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TOW #004: Mississippi Sawyer
I have been appointed Tune Meister by John Bird, after he asked me if I would accept the position and I said yes, and I guess that I will begin with next week's TOW.
During my tenure (however long that lasts) I intend to introduce tunes from what I consider to be the "core cirriculum" - tunes that are standards in Old-Timey and Bluegrass, and that I believe to be standards for a reason. The tunes possess melodies that are memorable, they are relatively easy to play, are substantial platforms for improvisational efforts, and once learned leave you with tools to go on to more advanced tunes. Plus, you can always find someone who knows them.
I realize that I run the risk of being considered oriented to only one style of tune, and for the purposes of what I will do as Tune Meister, that is probably true. I will end this rambling statement by saying that I have a deep and abiding love for what OT fiddlers call the A and D tunes, and that will color my choices as Tune Meister.
It's time to introduce the new TOW. Let's try Mississippi Sawyer. It's a great fiddle tune, lots of fun on the mandolin. I learned it by by watching fiddle players, so I don't have any ready sources of notation or tab for it, but I'd bet it can be found in on-line sources and OT fiddle collections. I don't know offhand of any BG recordings of it. Any ideas or comments from list members welcome. Good luck and enjoy the tune.
I did a Tune Search and found it so here it is:X:1
I don't remember anybody mentioning the inclusion of this tune on two of my favorite albums (and I do mean vinyl LP's): 1) Norman Blake and Red Rector and 2) Wade Ray and His Country Fiddlers, Down Yonder.
The Norman Blake/Red Rector album is just a treasure, with great tune after great tune on just guitar and mandolin. I wrote a little piece awhile back for Niles Hokannan's Mandocrucian's Digest called "Why I Love the Mandolin," about watching Red Rector sit in a lawn chair and pick his mandolin, seemingly all alone, but I was standing there listening. I asked Norman Blake about Red Rector last year at mando camp, and I thought Norman was going to cry. Red Rector was one of the greats, especially for straight ahead picking.
The Wade Ray album is a legendary bargain bin special. A collection of fiddle tunes, with no names on the back except Wade Ray. But it's Sonny Osborne on banjo (I think), Chet Atkins on guitar, and Jethro Burns on mandolin. I was thrilled to find my copy in the bargain bin at Woolco or K-mart in the mid-70s; probably paid $1.99 for it. Worth more than that just for Jethro's mighty break on Back Up and Push, sixteen bars or so of some of the most inventive mandolin playing ever done. He does a great job on all these. Many of his breaks are tabbed out in his first Mel Bay book, including Mississippi Sawyer. (And the great Back Up and Push, which is also in a Mandolin World News.)