Tag Archives: Daily Dose

Salt Creek

Here’s your Daily Dose of Old Time music. I came across this video surfing around on YouTube tonight. It’s Spencer Branch playing Salt Creek. I love the driving clawhammer on this one.

This group shows that a trio is plenty big enough to put out a lot of sound. It really inspires me to try to put together a little old time outfit sometime down the road. I suppose the first step in that direction is to find a fiddle player. Any fiddle players out there in the Toronto area, looking for a clawhammer player? Meanwhile, I’ve been playing a lot, trying to build some chops and learn a bunch of the old time standards.


Summer Wages

I could listen to David Bromberg singĀ  Summer Wages 100 times in a row and never get bored. Once in a while I like to have a look on the YouTube machine to see if there’s a version I’ve missed.

Let’s not forget it was written by Ian Tyson. Here he is with Sylvia and Emmylou Harris…

I recall being at that show back in the day. It was an “Ian and Sylvia Reunion” show. I think it was filmed at Canada’s Wonderland. The show was set up for TV, complete with big cue cards. I came to know Ian Tyson’s music in the early 80s and not from the Ian and Sylvia days. I finished university back in 83 and I was restless. I had a car that ran pretty well and a little bit of cash (back in those days, getting a university education wasn’t the expensive proposition it is today), and I took off for the west for a few months before facing the prospect of balancing making paintings and making ends meet. Radio stations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Alberta were playing tunes from an album of cowboy tunes by Ian Tyson called Old Corrals and Sagebrush. I suppose it was his re-emergence into the music scene singing cowboy songs. For me it was just what the doctor ordered and I cranked the volume and listened to cowboy music across the prairies.


Since becoming somewhat obsessed with clawhammer banjo, I’ve been posting mostly what we call “Old Time” music on this blog. Some readers will remember it wasn’t always that way around this joint.

I’d like to feature some Basque music tonight, and in particular music made on the Alboka. It’s a very unique instrument….check it out:

Here’s another Alboka piece, this time with tambourine.

Two-row diatonic button accordion was added to the tradition later on, and I think that instrument and the tambourine became the more dominant instrumentation.


The Shining Birch Tree

I was thinking about Wade Hemsworth today. I was trying to concentrate on something else, from which my mind needed a little break, and old Wade came to the rescue. His music just kind of crept in when I wasn’t expecting it. A lot of people I know have no idea who Wade Hemsworth was, but if you played them one of his tunes, like The Blackfly Song or The Log Driver’s Waltz, they would say, oh yeah I know that tune. I grew up with that tune. Everybody knows that one.

I wasn’t thinking of either of those tunes, though. I was thinking of The Shining Birch Tree. Do you know it? I think it’s one of the greatest songs ever written in this country. How’s that for praise? Check out this little video which ends with Mr. Hemsworth and his friends The McGarrigles singing The Shining Birch Tree. The video also gives a little insight into Wade Hemsworth and his life and work.

Here’s Murray McLauchlan singing it, with the McGarrigles singing backup and Anna McGarrigle on diatonic button accordion…and with Wade Hemsworth looking on. I know I’ve posted this one before, but it’s so good it deserves a re-post.

And here is one more version, performed by Adam Miller, an autoharp player…

I love the line about old Rory Bory shiftin’ around. Perfect.


I’ve known the tune Shady Grove for a long time. It’s well known, and has been recorded a zillion times. On the banjo, this is usually played in Sawmill tuning, or “mountain modal” tuning as it is also called. Here’s a fairly typical approach to the tune (and a beautiful one too!), played by Doc Watson and the Kruger Brothers.

More recently I’ve learned about another version of Shady Grove – played in a major rather than minor scale. This version is apparenty based on a version played by the late great NC autoharp player, Kilby Snow. Here is a performance of the major scale version posted by tripharmonica on YouTube.

I’ve recently learned a similar version on clawhammer banjo. It’s a lot of fun to play.

Canadian fiddle

On the eve of Canada Day I’d like to feature a video I’ve shared before (it’s one of my faves!) – The Old Tyme Fiddler’s Dream by Mac Beattie and his Melodiers, featuring the great Reg Hill on fiddle. Canada has a great fiddle tradition in a variety of styles including Cape Breton, Ottawa Valley, Metis and more. This one tune gives us a taste of some of Canada’s greats.