Tag Archives: old time music

Western Country (or why traditional music #3257)

I’m goin’ to the Western Countries now Susananna Gal, goin’ to the Western Countries now Susananna Gal.

This is one of my favourite old time tunes. I’ve posted several versions on this blog in the past. I stumbled on this one tonight and I liked it so much I had to share it immediately. This is seriously fine old time music. Here are Thorton and Emily Spencer

Here’s what is says about this performance on YouTube:

Uploaded on Jun 2, 2011

Here’s the old dance tune Western Country, also called Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss by Thornton and Emily Spencer. They are members of the Whitetop Mountain Band based in Grayson County,VA. Thornton was born in 1935 and learned his fiddling from his brother-in-law Albert Hash, Corbett Stamper, Muncey Gaultney, Otis Burris, and several other old-timers. Emily learned to play the clawhammer banjo from Jont Blevins of Whitetop, Enoch Rutherford of Gold Hill,VA, Lawrence Russell of Smyth County, and alot of other oldtimers.

Learning Forked Deer

I posted some performances of Forked Deer the other day. It’s pronounced Fork-kid Deer by the way. I did find some notes about the name on the Traditional Tune Archive.
“The dance tune known as Forked Deer is regarded as vulgar in the Ozarks, because the title has a double meaning. Forked might refer to the deer’s antlers, but it is also the common Ozark term for ‘horny’, which means sexually excited. The word is always pronounced ‘fork-ed’ , in two syllables. I have seen nice young girls leave a dance when the fiddler began to play Forked Deer. Lon Jordan, veteran fiddler of Farmington, Ark., always called it Forked-Horn Deer when ladies were present. Buster Fellows once played it on a radio program, but the announcer was careful to call it Frisky Deer! (Station KWTO, Springfield, Mo., May 3, 1947.)”

I started with a simple arrangement and will try to learn that well and then maybe learn some fancier variations.

These days most people play it as a two part song AA then BB and repeat. I read online that the early versions of the song were much more complex, often with 3 parts and sometimes with as many as 6 parts. One reference I found suggested that the recording industry may have been a driving force in simplifying and standardizing the song.


Breakin’ up Christmas all night long (Santa Claus done come and gone)

I’ve been familiar with the tune Breakin’ up Christmas for some time. It’s a common Old Time dance tune that gets played any time of the year. I read that the tradition of Breakin’ up Christmas is all about neighbours visiting neighbours in the two weeks after Christmas.

Hooray Jake, hooray John
Breakin’ up Christmas all night long.
Santa Claus done come and gone
Breakin’ up Christmas right along.
Don’t you remember long time ago
The old folks danced the do-si-do.
Here’s Tommy Jarrell on fiddle…

And now a version by Tom Collins on Fretless Banjo