Midnight on the Water is one of the Coolest Waltzes out there. And that’s not because there aren’t a lot of cool waltzes out there.
It’s cross-tuned (DDAD), which is a great start. It has all sorts of open drones that ring beautifully in the cross tuning. It has a haunting melody, and it was written by a legendary Texas fiddler, Luke Thommason (father of Benny Thomasson.)
I especially like playing it with Brent Hawley on Guitar (also in Drop D tuning). This is the first time, I have been also joined on this tune by Steve Eulberg. We recorded this tune live (also the first time the 3 of us have played it all together) at our CD release party for our new album, Old School Old Time. Enjoy!
Midnight on the Water according to Fiddler’s Companion
MIDNIGHT ON THE WATER. Old‑Time, Waltz. USA, Texas. D Major. DDad tuning. AABB (Spandaro): AA’BB’ (Brody, Matthiesen, Reiner & Anick). This popular composition is usually credited to Texas fiddler Luke Thomasson, although it has been published that Luke’s son Benny (a famous Texas‑style fiddler who popularized the melody) long remembered the night he heard both his father and uncle composing the tune on the family porch (c. 1900?). Several sources have noted this tune’s resemblance to an Oklahoma-collected tune called “Old Paint,” and there is an ongoing debate about whether “Midnight” is derivative of “Paint” (or vice versa). The Library of Congress recording “Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas” (LOC lp L28), collected by John A. Lomax and edited by Duncan Emrich, has a version of the “Paint” song by Jess Morris which has quite similar melodic material with “Midnight on the Water.” The liner notes to the album point out that Morris was born in 1878 and would perhaps have been contemporary with the Thomassons, who, like Morris, lived in the Texas panhandle. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 187. Matthiesen (The Waltz Book), 1992; pg. 35. Reiner & Anick (Old Time Fiddling Across America), 1989; pg. 137. Spandaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; pg. 21. CCF2, Cape Cod Fiddlers – “Concert Collection II” (1999). Columbia C 33397, Dave Bromberg ‑ “Midnight on the Water” (1975). County 724, Benny Thomasson (Texas) ‑ “Country Fiddling from the Big State.” County CD2712, Art Stamper (Ky.) – “The Lost Fiddler” (c. 1982). Front Hall 01, Fennigs All Stars (New York) ‑ “The Hammered Dulcimer.” Green Linnet GLCD 3105, Aly Bain – “Lonely Bird” (1996. Learned from Jay Ungar). Philo 1023, Jay Ungar and Lyn Hardy (New York) ‑ “Songs, Ballads and Fiddle Tunes” (1975. Learned from the playing of Fennig’s All Stars). Revonah RS‑932, The West Orrtanna Stringband (Pa.) ‑ “An Orrtanna Home Companion” (1978). Rounder 0068, Mark O’Conner‑ “Pickin’ in the Wind.” Wildwood WILD CD 19804, New Deal String Band.