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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 10/14/2016 -- Wrassled With a Wildcat

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Mtngoat - Posted - 10/14/2016:  15:37:32

TOTW 10/14/2016  

I’ve chosen Wrassled With a Wildcat from fiddler Earl Collins (1911 – 1975) for this installment of TOTW.   

Collins, who was born in Missouri, grew up in Oklahoma, and lived most of his adult life in California, started to play fiddle when he was 4 years old.  His first instrument was constructed from a cigar box but he progressed rapidly and his father gave him a regular fiddle when he was seven.

Barbara LaPan Rahm offers a brief history of Collins’ life and musical career here:

Here’s Collins’ Library of Congress recording of the tune:

An all-star band performed the tune at the 2013 Suwannee Banjo Camp.    I find my eyes inexorably drawn to synchronized movement of the fiddlers’ hands and bows which reminds me of the head bobbing courtship rituals of some birds. Little chicken head golf club booties on the end of the bows would be a hoot.

And here’s another all-star performance featuring Fiddle and Guitar:

I was unable to find a tab but Tater Joe’s fiddle web page has standard notation of the tune from three different artists here:

Readers are encouraged to post comments, performances and tabs.  Anyone with knowledge of the tune’s origin and history please share with the group.

Edited by - Mtngoat on 10/15/2016 14:35:10

Kernel - Posted - 10/14/2016:  16:44:18

I wrote out a simple tab for this a while ago but I guess I never posted it. Here it is.

RG - Posted - 10/14/2016:  16:51:31

Great tune that I love playing at jams...I first heard it in the seventies from Tom's an awesome version of the tune as played on fiddle by David Bragger and one of his students, James...some mighty fine fiddlin' there and good to see that old-time music is getting passed on to the next generation in such grand fashion, that's a talented young man!

Mtngoat - Posted - 10/14/2016:  16:59:32


Thanks for the tab.  I don't know how I missed it.

JanetB - Posted - 10/15/2016:  12:37:06

I'm always glad to learn anything from Earl Collins.  He said, "You know, I love old jam sessions better than I do anything. Just setting around someone’s house, and you play what you want to as long as you want to –- this and that. I play awhile and you play awhile, then someone else will play. Then I’II go back and I’II play some and you play some…"  When I was learning banjo he came for a jam at my guitar teacher's house and was most encouraging.  

My version here is a bit tame.  I give thanks again to Ken Torke for a helpful tab.  It was also great to see Adam Hurt playing along with his co-teachers in the link above.

I looked up wildcat.  It includes the bobcat, which we see here occasionally.  One delighted us a while back as we watched him going up and down an oak tree just like a kitten.

Edited by - JanetB on 10/15/2016 12:39:58

bhniko - Posted - 10/15/2016:  14:58:35

Just sitting here reading and listening to that perky tune. Thanks for the tabs.

Mtngoat - Posted - 10/16/2016:  07:29:43

Janet.  I love to hear personal remembrances about OT source musicians.  Thanks for the tab and performance too.



BrendanD - Posted - 10/16/2016:  23:36:57

Good tune choice, Mtngoat! Thanks for the writeup; I always learn something new in the TOTW threads, even about tunes that I've played for years!

And nice playing, Janet. I can always tell that you're a good listener by how close you get to the source versions that you listen to. I usually play this tune more like Beverly and John do in the video above; I'm guessing that it's more-or-less Rafe Stefanini's version, but yours is much closer to Earl Collins's version.

Here's a video from the Big Sur Fiddle Camp (2012?) faculty concert, with Grace Forrest and Tashina Clarridge on fiddles, Jefferson Hamer on guitar and me on banjo (I was just a guest, not faculty). It's a medley of four tunes, the last three being Collins Family tunes, with Wrassled (or Wrasslin'?) With A Wildcat starting at about 5:17. I'm pretty sure Grace learned the tune from Rafe's playing, as it's the same distinctive version as his. The sound is a bit echoey, since it was filmed from back in the audience.

Wrassled With A Wildcat

Edited by - BrendanD on 10/16/2016 23:39:16

vrteach - Posted - 10/17/2016:  08:43:58

Great tune. I hadn't heard of it before.

Zischkale - Posted - 10/19/2016:  07:30:04

Been listening to That's Earl lately -- Tom Sauber is a brilliant clawhammer banjo player by the way -- but it doesn't include this awesome tune. Really like it, it sounds like something I might be able to pick up by ear on fiddle so I'm gonna give it a shot. Really like the way he plays this one. And that title!!

Thanks, Mtngoat!

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