Hello to everyone from my socially distant location in Floyd County. I knew there were good reasons to move to the country in the 1970’s way back when deciding just how I wanted to live. Here years later I have figured out yet another reason. Social distancing. I still get out a couple of times a week anyway for a trip to a store, a hike, or just a ride. Lots to do around the farm since its springtime. Since I’ve been working from home since 2000, it doesn’t seem strange to be home a lot. I just can’t do my normal socializing which was mostly related to playing music around the Floyd Country Store. Oh well. Hanna is here now so my music life will improve dramatically.
I did a Zoom fiddle lesson with several kids from the Junior Appalachian Musicians program that I was working with on Mondays. I decided to try keeping the kids engaged with something related to our Fiddle class while we can’t meet at our normal time and place. It’s enough of a challenge to communicate to one person ‘ how to’ play basic Old-time fiddle music and even more of a challenge with a group of 6 or more. They have to do their homework via videos and tab. Many don’t pay enough attention to detail. Some do though and are more successful. So I decided to show them my fiddle version of this tune in D Rock the Cradle Joe, whose original source will be heard here.
I believe this is a 1930’s Library of Congress field recording of Patrick County native Babe Spangler. He is the fiddler and backed by guitar player Maggie Wood.
Babe’s style is pretty melodic and the absence of a backbeat gives it a distinctive sound. To me, this interesting version is not very banjo-friendly but it is the oldest version that I know of. The version I showed my fiddlers today was one that has evolved to be more rhythmic and to match up with a banjo version played in a traditional clawhammer style. I heard it first in the camps at the fiddlers’ conventions in the 1970s and liked it as a band tune with all the instruments playing a dance beat for cloggers.
Here’s a version recorded at The Floyd Country Store on a Friday night about 8 years ago when the Seattle based all-female group The Barn Owls were around Floyd for several days doing gigs. My daughter Hanna Traynham was the banjo player along with Brittany Newell on fiddle and Kate Lichtenstein on guitar. I was helping on lead fiddle. You can see how different it has become when energized by dancers. The same tune though. Or not?