This week's volunteer is unable to post, so here is a quick emergency back-up tune - Cranberry Rock, a West Virginia tune in the key of C.
BURL HAMMONS (1907-1993)
Photo by Carl Fleischhauer
Cranberry Rock comes to us from Burl Hammons. I doubt Burl or the Hammons family need much introduction on the Hangout, as they are legendary figures in West Virginia string band music and in the wider old-time community. For those that are not familiar with Burl or Edden (Edn) or Sherman or Maggie Hammons, more can be read about them here:
There are several "Cranberry"-named geographical features in West Virginia - the Cranberry River, Cranberry Creek, Cranberry Glades, the town of Cranberry in Raleigh County, the Cranberry Wilderness in Monongahela National Forest, etc. However, I could find no "Cranberry Rock" in the state. If the Hammons named the tune, I assume they had in mind a small, very local feature that never made it onto maps or internet websites. (Well, unless they occasionally vacationed in Shropshire, England, where there is a "Cranberry Rock": flickr.com/photos/94209416@N06/20161576064 )
Cranberry Rock, near the summit of the Stiperstones in the Shropshire Hills.
Photo by Robin Jukes-Hughes
The aforementioned Cranberry Glades are in Pocahontas County, the home county of the Hammons family, where Burl was born and raised. So even though the tune is not called "Cranberry Glades", I thought I would include this photo of the Glades, as it is a landscape that, unlike the Shropshire Hills, would have been very familiar to the Hammons (simply imagine that there is an interesting rock formation just out of the frame).
You've come through again, Brett, with a winner -- many thanks. I'd bookmarked this tune a while ago as one to learn. I listened to Burl Hammons and Dwight Diller with David Bing. Ken Torke's tab helped, too. It's said that Burl learned the tune from his cousin Early Cogar (in The Hammons Family liner notes by Alan Jabbour). Alan also states that Cranberry Rock is in the same melodic family branch as Billy in the Low Ground, another C tune.
Great choice, Brett. This one's been on my "to learn" list for some time, too. Coincidentally, I just started working on it on fiddle a week ago after I was inspired by the version included on the great new Sky Island Stringband CD Adventures in Old Cranberry featuring Jimmy Triplett on fiddle and Candy Goldman on banjo with support from Charlie Hartness on ukelele and Nancy Hartness on guitar.
Beautiful rendering, Janet. I was transported for a while back to a hidden little spot near Clayton, West Virginia with a morning view of the verdant hill tops and fog-filled hollers. Not Pocahontas County, but not far from there.
Cranberry Rock: 3:23 Burl Hammons, Pocahontas County, WV
A great tune from the Hammons Family repertoire celebrating a place near the head of Cranberry River in what is now the Cranberry Wilderness Area in the Monongahela National Forest. This tune is often played with a crooked two beat phrase at the end of each section. In the recording I learned this from, Burl plays it "straight"—at least for the first go through. Playing things crooked or straight often seemed to be of the moment for many older West Virginia players—a kind of improvisation associated with the solo fiddle style. Here I play it straight with a dance in mind.