Week #248 ~ Sourwood Mountain

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I'm posting early this week, as we have a landslide winner! Sourwood Mountain, which was submitted as an old time tune. I'm not familiar with it!

    Wikipedia has a short description:

    "Sourwood Mountain" is a traditional American folk song. Like many folk songs, there are numerous lyrical versions extant, however there are certain commonalities. The song's theme is a lament over the narrator's true love, from whom he is separated. The title comes from the opening line, which is invariably "Chicken's (a) crowing on Sourwood Mountain". Each verse of the song consists of a rhyming couplet interspersed with a nonsense refrain, for example:

    Chicken's a-crowing on Sourwood Mountain
    Hey-ho diddle-um day
    So many pretty girls I can't count them
    Hey-ho diddle-um day

    "Sourwood Mountain" is most closely associated with the music of Appalachia, however there are versions native to New England as well.[1]

    Mel Bay's Mandolin Sessions has covered this tune.

    Here's a link with more.

    Here are some You Tube Videos

    Here's a great slow rendition of the tune once through on fiddle on soundcloud.

    If anyone else has any more links, please add them!
  2. Marcelyn
    Love this song! The best version I've heard is by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Here's a live video from their show.

    Here's a link to the stream from their album.
  3. luurtie
    here's my version....

  4. Sasquatch
    Hendrick, I love it!! I can't say I've ever heard this tune. HArd to imagine with the old time fiddlers I've been around over the years. You put this toe-tapper into perspective for me. I'll see what I can do with it.
  5. luurtie
    Thanx Timothy... I found some versions on youtube that gave me some inspiration. I'm very curious what you and the other members do with it. It's always a challenge to make a simple tune sound nice.
  6. laura809
    That was great Luurtie. I especially liked the part where the banjo came in. My version is a bit less sophisticated. I enlisted a few young friends to help me on this one.
  7. Marcelyn
    Whoa, I love it, Laura! That version has a ton of energy and is so fun! That's the spirit I think works so well for these old time tunes. Great job to everyone.
    Hendrik, your banjo picking is really coming along. Really nice.
  8. Pasha Alden
    Pasha Alden
    Hi all I play everywhere else but lurk around here.

    Listened to the renditions of this song, you all sound great. As for me, I think by now I could play backup playing and I managed to play along with the playing of chords. My lead playing needs more work.

    Happy playing
  9. OldSausage
    Nice work Luurtie, and a great group performance from Laura and friends. I have a feeling this tune is going to bring some varied versions, since it's hard to know quite where to put it. I don't see that many mandolin versions out there on YouTube.

    I did mine in the key of D, because why not:

  10. jonny250
    Hey Luurtie, you made that sound really smooth, very nice!
    Laura, well done getting the 'crew' involved too
    David that was a great version, i especially like the parts that slide up the neck.
  11. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Here is a brilliant mandolin version from the 1920s.
  12. Marcelyn
    From your kick off to your closing note, that sounded amazing, David. Excellent! And Maudlin, thanks for digging up that cool old recording.
    Here's one from me and Jeff. Check out Jeff's new fretless banjo.

  13. Sasquatch
    Laura, your take is just too cool!!
    David, superb!! You inspire me greatly to strive for butter like smoothness!!
    Marcelyn & Jeff, as I have said before, I enjoy your Old Time take on tunes better than any I've ever heard.
    Like David, I changed keys for this one. One of the example videos was a jam group playing this tune in B-Natural so I thought I would try it. Not sure what you call this version other than homebrewed and totally by ear.
  14. laura809
    Homebrewed and totally by ear seems to be working well for you Sasquatch. I really enjoyed that. Come to think of it, I could really use some practice in the key of B. This would be a good tune to try it with. Marcy and Jeff, I loved your version. You are sounding more and more polished as a duo. I also appreciated the Carolina Chocolate Drops version that you posted. I was thinking of skipping this one, but that video gave me the idea of trying to get the kids to sing along. OS, lots of great ideas from you, as usual, and I do love the tone you pull out of that Silver Angel.
  15. OldSausage
    Thanks, Laura. Very nice from Marcy and Jeff, and I really enjoyed your nice clean chromatic meanderings on that, Sasquatch.
  16. luurtie
    You can't imagine how I love all the different versions of this tune. A supercool me-and-my-kids version from Laura, two top bluegrass versions for Timothy and David. You both have great bluegrass skills, but eachother in a completely different style. Jeff and Marcy, I don't now if you have ever seen the movie Songcatcher with Iris Dement? You both would fit in perfectly with that nice great old mountainstyle
  17. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Really enjoying this - all great versions. Laura's wins the fun factor, enjoy them at this age Laura they grow into moody teenagers (well mine did).
    An old time fiddle tune was an excuse for dusting down the mountain dulcimer, so here it is with tenor mandola, tuned DADA, mandolin and acoustic bass backing.

