Sally Growler is just plain hard to play. On it’s face, it doesn’t sound that tricky, but it sure feels that way to my fingers, especially the B part.
Sally Growler is another hornpipe that I learned during my infamous week at Dale Morris‘ house. That week, he gave me a bunch of hornpipes to learn. He saw that my timing on my breakdowns wasn’t solid, and hornpipes were is method of fixing it. I think it really did give me a better understanding of the hoedown timing, and in the case of this one, it gave me a heck of a left-hand workout.
The two coolest versions I have heard of this are Alex Hargreaves playing it on one of the Weiser recordings, and Dennis Ludiker totally kills this tune (although I don’t have a recording of Dennis playing it.
As a side note, it is hazardous to record tricky tunes that you haven’t played in years without practicing them beforehand.
Sally Growler According to Fiddler’s Companion
SALLY GROWLER. American, Hornpipe. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB. A composition credited to Harry Carleton in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection. Nothing is known of the elusive Harry Carleton, who contributed several tunes to Ryan’s; the name may be a pseudonym. The title is in quotation marks in Ryan’s, and the reference is obscure. There is a particularly unattractive, Atlantic coast, bottom-dwelling fish named the Sea Raven, popularly called a “Sally Growler,” although what connection this might have is unknown. Don Meade believes the names of both the tune and the fish derive from another, now-obscure source. Source for notated version: Benny Thomasson (Texas) [Phillips]. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 114. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 2, 1995; pg. 223. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 151.