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Dec 3, 2021 - 11:55:25 AM
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Players Union Member



451 posts since 9/26/2006

This tune was posted today by the Lonesome Ace Stringband today, December 3, 2021 on their feed. Here it is:

from their post:
"Fiddle and Banjo Friday it is!
Here's a tune that John learned from Andrew Small, who told John he'd learned it from the great Mike Bryant (beyond that, we're not sure where this comes from, but I'm confident one of our more folky friends might chime in with some genealogy). Wherever it came from, add it to the list of great Billy in the Lowland/Lowground tunes out there!
Looking forward to playing a few gigs around Ontario with John this weekend (Friday night at The Dakota Tavern and Saturday at the The Gorge Cinema in Elora).
Have a great weekend everyone. Be happy and safe."

I don't have a video just yet of me playing this. I will post one when I get it done. 
Here is my tab of how I would play it:

Here is my transcription of what the fiddle is doing:

Edited by - ndlxs on 12/03/2021 12:24:23

Dec 3, 2021 - 2:11:51 PM
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Players Union Member



4166 posts since 3/11/2004

I think Allan Jabbour (and Ken Perlman) have the definitive version of this tune from Henry Reed.  It was a treat to hear them perform it at the University of Louisville.

Alan Jabbour and Ken Perlman play Billy in the the Suwannee Banjo Camp 3.18.11 - YouTube


Dec 3, 2021 - 6:17:26 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)


25535 posts since 6/25/2005

I dunno about “definitive,” but those sound like different tunes to me. Multiple tunes with the same name is nothing new.

Dec 3, 2021 - 9:31:25 PM

6766 posts since 6/27/2009

This Billy in the Lowland has some similarity to Billy in the Lowground, which I also get a sense of when I play from your tab, Andy. The two gentlemen, Chris Cool and John Showman, are great dueters (is that a word?) and have generously shared informal recordings on Facebook.  I saw them, with their bass player, perform at the Palms Theatre in Winters, California, which since closed down after the 2020 hiatus in old-time performances.

Alan Jabbour and Ken Perlman had many a great duet, too, but I agree with Bill that the two Billy in the Lowland versions are different.

Side note from the liner notes of Southern Summits, 21 duets for fiddle and banjo: "Billy in the Low Land (G.) Henry Reed regarded this elegant melody as an old 'East Virginia' tune and sometimes called it the 'Franklin County Billy in the Low Land'...distinguishing it from another well-known C tune often called 'Billy in the Low Ground.'" 

I'm a big fan of Chris Cool and appreciate seeing this video, which isn't appearing yet in my notifications.  Hope to hear you on this one, Andy.

Dec 4, 2021 - 4:40:13 AM
Players Union Member



451 posts since 9/26/2006

The tab needs updating already, of course.  I actually worked it out to try it on fiddle; it is close to one of those "two finger" fiddle tunes, which usually end up being pentatonic, or mostly pentatonic. "Lazy John" and "Elk River Blues" are two more example of two finger tunes on fiddle; also a "Seanhamac Tube Station" jig. 

Thinking about the way I do Billy in the Low Ground, the other tune, it is kind of two finger also.  It would work out dandy in the key of G on banjo too, but the second part would go up where many fiddlers fear to travel. It would work 2 or 3 finger style that way; the first part would be thumb lead. 

Dec 4, 2021 - 6:25:41 AM
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63 posts since 8/23/2013

This doesn't sound much like the "Billy in the Lowground" I play myself and am used to hearing others play.

Dec 4, 2021 - 7:47:16 AM

290 posts since 10/26/2018

The coarse part has shades of Western Country/Fly Around Pretty Little Miss to my ears, likely due to its pentatonic nature.

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