The tune of this week is called Sweet Little Julie.  Here’s a really ‘cool’ banjo version played and sung by James Thompson. He was recorded by Peter Hoover in the early 60’s. My notes said he was from Ford County, an obvious typo meaning Floyd County. I don’t know anything else about him. I think James’ rendition show that he was a great player with a mixture of advanced right and left hand techniques. Mystery banjo man.

It’s one of our ‘local’ Blue Ridge tunes that is in D. There are other recordings of this tune out there if anyone cares to share.

Sweet Little Julie by James Thompson

Comment from Kerry Blech

Great choice Mac,

The notes I got with my copy of this state that Peter Hoover recorded both James Thompson and Calvin Cole on the same day, August 18, 1960. Mr. Thompson was 70 when he was recorded. My copy also lists his birth place as “Ford County, VA.” He was recorded in Meadows of Dan. 

Addendum from Mac

Here’s another version of TOTW 11 played by Norman Edmonds and the OId-timers from one of their radio programs. It is not a common tune. Only played by a few in the Southwest Virginia Blue Ridge from what I can tell. I would say it’s rarely heard these days.  Interesting guitar back-up, huh.  I hope some of you really like it and are willing to learn it either on fiddle or banjo. 

Sweet Little Julie by Norman Edmonds

Comment from Kilby Spencer

Here’s another great version by Dudley Spangler, Harry Pendleton and Maggie Wood. For some reason, it was left off the “Old Virginia Fiddlers” LP that County released along with a few other tracks. Recorded at WPAQ in the 40s.

Sweet Little Julie Dudley Spangler, Harry Pendleton, Maggie Wood

Comment from Jason Phillips

You know how they say “Sally Anne” is the national anthem of Surry and “Shooting Creek” is the national anthem of Franklin County?  “Sweet Little Julie”  is my national anthem. Old Papa Jake showed me that tune and it was the turning point for my approach to old time fiddle. Trying to imitate him play this tune made me realize how hard it truly is to play simple and find the tune within. Been trying ever since.  

Much appreciated Mac!

I wish I could find the recording of him playing Sweet Little Julie. Shay Garriock may have it on a tape I gave him back in the mid 2000’s, Shay if you got it somewhere, I would love to hear it again.

Check out Jake here.  (about 2:39 his backstep cindy is really nice)