This is a "re-visit" of a former TOTW originally posted by Dock Jekel back in November 2010 banjohangout.org/archive/192541. Dock posted this the week after I had posted Oscar Wright's "Shaving a Dead Man", so it was a great follow up to an old-time banjo player who unfortunately is largely forgotten by many players. Notable in the old thread was an AWESOME three finger version posted by Don Borchelt, it's a must listen.
"Sandy River" is one of those great old-time "trance" tunes... I rarely utilize a lot of variations when I play it. "Sandy River" was one of the first tunes I learned back in the early 70's when I first started playing, a true banjo tune as there is no fiddle tune counterpart to it. I like that.
Oscar Wright was a multi-instrumentalist who lived in Princeton WVa. I first heard his playing on the County Clawhammer Vol. 2 LP (the three record series is a MUST for anyone remotely interested in old-time banjo countysales.com/products/23525). BHO member Jack Beuthin posted a thread a couple of years ago banjohangout.org/archive/339085 of recordings of Mr. Wright done by Blanton Owen in 1969. I won't go into details about the Oscar Wright/Alan Jabbour/Henry Reed/Franklin George connection, or Blanton Owens importance in collecting a lot of this music as there is a LOT of great historical information in the thread-check it out.
The 1969 recordings are a real treasure, as Oscar Wright was unfortunately not recorded as frequently as many other older musicians "discovered" in that era. But what we do have is amazing; he is one of my all time favorite clawhammer banjo favorites up there with guys like Wade Ward & Fred Cockerham.
"Sandy River" is a tune that meanders like a river, you kind of get lost where you're at in the tune and it just keeps chugging along... before you know it, you've been playing it for a while. There's really not a traditional tune structure as most are familiar with in fiddle tunes. I like to play it in fCFCD, but Oscar pitched it up a step or two. Here is his version youtube.com/watch?v=ZFyid_TQyew. Note how he HAMMERS that downbeat, a common characteristic of the old-timers and old-time music.
Anyway, enjoy and listen to his version... it's a pretty easy tune to pick up, the double slides are the one part that takes a little practice to smooth out, but hope you enjoy this tune from a true master old-timer and give it a try.
Always a good challenge from you, RG! I've always liked Oscar Wright's fiddling. This banjo piece was a toughie and my final arrangement here attempts to portray two parts, though the tab doesn't distinguish the two. I skipped the first four measures of Oscar's recording because they're also the last half of the first part. He repeats the whole piece several times in the recording and I can play along, though slower. I'm impressed that you learned it so fluently and can play it so rapidly. My favorite tune in this tuning is Rambling Hobo. Anita Kermode calls fCFCD Cumberland Gap F tuning.