Bitter Creek is a cool breakdown in the key of G. I have some good memories of playing it with Bill Jones and Ed Carnes at the Indiana State Fiddle Contest a few years back.
It’s fairly straight ahead as a tune. I didn’t realize it at the time I wrote it, but Harlaxton Hornpipe is kind of like Bitter Creek if you turned it upside down. 🙂
Bitter Creek according to Fiddler’s Companion
BITTER CREEK. AKA ‑ “Bitter Creek Breakdown.” Old‑Time, Texas Style, Bluegrass; Breakdown. USA; Texas, Kentucky. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Brody, Phillips): ABCDD (Devil’s Box): AABBCCDD (Christeson). Popularized by fiddler Tommy Jackson. R.P. Christeson says it was apparently a local Texas tune. Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson also had an influential version, played in five parts. He told Gus Garelick that he himself had metaphorically “crossed many a-bitter creek in my life,” but maintained there actually was a Bitter Creek in Texas. Joel Shimberg notes the similarity with this tune and Henri Landry’s “Carnival Reel.” Sources for notated versions: Red Williams (Dallas, Texas) [Christeson]; Benny Thomasson (Texas) [Brody]; Howdy Forrester via John Hartford [Devil’s Box]; Tommy Jackson [Phillips]. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 45. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 130, pg. 92. The Devil’s Box, vol. 22, No. 4, Winter 1988, pg. 51. Martin (Benny Thomasson Fiddle Transcriptions), 1997; No. 2. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pg. 26. County 724, Benny Thomasson – “Country Fiddlin’ from the Big State” (1970). County CD 2712, Art Stamper – “The Lost Fiddler” (c. 1982). County 3525, Oscar & Doc Harper (et al) – “Dallas Bound: Old-Time Texas String Bands, Vol. 2” (the four-part version of the tune). MCA 162, Tommy Jackson ‑ “Square Dances Without Calls.” Rounder 0004, Clark Kessinger ‑ “Old Time Music.” Voyager Records, Benny Thomasson – “Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle?”