Ebenezer

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W. Franklin George (b. 1928)

EBENEZER. AKA and see "West Virginia Farewell," "West Viginia Highway." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; West Virginia, southwestern Virginia. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is not widespread, according to Alan Jabbour, found only in western Virginia and parts of West Virginia. Most modern "revival" versions seem to stem from West Virginia fiddler Franklin George's version, popularized by fiddler and violin-maker Armin Barnett, as well as George Wilson and Allan Block. A version of "Ebenezer" was recorded by fiddler Kahle Brewer of Galax, Va., in the 1920's (Victor 20237), and another by Ernest Stoneman on 78 RPM, although they both issued it under the title "West Virginia Highway." Galax fiddler Uncle Charlie Higgins called it "West Virginia Farewell." Glen Lyn, Virginia fiddler Henry Reed recorded it for Alan Jabbour twice in the 1960's—although he did not have a name for it the first time, on the second occasion he called it "Alabama Gals Give the Fiddler a Dram" (AFS 13037a22). Bob Buckingham remarks that a neighbor and fiddler, Bob Hill plays "Ebenezer," and told him that his father had played it when Bob was young in Chillhowie, Virginia, calling it "Professor Wise." "Ebenezer" was played by "all the old timers" in the key of 'F', according to Kerry Blech, and cites F. Rafe Brady, "one of the survivors, (who) played it on his Heritage LP Cherokee Rose" (Fiddle-L 11.23.05).

Alan Jabbour remarks that The Hollow Rock String Band (of which he was a member) learned Henry Reed's version, but played and recorded it under the Brewer/Stoneman title "West Virginia Highway." The tune has the feel of a country rag, in Jabbour's opinion, and shares some melodic content with the late-19th century popular song "Climbing Up the Golden Stair." See also Charlie Stripling's related "Mayflower (1)."

See also Quebec fiddler Joseph Allard's "Reel de Limoilou," similar in the first strain.

Source for notated version: Charlie Higgins, Frank George, Kahle Brewer [Krassen]; Nelson Gage [Spadaro]; Fuzzy Mountain String Band (Durham, N.C., who learned the tune from Frank George {W.Va.} and Henry Reed {Glen Lyn, Va.} via Alan Jabbour) [Kaufman, Milliner & Koken]; Bill Christopherson & Alan Kaufman [Phillips].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 98. Kaufman (Beginning Old Time Fiddle), 1977; p. 58. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; p. 63. Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; pp. 184–185. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 79. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 29.

Recorded sources: Justice JLP 1002, Franklin George – "31st Annual Old Fiddlers' Convention, Galax, Virginia" (1966). Rounder 0010, "Fuzzy Mountain String Band" (1972). Bradley, Thompson, and Jabbour – "Sandy's Fancy." Rounder 02144, "Ernest V. Stoneman and the Blue Ridge Corn Shuckers" (appears as "West Virginia Highway"). Victor 20237 (78 RPM), Kahle Brewer (appears as "West Virginia Highway"). CD, Alan Jabbour, James Reed, Bertram Levy – "A Henry Reed Reunion" (2002).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index [1]
Hear Henry Reed playing the tune at Slippery Hill [2]




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