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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 1/29/16 - Bert Anderson's Tune


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/314366

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 01/29/2016:  15:51:20


 



This week's Tune of the Week is Bert Anderson's Tune, which comes to us from Clyde Davenport.







CLYDE DAVENPORT



 photo 7b860c04-ca6a-4801-90dc-0dada871e3e2.jpg



Clyde Davenport is a well-known old-time fiddler and banjo player from Monticello, Kentucky.  Born on October 21, 1921 in Blue Hole Hollow - near Mt. Pigsah in the Cumberland Plateau area of south-central Kentucky - Clyde is (as far as I know) still making music at the age of 94.  As a young boy he learned to play the fiddle from his father and grandfather, and, once he was a few years older, by walking many miles into the county seat to watch older men - some born before the Civil War - play the fiddle and banjo on the courthouse steps. Over the years he has in turn shared his fiddle tune repertoire and his memories of pre-war string band music with countless younger musicians, researchers, and field recorders - I am sure almost everyone reading this write-up is familiar with his music or at least has heard his name.



Jeff Titon, the author of Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, was one such researcher. He visited Clyde numerous times beginning in 1990, eventually recording over 150 of Clyde's fiddle tunes and about 50 of his banjo tunes.  Clyde learned about 40 of the fiddle tunes from his father, and many of them are quite rare; Jeff estimates that almost half are otherwise completely unknown.



Jeff has written extensively about Clyde, both in his book and on various websites.  Instead of trying to summarize those writings, here is a link to one of Jeff's websites, which provides a good deal of interesting detail about Clyde's life and his approach to music.



http://cds.library.brown.edu/projects/davenport/CLYDE_DAVENPORT.html





I will excerpt one brief interview exchange that Jeff included on the Brown University site, as it gives a good sense of Clyde's personality and outlook on music:





Jeff: This is about the fifth time I've come out to visit you and we've played music together, and I've enjoyed that, and I've enjoyed listening to you, and I want to know why you're so interested in cooperating with the videotaping and the music and all.



Clyde: Well, I've enjoyed that. I've got it figured out like this. There's people knows more than I do about it. And another thing, I'm not jealous. If a man beat me a-playing, I want to hear him. I might learn something. And if anybody wants my music, I'm willing to give it to him. I don't care who it is. If they come here and want my music, they're welcome to it. I enjoy giving it to them.



Jeff: You've been very generous to a lot of people in playing for them.



Clyde: Oh, I like to play for them if they want it. The reason is, I don't want to be the only man that does it. And another thing, I'm a-getting old. I can't be here another hundred years. Well, if it's out and people can do it, let them have it. Isn't that what you'd say? A lot of these fellows won't do that, and they're getting old, too. They won't do it, they don't want to do it without the money. I give mine away. Anybody wants to come here and get it, and I can do it. Of course I'm getting old. I don't play none. I'm getting out of practice, getting old and stiff. Arthritis and everything but I can still play some. So if anybody wants it, they can have it.



Jeff: How do you feel about the young people's interest in your tunes?



Clyde: I'm glad of it. It's something new to them, tunes that they hadn't never heard before. I'm glad I can give it to them and play for them.



 





BERT ANDERSON



As I've noted in earlier TOTW write-ups, I am drawn to "namesake tunes", since I am always curious about the people after whom such tunes are named.  Often research into such people leads to background history that illuminates the context in which the tune was born, or at least to interesting personal stories that add depth or enjoyment to my experience in playing the tune.  Alas, that was not the case with Bert.  I found virtually no information about him, beyond the likely (and expected) fact that he was a fiddle player active in south-central Kentucky in the early part of the 20th Century.  In a 1985 interview with Marynell Young for the Morehead State University Vintage Fiddlers Oral History Project, Clyde mentions in passing that he learned the tune from his brother, who in turn had learned it from a man named Bert Anderson.  I do not know whether Clyde or his brother actually called it Bert Anderson's Tune, or whether that title was given to it by the Morehead State historians.  As far as I can tell, Clyde is our only source for the tune.



 



THE TUNE



Bert Anderson's Tune is in C.  It has a four bar A part and an eight bar B part - the exact pattern of the tune seems to vary a bit, with the A part being played anywhere from two to four times.   As is clear from the sources listed below, the spelling of the title also varies between 'Bert' and 'Burt', with one source - not included here - spelling it 'Byrl', and the Traditional Tune Archive suggesting that it might be "Byrd". I simply chose to use the Morehead State interview notes as a guide.



 



Clyde Davenport's fiddle version can be found on the Slippery Hill site: slippery-hill.com/recording/bu...sons-tune

 



It is not a particularly well-known tune, and I could find only a handful of versions online.





Solo banjo (Greg Canote): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5haBE85Qlf0



Solo fiddle: youtube.com/watch?v=sp_l9QGhJ2U



Twin fiddle (Rafe Stefanini & Suzy Thompson): youtube.com/watch?v=Nt2Ld_SxnNY



Jam (Michael Defosche & friends): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om6AzwF4514



 



Tab (by Maya Whitmont) is on the MossyRoof site:  http://stringband.mossyroof.com/Bert_Andersons_Tune.png



 



(CD/DVD: The Field Recorders Collective has released two CDs and one DVD featuring Clyde on fiddle and banjo.  None of them contains Bert Anderson's Tune, but they do provide an excellent record of Clyde's music, and the online liner notes contain a great deal of valuable biographical information: fieldrecorder.org/clyde-davenport/)



 



 



 



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 01/30/2016 16:37:36

RG - Posted - 01/29/2016:  19:13:52


Awesome tune-Clyde is king, one of my favorites, great TOTW, thanks for posting!



