Has it really been so many days since the last tune? I’m really having a hard time keeping up with this after having stopped. On the up side, while I wasn’t learning new tunes, I was learning some things that might even be better, and straight from the source. And it led me to Temperance Reel.

The place you should check this tune out is in John Showman’s ‘Bluegrass Bowing Technique: Teaching Manual with Play-along CD’. This is easily worth the twenty Canadian dollars you’ll pay for it. Not at all coincidentally, in the notes he tells of one of his earlier violin teachers who told him what my violin teacher told me: it’s all in the bow. So get this book, and you’ll also get increasingly challenging and, dare I say, educational verions of Temperance Reel, Arkansas Traveller, The Cuckoo’s Nest, Cattle in the Cane, Bily in the Lowground and Two O’Clock in the morning. Each new version of a tune adds an element of style and technique, so there’s plenty to practice and apply across all your tunes.

And if you don’t already know who John Showman is, what the heck are you waiting for! He’s one of my favourite fiddlers and one of Canada’s greatest. He’s got plenty of style and a great sense of musicality, and manages to bend your expectations just far enough to keep your two feet on the ground (stomping) and twist your head into the clouds. He plays with a few different groups, Foggy Hogtown Boys being my favourite of them, but you should also check out Creaking Tree String Quartet (possibly the best band name I’ve ever heard).  He recently released a self-titled solo album which features a really nice mix of influences, and almost all original tunes.

The  Foggy Hogtown Boy’s new album ‘Scotch and Sofa’ is kickass, so don’t tarry and get on it!

Thanks to Lisa for this suggestion – it’s about time I assimilate this one anyways.  Just in time for Sunday’S old time jam, too…

This one’s for you, Gillian!

This is such a pretty  tune. I first heard it off of Jayme Stone’s “Africa to Appalachia” album, played with Mansa Sissoko (kora) and Casey Driesen (fiddle). It’s a gorgeous interpretation, in that I feel they somehow manage to really get to the heart of what this tune is.  It certainly is a favourite of mine, because in addition to its inherent quality,  the Stone album was a gift from a close friend, and then a sweetheart taught it to me [but this is not cheating, I really do need to work on it as I’ve alsmot forgotten the B part] and finally, today,  it was a suggestion from an accomplished player and friend. So hurray for Chinquapin Hunting!

Also, check out the new links on the right.

Grandma will be so happy: My first Irish tune! Irish Washerwoman doesn’t count, right? What about Julia Delaney? Thatès a great tune. So is Banish Misfortune. So it’s almost my first Irish tune. But it certainly will be the first I tackle specifically with the goal of playing in style (Irish fiddling style, but don’t get too specific, I don’t know the difference between the styles of County Clare and County Shannon).


A day later:

Ask  and ye shall receive! So I wrote to a local Irish session organizer to clarify whether this tune is usually played in G or A, and the email was passed on to a passionate Old Timer who very kindly researched the tune. Turns out both these lovely people have a special place in their hearts for Foxhunter’s Reel, so I’m quite happy to have started on it. And, with humble thanks to Wendy for providing me with such a good background on this tune, I now share her results with you:

“I love this tune, Foxhunter’s Reel, but rarely hear it played – I have notation & recordings that are in both A & G 😉 … so, in my typical fashion, I went searching the net to see what I could find out …

Apparently fiddler Patrick Kelly (1905-76) introduced this tune, in A, with his fiddle cross-tuned AEAE […] As Marty promised-predicted, here’s some links & quotes about Foxhunter’s Reel that may be of interest …
The companion to Irish traditional music By Fintan Vallely
“It is from Patrick Kelly (1905-76, fiddler) that the Foxhunters reel has been passe on in, c 1963, later popularized by the Chieftain. He tuned his fiddle AEAE”
“One of the “big” reels at sessions in modern times. It is generally easier for fiddlers to play it in the key of ‘A’ Major, although session playing demands ‘G’ to accommodate other instruments. The GDgd or AEae tuning for the tune was traditional in County Kerry, and was brought to southern County Clare by the late fiddler Patrick Kelly”
“a remarkable performance of The Foxhunters Reel by the Clare fiddler Patrick Kelly, recorded in the 1950s. He use birls, rolls, and other baroque gracings plus English or American levels of drones and double stops, he plays in the classic pre-melodeon fiddle key of A and – incredibly – in crosstuning, the only case I know of its use in Irish tradition. The tune itself is a typical 18th century single reel of the type so popular in the old English collections and hough its not a classic long variation set, with its five distinct strains it comes closer to it than most modern fiddle tunes.
A (notation)
A (cape breton – notation, midi sample)
AEAC# (video-fiddle not tuned in A440)  “
Wendy, top grades for this research! And with your permission, I will add the other links you sent me to those on the right of this page.

In the pines

in the pines

where the sun never shine…

I skipped yesterday. I just plain forgot. The moral of the story: don’t fall off the wagon, because it’s harder to get back on the second time. What I mean to say is when I first started this tune a day committment, it started at such a time that it was easy to stay focused and then when I stop due to arm injuries, other time constraints made it harder to get back into it with the same zealousness. I suspect it would have been a tad easier to keep up if there had been no break. In any  case, to make up for yesterday’s absent-mindedness, I learned two tunes today, Lonesome Fiddle Blues being the first.

I don’t know anything about this tune, but I suspect it’s a Vassar Clements original. Incidentally, if any one has a recording of his live blues fiddle performance that sounds like it’s recorded on a tape deck, I would be quite grateful for a copy!

A great tune suggested to me by a fellow Franco-Ontarion.

Well, I dropped the ball (i.e. fiddle) on March 11. So to make up for missing my tune-a-day on day 40, tune 40 (on day 41) is kick ass! Thanks goes to my good buddy Paul, who suggested Old Greasy Coat, and an awesome crooked version of it. I’ve listened to Molsky’s version quite a bit, but I have to say I’m really diggin’ this backyard recording Billygoat and Grandaddy. I checked out the several different versions in the fiddle hangout library. It’s amazing how much a tune can change and mutate into idiosyncratic interpretations but still hit all its reference points and be recognizable.

So check out Old Greasy Coat (a possible reference to condoms, one forum contributor informed me) and rip it up in cross G.

I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I don’t wear no greasy coat

I don’t smoke and I don’t chew, and I don’t kiss boys like you

This is getting pretty closed to cheating. I’ve never learned this tune, but I somehow already know it…a little, um, careful study can’t hurt though. I promise to learn the harmony in the next days to make up for this blatant example of including a tune I already know well enough to fake.