Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: G Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD) Difficulty: Expert
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 4/4/2013 - 4 Member Comments
Notes: “And the Cat Came Back The Very Next Day”, from Doc Roberts: I have long been an admirer of Doc’s fiddling. He infuses his rich repertoire of tunes with a distinct bluesy sound characterized by powerful, yet smooth bowing and remarkably clear intonation. First, I learned to play this tune on the fiddle. Eventually I was able to eke out a fair approximation of The Cat. I would dust it off from time to time, but really did not fully commit to it, in part because I didn’t feel fully confident in my fiddling. But of course, it kept coming back, insisting that I give it the attention it deserved, so that now it lays curled up comfortably at the fire amongst the other familiar G tunes. I suppose it became jealous of my time on the banjo, so slyly crept into my clawhammer fingers, where it sits now as a banjo favorite. One of the charms of Doc’s fiddle version, is how the tune wanders in no obvious pattern (at least to me) between what I am labeling the A, B, and C parts. In order to share more easily with others, I play it as AABBCC. A brief bio of Doc Roberts compiled from the internet (Wikipedia and other sources) Dock Philipine Roberts was born in 1898 near Kirksville, Madison County, and learned to play the fiddle at an early age with some help from his older brother Liebert. Doc's and Liebert's musical mentor was the African-American fiddler Owen Walker who was born in 1857, and taught Roberts most of his tunes. After finishing his studies in Berea Roberts married in 1913. In 1925, a talent scout, Dennis Taylor, recruited Roberts along with Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz as old time recording artists for Gennet Records In early 1927, Roberts recorded with the string band, the "Booker Family". Together with Dick Parman and Ted Chestnut, he formed the Kentucky Thorobreds. They recorded in April 1927 for Paramount. In the fall of 1927, teamed up with Asa Martin as Martin & Roberts. They made their recording debut in May 1928 for the Gennett label. Between 1927-1934, the duo performed at fiddler's conventions, in schoolhouses, on vaudeville stages, and on radio (WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky). Martin & Roberts recorded altogether more than 200 sides on 11 different labels. Later on, with the addition of Doc Roberts' son James, the Fiddlin' Doc Roberts Trio was formed. In 1928, Roberts was hired, through the agency of Bradley Kincaid, by the National Barn Dance radio show in Chicago . He was paid $50 a week. After only two weeks he quit the show and moved back to Kentucky because he was unable to sleep due to the noise of the big city. The Doc Roberts Trio lasted until 1934 when Roberts retired as a recording artist. During the next 4 decades, he continued to make personal appearances and occasional radio works. He died at the age of 81 in his hometown of Richmond. The Cat Came Back: I first heard “The Cat Came Back” as a camp song. The melody in Doc’s version, seemed completely separate from my vague memory of that song, so I didn’t give it much more thought. However, in preparation for this post, I conducted an internet search and quickly discovered 1) The first commercial recording of "The Cat Came Back" was by Fiddlin’ John Carson (OKeh 40119) in April 1924. It doesn’t sound at all like Doc’s version "And The Cat Came Back The Very Next Day", recorded on Gennett 3235 on November 13, 1925. However, the Fiddlin’ John’s version appears directly related the Harry S. Miller Song of 1893: "The Cat Came Back: A Nigger Absurdity." Ouch! The racism that runs through much of American popular culture is revealed again. I don’t like reporting this, but just thought you should know.
Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 12/14/2013
Notes: An original modal tune, in aEADE (A Modal) inspired by the great Cuyahoga River fire. A great discussion of the fire and the tune can be found at http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/275873 A modal can be achieved by tuning the banjo to G modal (gDGCD) and adding a capo at the second fret and raising the pitch on the 5th string one step.
Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: A Difficulty: Expert
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 1/24/2013
Notes: Here is my clawhammer interpretation of Ed Haley's Half Past Four. According to John Hartford, Ed's son Lawrence Haley said Ed wrote this tune about the passing of Sherman Luther, Ed's firstborn boy, who died in childbirth at half past four in the morning. Ed Haley (1885-1951) was a blind fiddler who who traveled widely throughout West Virginia, Ohio, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia, and is known for his powerful fiddling and distinctive repertoire. The tab includes open-string pull-offs marked by bold "PO". The tuning is aEAC#E, which can be reached by tuning the strings up, or by capoing standard G tuning at the second fret.
Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: G Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD) Difficulty: Expert
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 8/7/2012
Notes: Stuff that might make this tune more difficult: Besides the syncopations, there are open-string pull-offs in measures 8, 9, 10, and 17. Big Scioty, which commemorates the Scioto River, is one of my favorite tunes, made especially special since it runs through Columbus, Ohio where I used to live. At some point, I decided that the Olentangy, the smaller of the Columbus' two rivers (they join near downtown) deserved its own tune, so I made up this one, Little Olentangy (Composed on the fiddle by Chuck Levy © 2006, arranged for the banjo © 2012). According to Wikipedia, the river now known as the Olentangy was originally known as the "Keenhongsheconsepung" which literally translated as "stone for your knife stream" based on the shale found along its shore. Early settlers translated this to "Whetsone River". In 1833, the Ohio General assembly passed legislation intending to restore the original native American names to some Ohio waterways, but mistakenly gave Whetstone River the name "Olentangy", Delaware for "river of red face paint" which had actually belonged to the river that is now known as Big Darby Creek. Little Olentangy appears on Scratching and Clawing, my first CD, on Red Dog Records, 2006. I am playing clawhammer style, on a Bart Reiter banjo. The pot is an old Vega Tubaphone, with a new 5-string neck.
Genre: Bluegrass Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: C Tuning: Double C (gCGCD) Difficulty: Expert
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 3/4/2013
Notes: Marching Through Georgia was written by Henry Clay Work in 1865 to celebrate the Union "March to the Sea" led U.S. Major General William Tecumseh Sherman from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 culminating in the capture of the Port of Savannah. Mark recorded Marching Through Georgia with Emory Lester for the CD, Acoustic Rising, released on the Mountain Home label in 2006. On the CD, Mark told me, he placed a capo on the 5th fret of his banjo tuned in double C (gCGCD) raising the banjo's pitch to the key of F. To make my job of transcribing this tune into tab easier, I asked Mark to play without the capo.
Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: A Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 4/14/2014
Notes: Tuning: aEAC#E. This version of Pretty Little Cat comes from West Virginia fiddler Wilson Douglas. Named for president Woodrow Wilson, Douglas was born in 1922 on a farm in rural Clay County in an area known as Rush Fork. I did not know Wilson well, but did get to encounter him a few times. He had a fierce feeling and passion for old-time music that was moving and inspiring. Wilson Died at age 76 in 1999. Wilson recorded "Pretty Little Cat" on "Fiddle Tunes from Central West Virginia", with fine accompaniment of Kim Johnson on banjo and Mark Payne on guitar. Wilson's version has only one A and one B part. Lee Triplett, an older Clay County fiddler played a different melody that he called Pretty Little Cat.
Genre: Old Time Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time Key: G Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD) Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 8/24/2013 - 1 Member Comments
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Notes: This version of Rocky Road to Dublin comes from Fiddler Wilson Douglas of Clay County West Virginia. Wilson was born in 1922 on a farm in rural Clay County in an area known as Rush Fork. Sometime in the early 1980’s, Kate Brett and I decided to visit some older players in West Virginia. We were looking for Wilson, and happened to stumble upon David Morris, who arranged a meeting. I did not know Wilson well, but he had a fierce feeling and a deep passion for old-time music that was moving and inspiring. Wilson Died at age 76 in 1999. Wilson recorded “Rocky Road to Dublin” on “The Right Hand Fork of Rush’s Creek”, Rounder Records 0047, recorded and produced by Guthrie T. Meade and Mark Wilson, 1975 , re-released on CD in 2005. Wilson plays this tune in the key of G on the recording. When I worked it out on the fiddle, it seemed to fit best with the fiddle tuned “GDgd”. The album notes say this: ‘The title has been used for at least one jig and a polka, presumably referring to the Irish city. Wilson says, “that tune was composed about Dublin, Virginia. That was the only trail at that time through Virginia and they named the town Dublin”’. Wilson’s recording actually starts on what I would call a fragment of the “B” part, and then goes to the “C” part, before going to the “A” part. (The tune ends on the “C” part). I have recorded the tune with the “A” part first, the “B” part second, and the “C” part third. The “A” and “C” parts repeat, but the “B” part is only played once. Towards the end of the recording, Wilson plays a variation on the “A” part. The first time I play through the tune, I play it straight, but the second time through, I play the “A” variation. For variety, I created some up-the-neck variations for the third time through before returning to the theme the last time around. Note that an “R” in the tab indicates a roll (Galax Lick), and “()” in the tab means the note is to be played quietly or may be skipped entirely, at the discretion of the banjoist. Allen Sisson recorded an entirely different melody titled “Rocky Road to Dublin”. Another version comes from Clyde Davenport.