Forks of Sandy (1)

Find traditional instrumental music
Jump to: navigation, search

Back to Forks of Sandy (1)


FORKS OF SANDY [1]. AKA and see "Roll 'em up Sandy," "Three Forks of Sandy," "Three Forks of Big Sandy," "Warfield (1)." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; western North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Brody, Phillips). The title refers to the Big Sandy River on the West Virginia/Kentucky border, the (3) forks being the Big Sandy River, Levisa Fork and Tug Fork; the river feeds into the Ohio river at Catlettsburg. Eastern Kentucky-based fiddler Ed Haley used to play the tune in three parts, one for each fork. Oscar Wright maintained the song was popularized in his area of West Virginia (Mercer County) by North Carolina banjo player and band leader Charlie Poole and his fiddler (and brother-in-law) Posey Rorrer when they played the area in 1916, 17 or 18. He claimed to have learned it directly from Rorer. West Virginia fiddler Clark Kessinger (1896–1975), who, it has been suggested, learned the tune as a boy in the Kanawha Valley, recorded the melody in 1930 for Brunswick Records (as "Three Forks of Sandy") {Wolfe, Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed. 1999}. The reel was also recorded by Dad Blackard's Moonshiners for Victor Records.

As told by researcher Kinny Rorrer [1], the tune was originally called "Sandy River Belle," however, when the North Carolina Ramblers went into the studio Columbia's A&R man, Frank Walker, said that a Columbia recording by that name (by Franklin County, Virginia, fiddler Charlie La Prade and his group The Blue Ridge Highballers) had been released a several months earlier. Rorrer made some musical changes to the tune, and with a title change it became "Forks of Sandy." The signature melodic fragment of "Sandy River Belle" with the interval leap can still be heard in the second measure of each line of the second strain. See also the similar "Sandy River Belle (3)" by the New North Carolina Ramblers, with Posey Rorrer's kinsman, Kinney Rorrer, on banjo.

Source for notated version: Charlie Poole (N.C.) [Brody]; Posey Rorrer (Milliner & Koken); Clark Kessinger (W.Va.) [Phillips]; Barry Shultz [Silberberg].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 111. Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 214. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 241. Silberberg (Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 47.

Recorded sources: Columbia 15106-D (78 RPM), Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers (1926). County 747, Clark Kessinger – "Sweet Bunch of Daisies" (appears as "Three Forks of Sandy"). Flying Cloud FC-023, Kirk Sutphin – "Fiddlin' Around." Historical HLP-8005, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers – "1926–1930: A Young Boy Left His Home One Day" (1975). June Appal 007, Thomas Hunte – "Deep in Traditon" (1976. Appears as "Three Forks of Big Sandy." Learned from Manco Sneed of Cherokee, N.C.). Rounder 0089, Oscar and Eugene Wright – "Old-Time Fiddle & Guitar Music From West Virginia." Rounder 0392, John Hartford – "Wild Hog in the Red Brush (and a Bunch of Others You Might Not Have Heard)" (1996).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]




Back to Forks of Sandy (1)

  1. Kinney Rorrer, Rambling Blues, the Life and Songs of Charlie Poole, 1992, p. 35.