealing another unique Liza Jane.  Here's a youtube link for the entire three minute song recorded by the Carter Brothers and son and Old Joe Bones, recorded in 1928:  I was able to find articles and interviews about them on the Old Time Party Southern music site.

Thanks to all of you who are listening and benefiting from this discussion. 

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 07/04/2015:  14:12:39

Several years ago I was looking for the lyrics to Good-bye Liza Jane, the one that Janet linked to Bob Wills on Youtube.  I had a version by the Hot Club of Cowtown, and wrote down the lyrics.  I actually memorized them and this is one of the few songs I can play and sing simultaneously.  Anyone want to learn these?  I cannot vouch for their authenticity, but here's what I got from Elana James' version:

Up the river and around the bend

Good bye, good bye

Six shooters on and your gone again

Good bye Liza Jane

Oh how I love her

Ain’t that a shame

Oh how I love her

Good-bye Liza Jane

Three wheels off and the axil’s draggin

Good bye good bye

You can ride in the little red wagon

Good bye Liza Jane

Oh how I love her

AIn’t that a shame

Oh how I love her

Good bye Liza Jane

Can’t chew tobacco, spit it on the wall

Good bye Good byel

Swing that gal clear across the hall

Good –bye Liza Jane

Oh how I love her

Ain’t that a shame

Oh how I love her

Good bye Liza Jane

Swing your ma Swing your pa

Good bye good bye

Swing that gal from Arkansas

Good bye Liza Jane

Oh how I love her

Ain’t that a shame

Oh how I love her

Good-bye Liza Jane

Circle eight and walk it straight

Good bye good bye

Come on boys and don’t be late

Good bye Liza Jane

Oh how I love her

Ain’t that a shame

Oh how I love her

Good bye Liza Jane

hendrid - Posted - 07/04/2015:  16:19:57

Another Goodbye Liza Jane,  The Turkey Creek String Band

haildixon - Posted - 07/04/2015:  18:09:42

My Personal Favorite, Sweet Emma & Her Dixieland Boys (Preservation Hall Jazz Band back when they still played Traditional Jazz)

Edited by - haildixon on 07/04/2015 18:10:55

CamC - Posted - 07/04/2015:  19:09:52

Great choice for TOTW and great write up Janet. I happened to be going through Art Rosenbaum's new book, and by coincidence happened to be trying out Liza Jane this week. Here's my attempt at that.


JanetB - Posted - 07/04/2015:  19:56:58

That sure is super, Cam!  Its setting is more melancholy and goes with Pete Seeger's lyrics, the basis for Dan Gellert's and Art Rosenbaum's Liza Jane:

You go down that old fence road, I’ll go down the lane

You can hug an old fence post, I’ll hug Liza Jane


     Oh Liza poor gal, oh Liza Jane

     Oh Liza poor gal, she died on the train


You can plant your patch of corn, I’ll plant a patch of cane

I’m gonna make molasses to sweeten Liza Jane


     Oh Liza poor gal, little Liza Jane

     Oh Liza poor gal, she died on the train


I wonder what the train meant.  Could it have been the Underground Railroad?  Here's Pete's 1950's recording of Liza Jane:  He also recorded Little Liza Jane earlier with the Almanac Singers.

Speaking of lyrics, Judy, your lyrics are a unique set, too.  I'd like to hear you!  I saw in Marion Thede's The Fiddle Book  a whole chapter called Liza Jane and Railroads.  The two states mentioned in different lyrics are Arkansas and Georgia.  With all the varied activities and locations of Liza Jane in lyrics, it's no wonder Marion Thede called her one of our "legendary figures of folk-lore".

I'm happy that someone actually from New Orleans posted a lively jazz rendition of Liza Jane.  Thanks, John.

mtmncobb - Posted - 07/04/2015:  22:10:00

Here are the two I know. Good tune in all its incarnations.


Big Liza Jane

Liza Jane

JanetB - Posted - 07/05/2015:  07:40:13

You play like you've been playing all your life, Jedediah!  Thanks for posting two Liza Janes.

Last night we were discussing Lew's information about "play parties" -- dances with only singing for music.  Reading from Ozarks Fiddle Music by Drew Beisswenger and Gordon McCann (which describes play parties) sent me again to Marion Thede's The Fiddle Book

In her chapter called "Liza Jane and Railroads" Ms. Thede has Liza Jane 3 (on pages 44-45), but with melody the same as Little Dutch Girl.  Her source was Joe Wilsie, a Black fiddler from Cherokee County, Oklahoma.  (This is puzzling, since she also has Little Dutch Girl in the book, but with a different melody, i.e. Going Down the River as fiddled by W.S. Collins.  And yet the Collins family is known for Little Dutch Girl.) 

In spite of that confusion, I'll risk labeling Liza Jane 3 as being #11 in this thread, though I call it Little Dutch Girl.  If nothing else, it validates the great efforts performed by Ms. Thede to sit with fiddlers (she contacted over 400 of them) and notate their tunes as they played over and over again.  Her story and accomplishments are truly remarkable.

