GILSAW. AKA - "Gill Saw." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Missouri. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Gilsaw" was popularized by central Missouri fiddler Pete McMahan, and is on Missouri fiddler Charlie Walden's list of '100 essential Missouri fiddle tunes'. There are some similarities to "Muddy Road to Texas." The origin of the tunes name is explored by Howard Marshall in his blog "Fiddling Missouri" , who followed leads provided by McMahan, who maintained that 'Gilsaw' was the name of an itinerant ("tramp") fiddler who played the tune while busking for change at the Wabash Railroad depot in Montgomery City, Mo. It was overheard by a fiddling sheriff, relates Marshall, by the name of Claude Gregory, an uncle of McMahan's, who learned it on the spot. Before he left the fiddler told Sheriff Gregory that it was "Gilsaw", but it was unclear whether he was replaying the name of the tune or his own name (Marshall points out that people with the name appear in the 1900 Missouri census in Callaway County, Mo.). Gregory taught the tune to a young McMahan, who remembered it with the prompting of friends, in his later years.
Source for notated version: Fred Stoneking [Silberberg]; Pete McMahan (Bluffton, Missouri) [Milliner & Koken].
Printed sources: Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 237. Silberberg (93 Fiddle Tunes I Didn't Learn at the Tractor Tavern), 2004; p. 15 (appears as "Gill Saw").
Recorded sources: Marimac 9059-CD, Lynn 'Chirps' Smith - "Midwestern Harvest" (1994). Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Association 001, Pete McMahan - "Ozark Mountain Waltz" (1987). Voyager Records, Pete McMahon - "Now That's a Good Tune: Masters of Traditional Missouri Fiddling." Yodel-084, Rhys Jones - "I Got a Bull Dog."
See also listing at:
Hear McMahon's recording at Slippery-hill.com