Grasshopper Sitting on a Sweet Potato Vine

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X:1 T:Grasshopper Sitting on a Sweet Potato Vine N:From the playing of Luther Davis (1887-1986, Grayson County, southwest N:Virginia), recorded in 1982 M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel D:Heritage/Galax LP 070, Luther Davis - "Old Time Way" (1986) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/grasshopper-sitting-sweet-potatoe-vine Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D dB|ABAA FGAA|fafe ddd2| BcBA GGB2|dedB AFAB| ABAA FGAA|fafe ddd2| cdcA BAcA|ddfe d2:| df|eecc eefg|aafe ddfd|BcBA G2Bc|dedB A2A2| eecc e2fg|aafe d2d2|ccec BAc2|1d3d d2 df:|2d4 d2||



GRASSHOPPER SITTING ON A SWEET POTATO VINE. American, Reel (2/4 or cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (most versions). Galax, Grayson County, Virginia, area fiddler Luther Davis (1887-1986) is usually credited as the source for most versions of this tune. African-American collector Thomas Talley printed a song by this title in his 1922 work Negro Folk Rhymes (reprinted in 1991, edited by Charles Wolfe). His lyric (which seems to scan with the abc tune below) goes:

Grasshopper a settin' on a sweet tater vine,
'Long come a Blackbird an' nab him up behind.

Blackbird a-settin' in a sour apple tree,
Hawk grab him up behind; he "Chee! Chee! Chee!"

Big hawk a-settin' in de top of dat oak,
Start to eat dat Blackbird an' he git choke.

Some see similarities to the Irish melody "Comhra Donn (An)" (The Brown Box/Casket/Coffin). Also melodic similarities in parts of some versions to the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic (The)/John Brown's Body" and its derivative "Pass around the Bottle."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Luther Davis (Galax, Va.) [Kuntz, Milliner & Koken]; Jere Canote [Phillips]; Greg Canote (Seattle) [Songer]; Stephanie Prausnitz [Silberberg].

Printed sources : - Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 2: Occasional Collection of Old-Timey Fiddle Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc.), 1982 (revised 1988 & 2003); p. 14. Clare Milliner & Walt Koken (The Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 258. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 102. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 55. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 88.

Recorded sources : - Dean Street Music 101, Grand Picnic - "Grand Picnic." Heritage/Galax LP 070, Luther Davis - "Old Time Way" (1986). Marimac 9009, Liz Slade - "Old Time Friends" (1987).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Luther Davis's field recording at Slippery Hill [2]



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