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Pretty Polly with Wry Whiskey

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 188

Size: 2,107kb, uploaded 10/25/2014 11:50:24 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

This D modal version of the archetypal murder ballad was recorded in a practice session in May, 1997, when I was in a trio called Wry Whiskey, which at time was Brian Clancey on guitar, Tom Speth on bass, and me on banjo. I'm dong the singing here. Uploaded in response to a request from Mike Mulhollan (banjomikey) for a version in D.

3 comments

Purple Robe from Clifftop 2012

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 766

Size: 2,136kb, uploaded 9/26/2012 8:25:10 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Like many old time West Virginia fiddlers, Ralph Roberts is often inclined to play a song melody as an instrumental, particulary a sacred song. This is another recording from the jam that Don Couchie and I had with him on that last night at Clifftop. Purple Robe is a spiritual recorded by the Stanley Brothers for King Records in 1960. Don Couchie is backing up on guitar, I am picking three finger style on my semi-fretless Tubaphone in open G. "False accused and there condemned yet they found no fault with Him, the man who wore the scarlet purple robe."

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Ragged Shirt from Clifftop 2012

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 627

Size: 1,879kb, uploaded 9/21/2012 7:04:45 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

This is another tune from the jam that Don Couchie and I had with old time West Virginia fiddler Ralph Roberts, up on Geezer Hill. I've not heard too many people play this, it seems to have been played mostly around southeastern West Virginia. The way Ralph plays it, it sounds sort of like a major version of Boatin' Up Sandy. Don Couchie is backing up on guitar, I am picking three finger style on my semi-fretless Tubaphone in open G.

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Ragtime Annie with Ed Britt

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 925

Size: 2,253kb, uploaded 7/11/2014 7:14:53 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

I've uploaded this for the old-time Tune of the Week for July 11, 2014. Ed Britt and I play the three part version of this old standard, though we end on the B part. Ed is playing clawhammer style on his Ome Columbine in double C tuning, capoed on the 2nd fret; I am three finger picking my semi-fretless Tubaphone, in open D tuning.

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Ragtime Annie with Jim Murphy

Posted by Don Borchelt

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Size: 1,909kb, uploaded 11/24/2010 7:52:22 AM
Genre: Bluegrass / Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

I taped this recording of Ragtime Annie about twenty years ago. The guitar picker is Jim Murphy. I was working for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts at the time, and Jim was a graduate student at MIT. We used to meet at lunchtime at Sandy's Music in Cambridge, and jam for an hour. The banjo is tuned to open D (aDF#AD).

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Red Haired Boy with Crazy Creek

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 192

Size: 2,613kb, uploaded 9/21/2012 9:50:55 AM
Genre: Bluegrass / Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

This is a recording from my brief stint as a bluegrass banjo picker with the Boston area band Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, back in the mid-90s. Adam was on mandolin, the great Lincoln Meyers is picking guitar, and Brad Wheeler is on bass. I've uploaded this as my contribution to the old time TOTW for 9/21/12.

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Red Wing from Clifftop 2010

Posted by Don Borchelt, written by Kerry Mills

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- Play count: 1574

Size: 1,983kb, uploaded 8/13/2010 4:41:47 AM
Genre: Bluegrass / Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

Another recording from my West Virginia sleep over with Don Couchie and Jim Reed. Jim is doing the picking front and center on his 25 ball-bearing, a real killer banjo. This was tons of fun, even if the rest of the festival began calling our campsite "banjo hell."

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Red Wing with Crazy Creek

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 872

Size: 1,996kb, uploaded 6/19/2009 5:14:19 AM
Genre: Bluegrass / Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

I ran across this MP3 on my harddrive, looking for something else. It's a recording from my brief stint as a bluegrass banjo picker with the Boston area band Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek. Adam was on mandolin, the great Lincoln Meyers is the astonishing guitar picker, and Brad Wheeler is on base. This was taped around 1995, I think it was a radio appearance.

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Rose in the Mountain with Don Couchie

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 466

Size: 2,220kb, uploaded 3/14/2010 7:52:40 PM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

BHO member Don Couchie came to Boston for a visit, and we sat right down and started picking. This is the first thing we recorded, with my little Tascam DR-1. I am playing my Tubaphone, and the other Don is on the fiddle. This is a pretty Kentucky fiddle tune attributed to John Sayler. My arrangement is inspired by Adam Hurt's wonderful version.

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Rosewood Casket with Wry Whiskey

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 2257

Size: 3,101kb, uploaded 5/11/2009 8:21:07 PM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Well, rummaging around some of my old files, I came across this practice recording that I made ten or twelve years ago with Brian Clancey and Tom Speth. I don't claim to be a good singer, but there are some pleasant moments in this that I thought were worth sharing. The banjo is tuned to open D, what else is new.

