View Full Version : Denver Belle

doc holiday
Sep-08-2010, 8:39pm
Does anyone have any background on the fiddle tune "Denver Belle"? I was just listening to Kenny Baker fiddle it, and he claims no one hardly plays it....are my ears playing tricks on my or does it sound an awful lot like the Carter Family's melody to "Dixie Darling"? It's one of my favorite K Baker tunes on fiddle, mandolin or guitar.

Mike Bunting
Sep-09-2010, 1:58am
Can't find out too much about the tune itself, but the Folk Music Index lists Denver Belle, Dixie Darlings, Dixie Darling Two Step and the Shiloh March as related tunes.

doc holiday
Sep-09-2010, 8:36am
Thanks Mike!

Russ Jordan
Sep-09-2010, 8:44am
There is a nice mandolin/guitar version of Denver Belle on the Red Rector/Norman Blake album. I downloaded a copy of this fine old lp from itunes.

doc holiday
Sep-09-2010, 8:54am
Thanks for that one, I also noticed a Paul Warren version I hadn't heard and a surprisingly tasteful Steve Kaufmann guitar version too

Sep-09-2010, 9:31am
I think that's Kenny's modest way.
I like the tune because it's a little odd in the fact it's a C tune. Goes into G for a little bit, then comes back. But even the hardline Mo. fiddler's up this way know of it, and play it some. I do Frog on a Lillypad, Rawhide, and Denver Belle as my C tune rep. Learned Backup & Push, but don't play it much anymore.

Sep-09-2010, 10:14am
Nice C tune rep. Mine is Billy In The Lowground, E. Tennessee Blues, 5 Miles To Winchester (off Doyle's Tennessee Dream).

Sep-09-2010, 10:54am
Not to divert, but i forgot about Billy in the Lowground.
I have to de-rust that tune. It's a good'n.

Sep-09-2010, 5:41pm
Nice C tune rep. Mine is Billy In The Lowground, E. Tennessee Blues, 5 Miles To Winchester (off Doyle's Tennessee Dream).

Me too! A new one I just found in C is Knockin' At Your Door, off john hartford's hamilton ironworks. 3 parts.

Willie Poole
Sep-11-2010, 1:04pm
Another good "C" tune is Don Stovers version of "Black Diamond"...We also do an oldie from country music called "I can read between the lines in your letter".....In fact we have it on our latest CD....Willie

Paul Kotapish
Sep-14-2010, 12:04pm
"Denver Belle" is a great tune, and generally associated very specifically with Kenny Baker. As Kenny tells it:

"I'll tell you what, I never heard nobody play that, but my people. My daddy played it, my grandpa played it. I even had an aunt who played it. I never heard nobody else play it."

I don't know the chronology well enough, but fiddler Paul Warren (Flatt & Scruggs et al) also performed and recorded it at some point. Maybe he learned it from Mr. Baker. I learned the tune from NW fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld, and I'm pretty sure she go it from Kenny.

If you really want to get into C tunes, there are a LOT of them--especially old-time tunes in the blues or rag feel. For a list of 384 old-time tunes in C (with links to audio versions), check out this amazing list: http://slippery-hill.com/c/

By my count, I've played about 27 of those C tunes over the years--my first was "Billy in the Lowground" back in '72 when I heard Doc Watson play it--so I've got a long way to go. BTW, there are some great alternate and crooked settings of the common "Billy in the Lowground" that are worth learning. Some of them are on that list above.

Mar-25-2016, 3:20pm
Excuse the 5 year bump, but I've recently become quite interested in this tune, Denver Belle, after hearing it a few times in recent years.

It was recorded on Darol Anger's excellent 2014 release, "E-and'a", featuring Joe Walsh, Courtney Hartman, Sharon Gilchrist, and Lukas Pool: https://soundcloud.com/wbur/5-the-denver-belle-darol-anger

It's also part of the curriculum in Matt Flinner's Spring 2016 online course, "Kenny Baker Tunes for Mandolin":http://www.mattflinner.com/2016/02/fiddle-tunes-103-the-tunes-of-kenny-baker-curriculum/ Matt's online courses are great and I'm really looking forward to this one.

And, a live version from a 2014 house concert in NH with Joe and Courtney:


Mar-25-2016, 4:07pm
It is a tune that is starting to "get around" . I have had two teachers show it to me in the last couple of years. One in a fiddle lesson and one in a mandolin lesson. I expect it to pop up in jams in the near future...... R/

Dave Gumbart
Mar-28-2016, 1:27pm
Denver Belle is a great tune, and I am also looking forward to Matt's Kenny Baker course; should be a great way to learn some new tunes and maybe get past the plateau my playing has lived on for far too long.

I first heard Denver Belle from the Bluegrass Guitar Duets album put out by Sandy Rothman and Steve Pottier. No mando, but a great album worth checking out.

Thanks, Prelude, for posting the Walsh/Hartman video!


Apr-10-2016, 7:23pm
"Denver Belle" is a great fiddle tune in C, made popular by Kenny Baker. Some of you trivia experts may remember that Alvarez instruments (Japan) marketed a banjo model in the 1970's that they called the "Denver Belle" -- it was a comparatively high-end model, with some nice wood carving on heel on the neck, and a decent tone ring.