House Party- the tunes live on

On Saturday nite Eileen and I went to a house party featuring a duo of old-time players (Yannig & Galen) from upstate New York. When we got there, Katie Hicks and Yannig had their fiddles out in the yard. So I grabbed my guitar and tuned up. We went round our little circle picking tunes and playing them. Yannig made an incredible loaf of bread for the party, it was delicious.

Yannig came up with a tune he called Texas that was very similar to the tune I know from Melvin Wine that he called Charleston Gals. The A part was nearly identical, but in the B part of Texas slips into a strange minor section that I could not entirely figure out. I’ll have to poke around a little and see what I can find. It may be like Rocky Mountain Goat, which sounds like Whiskey Before Breakfast, yet it is substantially different.

Charleston Gals I learned when we were playing with Jake Krack, Jake learned it from Melvin Wine, master fiddler of West Virginia. I got to meet and play with Melvin at the Krack homestead before he died in 2003, and I see some real parallels between him and Lotus Dickey. Both men led hard scrabble working class lives, yet found time to play and share the music they learned from the previous generations, and through the hard times their kept the faith and their music, and would gladly share it with all around them. They were both old-time saints, men who lived to share their joy in music.

I’m happy to see another generation tapping into the tunes and the spirit of music as we learn it through the air, there must be something important in this oral/aural tradition, I am happy to be part of it!

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