MUSIC FRIDAY: Gabriel’s Trumpet

Cool song. Strange history including an anecdotal about the Bahai’ faith…perfect for a Friday morning.


Deep Elm or Black Bottom Blues

A song I enjoy playing, Black Bottom Blues.


The “Deep Elm Blues” is an American traditional song. The title of the tune refers to historical African American neighborhood in downtown Dallas, Texas, known as Deep Ellum, and a home to music legends Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Lead Belly, and Bill Neely. Sometimes the song’s title is also spelled “Deep Elem” or “Deep Ellum.”

The first known recording was made by the Cofer Brothers under the name of The Georgia Black Bottom on OKeh Records. The Shelton Brothers recorded various versions of this song, the first being cut in 1933 with Leon Chappelear under the pseudonym of Lone Star Rangers for Bluebird Records. They recorded it again in 1935 for Decca Records followed by “Deep Elm No.2” and “Deep Elm No.3”. Les Paul (as Rhubarb Red) recorded “Deep Elem Blues” and “Deep Elem Blues #2” on Decca in 1936. The Sheltons also recorded it in the 1940s as “Deep Elm Boogie” for King Records. Other versions of the song were made between 1957 and 1958 by Jerry Lee Lewis for Sun Records, by Mary McCoy & the Cyclones for Jin Records and, later, by Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm, the Infamous Stringdusters, Rory Gallagher and most recently by Redhorse Black.

A very cool article about “Deep Ellum Blues.”

Poor Ellen Smith [gDGAE tuning]

Wiki: Poor Ellen Smith is a late 19th-century murder ballad recounting the shooting death of one Ellen Smith, and the trial and execution of her murderer.

The song is based on real events in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1894, a ne’er-do-well named Peter DeGraff had a love affair with Ellen Smith, who may have been mentally challenged and was unable to understand his rejection towards her. Smith became pregnant by DeGraff, but their child died at birth. Afterwards she began following DeGraff around town, and eventually he sent her a note that asked her to meet him in a secluded area, worded in such a way that Smith would have believed DeGraff wanted to reconcile. Instead, when she arrived, DeGraff shot her through the chest. He later reported that Smith’s only words after being shot were “Lord have mercy on me.” DeGraff confessed to the crime on the gallows, shortly before he was hanged.

The song and its variants have been performed and recorded by a range of artists including Tommy Jarrell, Neko Case, Laura Cantrell, Molly O’Day, Kristin Hersh, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Jimmy Martin, the Stanley Brothers, Ralph Stanley & Larry Sparks, the Kossoy Sisters, Country Gentlemen, John Hartford, The Kingston Trio, and Crooked Still. The plot was also adapted by German Folk-Metal band Subway to Sally in their song “Arme Ellen Schmitt”.

My attempt here:

Frank Fairfield going to town:

Tab and information here:

More Pretty Girls Than One (crooked)

Got home from work late, visited with the family before they went off to bed, and picked up the tab book recently posted in the comments section on the blog. Dwight Diller’s playing style is simply awesome. If you are listening to Diller play toe tapping will ensure. Here’s my attempt at “More Pretty Girls Than One.” This is after about 30 minutes.

According to the tab book,

Lee Hammons is the only person who played it this way that I personally know of. It is crooked because it leaves out beats at the end of phrases. Crooked like our mountain roads and streams. This tune is similar to the square tune, ‘Tempie’. Lee Hammons never played this tune with “chucks.” Like many West Virginia tunes it is crooked, having 13 measures. This, obviously, is not a good tune to dance to. In the UK they call them “leg breakers”. Diller: Lee said, “My sister hated that tune. Didn’t want anything to do with it.” She also played the banjo. As youngsters, I think they would play the banjo together once in great awhile.

Dwight Diller playing the tune.

Double C – Clawhammer & Two Finger Two Lead

Getting back into playing so last night I started to mess around with double C tuning.

Some glad morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To a home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away – I’ll Fly Away

Eat up the meat and save the hide,
Eat up the meat and save the hide.
Best dang shoe lace I ever did tie.
Ol’ Ground Hog. – Ground Hog

Praise Him!

Rev. 4.1-3 “Where God is rightly seen, He will be seen exceeding stately and Glorious: O so wonderful! whom nothing can resemble, whom no tongue can express, nor eye behold, nor heart conceive! what were it to imagine thousands of mountains of the most previous stones imaginable, and thousands of Suns shining in their brightness? these are inconceivably short of God, and the Glory that is in Him; what an excellent happiness to be capacitate (to speak so) to know Him, as we are known of Him? Wonder and admire at Him, who is glorious in Holiness, fearful in Praises, doing wonders, terrible in Majesty, and in all perfections past finding out: To Him be praise for ever. Amen” – James Durahm, Commentary Upon The Book of the Revelation

Banjo Songs of the Southern Mountains LP (free)


Want more folk banjo music? Of course you do…The Down Home Radio Show has a complete LP for download here. I was looking for Careless Love by Harry and Jeanie West and stumbled on the link. Keep My Skillet Good & Greasy has to be one of my fav’s from the album.


Songs include:

Side A:

1. Little Maggie – Obray Ramsey
2. Cripple Creek – George Pegram (banjo) & Walter “Red” Parham (harmonica)
3. Keep My Skillet Good & Greasy – Harry (banjo) and Jeanie West (guitar)
4. Old Reuben – George Pegram & Walter “Red” Parham
5. Careless Love – Harry and Jeanie West
6. John Henry – Pegram and Parham
7. Way Down On the Island – “Aunt” Samantha Bumgarner
(On the back of the record it says there is an 8th track on side A, but there’s not.)

Side B:
1. Poor Little Ellen – Obray Ramsey
2. Arkansas Traveler – George Pegram
3. The Boston Burglar – Harry and Jeanie West
4. Old Mountain Dew – George Pegram & Walter “Red” Parham
5. Lost John – Harry and Jeanie West
6. Pretty Polly – Obray Ramsey
7. Finger Ring – Harry and Jeanie West
8. Cumberland Gap – Pegram and Parham
9. Fly Aroun, My Pretty Little Miss – “Aunt” Samantha Bumgarner



John Hardy on the Fretless

Second practice with my new fretless mountain Banjer from R.K. Smith. Going fretless and playing with nylon strings is a new experience for me and I’m enjoying it.

I’m attempting to play John Hardy who, according to Lomax, was a real fella hanged for a felony around 1895.


John Hardy, he was a desp’rate little man,
He carried two guns ev’ry day.
He shot a man on the West Virginia line,
An’ you ought seen John Hardy getting away.

John Hardy, he got to the Keystone Bridge,
He thought that he would be free.
And up stepped a man and took him by his arm,
Says, “Johnny, walk along with me.”

He sent for his poppy and his mommy, too,
To come and go his bail.
But money won’t go a murdering case;
They locked John Hardy back in jail.

John Hardy, he had a pretty little girl,
That dress that she wore was blue
As she came skipping through the old jail hall,
Saying, “Poppy, I’ve been true to you.”

John Hardy, he had another little girl,
That dress that she wore was red.
She followed John Hardy to his hanging ground,
Saying, “Poppy, I would rather be dead.”

I been to the East and I been to the West,
I been this wide world around.
I been to the river and I been baptized,
And now I’m on my hanging ground.

John Hardy walked out on his scaffold high,
With his loving little wife by his side.
And the last words she heard poor John-O say,
“I’ll meet you in that sweet bye-and-bye.”