Lucas Pasley | Stratford at Bow

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Country: Old-Timey Country: Square Dance Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Stratford at Bow

by Lucas Pasley

Traditional Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo music
Genre: Country: Old-Timey
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. County Jail
2:00 $0.99
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2. Bullhead Mountain Rag
2:01 $0.99
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3. Lawn's Cumberland Gap
2:15 $0.99
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4. Charlie's Cumberland Gap
2:33 $0.99
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5. Old Joe Clark
2:11 $0.99
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6. Sally Ann in A
3:08 $0.99
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7. Sally Ann in D
2:50 $0.99
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8. Half-Shaved
2:26 $0.99
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9. Bill Cheatem
2:46 $0.99
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10. Shady Grove
2:16 $0.99
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11. Lost Indian
2:32 $0.99
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12. Traphill Tune
2:44 $0.99
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13. Sourwood Mountain
2:19 $0.99
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14. Paper Thin
1:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Sometimes I like to sit around and think about all the musical scenarios that could have been. Maybe it’s people I wish had played together or maybe it’s a solo piece that I’d love to have heard a fiddle or banjo on. This record is about lots of what-if’s. What if Wade Ward had played with Taylor Kimble and somebody was there with a recorder? What if there was a fiddle part to a tune like Half-Shaved? While I certainly hope this record is good listening for lots of people, I’ve tried my best to make something fun for people that love the old field recordings and the old timers that made them like I do - especially those that love the sound of the mountainous border country between North Carolina and Virginia.

I’ve done my best to honor the old timers, but I think it’s fair to say that I don’t have the talent to replicate their playing exactly. I’d be proud if you could tell where the versions came from. As Benton Flippen so wisely said, “No point to sound just like the other man. Don't even try, 'cause you can't. You got to sound like yourself, have your own style. That's the way it's supposed to be.” I’d say all of us traditional musicians are forever caught in the balancing act between honoring tradition and making the music our own.

1 - County Jail
I usually tell people that this is just the Alleghany Fall on My Knees, and there’s only one note difference. The fiddle and the banjo parts come from the Caudill Family, but I’ve tried to let a little of Tommy Jarrell’s fiddling slip into the fiddle part. Tommy would make visits to Alleghany County and, in fact, visited with Bertie Caudill Dickens in particular. I like to think this is one they might have played together and jokingly disagreed on the name and the note. I’ve tried to capture a little of what a Bertie-Tommy session might have sounded like.

2- Bullhead Mountain Rag
This tune was composed by my great uncle Lawn Brooks. When his mother was dying in the old home place, she asked for her bed to be carried out on the porch so she could see Bullhead one last time. Although there were never any commercial recordings made of him, Lawn made a bunch of home recordings with his good friend Cliff Evans that are included on FRC712. The original recording is with guitar, but I think it’s a perfect fiddle/banjo tune.

3 - Uncle Lawn’s Cumberland Gap
Another one of Uncle Lawn’s tunes that I love is his version of Cumberland Gap - I think it’s pretty distinct and works well with banjo.

4 - Uncle Charlie’s Cumberland Gap
Both Charlie Higgins and Wade Ward had great versions of Cumberland Gap, but when Wade played it with Charlie he would shift to his finger picking style like he did on many of the G tunes. What if they decided one day to put their versions together? In this one, I let Charlie’s fiddle version stand and adapted Wade’s banjo version to suit - but tried to keep as much of it as I could.

5 - Old Joe Clark
My favorite version on the fiddle of Old Joe Clark is the recording of Ralph Michael from the 1938 Whitetop Festival, and Wade Ward’s version is a masterpiece on the banjo. In this rendition, I let the banjo version stand and adapted Michael’s version slightly where needed. Michael was from Harrisonburg, VA and that must have been quite a journey to Whitetop in his day. Wade was musically active at the time but for some reason didn’t appear on the festival recording. I wonder why. I wonder if they ever crossed paths.

6 - Sally Ann in A
I guess everyone has recordings that changed their lives and for me it was the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers “Rhododendron” album. Joe Birchfield played this Sally Ann solo on the record, but I always thought most of the Hilltoppers music was well suited to clawhammer banjo. In fact, when Joe stopped fiddling with the band, his son Bill took over and tended to look for that driving clawhammer sound.

