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Aug 6, 2021 - 4:42:08 PM
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13 posts since 12/29/2019

Cousin Sally Brown”

Version Attributed to:

Gaither Carlton, Wilkes County, North Carolina

(1901-1972)

 

After listening to, and learning to play “Cousin Sally Brown” over the years, I was moved by Stephen Rapp’s January 2021 TOTW submission of this tune derived from Marcus Martin’s fiddling.  In Rapp’s wonderful coverage of the tune, he mentioned the possibility that at some future date it might be fun for someone to explore another version of the tune that has been attributed to Gaither Carlton of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

 

Carlton’s legacy as a musician spanned many decades both on fiddle and banjo.  Yet a wider recognition of his persona came later in his life when he performed two concerts in Greenwich Village, NY with his son-in-law Doc Watson in 1962.  It turns out these were pivotal performances for both musicians, catapulting each one’s name into the nascent folk music revival of that era.

 

Doc Watson was both inspirational and a mentor to many Travis- picking guitarists, myself included.  So, this early bond in my musical journey augmented my desire to explore more deeply the music he played with his father-in-law.

 

Now a clawhammer banjoist, I decided that my submission would be an attempt to follow Gaither Carlton’s fiddling of “Cousin Sally Brown” in a “slow-tempo”, streamlined and basic version (recorded and tabbed at the bottom of this document).  The melody in this tune provides ample opportunity for lovely embellishments which my close friend and advisor suggested I not include at this time.

 

Here is a link to Gaither Carlton’s “Cousin Sally Brown” on fiddle, and then Doc Watson on banjo.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4d3xwQMBnA

 

From the collection of Tom Carter:

 

Nancy E. Watson writes:

 

“Gaither Carlton was born February 3, 1901, the baby in a family of nine children.  Many of them, as well as his parents and grandfather, either sang or played an instrument.  But Gaither, being too shy to ask for assistance, became a self-taught musician even in childhood.  He was what we would, no doubt, today deem a “prodigy”.  When I was very small, having been blessed to be born into this world as his grand-daughter, I would beg him to play the fiddle for me.  His reply was always, “I will if you’ll dance for me.”  Then he’d play “Pop goes the Weasel” or “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” and I’d hit the floor.  His gentleness and humility made a profound impression on me, as it did on many others when he began to tour as stage partner to my father (Doc Watson) during the early days of the Folk Music Revival.  In a world where one can say it in honesty, Gaither Carlton was a good man.  He didn’t drink, smoke, curse, gossip, yell, or fight.  He was slow to anger.  He was kind to his wife, his children, and to strangers.  Grandpa was promoted to a position in God’s old time music band in June of 1972, not too long after Tom Carter did these recordings of him.  But thanks to Tom’s sensitivity and foresight and the Field Recorders Collective’s dedication, my dear sweet “Paw-Paw” sits among us once again, vividly sharing his love and beautiful spirit through the portrait of his music.  What a blessing!”

 

 

Really nice background on Doc Watson and father-in-law Gaither Carlton.  Wonderful perspective on these two concerts:

 

https://www.thecountrynote.com/in-the-news/doc-watson-and-gaither-carlton-album-coming-may-29-via-smithsonian-folkways/

 

 

Doc Watson and David Holt; first track is “Cousin Sally Brown”:

 

https://music.apple.com/us/album/legacy/70049223

 

 

 

A nice bio of Gaither Carlton as an Historic Artist, comparing his fiddling style to G.B. Grayson and his banjo frailing style to Clarence Ashley:

 

https://www.blueridgeheritage.com/artist/gaither-carlton/

 

 

A link to the Gaither Carlton and Doc Watson CD containing archival recordings of two concerts they played in Greenwich Village in 1962 – (Cousin Sally Brown is not on this CD)

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffolkways.si.edu%2Fdoc-watson-and-gaither-carlton&psig=AOvVaw02VJBxfyQpuml3UvYKv2PW&ust=1627425201301000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwjYlbm55YHyAhUQQKwKHa4oAm0Qr4kDegUIARD7AQ

