Portsmouth Airs

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PORTSMOUTH AIRS. Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Kentucky. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Titon): AA’BB’. The title references the Ohio River town of Portsmouth, Ohio. Harmonica player John Lozier of Lewis County, Kentucky, said regionally influential fiddler Ed Haley used to play it in front of the Old Railroad YMCA in Portsmouth, Ohio (Hartford, 1996). Jeff Titon (2001) calls the tune a northern-influenced type of melody that is sometimes favored by fiddlers in the northeastern part of Kentucky. See also the distantly related tune “Buffalo Gals.”

Source for notated version: Buddy Thomas, who learned it from Jimmy R. Wheeler (1917-1987), a fiddler and instrument repairman who lived in Portsmouth, Ohio [Titon].

Printed sources: Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 128, p. 155.

Recorded sources: Berea College Appalachian Center AC007, Roger Cooper – “Snakewinder” (1993). Field Recorder's Collective FRC 401, "Jimmy Wheeler: Recordings from the collection of Jeff Goehring" (2015). Rounder 0376, Buddy Thomas (et al) – “Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky, vol. 1: Up the Ohio and Licking Rivers” (1997). Rounder 0032, Buddy Thomas (northeastern Ky.) – "Kitty Puss: Old-Time Fiddle Music From Kentucky” (1976). Rounder 0380, Roger Cooper (Lewis County, Ky.) – “Going Back to Old Kentucky” (1996). Rounder 0392, John Hartford – “Wild Hog in the Red Brush (and a Bunch of Others You Probably Never Heard)” (1996. Learned from John Lozier).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear John Hartford's recording on youtube.com [2]
Hear Buddy Thomas's 1973 recording at Slippery Hill [3]
Hear Jimmy Wheeler's field recording at Berea Digital Archive [4] and the Digital Library of Appalachia [5]




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