July 13, 2009

YPM Edition 7B: Farewell Tunes

Notes from Yew Piney Mountain Edition 7B: Farewell Tunes

Continuing with the theme of farewell tunes, this time I'm featuring James Scott Skinner's "Hector the Hero." I learned about the tune from when I went to a Four Leaf Peat concert in Knoxville, although I had heard it before.

It was the best part of the show, I thought, when they played this tune. They explained that many in the band had experienced the unexpected loss of a loved one recently, and dedicated the tune to everyone who had a similar painful experience.

When you hear the tune, it's hard not to feel the melancholy that it evokes. Skinner wrote the tune in honor of a late friend who had recently committed suicide. The lament he expresses with the music is palpable.

There are many renditions of this tune. Here is Four Leaf Peat's version:
Hector the Hero

Here's a wonderful live version by Wolfstone:

In case you haven't had enough, here's one final rendition by Breabach:

Photo from Flickr user ceiteiren
Wolfstone video from YouTuber UISTMAN59
Breabach from YouTuber HelenH96

July 08, 2009

YPM Edition 6D: Online Instruction

Notes from Yew Piney Mountain Edition 6D: Online Instruction

In my final installment of helpful (free) online old-time instruction, here's a few more standard tunes that are easy to teach yourself.

First up is a tune called Liberty:

Here's Billy in the Lowground, which I've probably featured on here before because it's such a nice tune.

Finally, here's a tune that I don't hear out, well, ever, but is easy to learn how to play and is a good practice tune. By the way, this guy, David Kaynor, has a ton of videos like this. You can search for more of his stuff on ExpertVillage.com or on YouTube. This tune is West End.

Photo from Flickr user Pic-O-Fest
Videos from YouTubers ExpertVillage and

July 03, 2009

Old-Time in the NYT

Just a heads up if you're interested: the New York Times has a feature about Fiddler's Grove in North Carolina, including a audio slideshow.

They're pretty stingy with their media so I can't embed anything here, but check it if you're interested in learning more about that and other festivals.

Here's a little excerpt:
Old-time and bluegrass music festivals have become a summer ritual all around the country, but nowhere is the experience quite the same as in the Southern Appalachians, the music’s birthplace. Popular events in Galax, Va.; Mount Airy, N.C.; and Clifftop, W.Va., draw zealous fans and gifted musicians. Fiddler’s Grove may not be the largest or best known of the major festivals, but its claim to fame is that it’s the oldest continuously held one.

Image from Flickr user Rae Hartsock

Update from 7/10: Friends of Old Time Music blog has a link to buy or download recordings of the 1962 Fiddler's Convention.