Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Jan 27, 2023 - 2:09:15 AM
like this
238 posts since 4/10/2010

TOTW 01/27/2023 - Shuffle About

I’ve chosen Shuffle About for this installment of TOTW.   It’s a fun tune that I first heard at my local jam a couple of months ago.   The folks who brought it to us said only that “it was popular 30 years ago in the Northeast and Pennsylvania.”   For background information I turned to The Traditional Tune Archive which says “SHUFFLE ABOUT. AKA Shuffling Back, Is an American Reel in D Major” and notes that ”most modern revival sources can be traced to a 1970’s recording by Vermont fiddler Pete Sutherland. It appears that Sutherland himself had the tune from a 1975 field recording by Bruce Greene of fiddler Everett Kays (1905-1996) of Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, north-central Kentucky (between Lexington and Louisville). The tune was called Shuffling Back by Kays.”

Kays' original 1975 recording is here:

Here’s Sutherland’s version in a 1982 medley with Jaybird starting at about 0:50 of the video:                           

Here’s a nice fiddle/guitar duo:

Here is a fiddle band version:

Here’s a Clifftop jam from the oldtime fiddletunes website:

Here’s a string band version from 2019:

Here’s another string band version from 2011 starting at about 1:05 of the video:

Josh Turknett has a solo banjo version and tab here:

I usually play the A part on the bass strings rather than riding up the neck on the 1st string as per Josh’s tab.  You might have to cheat a bit on some of the low notes but it works out fine in a jam setting. 

Transcriptions of three different recordings of the tune are here:

In my local jam we reverse the transcribed order of the parts as given above.

Readers are encouraged to post comments, performances, and tabs contributing to this thread.


Edited by - Mtngoat on 01/27/2023 11:37:56

Jan 27, 2023 - 5:59:44 AM
likes this

3252 posts since 9/5/2006

Oddly enough, each of the transcriptions seem to be different than what Kay is playing. It feels pretty clear that this is a two part tune with the first part on the course and the 2nd on the fine strings of the fiddle. It is very typical of a lot of Kentucky fiddle tunes in its structure. All three transcriptions show the fine part first but after playing a brief fine part Kays goes to the course part of the tune and really gets into it from there, ending on the fine part as if it is the 2nd part. Interestingly that sounds like an electric guitar or at least one running through some kind of amplifier. The sustain gives it away. I'd like to know more about the recording situation.

Jan 28, 2023 - 12:45:19 PM

238 posts since 4/10/2010

Bob, thanks for your insight into the tune and the Kays' recording. The Berea archives list a Danny Kays, presumably a relative, on some of Mr. Kays' recordings but do not credit him as the guitar player. Perhaps some reader acquainted with Mr. Greene can follow up with him and get back with us.

I've attached a recording of the jam session where I learned the tune. I'm struggling to pick it up on the fly here so the banjo is a bit rough. We have a great group of fiddlers though and they already have it down pat after about five times through.

Jan 28, 2023 - 10:58:01 PM
like this

6969 posts since 6/27/2009

As always, a good choice, Mtngoat.  Thanks for all the links and for your jam recording.  I chose the nice and notey fiddle/guitar duet you linked as my learning source.  The fiddler had a crooked measure between the A and B parts which was also in the Everett Kays recording. The cello banjo let me hit the low and high notes and play along with the fiddler, though I had to tune to an open G equivalent to get to open D.  Notice in the tenth measure the use of the thumb for fingering the fifth string on the second and third beats.  Unusual, but it worked.  Perhaps not a good jam version, but fun to play as a solo.

Jan 30, 2023 - 7:55:07 AM

238 posts since 4/10/2010


The Liedstrand recording is a gem and they seem to be having so much fun. The tune introduced into our jam has been straightened out so it will probably end up on my contra set list sometime.

I experimented with a six string banjo for a couple of years. It gave me access to low notes and allowed me to play in additional keys without re-tuning but, being somewhat of a traditionalist, I eventually gave it up and returned to the old five string.

Thanks for the recording and tab, both are very nice.

Jan 30, 2023 - 1:18:35 PM
like this
Players Union Member



2486 posts since 12/16/2007

Originally posted by Mtngoat

TOTW 01/27/2023 - Shuffle About

Readers are encouraged to post comments, performances, and tabs contributing to this thread.


After four days of trying to get the "Browse" button to show on Firefox, I finally succeeded in uploading a quicky version that I recorded this past Friday.

Jan 30, 2023 - 3:06:07 PM

238 posts since 4/10/2010

Carl, thanks for the contribution.

My source mentioned hearing the tune in Pennsylvania years ago. Sounds great and I like the way you play both parts in the high and low registers. I can never do that. No matter how much I practice, in a performance I always default to my comfort zone and play it the way I initially learned the tune.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!