Saturday, June 1, 2013

They All Sound Alike, Pt. 74

Back in 1970 me and the other folks that made up the Fuzzy Mountain String Band tried to work up Tommy Jarrell's "Back Step Cindy." We thought we had it down pretty good, and recorded it on our recording debut on Rounder Records. This is what we looked like back then, sitting in front of Malcolm and Vickie Owens' lodgings just northwest of Chapel Hill, an old farmhouse owned by Bibi Danziger as I recall--she was a shop owner and restauranteur in Chapel Hill and owned "Danzigers" and several dining establishments catering to the college kids, and with some of her spare change she invested in various old farms dotting the landscape near Chapel Hill, which I expect she wisely figgered would appreciate greatly over the years. Till then she was fine with renting to grad students such as Malcolm and Vickie, who seemed and were capable of dealing with an old farm house with a bunch of fire places, and a dirt path in so sloggy in wet weather that Blanton's "positraction" green Ford panel truck positracted itself right down to the differential one November afternoon.

There we sit on a fine spring day. Later the record came out, and a second one too. But the more I listened to "Back Step Cindy," the more I felt I'd not learned the thing right. In fact, the more I listened to Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham and various other Round Peakers play the thing, the more labyrinthian the mystery of the tune became, and the less I understood it, and I quit playing what I had thought once was the tune, and never went back to it, there being many many other tunes to worry about and get with.

So, here's Fred Cockerham and Kyle Creed playing the tune right:

I wish you could see Fred's bow arm, but all this newfangled easy videoing world we live in hadn't been invented when Fred was alive. All we have is County Records pretty much, and Ray Alden's work.

One of these days I might still go back to "Back Step Cindy." I love the little extra measure, which maybe is the very "back step" of the title. Or maybe the title is referring to some dancin' fool Cindy Fred knew in 1925. Some mysteries cannot be resolved. These days I'm trying to learn Major Franklin's "Tom and Jerry," which is about the most elegant and elemental version of that great steaming warhorse I've ever heard. Benny Thomasson's got more notes, and Mark O'Connor more notes still, but sometimes despite the cute commercials more is not better.

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