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Aug 9, 2019 - 8:22:20 AM
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1347 posts since 4/29/2013

Here’s a tune I learned a few years ago at a jam session. “By the Waterfall” comes from the playing of West Virginia fiddler Israel Welch, a close relative on my grandmother’s side of the family. I never got to meet or play music with Israel before he passed away, however a few of those that I play music with did, and that’s how they learned the tune, and thusly I from them. Supposedly, Israel may have picked the tune up while he was stationed in Newfoundland.

It’s a bit of an obscure tune as there’s only a couple recordings of it that I’m aware of. The first is featured on Israel’s album, “Tearin’ Down the Laurel,” which I believe is still available through the Augusta Heritage Center in CD form (I’ll include the link below which has a short bio on Israel). I found a second recording by Andy Porter here:

And a link directly to the mp3:

Augusta Heritage Center › store › isr...Web resultsIsrael Welch – Tearin' Down the Laurel CDAugusta Heritage ...

Finally, here’s two of my takes of it, one played solo, and the other played as a medley with the more familiar “Over the Waterfall.” I’ve also tabbed it out as well.

'By the Waterfall'


It’s a simple D tune, though it has a quite catchy melody. 

Aug 9, 2019 - 9:45:08 AM
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1622 posts since 2/21/2011

Wow!  You never disappoint, Noah.  Thanks for posting!

Aug 10, 2019 - 6:50:06 AM

263 posts since 7/7/2007

Wonderful tune, and great addition to the repertoire. Great Sunday afternoon back porch tune.

Aug 10, 2019 - 9:43:36 PM
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6296 posts since 6/27/2009

How interesting that you're related to Israel Welch, Noah. Talent runs in the family for sure. I thought what you did was so good already that just to be different I arranged By the Waterfall in SRB tuning for the cello banjo, which ends up being dBEAB, a little higher than normal for CB. The cascading melody in both parts sure fits the title.

Two years ago another Israel Welch tune was TOTW and at the time I wrote:  It was hard to find information about Israel Welch until I found a 1984 article in a Goldenseal book, edited by John Lilly. Called Mountains of Music, West Virginia Traditional Music from Goldenseal, the very last 11-page article is called "The Welch Brothers Band, Always Come Home After the Dance" by Bill Wellington. The author got to know the Welch's in the 70's and 80's.   Israel, was born in around 1912. His family was large and the dinner table at the family farm held 23 people, many of them musical. Four of the brothers and one cousin formed the Welch Brothers Band and played extensively for dances in the 1930's. Three of them, including Israel, were stationed at various places during WWII. When his ability became known Israel ended up entertaining the troops and playing for dances in Newfoundland. After the war he remained on the family farm. As you can see in this 1979 interview of Israel and Tom Welch he continued to play with older brother Tom when they could get together. 

Israel Welch

Aug 11, 2019 - 7:45:01 PM
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1347 posts since 4/29/2013

Very nice, Janet! It definitely fits well in that tuning. 

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