I first learned this tune from a jam session recording of Major Franklin playing it. Dick Barrett also played it on “At the Fiddler’s Knee” It’s an old tune that is named after Fort Smith, Arkansas. There is a slightly different variation on this tune that is played by Missouri fiddlers, but it’s obviously derived from the same fiddle lineage.
I seem to recall a recording of Orville playing the heck out of this one too, but I don’t have the recording on my PC to verify. The thing I really like about this tune is that the second phrase comes down to the A note rather than the G which leaves it feeling unresolved.
Learn to play Fort Smith on fiddle here
Fort Smith according to the Fiddler’s Companion
FORT SMITH . AKA and see “On the Banks of the Cane,” “Rabbit in the Grass.” Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA; Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Thede): AABBAACCAADD (Beisswenger/McCann). ‘B’ part similar to ‘A’ part of “Fort Smith Breakdown” notated by Brody and Phillips. A popular tune throughout the Ozarks Mountain region, generally played in two parts, although other parts may be inserted by some fiddlers (see Cotton Combs version). Fiddler Charlie Walden gives “Old Fort Smith” in his list of one hundred essential Missouri fiddle tunes, and it is presumably “Fort Smith .” Thede says: “There are two suppositions as to the origin of the tune ‘Fort Smith’…One conjecture is that the beginning of this melody goes back to the time when a cavalry division of the United States Army was stationed at Fort Smith, Arkansas, as an outpost to the Indian Territory to the west…. On the other hand, I have information through the late E.M. Hooper of Shawnee, Oklahoma, who was an early day musician, that this tune was brought from Sweden and renamed ‘Fort Smith’ by an immigrant the name of Bottefur, who formed a musical organization in the town around 1843.” “Rabbit in the Grass” is a closely related tune and may be considered a version of “Fort Smith,” or a close variant. Beisswenger & McCann (2008) give several similar tunes, including “Across the Plains,” “Coming Up the Turnpike/Pike,” “Old Buzzard ,” and Ky. fiddler Snake Chapman’s “Nubbin Ridge.”
Kate Barnhart says
Loved this tune!
Vi Wickam says