Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 12-27-2019 Lovely Jane

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:

carlb - Posted - 12/26/2019:  17:25:38

Lovely Jane

Melvin Wine played a fiddle tune called “Lovely Jane". When I learned it from him, I ended up with a banjo setting that I felt complimented what he was playing. And yet, in itself, it is a fine banjo tune (aDAde). I’m not sure how my playing of this tune has changed over time and I’m sure it got affected by how I now play it on the fiddle. So here goes.

Drew Beisswenger wrote a Ph.D. thesis “Fiddling Way Out Yonder, Community and Style in the Fiddle Music of Melvin Wine” (University of Memphis, 1997). In part of it are his musical and bowing notations for 52 selected tunes. Here’s some of what he wrote about Lovely Jane (I have prepared a pdf file of the three pages on this tune).


            “Speaking generally about the tune, Melvin says:

  I’d heard people singing it around a little bit, and I, uh, then I heard my dad play it. And he didn’t play it too much but he’d play it once in a while. So there’s where I got it. Now, it has a part in it that’s hard to get, hard for me to get. I don’t know about anybody else, but it has a long part in it there that’s just hard to get, hard for me to get. But I got it (laughs)…  that high par--, the coarse part….  That tune is just to listen to. It’s not a hoedown or nothing like that. It’s just a nice tune, more like waltzy-type or two-step, or something like that….  I heared Clarence sing it. I heared Perry sing it--  that’s my older brother—he played fiddle a little bit. (Wine, 27 September 1996).

  Melvin plays the tune on “Vintage Wine”.


I have uploaded the tune from “Vintage Wine” (Melvin Wine (fiddle), Kate Brett (banjo), Gerry Milnes (guitar) with permission from Augusta Heritage as long as it can’t be downloaded). There are Melvin Wine CDs and DVD/CD at the Augusta store. The collection with the DVD has a different take with just solo fiddle.

Hannah at the Spring House

Vintage Wine (not in the store at the present time)

Cold Frosty Morning (not in the store at the present time)

“One More Time” The Life and Music of Melvin Wine


There is also a solo banjo version by Jimmy Triplett, which to my ear, is based on the first two takes in the solo fiddle version on “One More Time” In the “Vintage Wine” version, Melvin Wine always went to the high A note in the first part only in the repeat (also in all the times I played the tune with him).


I’ve not written a tab as I always prefer each player to find a setting that fits with the player you’re learning it from and in your own style. Kate Brett does not have the same setting as myself. Just think about how to play complementing the tune and its phrases. I’ve discussed the hard riff (at least for me) that’s in the part in D in a separate audio file. Some of you may find other ways to get those notes. To my ear, Jimmy Triplett plays the same notes as I do in that riff.


Just to finally mention, I found the tune similar harmonically, in some ways, to “Doctor, Doctor” and that was a good starting point for me. The first part just hangs on an A7 chord, almost forever, with a quick G chord (check Gerry Milnes guitar playing in the “Vintage Wine” recording), which occurs twice, and then the second part is in D. I do use the 5th string for a melody note on some phrases in both parts, but I try and maintain the rhythm in spite of that.

Edited by - carlb on 12/28/2019 06:46:46

Jack Baker - Posted - 12/26/2019:  18:01:34

Really nice tune Carl...Jack

Edited by - Jack Baker on 12/26/2019 18:01:49

JanetB - Posted - 12/27/2019:  11:47:13

You're truly appreciated, Carl, when you present a Melvin Wine tune. I'd never have found Lovely Jane in my limited access to Melvin's tunes. Can you tell us more about how you came to meet Melvin, what you did with him, and what he was like to be around?

Lovely Jane is a neat little, crooked tune and is hard to stop. The A part is expressive and the B part crooked and wants to get back to the A. I'm reminded of a granddaughter who is always full of ideas for lively, creative activities and carries them out, too, one way or another.

I hear what you're saying about tabs. I share mine because arranging and then reading a tab is how I often can learn a rather complex tune and understand its structure. Somebody else may benefit when I share.

Edited by - JanetB on 12/27/2019 11:47:42

RG - Posted - 12/27/2019:  12:51:24

Such a great tune Carl, love this from Melvin's playing and of course, as always, you do a fine job of playing it!

BrendanD - Posted - 12/28/2019:  04:17:59

Thanks for posting this, Carl! "Lovely Jane" is one my very favorite tunes that I learned from Melvin, and he's the only source I know for this tune. I also was immediately reminded of "Doctor, Doctor" when he first played it for me; I think they are variants of the same melody, wherever that may have come from.

carlb - Posted - 12/29/2019:  06:54:35


Originally posted by JanetB

Can you tell us more about how you came to meet Melvin, what you did with him, and what he was like to be around?

How I met Melvin was just part of my music pathway through life. I’ve been around and singing folk music (old and new folk songs, old time, bluegrass, jug band, blues, ragtime) since I could talk. After 8 years in Colorado (after leaving Brooklyn, NY forever), I moved to Charlottesville, VA in the winter of 1972 and decided to play old time music since I figured it would be all around me and I might as well sop it up while I was there. My path led me to Mark Campbell, Frank George, Trina Milefsky, Armin Barnett and the Fuzzys and others at Armin's Alternate Galax Festival (August, 1972), the Morris Brothers Festival (the following weekend in 1972) and finally to the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV in June of 1973. I was still only playing guitar at the time. Of all the fiddlers, I heard at Glenville, Melvin was the one who attracted me the most; his style and energy. Since that time, I began to visit him a few times a year and also started playing clawhammer banjo. He was a gentle and giving man who taught me (more like I absorbed it) that it was important to pass the music on. In my visits, I would help out with whatever chores were being done and enjoyed the entire family as well as the hollow where he lived along with some of his sons and daughters (who built their own houses nearby). In those days, he always had children around who lived with him and Etta, grandkids and foster kids and usually present were the children of the family members who lived nearby. I traveled and played with him at the Chicago Folk Festival in the winter of 1977 (participated in a pig butchering before we left) and to Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA in early July of 1982.


PS. I’ve only missed two festivals at Glenville since 1973 and always played lots with Melvin, his son Grafton and other locals who played with him, while at the festival.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 12/30/2019:  07:01:41

A wonderful choice for TOTW, Carl, it's very close to Doctor, Doctor, like the first cousins got married, or something. I love your very thoughtful setting, well conceived and well played. I also enjoyed Janet's very exquisite take on it, graceful as always. I spent a good part of this weekend working this up, and it's still a little shaky, but passable.

Oh yeah, I'm playing my semi-fretless Tubaphone in open D tuning (aDF#AD).

- Don B.

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 12/30/2019 07:07:45

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories