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Jan 15, 2021 - 5:32:53 AM
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carlb

USA

2212 posts since 12/16/2007

Wednesday Night Waltz

 

I first started playing Wednesday Night Waltz after I met Melvin Wine in 1973, as it was one of the tunes he played. My suspicions were that he learned it from the Leake County Revelers recording since he also went to Rachel (Texas Quick Step) after playing the waltz. Playing waltzes on clawhammer banjo is a rare occurrence but can work for some of us. Over the past year, two which have worked for me are Hank Williams’ "Alone and Forsaken” and “Little Moses” from the Carter Family. My solo banjo version (attached below) is very strongly influenced by Melvin Wine’s fiddle version.

 

The setting (aDAde) I arrived at, while playing with Melvin Wine, was how I reacted to his playing. Sorry to say, there are no recordings, on the internet, of Melvin playing the Wednesday Night Waltz. The recording I played with was from the CD-ROM/DVD “One More Time – The Life and Music of Melvin Wine” from Augusta Heritage. I recently contacted Augusta, as the store has disappeared from their new web site. They told me that all their recordings would eventually be free on the following web site. Shortly after, they posted the same on Facebook.

https://www.youtube.com/user/AugustaHeritage/featured

 

Playing along with a different version of a tune can result in a somewhat different setting for the banjo. For comparison, I have recorded my settings with Melvin Wine, the Leake County Revelers and Clark Kessinger (see audio files below). The Kessinger version was the most difficult for me and would really needs a lot more practice to get it better than in the recording I made. I understand the chords pretty well, but not all the melodic phrases. Will Gilmer and Clark Kessinger recordings can be found at Slippery-Hill along with quite a few by other fiddlers.

Leake County Revelers - Will Gilmer

https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/wednesday-night-waltz-1

Clark Kessinger

https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/wednesday-night-waltz

 

In addition, there are a couple of solo banjo recordings available.

Patrick “Mac” McCauley NOT Mac Traynham

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl3Jkjpo91I

Barry Clevenger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euPmxUENjms

 

Information about the Wednesday Night Waltz is from the following web sites where there is more info on the recordings, some notations and where others might be found (missing from their list is The Milliner-Koken Collections of American Fiddle Tunes, 2011, p. 711, Leake County Revelers - Will Gilmer version).

https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Wednesday_Night_Waltz

https://tunearch.org/wiki/Wednesday_Night_Waltz

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT WALTZ. American, Waltz. USA; Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Brody, Phillips, Thede): ABB (Christeson). R.P. Christeson (1973) suggests this tune was founded on the once popular song "Wednesday Night Waltz," however, Charles Wolfe (1997) states that it originated with a Mississippi fiddle band, the Leake County Revelers, and the group’s fiddler, Will Gilmer. Gilmer himself admitted that he had picked up the tune “out in Texas somewhere.” The Revelers’ version was second best-selling country music record of 1927 (backed by "Goodnight Waltz") and the biggest old-time seller of 1928 (recorded for Columbia records). In the middle of the piece the Revelers would break into the faster “Saturday Night Breakdown.” (Lonnie Robertson’s “Hazy Hills Waltz” has a similar ‘waltz-and-two-step’ combination). Later that same year Kanawha County, West Virginia, fiddler Clark Kessinger (1896-1975) was asked by Brunswick records’ session manager, James O’Keefe, to do a cover version of “Wednesday Night Waltz” for his label, and provided Kessinger with a copy of the Leake County Revelers’ recording from which to learn. It too proved to be a hit, and was Kessinger’s first and most popular recording (Brunswick 220). “We’d have mad a fortune if they’d paid us royalties,” said Kessinger, and although there was little money derived for the artists, the Kessinger brothers (actually Kessinger, accompanied by his nephew, Luke Kessinger), they were assured of a continued recording career (Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed., 1999, p. 28). Curiously, Kessinger’s Brunswick recording was released in Québec for the French-speaking market with the completely different title “Valse de Musicien (La).” The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, from the playing of Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's, and there is a 1948 recording in the Library of Congress (AFS 09337 B02) of "Wednesday Night Waltz" being played on fiddle by Miss Pugs Scott of Benson, Arizona, at an Old Time Fiddlers' Contest in Armory Park, Tucson. It was also recorded by northwest Missouri fiddler Cyril Stinnett (1912-1986).

 

I could not find any more info in my searches, so we may never know who composed the tune or if the name refers to anything special.


Edited by - carlb on 01/15/2021 09:06:57

Jan 15, 2021 - 6:21:15 AM
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Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

3968 posts since 3/11/2004

I'm glad to see another waltz as TOTW, Carl. I'll have to spend some time with this one.

David

Jan 15, 2021 - 7:12:50 AM
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R Buck

USA

2894 posts since 9/5/2006

Wow Carl! So many versions to this waltz and they all are different yet similar. I learned it from an old guy at a local jam who played it on fiddle.I had messed with it some but he put me on to a nice fiddle version. I love the idea of playing it on banjo.

Jan 15, 2021 - 7:52:10 AM
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46 posts since 7/19/2019

Stoked for this one, great pick.

Although, thats not Mac Traynham in that video. hahaha
I love this tune and have been wanting to learn it for a while now. Better hop on!

Edited by - Gentleman From VA on 01/15/2021 07:53:01

Jan 15, 2021 - 12:37:44 PM
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46 posts since 7/19/2019

Damn, now I can't edit mine to reflect your correction and I look to be the silly one!

Still, gonna give this one a shot on Banjo and Fiddle.

Thanks carlb for a good tune of the week!

Jan 15, 2021 - 1:43:29 PM
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carlb

USA

2212 posts since 12/16/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Gentleman From VA

Damn, now I can't edit mine to reflect your correction and I look to be the silly one!

Still, gonna give this one a shot on Banjo and Fiddle.

Thanks carlb for a good tune of the week!


I appreciate your correction as I got confused with Mac and Annie versus Mac and Jenny. A Google search gave me the correct "Mac".

Jan 15, 2021 - 4:11:23 PM

6597 posts since 6/27/2009

So much discussion and versions already from you, Carl!  This will be a fun tune to explore during the weekend. My initial response is the first part reminds me of Cowboy Waltz, a tune first recorded by Woody Guthrie of Oklahoma in 1945, long after Wednesday Night Waltz had been circulating. Cowboy Waltz has a unique B part.  Still, perhaps there's a connection....Cowboy Waltz TOTW discussion thread.


Jan 15, 2021 - 9:03:38 PM
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Hay-on-Wye

Wales

167 posts since 6/29/2015

I love a waltz played in banjo and the one your playing is delightful. Like so many of these old tunes, it’s source is so hard to find but exploring these tunes usually leads to fascinating snippets of information and other similarly titled tunes. It conjures up to me a small relaxed house gathering at someone’s home midweek. Not too energetic as there’s still a couple more days of work to get through before the occupants can let their hair down with a more energetic session down the village hall

Jan 17, 2021 - 2:55:17 PM
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6597 posts since 6/27/2009

Again, Carl, may I say that you did a super job of presenting the various versions of Wednesday Night Waltz. I listened to your mp3 with Melvin and that was very helpful. I also chose the Kessinger Brothers recording to arrange, respecting the career of Clark Kessinger in our old-time repertoire. The two versions are different, but related. I still hear some Cowboy Waltz in Melvin's.


Jan 18, 2021 - 10:18:58 PM
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RG

USA

3059 posts since 8/7/2008

What a great tune Carl! That Leake County Revelers 78 was one of the first I ever collected (it's very common), but the tune is superb and as expected so is your playing!

Edited by - RG on 01/18/2021 22:19:48

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