TOTW Glory in the Meetinghouse
The tune of the week for this week is Glory in the Meetinghouse. It was a TOTW at least once before - the last time I can find was in 2011: banjohangout.org/archive/221467
The first version of the tune I heard was in this really wonderful and clear rendition by Michael Neverisky (a member here, I believe): youtube.com/watch?v=YFhl8Cg3sHo
Later I found this very different (but no less stirring) version by Dana and Susan Robinson: youtube.com/watch?v=sosZWOaHegkyoutube.com/watch?v=sosZWOaHegk
The tune itself apparently comes from Kentucky fiddler Luther Strong, who recorded it for the Library of Congress in 1937:
The tune is in E minor (the relative minor to G major). I haven’t found much biographical information on Luther Strong himself, and I’m a bit limited in my access to resources as I’m traveling at the moment. He apparently was from Perry County in eastern Kentucky and lived from 1892 to 1962. The best information I can find is in the detail on the tune in the Traditional Tune Archive:
Michael Neverisky credits his version to Adam Hurt, who’s recorded the tune before as a medley with Cousin Sally Brown on his 2009 CD, Perspectives. You can find a number of videos of Adam playing it on YouTube, including these:
youtube.com/watch?v=l-u476MPd6g (with Beth Hartness on guitar, medley with Cousin Sally Brown)
youtube.com/watch?v=78aAUN7cCNU (with Beth Hartness and Stephanie Coleman, medley with Squirrel Hunters)
I have also worked on “Glory” with Adam and learned the version he taught to Michael, using gEADE tuning. Adam has a standard A and B part, but he also has a third part that can either function as an alternate A or as a separate C part. It’s more jam-friendly to treat the third part as an alternate A but played solo I prefer to treat it as a C part.
I’m sure there are lots of other good renditions of this tune but I particularly like the one recorded by Laurel Premo and Cameron DeWhitt for Cameron’s podcast. The whole episode is worth a listen, but here’s a link to the tune directly:
Laurel is using a fiddle that’s tuned low - I haven’t checked it with a tuner so I’m not sure where she actually has it.
Enjoy, and stay safe everyone!
I've always loved this tune; thanks, Mark T.
Art Stamper used to retune his fiddle for this one, as well.
Can never play enough Luther Strong tunes! Great TOTW Mark!
Edited by - RG on 07/10/2020 11:44:34
A wonderfully evocative E minor tune. I love Luther Strong's rendition which is as raw and plaintive as they come.
Edited by - m06 on 07/10/2020 12:38:23
Posted a quick, rough take, bugs, wind, and all. I'm nowhere near as clean as Michael Neverisky and I decided not to try the third part...
Lovely tune. These lonesome minor tunings are great
A perfect tune to revisit, Mark, and nicely played. Recently I was inspired to work on it again after watching Dan Gellert perform in Mountain Minor, a 2018 musical and historical drama of a family's story in Kentucky and Ohio during the Great Depression. The movie is available free if you have amazon prime.
Stephen Wade covers the life of Luther Strong (1892 - 1962) in his book The Beautiful Music All Around Us more thoroughly than in any other source I've found. Luther's life was challenging with regard to supporting a family, moving often, having multiple jobs, having a bad alcohol problem affecting his family life, moonshining, brawling, and landing in jail. In fact, Alan Lomax sought him and found him in jail and recorded him not long afterward. Luther wasn't the only fiddler playing Glory in the Meeting House, but his version is said to have been the most influential and, in fact, won him prize money at fiddle contests ($500 one time, claimed Luther).
I use an unusual tuning -- eEGBD -- to get the notes and play it in the same key, Em, as the original recording. The tab here has some changed fingers than what I play in the video (I just discovered them today).
Oh that tune was made for the moody sounds of that big bassy cello banjo Janet. Sounds lovely played on that!
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