Edited by - RG on 01/29/2016 19:14:03

mbuk06 - Posted - 01/30/2016:  02:20:44


Nice tune pick, and one I've not heard or played before.



On first listening it reminded me of Sarah Armstrong's Tune which I do play. Out of curiosity I just played both tunes back to back and they're not the same so I guess it's just something in the cadence that is similar and triggers that thought.


JanetB - Posted - 01/30/2016:  11:31:50


Thanks, Bret, for introducing a Clyde Davenport tune that's new for me.  I like the interview portion you included above.  I have a DVD I'll be anxious to re-watch now, called "Shades of Clyde," released in 2011 describing his life and also including his wonderful clawhammer.








Bert Anderson's Tune (TOTW)


Bert Anderson's Tune (CH) tab

RG - Posted - 01/30/2016:  16:59:20


Clyde not only played CH, he was a master of OT banjo playing styles including thumb/index lead & 3 finger, "little birdie" picking etc.  Truly an American musical treasure... 


Don Huber - Posted - 01/31/2016:  15:52:58


I second the Field Recorders Cd featuring Clyde Davenport.

I really enjoyed the link to Rafe and the Thompsons playing this tune. Thanks! And there are some other great videos from that performance I'd never watched.

nickbachman - Posted - 01/31/2016:  19:13:41


Love this tune. In a recording I have, Clyde states that his brother learned the tune from a fella in Grinnell, Ioway (Iowa). The fella's name was Bert Anderson, and he doesn't know the name of the tune, so he just calls it 'Bert Anderson.'


Zischkale - Posted - 02/01/2016:  06:55:03


Thanks for posting, always a good change of pace to see a C tune! The namesake tunes really are interesting to think on -- that they don't have a widespread title implies they're rare, and there must be a number of tunes that never even made it out, went extinct. I wonder if there're any tunes we know the title of, but not the melody.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 02/01/2016:  13:30:47


quote:

Originally posted by Zischkale

 

 I wonder if there're any tunes we know the title of, but not the melody.







 



I can think of one, off the top of my head - Wild Ponys of the West, from the Illinois fiddler Jesse James Abbot.  I learned of it through an email Steve Harrison sent to me three years ago, while I was researching another Illinois tune (Devil in the Haystack) for a TOTW:



One thing that my late brother Garry and I agonized about was a closing scene at Jesse James Abbott's house. We had a nice and productive session with Jesse, and had already loaded all the recording equipment into the trunk of the car and came back in to say our goodbyes. With one foot out the door headed back out to the car, Jesse just off the cuff said, "Yeah, by golly, next time I'll play that "Wild Ponys of the West" for you." I looked at Garry, he looked at me, both shook our heads -- never heard him even mention that tune title before. Looked at the trunk of the car... nah. We don't want to wear him out and it'd take a good 10-15 minutes to get all that set back up again, so we let Jesse know that we would be VERY interested in hearing him play "Wild Ponys of the West" and that we'd check in with him later that week to see if it'd be convenient for him and his family to allow us another sit-to. Well Jesse just up and died about two days later from a massive coronary. Garry liked to speculate in humor that Jesse just wanted to let us know that he was taking one with him. 'Course, Jesse didn't have anything like that in mind, but it just goes to show, you ain't gonna get 'em all.



 


Zischkale - Posted - 02/02/2016:  08:18:19


quote:

Originally posted by EggerRidgeBoy

 
quote:


Originally posted by Zischkale

 


 I wonder if there're any tunes we know the title of, but not the melody.








 




I can think of one, off the top of my head - Wild Ponys of the West, from the Illinois fiddler Jesse James Abbot.  I learned of it through an email Steve Harrison sent to me three years ago, while I was researching another Illinois tune (Devil in the Haystack) for a TOTW:




One thing that my late brother Garry and I agonized about was a closing scene at Jesse James Abbott's house. We had a nice and productive session with Jesse, and had already loaded all the recording equipment into the trunk of the car and came back in to say our goodbyes. With one foot out the door headed back out to the car, Jesse just off the cuff said, "Yeah, by golly, next time I'll play that "Wild Ponys of the West" for you." I looked at Garry, he looked at me, both shook our heads -- never heard him even mention that tune title before. Looked at the trunk of the car... nah. We don't want to wear him out and it'd take a good 10-15 minutes to get all that set back up again, so we let Jesse know that we would be VERY interested in hearing him play "Wild Ponys of the West" and that we'd check in with him later that week to see if it'd be convenient for him and his family to allow us another sit-to. Well Jesse just up and died about two days later from a massive coronary. Garry liked to speculate in humor that Jesse just wanted to let us know that he was taking one with him. 'Course, Jesse didn't have anything like that in mind, but it just goes to show, you ain't gonna get 'em all.




 







Awesome story!


bhniko - Posted - 02/03/2016:  15:38:28


Dang ..Janet that banjo (and your playing) just envelopes one and invites everyone to be a part of the tune.



 



Edited by - bhniko on 02/03/2016 15:39:51

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 02/04/2016:  17:37:56


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

 

Thanks, Bret, for introducing a Clyde Davenport tune that's new for me.  I like the interview portion you included above.  I have a DVD I'll be anxious to re-watch now, called "Shades of Clyde," released in 2011 describing his life and also including his wonderful clawhammer.












 



Glad you enjoyed the tune, Janet. I was not familiar with the "Shades of Clyde" DVD - I'll have to see if I can find a copy, especially if it has his banjo playing on it (I think the FRC releases mostly feature his fiddling).



Thanks for posting your version - it is lovely, as always.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 02/04/2016:  17:38:29


Thanks to all for your responses and contributions!


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