 

 

 

Bruce Molsky’s CD “Poor Man’s Troubles” His version of “Cousin Sally Brown”:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl6XCQn-Zp4

 

 

 

Calvin Cole’s CD “Fancy Gap Banjo”.  His version of “Cousin Sally Brown” (anecdotally archived back to a recording made of him playing Cousin Sally Brown in the 1930’s, overheard by Dan Tate) on track #2:

 

https://fieldrecorder.org/product/calvin-cole-fancy-gap-banjo/

 

 

 

And, an interview with Cole (Thank You Janet!)

 

http://www.mtnlaurel.com/mountain-people/1441-calvin-and-viola-cole.html

 

 

It makes me wonder, and I have not yet learned, whether and if Gaither Carlton and Calvin Cole may have been acquainted.

 

And also, Paul Brown’s version that he played at Suwanee Banjo Camp in 2015:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUmOO2dI078

 

 

At any rate, thanks for browsing through all this, and find below my take on “Cousin Sally Brown” along with the tab (which my mentor, advisor and teacher Maggie Shar created for this project).

 

I’ll play it in the key of D, aDADE tuning, in a simple run through AABB thrice.  My 12” Enoch Banjos “Tradesman” (with a Stearns Tannery calfskin head stretched on by Bob Smakula) accompanies me today.  Thank you Kevin and Bob for this wonderful instrument! 

 


Edited by - doverarnolds on 08/07/2021 11:19:41

Aug 7, 2021 - 1:04:51 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25392 posts since 6/25/2005

Note that the "Cousin Sally Brown" often heard these days s a modal tune with no seeming relation to the Gaither Carlton tune.

Brad Kolodner & Rachel Eddy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyawt5UvzoU

Aug 7, 2021 - 8:17:51 AM

cmic

France

199 posts since 4/17/2010

Excellent topic, history and nice playing! I Love this played rather up to speed.
I once heard (a video in fact) this tune played by David Hold alone,
but I can't get my fingers on it now...

Aug 7, 2021 - 10:35:46 AM
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6742 posts since 6/27/2009

Congrats on your first TOTW, Jerry! I hope there are more to come, though I know this one required much time and effort on your part. Your video is quite pleasing and the arrangement by Maggie a nice one. I've already had fun listening and arranging the tune from several sources -- Gaither Carlton's fiddle, Doc Watson's banjo and Calvin Cole's banjo. (For $10 I got the Field Recorders Collective CD from your link above.) The B part in each source interested me most.

Paul Brown's performance was incredible! His Galax link in the B part encouraged me to keep listening, until I found Calvin Cole using that technique, too. I'll always thank Adam Hurt for spending several lessons on that skill which has been fun and useful since. It's wonderful you've linked up with him and Maggie as instructors.

The Legacy triple CD, which you linked above and performed by David Holt and Doc Watson, is a fun listen and contains excellent interviews. I bought it from Doc and got to see them perform years ago at the lovely Mondavi Center in Davis, California. Doc signed the CD and it's indeed a keepsake.

I'm playing rather slow in this mp3, not wanting to miss the different nuances of each source. I also play an A and B part of only eight measures each. Normally these would be repeated.


Aug 7, 2021 - 10:50:40 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Note that the "Cousin Sally Brown" often heard these days s a modal tune with no seeming relation to the Gaither Carlton tune.

Brad Kolodner & Rachel Eddy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyawt5UvzoU


Aug 7, 2021 - 10:56:59 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

 

Edited by - doverarnolds on 08/07/2021 11:08:24

Aug 7, 2021 - 10:58:25 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

Thank you, Bill ! That point needed clarification. I love Brad and Rachel's take on that version.