  18. luurtie
    I would say, this is a folk version. We didn't have one yet Woodenfingers! Very nice
  19. Obiwan
    luurtie well done setting a good precedebt very clean and i love when the banjo kicks in.
    laura809 wonderful back up chorus. reminds me of my niece who will break out in dance while i play.
    marcelyn sounds classic and well-excecuted, feels like i was listen on a porch in the mountains
    oldsausage i love the sound of the silver angle and in D it gives it a nice deep sound and very clean and smooth
    sasquatch i love it nice blue grassy sound right up my alley and super clean and nice bluesy moves to.
    nice work james break out the dulcimer and nice clean mandola work

    here is my GO sloppy and fast, just how i like to play

  20. woodenfingers
    Many fine versions as usual this week. Great bluegrass from Luurtie, OS, Tim and Obiwan. You all play so fast and clean... OS, one of these days I'll figure out how you play those chords and tunes at the same time. Laura, great campfire version with the kids, lots of fun. Marcy and Jeff you nailed the OT. James, definitely folky to me, great style. Don't know how Hendrik confused you for me, I wish I could play that well.

    Here's my go. I tried the play by ear method. Took quite a few takes on the mando cuz I never knew what was going to come out. Some good, some bad, this was the best I salvaged. Still trying to learn to sing. It's a slow sad process.

  21. Marcelyn
    This sure is a fun week. David hit the nail on the head when he predicted lots of variety.
    Hendrik, I do really like that movie--and the sound track too. What a nice thing to say. It's the sound I shoot for.
    Tim, what a cool bluesy way to play it!
    Long time no see for your dulcimer, James. That was a good call.
    Obiwan, there's tons of great ideas in there. I'll have to slow it down and extract them though. That was a fun one.
    Bob, your improvised breaks came out great. And the only thing the singing needed was Liz on harmony.
  22. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Some great and varied performances this week. Bob I agree with Marcelyn-you have learned all you need to for singing.
    My version is fingerpicked in GDGD tuning.
  23. TwoByFour
    Howdy all,

    I've been lurking around this group for a little while now, finally feel marginally up to posting along with this talented bunch.

    After watching myself play on video I realized: I should have video recorded myself a while ago! Looks like I have some right hand technique issues and a flailing left pinky (it was badly broken a couple of decades ago and is a bit stiff). Anyway, here's me, still unshaven on a Sunday morning, with my version of Sourwood Mountain, played solo on a Big Muddy. Hope you enjoy.

  24. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Two by - welcome to the group. Great first post. There's an introduce yourself thread where you might like to post some details about yourself.
    As far as the frailing pinky I can't see this as an issue as you didn't use it to fret any notes. As someone whose day job it is to image patients with tendon injuries I can tell you that there is a good anatomical reason why your pinky can be lifted away from the fretboard without it affecting the ability to use your other fingers. The pinky in most people has an independent extensor (straightening) tendon (as does the index). There is a party trick I first learnt many years ago as a medical student which involves placing your fingertips together with both hands and separating the fingers individually in turns - not a difficult job. The middle fingers are then bent down so the backs of them are against each other and it is then impossible to separate the ring fingers because it can't straighten independently of the middle finger which is being forced into flexion (stick with me on this- it's easier to do than explain). The ability to straighten the pinky is completely independent of the other fingers -the middle and ring are joined which is why they will always tend to be in a similar position, which should be close to the fretboard. Many great players who aren't making much use of the pinky will let it straighten out (including Irish tenor banjo players who use mandolin fingering). I don't think this is anything to do with a previous injury on your part - it's just normal anatomy!
  25. Marcelyn
    Very nice slides Twobyfour. Glad you started posting. I find the videos help me pick out things to work on too.
    James, I had to try out your trick. Bet I'll be the hit of the next party I'm at.
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