Marion Thede included lyrics with notation as sung by her source, Joe Wilsie, perhaps indicating the reason the tune was called Liza Jane:

I'll go down the new cut road

And Liza down the lane

I'll throw my hat in the corner of the fence

And scare poor Liza Jane


Little Dutch Girl


Sideshow Skip - Posted - 07/05/2015:  08:48:26

Brilliant Janet, liked them both, maybe Double C a bit better. Your playing was top ! Super kudos to you for this informative post.

bhniko - Posted - 07/05/2015:  10:05:37

What a bonanza! Thought the post could not get much better but It sure keeps doing it.

Banjoholic and daughter...thanks. Jedidiah...smooth picking. Thanks again to all.

And to Janet...all the superlatives I can think of.

mdthib - Posted - 07/05/2015:  16:00:48

Really wonderful work, thanks so much! Looking forward to expanding my Liza Jane repertoire! This is really the way to go: tab if you need it, lots of great versions to play with, and a place for folks to share their efforts to encourage each other. Great stuff!

carlb - Posted - 07/05/2015:  18:00:52

Since you also seem to be including tunes like "Good Bye Liza Jane", note that the original Harry von Tilzer's composition, that we all know and love so well from the Charlie Poole recording, actually has the title "Good-bye Eliza Jane". I found this out because of a version that appears in Ira Ford's book under the title "Good Bye Liza Jane" which I eventually found was written by Eddie Fox and published in 1871

30 years before the Harry von Tilzer song.

So does this make it #11. The band I play in, Hobo Pie, regularly sings the Eddie Fox song but right now I don't know if I have a recording of it. I will check when I get home in the morning and upload it if I find one.

Edited by - carlb on 07/05/2015 18:02:01

JanetB - Posted - 07/05/2015:  19:48:05

Thanks again for all the supportive words.

Carl, I posted a #11 already (a bit iffy, but....), you now have #12.  Good sleuthing!  It would be Eddie Fox's Goodbye Liza Jane, published in 1871.  It has a unique chorus and melody.  Harry Von Tilzer's is the source music for #5 -- Charlie Poole's, as you noted. 

Though my original goal was to learn more about Bob Thornburg's Liza Jane, I couldn't be satisfied until I found out the rest of the Liza Jane please continue to share what we discover.

I hope you find your recording with Hobo Pie and share it.  

carlb - Posted - 07/06/2015:  07:35:03

Hobo Pie (Carl Baron, Barbara Johnson, Ray Frick and Bob Woodcock) recorded Eddie Fox's "Good Bye Liza Jane" in June, 2000 for our first CD "We Might as Well Be Dead".

Just an added note that, I had always felt a couple of key words were missing from the Ira Ford book "Traditional Music of America", but didn't confirm it until the Library of Congress digitized old sheet music. It was the first one I looked for and confirmed my suspicions that the line in the chorus should be "I'm goin' DOWN to Lynchburg town" and in the third verse "A hawk flew down and bit AN OLD goose."

Good Bye Liza Jane


BobTheGambler - Posted - 07/06/2015:  07:46:32

That first version was also recorded by the Tenneva Ramblers as "Miss Liza Poor Gal" in 1928.

Edited by - BobTheGambler on 07/06/2015 07:46:47

JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2015:  08:17:37

Wow, thanks, Carl.  It's supposed to be a "comic song."  You boys perform it how it must have sounded in 1871.  I wasn't sure how the "ehe, ehe, he" went until someone laughed on your recording!  Knowing the history of the song makes it more meaningful and enjoyable.  It's nothing like any of the other Liza Janes, other than the one phrase "it's goodbye Liza Jane."  The melody is totally unique, so it's definitely #12.  How did you learn it?

JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2015:  08:25:18

Thanks, Bob, for the source recording of Miss Liza Poor Gal by the Tenneva Ramblers of Mississippi, who I'd never heard of before (  They backed Jimmie Rodgers for a while.  The roots of this song point toward Mississipi and the deep South.  I've seen the title Liza Poor Gal before and the lyrics are in many choruses.  I almost used it as a category, but combined it with Liza Jane due to similarities.

carlb - Posted - 07/06/2015:  10:19:56


Originally posted by JanetB

It's nothing like any of the other Liza Janes, other than the one phrase "it's goodbye Liza Jane."  The melody is totally unique, so it's definitely #12.  How did you learn it?

I originally learned it from the transcription and verses that are in Ira Ford's "Traditional Music of America".

BobTheGambler - Posted - 07/06/2015:  10:41:08


Originally posted by JanetB


Thanks, Bob, for the source recording of Miss Liza Poor Gal by the Tenneva Ramblers of Mississippi, who I'd never heard of before

They were also billed as the Grant Brothers on some of their recordings.

chadp - Posted - 07/06/2015:  19:17:49

I personally love OId Sledge's version.. what tuning is this in?

JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2015:  20:14:18

What a great sound they have!  I can play along in open G tuning capoed up 2 for the key of A.

chadp - Posted - 07/07/2015:  04:53:17

I tried that but it sounded weird.. hmm

BobTheGambler - Posted - 07/07/2015:  08:54:15

During his "Last Sessions" recordings, Lead Belly recorded an acapella version of what you called #5 in your original post, Goodbye Miss Liza Jane as song recorded by Charlie Poole.





hendrid - Posted - 07/07/2015:  11:09:16

Goodbye with a couple of banjoists......

banjo bill-e - Posted - 07/07/2015:  11:30:20

So after all of this I still think if someone said that they were going to play anything called Liza Jane you would have to say "play it through and I'll join you the second time around".
Like Sally, that Liza was a busy girl!

maryzcox - Posted - 07/07/2015:  12:15:57

LOL--this video is really old--taped on an old camcorder--before iphone & ipad--but still a fun version of Liza Jane on a John Bowlin fretless @ Grand Canyon on a windy day --haha :)

Mary Z Cox /June 2015


JanetB - Posted - 07/07/2015:  15:58:12

Those videos reveal more of this fascinating story.  Leadbelly's singing was truly nice for #5, Goodbye Liza Jane (called Miss Liza Jane).  In the video he sure explained the "other" side of Liza Jane to us, didn't he!  Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter's) career is discussed in detail in two biographies called The Last Cavalier, The Life and Times of John A. Lomax by Nolan Porterfield and Alan Lomax, The Man Who Recorded the World by John Szwed.   Between the two of them the Lomaxes recorded three of the video segments on this thread.  Their lives and contributions were utterly amazing.

The jam with the two banjos sounds like a typical bluegrass jam.  Everyone who wants to solo can and each one is uniquely different.  That's the basic version Bill Evans teaches, too, #9 called Goodbye Liza Jane. 

Old Sledge played #1, for which I could use any of my tabs for Liza Jane to play along with, but the Bob Thornburg/Dwight Diller version was closest to the banjo player.

And Mary, you're playing #3, Little Liza Jane.  You must not be afraid of heights.  Neither was Liza Jane, if she really climbed up 'simmon trees.  Thanks for sharing that happy energy of yours.

See Banjo Bill-e, I'm getting a bit better at telling these different Lizas apart, but I confess I had to peak at the beginning of this thread!

Edited by - JanetB on 07/07/2015 16:11:46

ABK - Posted - 07/08/2015:  06:11:39

Such a fun post Janet!! Stringbean and Bob Wills!! Woo Hoo! Loved you picking of course! Can't wait for the next song history lesson!

LyleK - Posted - 07/08/2015:  12:38:39

Here's another "#9."  By happy coincidence, "The Young and the Fretless" is recording a CD that has "Goin' Down to Cairo" as one of the tracks.  For this track that's Tom Bassett on fretless banjo and lead vocal, Ben Juday on bass, me on fiddle, and Hilary Valentine on guitar and harmony vocal.  The recording was done at Ben's warehouse (Analog Outfitters, see with Randy Cordle (BHO's "rudy") at the controls.

Edited by - LyleK on 07/08/2015 12:45:02

Y&F in the "studio"

Randy Cordle recording Y&F

Going Down to Cairo

banjoike - Posted - 07/08/2015:  16:13:29

Liza Jane with a mixture of Dinah thrown in.

Liza Jane


JanetB - Posted - 07/08/2015:  17:50:37

These two unique portrayals of Liza Jane are most welcomed.  The Young and the Fretless sing some lyrics of Going Down to Cairo new for me and the clawhammer banjo fits it wonderfully -- it's so plunky and old-timey.  Thanks for sharing this, Lyle, and I look forward to hearing more about your CD project.

Ike, your Liza Jane is delightfully played.  I recognize it as Big Liza Jane.  Putting in some Dinah was mighty astute of you.  Since Dinah hasn't been a TOTW yet, maybe you'd consider researching it.  big  Here's a start with Henry Reed's Dinah -- it sure does resemble Liza Jane.

jasonbeers - Posted - 07/09/2015:  18:46:41


Edited by - jasonbeers on 07/09/2015 18:50:01

jasonbeers - Posted - 07/09/2015:  19:01:03

Here's my version. I wrote a couple of a bit...uh..risque and the other with an Empire Strikes Back reference.
"I've got a gal in Baltimore, LLJ..she's a waiting by my front door LLJ
I gave her all my love and then LLJ...On my heart she can depend LLJ
She says my kisses make her come alive LLJ Up and down her five foot five LLJ
I have to say that I love you LLJ she says "i know" and that sends me, too LLJ
Come with me, let's run away LLJ...Pack your bags, let's swing and sway LLJ"

liza jane at Rural Grit


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