Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cabin Creek

Time for an Old-Timey tune again.  This one's called Cabin Creek.  My version is derived mostly from Adam Hurt's, who got his from Ed Haley.  When you hear Ed Haley play it, you can hear how in the game of "telephone" is a lot like learning fiddle tunes.  Mine and Ed's sound only vaguely similar.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Cup of Tea

You know, I have no idea how certain tunes get their names.  Over time they change or adopt second and third names, and the tunes change a lot themselves.  Such is life for the Irish tune. This tune, called "The Cup of Tea" also is known by "The Unfortunate Cup of Tea."  You know there's a story there somewhere.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Drunken Sailor Hornpipe

Not much to say today except that I like this tune.  It's nice swung the way Liz Carroll plays it, or a little straighter too.  It's nice fast and slow.  So all around, a very nice tune.  Plus the key of G minor is so deliciously melancholy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Piney Ridge

Another old-time tune?  Why, yes!  I think it'd be easier to do a new Irish tune everyday since that's the genre I'm most fluent in.  But I started this project to stretch myself, after all.  So as flawed as my approach to Old-time may be, I'm going to push myself and learn lots of those kinds of tunes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cousin Sally Brown

Time for some more Old-Time!  I really enjoy Dirk Powell's playing and so I learned his version of this tune.  I don't know if I'll ever break the habit of feeling the beat in an Irishy ahead-of-the-beat way instead of an Old-Time behind-the-beat way.  But that's fine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mickey Callaghan's

I'm in New York for a couple days and had some time today to sit in my hotel room and do a tune!  Ya-hoo!  We got here expecting a one-room one-bed typical hotel room, but they (accidentally?) gave us a suite with 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and living room.  It's bigger than our apartment.  No complaints!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Reels reels reels. I like reels.  And also, this is a great tune and a quick one to learn thanks to its repeated motifs and the fact that the whole thing is only 16 bars long.  So don't you even THINK about heading over to and reading off the notes.  Or else you will get a frowny face.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wade's Waltz

Confession: I watch Discovery's Swamp People.  It's about alligator fishermen in Louisiana and Florida.  It's everything you want it to be: alligators, drama, danger, that smooth Cajun accent (ça c'est bon!), and lots of gumbo and fried frogs.  But there's one big problem that drives me crazy in every episode.  The opening and closing credits are backed by a fiddler who's playing KENTUCKY old-time style.  Oooh, it makes my blood boil. *

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lost Girl

I had the privilege of going to a fiddle camp this summer where I got to meet some amazing musicians. It was there that I finally got to meet one of my favorite fiddlers, Bruce Molsky.  He is a performer, teacher, and scholar of old-time music, and was dubbed by Darol Anger as "The Rembrandt of Appalachian Fiddle."  He agreed to give me a private lesson or two in between tours.  I learned a couple tunes, and learned a lot about the bowing style in this genre which, as I have mentioned before, is upside-down and inside-out from Irish fiddle bowing.  It was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peacock's Feathers

So this project is still in its fledgling stages and I have only vague ideas of what I should do to sass it up a bit... a theme song?  a better camera?  Definitely I'd like a better microphone than the one built in my computer.  It's obnoxious.  But anyway, if you have some grand ideas, let me know!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big Sciota

So I was raised on Irish music.  Mostly.  Some Klezmer, maybe.  But mostly Irish and other Celtic traditions like Scottish and Cape Breton.  The only bluegrass I heard was the opening and closing seconds of 5-string banjo on NPR's Car Talk.  But living out West, when I told people I played fiddle, they automatically assumed "bluegrass," so I got requests all the time for bluegrass show-tunes.  "Oh, you play fiddle?  Can you play The Devil Went Down to Georgia/Orange Blossom Special/Cripple Creek/etc.?"  And I would say, "Uh sure..." And thusly I began faking bluegrass.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Master Crowley's

Yo!  So I learned a reel today.  Well, actually I learned an old-time tune a little earlier, but then I really felt like doing an Irish tune instead so then I learned this one.  The old-time tune I deserted is called Half-Past Four (another Ed Haley tune) and it's very cool so I think you should learn it too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Biddy From Sligo

Wahoo, I learned a new jig!  I love jigs and usually play them pretty quickly but this one seems to really shine at a slower pace.  It's a 2-part jig, and should be a quick one to pick up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dinny Delaney's

I haven't done a slide yet, so here you go! This slide can also be played as a jig. It has been recorded by lots of folks but a great recording is Kevin Burke's "If the Cap Fits."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tolka Polka

This is a fun tune.  I don't know that many polkas, being more of a jig and reel girl myself.  But there are a few fiddlers that make them sound so beautiful.  I learned this polka off of a youtube video of Kevin Burke.  The tune itself was written by Donàl Lunny.  There are three parts to the tune, and the 2nd and 3rd parts have some jazzy syncopation to them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kitty Lie Over & Miss Longford

So I go through phases where I become obsessed with a new artist and listen non-stop to everything they've recorded.  Youtube has made that even easier because you can find live videos too.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sally Gal

Some people call this tune "Tie Your Dog Sally Gal," but Bruce Molsky said this is because on a very old recording people misheard "This song is titled Sally Gal" for "This song is Tie Your Dog Sally Gal."  It goes by both.

London Lasses

Here's an Irish reel in G major.  Try to learn it by ear from the slow bit in the video.  If you really need to cheat and look at sheet music (frowny face for you) you can find it at  But resist.

Crooked "Whiskey Before Breakfast"

Here's a tune I learned at Mt. Shasta Fiddle Camp from the great Bruce Molsky.  It's a crooked version of the popular old tune "Whiskey Before Breakfast."