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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 2 December 2016: Don’t Drink Nothin’ But Corn

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:

Zischkale - Posted - 12/01/2016:  22:12:58

Bursting forth with new life from my Thanksgiving chrysalis, like so much stuffing from a turkey, I have managed to remember my TOTW slot this week and have brought a suitably feast-themed piece. The indulgent (defiant?) meaning behind the title may explain why it’s such an odd-measured thing, sure to trip up a guitarist at your next jam.

It’s a pretty straightforward melody with discernable fine and coarse parts, but can be heard as a crooked two-parter or as a one-part, seven-bar tune. Nancy Sluys plays it on her Best of Friends, Volume One album (seems out of print and I’m not aware of a second volume), where she claws alongside fiddle with her round, thick, banjo tone, like the sound of a handful of thrown pebbles striking a still pond. A real enviable tone.

You’ll want to hear a fiddle draw the melody for you (see below for examples) but here’s my banjo take on it, in aDADE:

TOTW - Don't Drink Nothin' But Corn

I can’t find an online posting of Nancy’s version (and if any of y’all know what specific source she cites please reply), but the online UNC Southern Folklife Collection has a similar one, recorded by Blanton Owen in Laurel Fork, Virginia. You can hear Taylor Kimble play it here. Scroll to the 2:12 mark. It’s briefly played but has the same seven-bar structure, unlike some versions of the tune, like this one with vocals, played straight.

There appears to be no shortage of examples on Youtube, including the below Christmas-ready version of it -- let's hear your renditions!

Edited by - Zischkale on 12/01/2016 22:20:39

JanetB - Posted - 12/02/2016:  11:00:07

You play with spirit, Aaron (have you had any?!).  I found the tune in the Milliner-Koken American Fiddle Tune collection, so here it is on Slippery Hill, recorded by Alan Jabbour.  In the book notes it says that Marcus Taylor Kimble was born in 1892 in Patrick Co., VA, and moved to Carroll Co. VA.  He formed a family band in the 20's, "but stopped playing for many years after witnessing a drunken brawl at a music party."

Here's the link on Slippery Hill:

Here's another spirited version by a favorite banjo player:


And here's my relaxed version (I don't know much about this kind of corn....).

bhniko - Posted - 12/03/2016:  10:40:40

Enjoy your TOTW posts. Green Corn and now Don't Drink Nothin' but Corn. Enjoyed both immensely and

will be enjoyed while learning to play it. Your Teddy Bear seems enthralled.

Edited by - bhniko on 12/03/2016 10:42:43

Paul Meredith - Posted - 12/06/2016:  19:46:16

Great TOTW Aaron, I really like your playing.  I've played this tune a few times during jams, but in frequently so I don't know if I've played this version or not.  Regardless, it is a great jam tune, the basic melody is easy to pick up on the fly.

Zischkale - Posted - 12/07/2016:  06:44:31

Janet -- I'm more of a beer drinker myself, have heeded the multitude of old-time warnings about corn liquor dead. I like your arrangement, I think that's the correct way to notate the measures. The ear really wants that first measure to be a pickup. Interesting details on Kimble's life too, thanks!!

bhniko -- Thanks for the good word. Can't speak for Peace Bear, but I think the guy's just had too much. Thinking about a Corn Trifecta for the next TOTW. 

Paul - Thank you much! It is a killer jam tune, but it really does trip folks up in my experience. It's a little harder to pick up than other crooked tunes, I think because of the aforementioned first measure which sounds like a pickup -- the whole thing reminds me very much of Jarrell's version of Rockingham Cindy. 

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