Category Archives: OldTime Fiddle

Ashokan Farewell

Here’s a tune that needs no introduction. You can occasionally find a fiddler that hasn’t learned this tune, but not often. This is the way I present Jay Ungar’s popular tune to my students.

We have even played this in an orchestral arrangement at the Richey Community Orchestra. Lately, I added a high harmony part as an extra version.

Fiddle tab chart of Ashokan Farewell
Fiddle Tab of Ashokan Farewell

The one fiddle playing tip that most fiddlers miss is the slide with the third finger on the A and then the D string. I caught this from Jay Unger’s teaching video.

Here is the pdf for Ashokan Farewell.

Morpeth Rant

Morpeth Rant is the tune you don’t play too soon after St. Anne’s Reel. The B parts are just close enough that you could drift back into St. Anne’s.

The variation I have is close to the way I play it. And it’s a little different from what you find in tune collections. I think this version has been influenced by what I call the Alachua group of Florida fiddlers.

I heard some of them playing the tune in a way that caught some good drone strings, and with a strong danceable rhythm. They say imitation is the sincerest form of theft, and I don’t doubt it. I bear testimony.

Fiddle tab chart for Morpeth Rant
Morpeth Rant in fiddle tab

Just a reminder: the initials D.C. at the bottom mean da capo. A term in standard music, it means go back to the top.

Here’s the pdf for Morpeth Rant.

Margaret’s Waltz

Some fiddlers prefer to play this waltz in the key of A. Here you have Margaret’s Waltz in the key of G, where I’m used to playing it.

This is a pretty piece. It has migrated to American fiddling as well as any other tune from Ireland, not counting Red Haired Boy….and Devil’s Dream….and….well let’s stop there.

For waltzes, you won’t find another Irish one that is played more than Margaret’s. [Update: this is apparently not an Irish waltz. But, it is from the British Isles.]

Fiddle tab chart for Margaret's Waltz
Margaret's Waltz in Fiddle Tab

The pdf chart for Margaret’s Waltz.

Whiskey Before Breakfast

For as long as I’ve been going to the Florida Folk Festival, this tune, Whiskey Before Breakfast, has been popular. It’s fun to play and offers lots of chances for variation.

Fiddle tab chart of Whiskey before Breakfast
Whiskey Before Breakfast fiddle tab chart

And the pdf of Whiskey Before Breakfast.

Old Joe Clark

One occasion when I got to observe Vassar Clements was when he was promoting his new album at a record store. He was mainly holding his fiddle and chatting with fans, when suddenly Mike Marshall breezed into the store, pulled out his fiddle and got into a hot twin fiddle version of Old Joe Clark with Vassar.

I was astounded, both by the virtuosity displayed, and by the unrehearsed excellence of the performance. It was a clear clue for me of the high musical potential of fiddling.

In my book, 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, I have a beginner version of this tune. This chart is a little more advanced, and more typical of how you hear it played.

The fiddle tab chart for Old Joe Clark in pdf.

Bill Monroe’s Gold Rush

Today at the meeting of the Bay Area Fiddlers in Dunedin, we played Roxanna Waltz by Bill Monroe. I haven’t written that one out yet. But I do have a popular hoedown, Gold Rush.

I wrote this tab chart years ago. But, I haven’t used it much in my teaching. It’s not an easy tune. Intermediate to advanced, is how I’d call it.

Even though I enhanced it a bit, it still could use some work on esthetics. But it’s accurate enough for playing.

And, of course, the pdf file for Gold Rush.

And, by the way, we also played Lamp Lighter’s Hornpipe. Anson’s choice and a synchronistic one for me.

Lamp Lighter’s Hornpipe

The only hornpipe in my book 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab is “Harvest Home Hornpipe.” It’s played with a swing feel, and students like it.

To pull another hornpipe out of the hat, I put Lamp Lighter’s Hornpipe into tab. I look forward to seeing how my fiddle students like this one.

[Update] This is definitely catching on, too. At a lesson with students at the Suncoast Waldorf School, one of the beginning students was humming it after two hearings. It’s a winner!

Here is a pdf of Lamp Lighter’s Hornpipe.

E Tenn Blues, Texas Crapshooter, Beaumont Rag

Earlier this year a student came back from a summer fiddle camp. She was a little beside herself. The class was on average more advanced than she was, in her opinion.

Furthermore, she wanted to play E Tennessee Blues and the fingering was a high speed bump. She seemed resistant to the idea of using a slightly simplified fingering. Eventually, she accepted it.

Now here’s the payoff. I use the more advanced version and the simplified version in the recent album track my band created in pursuit of our album.

Here’s the link from Fiddle Hangout. You can listen for the easy or advanced lick.

The medley goes on to Texas Crapshooter, a tune I first heard from the Bobby Hicks album of the same name. I don’t use hokum in this one like he does.

Finally, on to Beaumont Rag, played in the ole time key of F. My band, the Crystal Beach String Band, likes this tune.

Georgia Bow in Ebeneezer

In my book, 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, I have two tunes using Georgia bow. The first is Salt River, the second is Dick Gossip, an Irish reel.

You might ask, how is it that an Irish tune is being played Georgia shuffle style? Good question! I would ask this myself if I didn’t see it in the video, Lord of the Dance.

The tune that I use to teach Georgia bow is not in the book. My Bad.

I like to use Ebeneezer for that task. It facilitates the process by repetition of notes.

And here is the pdf file for Ebeneezer in tab.

This shuffle gives a strong emphasis on the off beats. You are playing a down bow on that note, and slurring the next three. As you repeat that pattern you really hit the off beat hard.