Black Jack Grove (1)

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X:1 T:Black Jack Grove [1] S:Walter McNew (1912-1998, Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, central Ky.) M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel Q:"Quick" N:From a 1990 field recording by Jeff Titon N:The accidentals are not random, and were repeated by the McNew N:exactly as written, each time through. The 'c#' notes in the beginning N:of measures one and five of the second strain should be played by N:'drawn out' slides. F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/black-jack-grove-1 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:Amix +slide+[e2e2]-|[e2e2]gg e2d2|=cdde g2ef|g2ag e2d2|^cde^g- a2=g2| abag e2d2|=cdde gfef|g^ga=g e2d2|edBA A2e2-| e(fga) e2d2|=cdde g2ef|g2ag e2d2|^cde^g- a2=g2| abag e2d2|=cdde gfef|g^ga=g e2d2|edBA A2|| |:AB|+slide+c2Ac B2 A2|GGBG E2A(B|c2)Ac B2A2|GGBA A2A(B| +slide+c2)Ac B2A2|GGBG E2(ef)|(g^ga)=g e2d2|edBA A2:|



BLACK JACK GROVE [1]. AKA - "Blackjack Grove." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Kentucky. A Mixolydian ('A' part) & A Dorian ('B' part) {Phillips, Titon}: A Mixolydian ('A' part) & A Major ('B' part) {Silberberg}. Standard or AEae (McNew) tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberbert): AABB (Phillips, Titon). Phillips notes that his source, Walter McNew, tended to blur the 'C' notes in the 'B' part of his unaccompanied version, resulting in a tonality somewhere between minor and major. Jeff Titon (2001) finds the title in tune lists from Berea College in 1915 and in the 1919 Berea fiddle contest list. The title presumably takes its name from a locale with a grove of blackjack oak trees.

Walter McNew

McNew learned "Black Jack Grove" from his father John McNew (b. 1888), a telegraph operator and depot agent for the L & N Railroad, who would play his fiddle between dispatches during the graveyard shift at his train depot. Walter learned the tune from his father, and thought that his father in turn had it from a man known to the family as 'Uncle' Garrett Bow, who used to visit with the elder McNew at the train depot where the two would swap tunes through the night [1] McNew was also highly influenced by neighboring Madison County, Ky., fiddler Doc Roberts, whom he knew and held in awe.

For the musically unrelated Texas tune of the same name, see "Black Jack Grove (2)."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Walter McNew (1912-1998, Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, central Ky.) [Milliner & Koken, Phillips, Titon].

Printed sources : - Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 57. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 21. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 12. Titon (Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 13, p. 47.

Recorded sources: -Berea College Appalachian Center AC005, Walter McNew - "Black Jack Grove" (1993). Oak Records OOK CD 001, "Brittany Haas" (2004). Yodel-Ay-Hee 003, "Dirk Powell and John Hermann" (1992). Appalachian Center AC 005, Walter McNew (Rockcastle County, Ky.) - "Blackjack Grove" (Learned from his father, John McNew, who had it from a Wildie, Ky., area fiddler named Uncle Garret Bow).

See also listing at:
Hear McNew playing the tune (recorded by Steve Green July-August 1992 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky) at the Digital Library of Appalachia [1], Slippery Hill [2], and at Berea Digital Content [3]
Hear/see fiddler Kenny Jackson play a version of the tune on youtube.com [4]



Back to Black Jack Grove (1)


  1. Steve Green's notes to Walter McNew's Berea AC005 cassette tape, "Soft Spoken Walter McNew 'Black Jack Grove'", 1992.