Wait Till You Hear This One

Old-time fiddle tunes and sources

Tune diary: “Turkey in the Straw,” Bob Walters

Hi gang, I’m back. I thought I’d try something different and post a tune I just learned, while it’s still at the exciting stage, even though I’m still working on it. “Turkey in the Straw” is a common, fairly simple tune, but Bob Walters’ version in A really grabbed me when I was listening to the The Champion the other day. If you don’t have the CD, you should get it. But you can hear a rough version of the same recording at the 5-minute mark in this audio-only video, part of the Gordon McCann series at Missouri State University Library. And here’s a slowed-down version, with the pitch corrected.

 In the video, I play the tune through twice at a slowish tempo, no commentary or instruction this time. If you want to learn it from the video, just click on the gear icon at the bottom-right and change the speed from “Normal” to 0.5 (I think you have to be on a computer to do this, rather than a phone or tablet). Also, when you open the link to the slowed-down audio track, above, you should get a choice of logging in to Dropbox or, in finer print, just listening to it directly. Please let me know if there are any problems.

This is one of the recordings that Bob made for Dwight Lamb when Dwight was stationed overseas in France in 1957. He had apparently requested “Turkey in the Straw” in A, rather than G, which is also common. In the liner notes to The Champion, Mark Wilson points out this may actually have been a version of a “Natchez under the Hill,” which is a relative of “Turkey in the Straw.” Bob has a tune he calls “Natchez under the Hill” that’s completely different, and one of my favorites for dances. Maybe I’ll do a post about that soon. The subject of “Turkey in the Straw” and its cultural history is a really interesting rabbit hole to go down, but not today. I’m trying to keep this short and spontaneous. If you’re curious, check out this fascinating and hair-raising npr story.

I’m off to Fiddletunes on Sunday, where I’m hoping to try this tune out in some sessions and get it up to speed. See you there?

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