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Rueben's Train from Clifftop, 2010

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 1948

Size: 2,713kb, uploaded 8/21/2010 11:57:22 AM
Genre: Bluegrass / Playing Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)

Taped at our Clifftop campsite, Jim Reed, Don Couchie, and myself. At the end of this, Jim says "I ain't played that damn thing in a year's time," but he sure fooled me. Jim is balling the jack on this, I'm seconding his lead, trying to keep up with that 25 ball bearing cannonball! On this one, Couchie is definitely on guitar. I think...

6 comments

Saint Anne's Reel with Chris Muriel

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 1058

Size: 3,063kb, uploaded 9/12/2012 10:04:36 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

My BHO Chat pal Chris Muriel (g3zdm), from Manchester, England, was in Boston this week on business, and came over the house to pick a few tunes. We were joined by Ed Britt, my long time friend and street music partner, not enough to play bridge, but enough for a banjo trio! Here is one of the tunes we played, recorded on my hand-held Tascam DR-1.

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Saint Anne's Reel with Marty Lebenson

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 1037

Size: 1,811kb, uploaded 7/15/2011 5:17:14 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Another tune from my jam session with harmonica wizard Marty Lebenson, at the end of the 2011 Harry Smith Frolic, in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Saint Anne's Reel is undoubtedly the most popular French Canadian tune among fiddlers here in the lower 48. Marty, who has been playing harmonica since the early 60s, manifests his complete unity with the instrument. I am playing my 1902 Fairbanks Whyte Laydie, three-finger style without picks.

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Sal's Got Mud Between Her Toes from Clifftop, 2010

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 1464

Size: 2,431kb, uploaded 8/19/2010 11:55:41 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

I first learned this tune at the Clifftop festival in 2009, from Robyn Treatman and Mike Burns, two wonderful fiddlers from Oregon. The I went and forgot most of it, but I learned it again from a bunch of folks at this years Clifftop. I showed it to Don Couchie, who picked it up on fiddle in no time.

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Sally Goodin with Ed Britt

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 2002

Size: 2,097kb, uploaded 5/26/2008 9:07:53 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

I still think of this as the quintessential old time fiddle tune. I'm picking this on my short scale Paramount, tunes aEAC#E (open G up 2), and Ed is picking his OME, open G up 2. Ragged but mostly right.

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Sandy River Belle with Ed Britt

Posted by Don Borchelt

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- Play count: 178

Size: 2,928kb, uploaded 3/3/2018 5:48:53 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Made this banjo duet recording with Ed Britt back in November, 2014. We still play it when we go busking in Harvard Square.

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Santa Anna's Retreat from Clifftop 2012

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- Play count: 282

Size: 2,581kb, uploaded 8/7/2012 7:34:58 PM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

I first learned this tune from a Library of Congress recording of the western Virginia fiddler Henry Reed (1884-1968). Reed, who died in 1968 at the age of 83, learned the tune from his neighbor and mentor, Quince Dillon, who had been a fifer during the Mexican War. This recording is from a Clifftop jam with my pal Don Couchie, who is playing the fiddle. I am three finger picking on my short scale, semi-fretless Paramount, tuned aEABE.

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Shoes and Stockings with Ed Britt

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- Play count: 1679

Size: 5,541kb, uploaded 1/30/2012 11:53:31 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Ed Britt and I recorded this for the Tune of the Week for 1/27/12. I am three finger picking on my semi-fretless Tubaphone, Ed is playng clawhammer style on his OME. Both of us are in open G tuning.

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Shove That Pig's Foot a Little Further Into the Fire from Clifftop 2012

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- Play count: 545

Size: 1,807kb, uploaded 8/28/2012 10:23:48 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

This tune comes originally from North Carolina fiddler Martin Marcus (1881-1974), who recorded it for the Library of Congress in the early 40s. The rather obtuse title makes sense once you know that a pig's foot is a blacksmithing tool. Another recording from one of our campsite jams on Geezer Hill. Don Couchie is doing the fiddling, I am three finger picking in open G tuning on my semi-fretless Tubaphone.

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Sitting on Top of the World with Wry Whiskey

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- Play count: 255

Size: 3,029kb, uploaded 6/3/2012 7:16:27 AM
Genre: Old Time / Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

This recording was made in my living room in 1998; we called our trio Wry Whiskey. I'm picking banjo and singing, such as it is. The guitar player was Brian Clancey, who now plays in a duet with fiddler Robin Warren as Spirit Fiddle. Brian is the best back-up guitar player I ever heard, bar none. Here he is fingerpicking; we experimented a lot with the mixing together of finger style banjo and guitar. Tom Speth was the bass player; his knees have given out, and so he doesn't play much music anymore, but we've gone fishing together a few times over the last several years, which is almost as much fun.

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