Old Sledge (1)

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X:1 T:Old Sledge [1] S:Alan Jabbour, Brandywine, 2002 M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel N:AEad tuning (fiddle) F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/old-sledge-1 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D +slide+[d3d3] ((3edc [d2d2])[d2d2]|[Bd][Bd][A2d2][Bd][d2d2]d|dfed [d2d2][d2d2]|[FA]A[EA]A [FA]A3| A2Bc d2-[dd](d|Bd)[A2d2] [Bd][d2d2]d|dfed [d2d2][d2d2]|[FA]A[EA]A [FA]A2:| |:(3A,B,C|D2[FA]D A,CE(3A,/B,/C/|DD[FA]D A,C[EA]C|D2[FA]D C2[EA]C| DFED CA,[C2E2]|[D4F4][B,4G4]|[A,3E3][A,E] CDEC|DEFG ABAG|FDED C[A,3E3]:|



OLD SLEDGE [1]. American, Reel (cut time). USA, West Virginia. D Major. AEad (Burl Hammons), ADad (Ed Haley), DGdg (Harvey Sampson) or Standard tunings (fiddle). ABB (Hammons/Krassen): AABB' (Phillips). 'Old Sledge' is a Southern and Western name for the game of cards commonly called (in England, esp.) 'All Fours'. It was one of the principle card games of colonial times and by the beginning of the 19th century it was the foremost American card game, remaining so for nearly a hundred years. The game apparently migrated to America from England in the early 1700's, and was also known by the names '7-Up' and 'High-Low-Jack', but it was a true form of 'All-Fours'. It is also reported that in Kentucky 'Old Sledge' was sometimes used as a name for dogs (The Devil's Box, March, 1974).

The tune is strongly identified with West Virginia fiddlers, so much so that it has been called "a West Virginia standard," although each fiddler seems to have his or her own special version.
Ernie Carpenter. Photo by Michael Keller. Courtesy Goldenseal Magazine [1]
Jack McElwain

West Virginia fiddler Ernie Carpenter learned the tune from legendary fiddler Lewis Johnson "Uncle" Jack McElwain (1856-1938) of White Oak, a tributary of Laurel Creek, near the village of Erbacon, Webster County, West Virginia. Local lore, remarks Gerry Milnes (Play of a Fiddle, 1999), gives that Erbacon was named by the habit of the cook at the local hotel, who invariably asked, "Do you want ham 'r bacon?" Investigating further, Milnes found that the town was actually named for E.R. Bacon, an official with the B & O railroad. Milnes also reports that influential Logan County fiddler "Blind Ed" Haley (who had moved to Ashland, Kentucky) learned "Old Sledge," among other tunes, from McElwain in the course of Haley's playing circuits (Milnes opines the Haley's rendition is "not notable"). Another Erbacon fiddler, Harry Scott (d. 1986), told Milnes that he seemed to rise three feet up off the ground upon hearing McElwain playing "Old Sledge," it was so good.

AEad tuning is often preferred for this tune, as in the playing of West Virginia fiddlers Jack McElwain, Melvin Wine and Ernie Carpenter, as well as Burl Hammons.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Burl Hammons (Marlinton, Pocahontas County, W.Va.) [Krassen].

Printed sources : - Krassen (Masters of Old Time Fiddling), 1983; p. 77. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 175.

Recorded sources : - Augusta Heritage Records 003, Ernie Carpenter - "Elk River Blues: Traditional Tunes From Braxton County, W.Va." Augusta Heritage Recordings AHR-004C, Harvey Sampson and the Big Possum String Band - "Flat Foot in the Ashes" (1986/1994. Learned by Calhoun County, W.Va., fiddler Harvey Sampson from his father). Library of Congress AFS L65-66, Burl Hammons- "The Hammons Family." Rounder 0010, "Fuzzy Mountain String Band" (1972. The high part of the tune was learned from Burl Hammons, while the low part was learned from West Virginia fiddler Emory Bailey). Rounder 0197, Bob Carlin - "Banging and Sawing" (1985). Rounder 1133, Ed Haley Vol 2 - "Grey Eagle".

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear Burl Hammons' version at Slippery Hill [3]
Hear Alan Jabbour's 2002 Brandywine concert recording at Slippery Hill [4]



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