Katy Hill (1)

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X:1 T:Katy Hill [1] N:From the playing of Bob Walters (1889-1960, Burt County, N:Nebraska). M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel D:Univ. of Missouri, Bob Walters - Old Time Fiddlers Repertory (1976) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/katy-hill-0 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G Bc|:d2ga bgag|dgeg dgge|dega bgag|ed2d [d3g3]e| dega bgag|dgeg dgge|BAGB AGEG|1DEGB AG2B:|2DEGB AG[G2B2]|| |:[G/_B/]-[G/=B/]-[G2B2]B AGEF|GABd efge|BAGB AGEG|DEGB AG[G2B2]| [G/_B/]-[G/=B/]-[G2B2]B AGEF|GABd efga|gedB AGEG|1DEGB AGGA:|2DEGB AGGB||



KATY HILL [1]. AKA and see "Trap Hill Tune." American, Reel. USA; Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, northeast Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Christeson, Davis/Maloy, Lowinger, Phillips): AB (Brody): ABC (Beisswenger & McCann). The melody has widespread currency among American fiddlers in the South and Midwest. North Carolina fiddler Tommy Jarrell told an interviewer in 1982 he thought the melody derived from "Piney Woods Gal," and that "Sally Johnson" was in turn derived from "Katy Hill": "There's three tunes played just about like that, right there" (Peter Anick, "An Afternoon with Tommy Jarrell," Fiddler Magazine, Spring 1995). Mark Wilson (in liner notes to Dwight Lamb's 2005 Rounder album "Hell Agin the Barn Door") says that older versions of "Katy Hill" and its identical twin, "Sally Johnson (1)," only had a rough affinity in the high (second) strain, and "originally possessed completely different identities." Wilson thinks the simplification of the melody stemmed from fiddlers on the Grand Ole Opry, who used "Sally Johnson" and "Katy Hill" as vehicles to demonstrate performance skills at ever-faster tempos, as the 'hoedown' genre became increasingly distanced from its original function as an accompaniment to dancing. Occasionally fiddlers will play the tune in four parts, as does Iowa fiddler Lamb and the late Jim Herd, originally from Missouri, which Wilson believes reflects both the older and newer versions of the tune.

"Katy Hill" was popularized by Tennessee's Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, and Kentucky mandolinist Bill Monroe (who recorded it in 1940), but it was also known as a signature tune of north Georgia fiddler Lowe Stokes (1898-1983), who recorded it in 1928 along with Riley Puckett and Fate Norris (Meade). Stokes recalled his father playing the tune but he actually learned it from Alabama fiddler Joe Lee (b. 1883, Etowah County, Alabama), a man who influenced that generation of north Georgia fiddlers including the great Clayton McMichen. Lee was, Stokes declared in an interview printed in 1982 (in Tony Russell's Old Time Music), the "best old time fiddler I ever heard, but he couldn't win a prize to save his life," due to the degree of the performance anxiety he suffered from when on stage. The tune was listed in reports (1926-31) of the De Kalb County (northeast Alabama) Annual (Fiddlers') Convention (Cauthen, 1990), and it was in the repertoire of West Virginia fiddler Edden Hammons. The earliest recording of "Katy Hill" was by Ellen Sisson in 1925 (Gus Meade), followed by Bill Chitwood (1927).

Randolph County, West Virginia, fiddler Woody Simmons (b. 1911) told his version of the tale of the great bluegrass fiddler Chubby Wise's audition with Bill Monroe to Goldenseal magazine in 1979. Wise, who lived in Florida, heard on Saturday night that Monroe's regular fiddler, Big Howdy Forrester, was going to be inducted into the army on Monday. He drove to Nashville that night, sought out Monroe's venue, and asked to see the bandleader. He was shown in back behind a curtain and there was Monroe:


He went in there and asked...'I hear you need a fiddle player.' Bill said, 'Yes I do.' Said, 'Can you play?' Said, 'Yes.' Said, 'How about playing me a hoedown.' He said, 'All right.' Said he played Katy Hill. Monroe said to him, he said, 'How about playing one of my songs that I sing, and let me sing and you play it.' And he said he done Footprints in the Snow. Bill said, 'Where's your clothes at?' So he fiddled for him for several years.[1]

Related melodies are "Bay Rooster," "Going Around the World," and "Sally Johnson (1)." See also the Irish tune family whose most prominent members are "My Love is Fair and Handsome (1)" and "Maude Millar (2)," whose first strains are similar to the second strain of "Katy Hill."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - A late 1940's radio broadcast [Maloy/Devil's Box].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 33. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 154. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; p. 100. Davis (Devil's Box, vol. 20, No. 4), Winter 1986; p. 13. Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; p. 20. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: Old Time Southern), 1989; p. 25. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 130.

Recorded sources : - Caney Mountain Records CEP 213 (privately issued extended play LP), Lonnie Robertson (Mo.), c. 1965-66. CMH 6237, Paul Warren – "America's Greatest Breakdown Player." Columbia 15620-D (78 RPM), 1930, Lowe Stokes (North Georgia). County 538, Charlie Monroe – "On the Noonday Jamboree – 1944" (appears as "Going Around the World"). County 745, John Ashby (Va.) – "Down on Ashby's Farm." County 750, Kenny Baker – "Grassy Fiddle Tunes." Document 8045, "Lowe Stokes, vol. 1: 1927-1930" (reissue. Appears as "Sally Johnson"). Heritage XXIV, Smokey Valley Boys – "Music of North Carolina" (Brandywine, 1978). Heritage XXXIII, The Puryear Brothers Band – "Visits" (1981. Learned from the Ithaca, N.Y., Correct Tone String Band). RCA Camden CAL-719, Bill Monroe – "The Father of Bluegrass Music." Rounder 0089, Oscar and Eugene Wright – "Old-Time Fiddle and Guitar Music from West Virginia" (learned from Fiddlin' Arthur Smith). Rounder CD 0371, Mac Benford & the Woodshed All-Stars – "Willow" (1996). Voyager 301, Bill Long – "Fiddle Jam Session." Voyager 340, Jim Herd – "Old Time Ozark Fiddling." West Virginia University Press SA-2, Edden Hammons – "Edden Hammons Collection, vol. 2" (2000).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]



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  1. Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed., 1999, p. 23.