With the 4th of July and Bastille Day approaching, we will be thinking of our personal liberty.
They say it’s not how much food you have on the table, or how many shoes in the closet that gives you liberty, it’s how free you are from the government poking its armed nose into your business. (Imagine a giant nose with rifles bristling from the nostrils instead of nose hairs.)
The fiddle reel celebrating personal freedom is Liberty. This is a straight ahead way to play it.
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.
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.
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.