Aug 7, 2021 - 11:38:31 AM
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13 posts since 12/29/2019

quote:
Originally posted by cmic

Excellent topic, history and nice playing! I Love this played rather up to speed.
I once heard (a video in fact) this tune played by David Hold alone,
but I can't get my fingers on it now...


Michel,  Thank you for you kind comments !  I traveled through your area many years ago when I was an apprentice in the wine business; I lived in Aix-en-Provence, worked "les vendanges" in the fall near Mont Saint-Victoire.  I had my guitar with me back then.  We are about the same age, so it would have been fun to have had a way to connect and play some tunes.  Be well, and cheers !

Aug 7, 2021 - 11:49:20 AM
likes this

13 posts since 12/29/2019

quote:
Originally posted by JanetB

Congrats on your first TOTW, Jerry! I hope there are more to come, though I know this one required much time and effort on your part. Your video is quite pleasing and the arrangement by Maggie a nice one. I've already had fun listening and arranging the tune from several sources -- Gaither Carlton's fiddle, Doc Watson's banjo and Calvin Cole's banjo. (For $10 I got the Field Recorders Collective CD from your link above.) The B part in each source interested me most.

Paul Brown's performance was incredible! His Galax link in the B part encouraged me to keep listening, until I found Calvin Cole using that technique, too. I'll always thank Adam Hurt for spending several lessons on that skill which has been fun and useful since. It's wonderful you've linked up with him and Maggie as instructors.

The Legacy triple CD, which you linked above and performed by David Holt and Doc Watson, is a fun listen and contains excellent interviews. I bought it from Doc and got to see them perform years ago at the lovely Mondavi Center in Davis, California. Doc signed the CD and it's indeed a keepsake.

I'm playing rather slow in this mp3, not wanting to miss the different nuances of each source. I also play an A and B part of only eight measures each. Normally these would be repeated.


Janet,  I am indebted to you for holding my hand through this, my first TOTW posting.  I have been a fan of yours for a long time, and we, as a banjo community, are so lucky to have a person like yourself so committed to the work you do, and to enjoy the lovely music you make.  Your mp3 is just another example of your extraordinary talent, and the creative embellishments you add are indicative of the many places one can take this tune.  The Galax lick is such a marvelous  addition, so well positioned and perfectly timed.  I hope my simple version will inspire others to do as you have done.  My best to you, and many thanks, again.

Aug 7, 2021 - 4:00:51 PM
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Lobstertrician

Australia

39 posts since 4/6/2012

quote:
Originally posted by JanetB

Congrats on your first TOTW, Jerry! I hope there are more to come,


Thanks Jerry and Janet: lovely choice, excellent research and tab.  I really enjoy seeing the variations fleshed out in the tab Janet. Great work all round!

Aug 10, 2021 - 11:32:23 AM

ZD

USA

36 posts since 6/23/2014

I have loved this tune since the first time I heard David Holt's solo version on the Old Time Banjo Festival cd. Great Pick!

Track 12

https://www.cathymarcy.com/thestore/folk/old-time-banjo-festival-cd/

Aug 12, 2021 - 2:48:02 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

quote:Originally posted by Lobstertricanquote:Originally posted by JanetBCongrats on your first TOTW, Jerry! I hope there are more to come,Thanks Jerry and Janet: lovely choice, excellent research and tab. I really enjoy seeing the variations fleshed out in the tab Janet. Great work all round!

Aug 12, 2021 - 2:48:47 AM
likes this

13 posts since 12/29/2019

@Lobstertrician Thanks so much, it has been great fun !!

Aug 12, 2021 - 2:49:49 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

quote:
Originally posted by ZD

I have loved this tune since the first time I heard David Holt's solo version on the Old Time Banjo Festival cd. Great Pick!

Track 12

https://www.cathymarcy.com/thestore/folk/old-time-banjo-festival-cd/


Aug 12, 2021 - 2:50:55 AM

13 posts since 12/29/2019

@ZD Yes !! That's one I love, too. Thank you for sharing !!

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