Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Oct 21, 2021 - 6:42:39 PM
like this



2308 posts since 12/16/2007

Lowery's (or Lowry's) Quadrille from the fiddling of John Summers of Indiana


Back in 1972, when I moved back east from Colorado to Charlottesville, VA, I became acquainted with Armin Barnett ((played guitar with him in the Yellow Mountain String Band which included Mark Campbell and Connie Barnett, both on banjo). Armin and Mark Gunther had recorded John “Dick” Summers early that year and graciously shared his recordings with Mark Campbell and myself. I learned this tune from both Armin's and John Summers' fiddle playing. A portion of the recording is on Slippery Hill,

but I have uploaded the entire recording for this TOTW as I'll explain later.


I recorded Lowery's Quadrille, back in 2000, for my self produced CD “Banjo Stuff”. At that time, I played just as Summers had on the recording; the 1st part once (and never again), the 2nd part twice and the 3rd part three times then repeating the 2nd and 3rd parts. I speculate that there may have been a specific dance for that tune and the 1st part was a signal for everybody to get up on the floor and assemble for the dance. I've now rerecorded the tune, 21 years later, in the format that most of us play it (i.e. each part twice). Please note that before recording it, this week, I played along with the Summers' recording so my banjo is slightly flat from D. Also, since, an excellent notation appears in the Milliner-Koken Collection, I have preferred playing the 2nd part variant that has a C natural in it. Summers had different ways of playing the 2nd part, and sometimes also the 3rd part. These variations are described well in the Milliner-Koken notation.


There are other notations that are online:

The “tunearch” one in the link below



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Wesley "Dick" Summers (1887-1976) was an old-time fiddler from Indiana. He learned to play from his family, but a Tom Riley of Kentucky was also an influence. Summers did not originally read music, but did learn to do so in his 70s. He was one of the only old-time Midwestern fiddlers to have a commercially distributed album in the post-World War II era. As indicated though his style had Southern, and as mentioned Kentucky, influences.


From the collection of John Cohen – From Judge Dan White’s “O’Leary” Recordings

John Summers (1887-1976) was a farmer and master fiddler from Indiana. His music was respected in his local area and among friends. He played in scores of “Old Fiddling Contests” at fairs and events all over the Midwest, winning first places at almost every single event. You can hear the excellence of 19th Century music carried into his present.


Some additional info from

LOWERY'S QUADRILLE. Old-Time, Quadrille. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC (Silberberg): AABB'CC (Phillips). Often played slower than a breakdown, although it is sometimes heard played at dances, although modified to fit 48 bars (i.e. AABC, etc.). The source of 'revival' versions is Indiana fiddler John Summers, whom Kerry Blech says had the tune from a western Ohio fiddler. Joel Shimberg (who spend time with and recorded Summers), however, says Summers learned it from his friend Fred Waver, of Upland, Indiana, or perhaps from Fred's father, also a fiddler. "The senior Weaver," says Joel, "learned it from a (local I think) fiddler, who didn't have a name for it, but who was named (Mr. Weaver thought) Lowery." The tune features plucked or pizzicato notes at the end of the 'C' part.


A final comment

As many of you know, I do favor chord positions when I play and they can be heard in my recordings.

Banjo – aDAde or close to that


Oct 22, 2021 - 6:13:28 AM
Players Union Member



444 posts since 9/26/2006

The tune is almost, but not quite, pentatonic; that is, having (in D major..) no Gs nor C#s.  One G and one C# in the first part, none in the second two parts (in the tunearch setting).

Good job, Carl; having been raised in Upland, California, I always like seeing that there are other Uplands in states like Indiana.

Edited by - ndlxs on 10/22/2021 06:13:42

Oct 22, 2021 - 3:50:05 PM
like this

6745 posts since 6/27/2009

That's a happy and beautiful tune, Carl.  I like best your solo banjo with the chordal sounds. Going up the neck challenged me to try that, too.  The C part is reminiscent of Julie Anne Johnson.   

The effort it took today to play Lowery's Quadrille today reminds me how I push myself to learn the tunes of the week.  I'm grateful to you, Carl, because you always offer a good challenge, good for my brain and hands, not to mention the opportunity to listen to some great old-time music.  Plus you told us more about your musical background.  And any tune in the Milliner - Koken collection is worthwhile.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories