Hopping John

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X:1 T:Hopping John S:Bill Hensley (N.C.) M:C| L:1/8 F: Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D dB|ABdf edBd|+slide+[d2f2][df][de] [d2f2][d2f2]|Adfd edBd|[d2f2][d2f2][d2f2][d2f2]| Adfd edBd|+slide+[d2f2][df][de] [d2f2][d2f2]|Adfd edBd|[d2f2][d2f2][D2d2][D2d2]|| fa2b a2a2|+slide+f3d [D3d3]+slide+f-|fdfd edBd|+slide+[d2f2][d2f2][D2d2][D2d2]| fa2b a2a2|+slide+f3e f2a2-|aefd edBd|+slide+[d2f2][d2f2][D2d2][D2d2]||

Fiddlin' Bill Hensley, 1937. Photograph by Ben Shahn, 1898-1969.
HOPPING JOHN. American, Reel (cut time).. USA, western North Carolina. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Hopping John" was recorded from the playing of William Andy "Fiddling Bill" Hensley (1873-1960), who in his career had worked for the railroad man, and held jobs as a machinist, cabinetmaker and farmer. Although born near Johnson City, Tennessee, he moved with his family to North Carolina at an early age. His principal interest was in fiddling, learned, according to the family "on his father's knee," and his uncle, Mac Hensley of Graham County, had a reputation as an excellent fiddler. Hensley's lifelong passion is represented by his last spoken words, inquiring about his fiddle which he called "Old Calico." "Just before his death he turned to a daughter, Mrs. Mamie Larson of Denver, Colo., who happened to be in Western North Caolina on a visit and asked, "Did you get Old Calico." He seemed uninterested in what happened to the rest of his property in the home" [1].

According to his contemporary, North Carolina fiddler Manco Sneed, Hensley, "was a pretty good fiddler, but played a little rough and drank too much." Hensley is also associated with the fiddling governor Robert Love Taylor, who served Tennessee for two terms in the late 19th century. The farm on which Hensley was born was adjacent to that of Gov. Bob Taylor, and Hensley fiddle, he claimed, come into the possession of Hensley's father who bartered twenty acres of land for it. Hensley attributed several tunes in his repertoire to Taylor, and attributed "Hopping John" to Cherokee Native American fiddler John Sneed, Manco's father[2].

"Hopping John" features slides and staccato-like quarter note cadences which is meant to suggest hopping.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Bill Hensley [1] (1873-1960, Sleepy Gap, near Arden, Buncombe County, western North Carolina) [Milliner & Koken, Phillips].

Printed sources : - Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 305. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; p. 114.

See also listing at :
Hear Bill Hensley's c. 1940's recording at Slippery Hill [2]
See Bob Carlin's article "The Life and Music of Fiddlin’ Bill Hensley", The Old-Time Herald, Volume 11, Number 4.
See David Parker Bennett, “A Study in Fiddle Tunes from Western North Carolina,” unpublished MA thesis in music, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1940, for more on Hensley.

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  1. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/42453321/william-andy-hensley
  2. See David Parker Bennett's 1940 dissertation "A Study in Fiddle Tunes from Western North Carolina", UNC, Chapel Hill, p. 22 [3]