A few days ago, I debuted my new Think Geek Electric Guitar T-Shirt, and I opened up a contest for the first person to name the tune I played on the Electric Shirt.
Glenn Gunderson won the contest, and the prize was to get to pick my next fiddle tune a day. And Glenn picked – Jerusalem Ridge, which I thankfully hadn’t played yet.
Jerusalem Ridge is one of the most famous Bill Monroe tunes. It’s my understanding that he wrote it, and named it after Jerusalem Ridge, Kentucky. There’s a great recording of Kenny Baker playing Jerusalem Ridge with Bill Monroe on the Fiddling TV program that Aly Bain did for BBC in the 80′s.
Jerusalem Ridge according to Fiddler’s Companion
JERUSALEM RIDGE. Bluegrass, Breakdown. USA. A Aeolian (Am). Standard tuning. AABB’CC. Composed by bluegrass mandolinist Bill Monroe (Ky). Jerusalem Ridge is an area in the hills around Monroe’s birthplace near Rosine, Kentucky. His Uncle Pen, a mentor, used to play his fiddle late into the evening up on Jerusalem Ridge. The tune has similarities to “Glory in the Meeting House,” an old fiddle tune collected from several eastern Kentucky sources, which may be a model or precursor. It is possible it influenced Monroe and/or Baker. Baker, however, was careful to give credit to Monroe for the composition. According to him, the band was staying in a motel in Kentucky back in the early to mid 1970s, when Monroe invited Baker to come to his room to work on a tune that Monroe was trying to fashion. The mandolinist would play a section and then would ask the fiddler to play it back, and then modify it. This process took some time, but in the end “Jerusalem Ridge” emerged. Source for notated version: Kenny Baker [Brody]. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 147. Acoustic Disk Records, David Grisman, John Hartford & Mike Seegar – “Retrograss.” County 761 & County CO-2708-CD, Kenny Baker‑ “Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.” Green Linnet Kevin Burke – “Up Close” (1984). Ridge Runner RRR0018, Bob Black – “Ladies on the Steamboat” (1979). Sugar Hill Records, Tony Rice – “Church Street Blues.”