Tonight tells me very clearly that it’s better to record my fiddle tune before I’m exhausted. (It’s not the first late-night fiddle tune a day that has told me that message.)
Recording Blackberry Blossom was not going well tonight. I really should have picked an easier tune, but hindsight is always 20/20.
I did about 10 takes tonight before this one, and it still isn’t as clean as I would like, but it is definitely bluegrass speed. (It must be because the banjo kicked it off.) 😉
Fiddler’ s Companion says that this is a different tune than Arthur Smith’s Blackberry Blossum, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same tune.
Blackberry Blossom according to Fiddler’s Companion
BLACKBERRY BLOSSOM . AKA and see “Old Time Blackberry Blossom.” Old‑Time, Bluegrass; Breakdown. USA; Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska. G Major (‘A’ part) & E Minor (‘B’ part). Standard tuning. ABB (Christeson): ABB’ (Berline): AABB (Brody, Krassen, Lowinger, Phillips). The tune is well‑known as a traditional Kentucky dance tune. Charles Wolfe and Barry Poss note that Kentucky fiddlers have played a tune by that name since before the Civil War and that Kentucky fiddler Dick Burnett recorded a version in 1930 which has been the model for many traditional southern Kentucky/northern Tennessee versions (see “Blackberry Blossom ”). This version however is not Arthur Smith’s “Blackberry Blossum,” which is different and may have been an original of his. Smith recorded his version with the Arthur Smith Trio in 1929. “A family story tells of Arthur’s playing the tune over WSM and the station conducting a contest to name the tune; bushels of mail came in, and a woman in Arkansas won with the name ‘Blackberry Blossom'” (Charles Wolfe & Barry Poss).
Western New York Sources for notated versions: Bob Walters (Lincoln, Nebraska) [Christeson]; Charlie Higgins (Krassen says his version is loosely based on Higgin’s playing); Benny Thomasson (Texas) [Phillips]. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1973; pg. 47. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 142, pg. 101. Frets Magazine, February 1988, “Byron Berline: The Fiddle;” pg. 56. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 4: Collection of Fine Tunes), 1983 (revised 1991, 2001); pg. 16. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; pg. 60. Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; pg. 14. Phillips (Fiddlecase Tunebook), 1989; pg. 7. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pgs. 26 & 27 (two versions). Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1977; pg. 32. County 705, Sonny Miller & the Southern Mountain Boys‑ “Virginia Breakdown.” Green Linnet SIF 1075, John Whelan & Eileen Ivers – “Fresh Takes” (1987. Learned from Eamonn O’Loughlin and played as a hornpipe). Marimac AHS #3, Glen Smith – “Say Old Man” (1990. Learned from legendary Galax, Va., fiddler Uncle Charley Higgins). Rounder 0092, Tony Rice ‑ “Manzanita.” Rounder 0090, Mark O’Connor ‑ “Markology.” Rounder 0073, “The White Brothers in Sweden.” Rounder 0241, The Chicken Chokers ‑ “Shoot Your Radio” (1987. Learned from Mike Seegar, Judy Hyman & Bert Levy). Sugar Hill Records, Byron Berline & John Hickman ‑ “Double Trouble.” Vanguard VSD 45/46, “The Essential Doc Watson.” Omac 1, Mark O’Connor ‑ “A Texas Jam Session.”