I first heard Little Bit of Swing on the Herman Johnson tape, Simply Perfect. (Herman wrote this cool tune.) It was such a fun melody, and Herman’s playing was so good that I really wanted to learn that tune. It’s pretty tricky with lots of double stops, and a section of it in 10/4 time. So, I had Tony Ludiker teach it to me.
One of my favorite fiddle contest memories involves this fiddle tune, and Herman Johnson. It was at the Fiddler’s on the Gorge fiddle contest that was started by Doug Kershaw, and I was probably about 17 at the time. Herman Johnson was one of the judges, and all sorts of cool people had come down from the northwest for the contest – and from the south.
Some of the people I remember being there are: Levi Dennis, Matt Hartz, Roberta Rast, and Danita (I’m pretty sure she was a Hartz at the time, because I bought the album of Matt and Danita playing with the Franklin brothers there.) And there were a bunch of others, but these are the ones who matter for this story. I played Little Bit of Swing as my tune of choice, and ended up placing third in the contest.
And, this is one of the contest finishes that I am most proud of. Roberta won the contest, and Danita took second, I took third, Matt Hartz was 4th, followed by Levi Dennis in 5th. To be able to hang in with a field of such great fiddlers, was an honor, and to have Herman judge made it all the better.