Mac’s Tune of the Week2020-11-30T16:33:35-05:00

Floyd County master musician and luthier Mac Traynham is best known for his banjo building and playing, as well as his fine fiddling. He has been playing and teaching traditional music in Floyd, Virginia for decades and is a wealth of knowledge about the history of our local music traditions. A few years ago, Mac started sharing tunes and their stories to a group of friends by email. He has diligently shared one tune per week and has created quite a collection so far! The Handmade Music School aims to make these tunes and stories available to a larger audience through our blog. We invite you to give them a listen, learn more about Southwest Virginia music traditions, and follow us as we share more local tunes from Mac’s collection!

Lonesome Dove

Thanks to old time fiddler Ole Rossel of Copenhagen, Denmark for this take of Carroll County’s Uncle Norman Edmonds and band playing the melody to the old folk song “Lonesome Dove”. Ole has been into playing Appalachian old time fiddle music since the 60s and long ago zeroed in on the more primitive and rustic sounds in his taste for American fiddle music that is truly from the heart and that is old time without a doubt.

March 27th, 2021|

Poplar Pole

I was impressed by one our young clawhammer banjo players in our local JAM program, Hannah Cantrell from Floyd County. She played this tune for me at a gathering this past weekend on my fretless banjo. She told me she had learned this tune Poplar Pole secondhand from banjo player and fiddler Mike Gangloff who knows a lot about the music of our local "unknown" players of the past.

March 20th, 2021|

Callahan (Version 2)

This week’s tune is called “Callahan”. This one is from the playing of William (Bill) Shelor. I first heard it on the LP recording on the Heritage label called “Eight Miles Apart” that features two of the families from our local area that were prolific players of our kind of music in their lifetimes, namely, the Kimbles and the Shelor families. I am always going back to their recordings for great listening music and to learn special versions and new ‘old’ tunes from.

March 6th, 2021|

Twin Sisters (Version 2)

Here’s the other tune known as Twin Sisters that is nothing like the D tune called Twin Sisters or Jennie Baker. Here’s old-time clawhammer banjo player Sidna Meyers of Carroll County playing Twin Sisters as a solo. He has some cool melodic right hand techniques not unlike his contemporaries on banjo Glen Smith and Wade Ward. This is not a dance tune in my opinion.

February 27th, 2021|

Twin Sisters

So I want to feature a local version in D of the tune “Twin Sisters”. This rendition was a part of the Old Originals LP that has so many great tune versions played by mostly unknown players who were found in their elderly years still able to remember tunes from their community. Thanks to the work of Blanton Owen and Tom Carter who collected these tunes in the early 1970s.

February 20th, 2021|

Bill Cheatham

Here’s a cut by one of my favorite true clawhammer masters, Glen Smith of Hillsville in Carroll County. Here he plays a fretless banjo in an energetic and very danceable style. He implements great slides and hard driving right hand technique in the cool g#BEBE tuning.

February 6th, 2021|

Chinquapin Hunting

Here’s a cut by one of my favorite true clawhammer masters, Glen Smith of Hillsville in Carroll County. Here he plays a fretless banjo in an energetic and very danceable style. He implements great slides and hard driving right hand technique in the cool g#BEBE tuning.

January 30th, 2021|

Dance All Night with the Fiddler’s Gal

Here’s a solo fiddle piece by Floyd County fiddler, Sam Connor, who was from the Copper Hill section towards Roanoke, Virginia. I visited him in his home one time with Jay Griffin and Susie Crate back in the mid 1980s. He was not able to play any more, he said then, but we talked quite a bit and I think we may have played a few tunes for him.

January 16th, 2021|

Going Back to Georgia

Here’s a cut by one of my favorite true clawhammer masters, Glen Smith of Hillsville in Carroll County. Here he plays a fretless banjo in an energetic and very danceable style. He implements great slides and hard driving right hand technique in the cool g#BEBE tuning.

January 2nd, 2021|

Old Tommy Kimpleton

For this week’s tune I have decided to share a rare and unique tune called Old Tommy Kimpleton. It was recorded during the LP era, I think, by the long running group from Franklin County called the Original Orchard Grass band. I have never seen the LP and have tracks from it in my files with no information. I wonder if anyone has it.

December 26th, 2020|
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Mac and Jenny Traynham

The tunes I choose are ones found in the repertoire of some old-timers – primarily from Floyd, Franklin, and Carroll Counties. This region is special to me because it is my home and it seems to me that the native old-time music here has been under rated. These tune nuggets are in their natural state; perhaps a bit rough, with some dirt and generally unpolished. Yet, their value is immense to me as I listen to this stuff and more daily, trying to get the details in my head so it affects my sound in a positive way.

I am sharing these recordings weekly in the interest of keeping our ‘local’ music alive here in our local jams, assuming some of you will learn the melodic and rhythmic details of the version. The details can make the difference between a generic version or a ‘cool’ tasteful version. I hope you’ll agree.

~ Mac Traynham

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