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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 25 March 2016: Muddy Roads

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cwdean - Posted - 03/25/2016:  14:11:56

Hi everyone!

I’m taking the helm for this weeks installation of Tune Of The Week.  For this weeks selection, I chose a piece that was played by the great Sherman Hammons, “Muddy Roads.”  This was one of the first tunes that I learned during my many summers learning from Tim Bing.  Muddy Roads, is in the key of “g” and is one of the first tunes that Tim Learned from Sherman when he was in his young teens.  Sherman, and Tim play the piece in ABB form and rely heavily on clean right hand technique.  Muddy Roads is pretty similar to Salt River.  Other than that, neither Tim or I know about the history of the tune.

As far as technique, it’s pretty straight forward.  However Sherman would add some things to spice up the tune.  Many times, he would start the “A” part with by playing the fifth sting as a pickup.  Also, he and Tim would some dynamics, drop thumbing, and pull off’s to the “B” part.

Below are some examples of Muddy Roads being played:


1. Sherman Hammons playing Muddy Roads with Tim Bing:  This is from the WVPTV show "Sugar in the Gourd".  The tune begins just after the 16 minute mark.


2. Tim Bing playing at a workshop in Spain.  Check it around the 3:10 mark.  Tim Talks a little about Sherman before playing the tune.


​3.  Pable Pernot.  He learned is off a recording of Dwight Diller playing the tune


4.  Myself:


Thanks for taking a look, everyone.  Please feel free to post your own rendition and pass your style along.  Have a great week everyone!


Kindest Regards,


Edited by - cwdean on 03/25/2016 14:14:43

JanetB - Posted - 03/25/2016:  18:26:20

Good choice, Chris.  Your banjo looks and sounds great.  I gather there's some real interesting history there about WV picker and luthier Jenes Cottrell.  I wonder if he knew Sherman Hammons. 

Here's my arrangement from Dwight Diller.  I was pleased to find the tune on bandcamp where you can download his latest CD at a most reasonable price:  You can also download Sherman Hammons from the Field Recorders Collective and this tune is included along with 41 other tracks :

Muddy Roads

Muddy Roads (CH) tab

CamC - Posted - 03/25/2016:  21:27:14

Great choice Chris, that banjo does sound great. I used Janet's tab to learn this one, which, as usual is spot on. Thanks Janet!

VIDEO: Muddy Roads
(click to view)


mojo_monk - Posted - 03/26/2016:  04:06:50

Good stuff. I've been a fan of this tune for quite some time.

BTW, that's a wicked cool Jenes Cottrell style banjo you have there, Chris.

RG - Posted - 03/26/2016:  04:33:38

Chris, is that the same banjo maker who made Ben Townshend's banjo?

janolov - Posted - 03/26/2016:  09:59:34

When listening to this tune I got some associations with other tunes.

First, the first part is very close to Patroller's Song (which is played in sawmill tuning)

Secondly, the first part also reminds about Tater Patch, but the first and second phrases are played in opposite order (and played in A tuning)

And, third, there is a Muddy Roads on the Doc Watson Family Album played by Gaither Carlton (listen here) which seems to be quit another tune.

cwdean - Posted - 03/26/2016:  11:39:19



Thanks everyone!  It's one of my daily players. Such an easy tune but so many subtle variations can be added.  It's a fun one to play around with.  Sherman's right hand was legendary and it's great to learn about his technique.   In regards to my banjo thank you for the compliments as well. RG, I built this banjo, as well as Ben's  I build that banjo specifically for his bike trip from WV to LA.  I am working to continue Jenes Cottrell's banjo making and chair making tradition.  I'm actually making a banjo from the last log he harvested before he died. It was cut in. 1971 and pulled off the mountain in late 1979.  Been air drying ever since. I build both reproductions of Jenes's banjos and versions combining my thoughts with Cottrell's designs.  I really geek out about it! Lol! -Chris 




RG - Posted - 03/26/2016:  12:11:58

Haha-that is awesome Chris, didn't know you where the maker...but pretty sure I recognized design aspects of it...glad that someone is carrying on Mr. Cottrell's tradition, I'll tell you that Ben's banjo is about as a good a banjo as I've ever heard, you do amazing work, well done and well played!

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/26/2016:  12:35:31

This is a good tune - and that banjo is really something! (as in "something good"!)

hendrid - Posted - 03/26/2016:  14:05:42

There is a write up and abc about Muddy Roads in Fiddlers Companion and dots and abc in


Edited by - hendrid on 03/26/2016 14:15:36

janolov - Posted - 03/27/2016:  06:54:09


Originally posted by hendrid


There is a write up and abc about Muddy Roads in Fiddlers Companion and dots and abc in


I think that is another tune but with the same name.The write up and the notation seem to have no connection to the TOTW  Christofer presented (more than the title).

Edited by - janolov on 03/27/2016 06:54:52

carlb - Posted - 03/28/2016:  03:18:35


Originally posted by janolov

And, third, there is a Muddy Roads on the Doc Watson Family Album played by Gaither Carlton (listen here) which seems to be quit another tune.

That's the tune that I know and play as Muddy Roads. Never had heard another with the same name.

greenbrooms - Posted - 03/29/2016:  07:44:16

really fun tune chris - thanks for sharing. took a stab at it this morning on the eric prust fretless:


janolov - Posted - 03/29/2016:  09:58:32

On this tab page there are four different tabs of Dwight Diller's versions of Muddy Roads:">

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