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Sep 29, 2022 - 6:56:05 PM
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2428 posts since 12/16/2007

Bob Wine's Tune


From Hannah at the Springhouse cassette notes by Gerry Milnes

Melvin was eighty years old on April 20, 1989. He feels that lately more of the old tunes his father played are coming back to him, such as this one he renamed. "He played it a lot but I don't know what the right name of it is."


I'm afraid that's all I could find out about the history of the tune even after consulting with Gerry Milnes and Drew Beisswenger. Here's a little bit of information about Melvin from:


Wine was born in Burnsville, West Virginia to Bob Wine, a fiddler, and Elizabeth Sandy, a singer of ballads and hymns.[3] His grandfather John Nelson "Nels" Wine was not a string musician but learned to whistle and sing his father's tunes. The Wine family fiddling tradition began with Melvin's great-grandfather David S. "Smithy" Wine, who was born in 1829.[2]


I've prepared four recordings for this BHO TOTW: 1) solo banjo at normal tempo, 2) solo banjo at slow tempo, 3) playing banjo along with Melvin's playing on the Augusta Heritage CDROM (not downloadable) and 4) my voice diddling along with guitar. In addition, there is also a recording, in my media files, of the tune I made for a self produced CD, back in 2000 (uploaded in 2019) for those interested in how my setting changed, or stayed the same, over 22 years.


Again, as I do in playing many tunes, there is quite a bit of using the 5th string as a melody note, sometimes with multiple pulloffs, in a row, of the 5th string. This is most apparent at the beginning of the 1st part and at the repeat of that part. This is done by changing the touch, so that it sounds like the striking of the 5th string belongs to the phrase.


Another item I like is the redundancy of the the banjo, especially in the aDAde tuning. I use a drop thumb, in the final phrase of the 1st part, while fingering the 4th fret on the 2nd string (= to 2nd fret on the 1st string) while holding the 5th fret on the 1st string.


I think of this tune as a D tune and not as an D/A tune. In the key of D there are three chords; D, G and A or A7. The unusual nature of this tune is that in the 1st part I only hear a D chord and in the 2nd part only A or A7 and G chords (I do start the 2nd part with an A7 chord). The 2nd part ends unresolved. Sometimes Melvin plays an A arpeggio at the end. I've demonstrated the chords by singing the tune along with guitar accompaniment.


Gerry Milnes has a fine banjo setting that goes along with Melvin's playing.

Marimac AHS2 (cass.)/Augusta Heritage Records AHR-021, Melvin Wine - "Hannah at the Springhouse" (1989).


Melvin Wine (fiddle) and Gerry Milnes (banjo) perform at the 1992 Seedtime on the Cumberland festival in Whitesburg, Kentucky.




Source: Bob Wine, via his son Melvin Wine (1909-2003, Copen, Braxton County, W.Va.)Discography: Augusta Heritage 021, Melvin Wine - Hannah at the Springhouse (1989)Transcription: Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz



BOB WINE'S TUNE. American, Reel (cut time). USA, West Virginia. D Major ('A' part) & A Mixolydian ('B' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'B. The tune is named for Braxton County, W.Va., fiddler Melvin Wine's father, Bob (1877-1953), a fiddler who grew up around Falls Mills in Braxton County. His father, along with Uncle Jack McElwain and neighbor Pat Cogar, was the source for much of Melvin's repertoire and style.


Printed sources :

Clare Milliner & Walt Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 67.

Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 33.

Sep 29, 2022 - 8:38:34 PM

73 posts since 4/4/2021

Love this!  Thank you, Carl, and I think this is gonna be my "homework" this weekend. wink

Sep 30, 2022 - 8:30:25 AM



3188 posts since 8/7/2008

One of my favorite Melvin Wine tunes Carl, thanks for reminding me of this one, it's been a while since I've heard it and listening to you and Melvin play it brought a smile to my face... great way to start the day!

Oct 3, 2022 - 10:26:54 AM
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6926 posts since 6/27/2009

A fun tune to hear and play.  I like your chordal sounds, multiple string use and rhythm, Carl. Also your recording with Melvin -- what a special memory!   Thank you for going over and above in your efforts to help learners. There are people here who look, but don't participate.  We seldom hear much help TOTW has been to them.

I ended up using sawmill tuning and used the 5th string similarly to how you play in the A part. I do the downstroke right before on the offbeat and it makes it easy to play that way. The B part changes to a Mixolydian mode and I avoid the 5th string sometimes, like in the 11th and 15th measures where there are only quarter notes -- that's where your use of multiple strings gave it a nice sound. 

Melvin plays the tune much faster than in my recording and can play it over and over again the same way every time -- he was such an amazing fiddler. I can picture his smile, like in Kim Johnson's photo in one of your links above.  He seems to have been a humble, peaceful and happy fellow.

Oct 3, 2022 - 4:08:37 PM
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73 posts since 4/4/2021

Originally posted by JanetB


I ended up using sawmill tuning and used the 5th string similarly to how you play in the A part.

I do love me a good tab in Sawmill.  Thanks, Janet!

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