7 - Sally Ann in D
I love to play Sally Ann in D as a fast driving tune as much as the next fiddler, but I’ve often forgotten how nice it can be at a normal speed. Hus Caudill, the source of this fiddle version, complained to Fred McBride that the next generation was always speeding things up. I love Hus’s gentle touch and the more sophisticated melody he puts in there. The banjo version comes from his younger sister, famed player Bertie Dickens, and it’s one of my favorite pieces on the banjo. Her masterful use of the 5th string says it all.

8 - Half Shaved
This banjo piece was played by Wade Ward, Dent Wimmer, and a few others and is beautifully haunting. I’ve never heard it fiddled, but I always felt like a fiddle would work fine with it. I’ve never been able to find out the meaning of the full title but would love to know.

9 - Bill Cheatem
This fiddle version comes from another one of my favorite fiddlers, Taylor Kimble. I love all the little notes he puts in there and I wish I could get them all. With his wife Stella on the banjo, they made an amazing fiddle/banjo couple. In this version, I’ve tried to capture a more driving clawhammer banjo sound in the Wade Ward-Glen Smith-Bertie Dickens style that I also think works really well with Taylor’s fiddling. Given the location of Laurel Fork and the nearby banjo traditions, it seems likely that he would have also played with players like that.

10 - Shady Grove
In this rendition I’ve combined two of my favorite versions of Shady Grove - Luther Davis’s and Wade Ward’s - and made heavy changes to both. In the A part, I let Luther’s fiddling stand and adapt the banjo’s melody slightly; in the B part I keep Wade’s melody and develop a fiddle part that suits it. In the A part, I love how Luther brings out a major sound on the fiddle that creates a tension with the modally sound on the banjo.

11 - Lost Indian
This is another solo banjo piece from Wade Ward that I wanted to see what a fiddle would sound like with. It troubles me a bit that the unique sound that comes from tuning the 5th string down is lost a little, but it’s still pretty fun on the fiddle. In my mind, it’s in the family of driving D tunes like Walking in the Parlor or Backstep Cindy. This tune was misnamed as Half-Shaved on several recordings but Wade’s Lost Indian and Half-Shaved are definitely two distinct tunes.

12 - Traphill Tune
This tune was played solo by Hus Caudill on one of the Old Originals records. Hus was from a family of noteworthy musicians - Joe, Clell, and Bertie in particular - and I can’t imagine that one of them didn’t pick a banjo with him on about every tune he played. I would love to have heard this with one of his siblings on the banjo - I’ve done my best to give it that Caudill sound.

13 - Sourwood Mountain
I love this version of Sourwood Mountain because of the way it repeats the first phrase three times. The other version has taken over most of the parts of my little musical world, but notable fiddlers like Tommy Jarrell, Howard Joines, and Hus Caudill played this version - as did Wade Ward on the banjo. In my mind, there’s a magic triangle from Independence to Sparta to Galax that encompasses most of the music I really love with interesting combinations of a driving banjo and Green Leonard influenced fiddlers. I think it’s a sound like no other. I’ve put Hus and Wade’s version together here to honor that.

14 - Paper Thin
The only source of this tune I know of is Alleghany fiddler Kilby Reeves who lived around the Twin Oaks area. While I generally don’t like to change the keys of tunes, the only way I could get the clawhammer banjo to really work was to move it over to D. I’ve tried to keep the warm, sweet sound it has when it’s played on the lower strings in G.

This CD is dedicated to my cousin, friend, and mentor Fred McBride who appears in the CD photos. He was one of my hero fiddlers and a great gentleman. None of his tunes are on the CD because I was lucky enough to not have any “what ifs” left with him, but his playing and character had a big impact on me as a musician and person. FRC722 is a CD of us playing together.

All tunes are public domain and all tracks are played by me and recorded in my living room on my Zoom recorder after the kids fell asleep. While I look forward to hopefully making many recordings with my wonderful musician friends, this project was more about these certain arrangements in my mind. I’d want my friends to just play it the way they feel it.

Lucas Pasley lives with his family in Sparta, NC where he has family and musical roots. He has worked passionately to preserve and spotlight the traditional music of Alleghany County and the surrounding areas. All proceeds from the CD will be donated to Alleghany JAM


Contact pasleyspabulum@gmail.com

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