Pretty Little Indian (1)

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PRETTY LITTLE INDIAN [1]. Old-Time, Bluegrass; Breakdown. USA, Kentucky. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'B (Phillips/1995): AABB (Phillips/1989). The tune is played slower than the normal breakdown tempo. The tune was popularized by fiddlers such as West Virginia's Curly Ray Cline (1923–1997), who, although a bluegrass fiddler, was influenced by traditional (old-time) Kentucky fiddling. He played from 1966 into the mid-1990’s with Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys. A story, perhaps apocryphal, is told of Cline’s appearance in a fiddle contest with Tennessee’s Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith. Cline was a young teenager at the time, while Smith was perhaps the most renowned fiddler of the era. However, in the contest Cline prevailed, not a little aided by cheerful, youthful exuberance and showboating…so much so that Smith went over to the new champion with the greeting “You oughta be shot!” There's another, less flattering story about Cline as a teenage fiddle contestant. He came in second place to Owen "Snake" Chapman in a Kentucky fiddle contest, but protested the result so vehemently (aided by his mother) that the judges reconvened and decided to split first place honors between the two fiddlers. Chapman was so disgusted by the process that his enthusiasm for participating in fiddle contests dissipated, and he rarely attended them for many years.

"Pretty Little Indian" was also in the repertory of old-time fiddlers Albert Hash and Ward Jarvis (1894–1982), as well as bluegrass groups such as the Osborne Brothers and the Stanley Brothers (with fiddler Curly Ray Cline). Jarvis is credited as the source for many old-time versions. The tune has similarities to "Pretty Little Widow."

Source for notated version: Curly Ray Cline [Phillips].

Printed sources: Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: Old Time Southern), 1989; p. 35. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 104.

Recorded sources: Marimac AHS #3, Glen Smith – “Say Old Man” (1990. Learned from Curly Ray Cline). Rebel 1509, Curly Ray Cline. Revonah RS-932, The West Orrtanna String Band – "An Orrtanna Home Companion" (1978. Learned from Kentucky/Ohio fiddler Van Kidwell). Rounder 0132, Bob Carlin – "Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo" (1980. Learned from Van Kidwell via the Hotmud Family). Rounder 0533, Roger Cooper – "Essence of Old Kentucky" (2006. Learned from Kentucky fiddler Buddy Thomas). Vetco Records, "Fiddlin' Van Kidwell with the Hotmud Family."

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Curly Ray Cline's recording on youtube.com [2] Hear/see versions on youtube.com [3][4][5]
Hear a field recording of Ward Jarvis at Slippery Hill [6]
Hear a field recording of Joe Stamper (Lewis County, Ky.) at the Digital Library of Appalachia [7]




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