I clearly remember the first time I heard Snowflake Reel. It was the first time I went to the Branson, Missouri Fiddling Festival contest, and Justin Branum was playing it, and I remember thinking what a cool tune it was, and how Justin was really playing the heck out of it.
At the time, the Branson Contest was held in the high school gymnasium, in the middle of August, without air conditioning. It was hot enough in there to make a stone sweat. And that hotel swimming pool felt soooo good that night.
A week or so ago I put out a request for must play tunes to squeeze in before the end of the year, and Snowflake Reel was Justin Branum’s suggestion, so I took it as an opportunity to learn this cool tune. I learned it from Tommy Jackson’s Square Dances Without Calls (also recommended by Justin Branum).
Snowflake Reel according to Fiddler’s Companion
SNOWFLAKE REEL. AKA ‑ “Snowflake Breakdown.” Canadian, American, Bluegrass; Breakdown and Reel (irregular measures in both parts). USA; New England, northern New York, Missouri. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Phillips): AABB’ (Bohrer/Kibler). Composed by Canadian fiddler Wally Traugott (sometimes Trougott), this Canadian reel has had some currency with American fiddlers, particularly along the Canadian border and in the Mid-West (Missouri). The B Flat chord in the accompaniment to the ‘B’ part often is the bane of unwary guitarists! Little is known about Trougott although he may have been at one time a fiddler for Capitol Records in Los Angeles, later removing to Las Vegas. Source for notated version: learned by fiddler Vic Kibler (Hamilton County, N.Y.) from a recording by Wally Trougatt [Bohrer/Kibler]. Bohrer (Vic Kibler), 1992; No. 16, pg. 16. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pg. 261. Hinds/Hébert (Grumbling Old Woman), 1981; pg. 19 (appears as “Snowflake Breakdown”). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pg. 226. Welling (Welling’s Hartford Tunebook), 1976; pg. 16. Kicking Mule 209, Andy Cahan‑ “Melodic Clawhammer Banjo.” Adelphi 2004, Delaware Water Gap‑ “String Band Music.” Arc FH2 (K-Tel), Anonymous Fiddler – “25 Old Tyme Fiddle Hits.” Arc 565, Carl Elliott – “Down East Dancing.” Banff RBS 1123, Jerry Robicahaud ‑ “16 Great Fiddle Tunes by 16 Great Fiddlers.” County 772, Bobby Hicks‑ “Texas Crapshooter.” F&W Records 6, Fireside String Band‑‑”Square Dance Tunes for a Yankee Caller.” GRT 210, Ward Allen – “Maple Leaf Hoedown.” MCA 162, Tommy Jackson‑ “Square Dances Without Calls.” Nashville 2015, Wally Traugott – “Fiddlin’ Country Style.” Rounder 0060, Brother Oswald and Charlie Collins‑ “Oz and Charlie.” Rounder 0216, John McCutcheon ‑ “Step by Step” (1986. Appears as “Snowflake Breakdown”).