Annotation:Pretty Little Widow

Find traditional instrumental music

X:1 T:Pretty Little Widow S:W.H. Stepp (1875-1957, Magoffin County, Ky.) M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel N:AEae tuning (fiddle) D:Library of Congress, W.H. Stepp (1937) Q:"Fast" F: Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:A a3ba2 ef|=gaba gdd2|ef=ga f2 ed|BA^GA BAA2:|| E2AB c2Ac|BAGA BG E2|[A,2E2]GAB2BA|GABG A2A2| [E2A2][EA][EA] [E2A2]Ac|BAGA BG E2|[E2A2]cA BcBA|GABG A2A2||

PRETTY LITTLE WIDOW. American, Reel (cut time). USA; Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, north Georgia, Missouri. A Major {Phillips}: A Mixolydian (‘A’ part) & A Major (‘B’part) {Titon}: D Major. Standard or AEae (Ashby/Stepp) tunings (fiddle). AAB (Titon): AABB (Phillips). There are several versions of the reel with tonalities running from primarily major, to mixed-mode mixolydian/dorian. It was famously recorded in October, 1928, by the Georgia group The Skillet Lickers (Vocalion 02948-A), whom Jeff Titon (2001) suggests may have “inspired [Kentucky fiddler W.H.] Stepp’s more interesting setting.” North Georgia fiddler Clayton McMichen claimed his father wrote "Pretty Little Widow." The reel is widely disseminated through the South and Mid-West. "Pretty Little Widow" was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from the playing of Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's. The melody is similar to Hark Garland's 1950's hit “Sugar Foot Rag."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - John Ashby [Phillips]; W.H. Stepp (Salyersville, Magoffin County, Ky., 1937) [Titon].

Printed sources : - Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 190. Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 131, p. 158.

Recorded sources: -Columbia 15334-D (78 RPM), The Skillet Lickers (1928). County 526, Gid Tanner & Clayton McMichen – “The Skillet Lickers, vol. 2” (1973. Originally recorded 1928). County 720, Joe Drye – “The Mountain Ramblers” (1969). County 745, John Ashby & the Free State Ramblers - "Down on Ashby's Farm" (1974). Leatherwood (cassette), Bruce Greene – “Vintage Fiddle Tunes” (1987). Library of Congress AFS 01572 B02, W.H. Stepp (1937). Library of Congress AFS 05424 B02, Delbert McGrath (1942). Marimac AHS #3, Glen Smith – “Say Old Man” (1990. Learned from Tommy Magness). Vocalion 5430 (78 RPM), A.A. Gray (appears as first tune of "A Georgia Barbecue at Stone Mountain"). Shanachie 6040, Gerry Milnes & Lorraine Lee Hammond – “Hell Up Coal Holler” (1999. Learned from W.Va. fiddler Glen Smith, along with a Kentucky version).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Bill Stepp's (Magoffin County, Ky.) 1937 field recording at Berea Sound Archives [2], the Internet Archive [3], and Slippery Hill [4].
Hear the Skillet Lickers 1928 recording [5]
Hear John Ashby's (Va.) recording at Slippery Hill [6]

Back to Pretty Little Widow