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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 7/21/17 - Rolling River

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EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 07/24/2017:  17:44:56

OK, here - finally - is this week's Tune of the Week, if 'this week' can be defined as 'last week'.  Sorry about the delay - I was unable to find a volunteer for last Friday and then ended up being on the road all weekend and simply didn't have the time to post something myself until this evening.

The tune is Rolling River, which comes to us from Illinois fiddler Delbar Tarpley.  I chose it in part because I was doing some canoeing last week for the first time in many years and was thus in a "river" frame of mind, and in part because Delbar Tarpley is a classic old-time fiddler name.


DELBAR EDGAR TARPLEY was born in Richland County, Illinois, in 1900, and died in the same county 95 years later. I haven't been able to find out much about him, other than that he made his living as a farmer.  He was recorded by Garry Harrison and the Indian Creek Delta Boys in the late 1970s, and two of those tracks are included on the "Dear Old Illinois" set - Can't You Hear Jerusalem Moan and Rolling River. 



Volo Bogtrotters:

Chirps Smith, Steve Rosen, Fred Campeau:

Kieran Towers:

Bosco Takaki:


Banjo tab from Ken Torke can be found at his TaterJoe's site:


The photo below was is from 1978. The source location had no attribution, but I am guessing it was taken by Garry or Steve Harrison.


Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 07/28/2017 18:52:57

JanetB - Posted - 07/25/2017:  08:37:09

Thanks for coming through, Bret, with this tune that does seem to float you down the river.  And thanks to Ken Torke's tab and the Anytune slow-downer to hear Delbar Tarpley's fiddle, I was able to learn it.  The Dear Old Illinois collection, book and 3-CD set, continues to interest me and perhaps it's finally been re-published for re-sale:

Mark Johnson - Posted - 07/25/2017:  09:05:23

Interesting.  At first I assumed this was going to be the Rolling River that comes from John Lusk of Tennessee, and featured on the album "Altamont: Black String Band Music from the Library of Congress".  I have been intending to do that Rolling River as a TOTW and thought I'd been beaten to the punch.

But this doesn't seem to be related at all, beyond the name.  I didn't know this tune, so thanks for the introduction!


Some nice versions too.  Great work Janet, you are such a quick study!  

BobTheGambler - Posted - 07/25/2017:  09:07:25

To my ear the example fiddled by Bosco above is the John Lusk version, which differs significantly from some of these other "Rolling River" tunes. Here's Lusk, Gribble, and York playing it as field recorded by Stu Jamieson:


Mark Johnson - Posted - 07/25/2017:  09:39:16

agreed, Bob, I overlooked the Bosco one on my first pass through.  It is the Lusk tune.

I'd be curious what others think about family relation of the tunes.  To my ear they are totally different, to the point of probably being unrelated.  I'm open to learning that I'm wrong though.

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 07/27/2017:  15:54:18

I came across that John Lusk version from the Altamont album toward the end of my (brief) research on this tune. I almost included it in my post, until I listened to it.  I seemed to hear a couple phrases that sounded a bit similar to the Illinois tune, but ultimately decided that, to my ears, it was a different tune altogether.  The geographic distance between the tunes, and the fact that both seem to be relatively rare (I didn't find versions of "Rolling River" from other parts of the country) also seemed to indicate that there was little connection between them.  But that is the type of old-time fiddle tune question that often just comes down to opinion, and maybe both the Delbar Tarpley and John Lusk versions can be traced to a common source.  I'll wait for Mark to suss all that out in his future "John Lusk's Rolling River" TOTW write-up.  :-)

Thanks to Bob for catching the fact that Bosco is playing the John Lusk tune. I obviously missed that fact - which might indicate that the tunes are very similar, except that I don't think I actually listened to Bosco's video before posting it (while trying to learn the tune I focused mostly on the Illinois players).

Thanks to all for your comments.


Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 07/27/2017 16:07:42

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