Wait Till You Hear This One

Old-time fiddle tunes and sources

Archive for the month “December, 2015”

Manco Sneed’s “Old-Time Grey Eagle”: polishing up a hidden gem

“Old-Time Grey Eagle” is a fun C tune with a crooked, but glorious, third part that always gets people’s attention. I’ve probably been asked about it at sessions more often than any other tune I play. Here’s how I played it in 2005 with my old band Uncle Wiggily, featuring Bill Martin on cello, Martha Thompson on guitar, Maggie Lind on banjo, and Charlie Hartness on ukelele (from An Old-Time Portland Potluck, now out of print). I’m really fond of this recording, because it reminds me of all the fun I had with those wonderful people. But my version there isn’t really very accurate. So if you want to learn it “right,” use the video.

The problem with the tune is that the source recording is very poor quality, so until now I’ve always felt like my version was just a shot in the dark. Joseph Decosimo puts it perfectly in the video I link to below: he says it requires “reconstructive surgery.” That’s what this post is about. I’ll start with this strange little video where I try to interpret the source. It’s a first attempt at something I’ve been puzzling over how to do ever since I started the blog—to actually show the process of working with a source recording. Hope you like it!

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Playing fast: Bob Holt’s “Tomahawk” & the 2-point bow hold

So I admit, I got a little bit carried away with the post below. It’s about how to play fast for dances, and in the process of writing it I made a discovery that really helped me play up to dance speed in a more relaxed way. But it was so exciting I couldn’t stop writing about it!

In the video, I use Bob Holt’s “Tomahawk” as an example. It’s a fun, simple tune, and a great one for practicing playing fast, or for learning to play in standard-tuned A, if you’re more used to playing in cross-A. I don’t have a public-domain recording of the source I used, so I’ll link you to the preview on amazon and encourage you to buy the track or, better, the whole album. The video starts with me and my wife Martha playing the tune through twice fast, with the Missouri turnaround chord progression, then I demonstrate the two-point bow hold and play it through once slowly, stopping for a few pointers. Enjoy! And read on if you want to know more, and you have some time on your hands… 🙂

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