Rocky Island

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X:0 T: No Score C: The Traditional Tune Archive M: K: x

ROCKY ISLAND. American, Banjo Tune. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). Art Rosenbaum (The Art of the Mountain Banjo, 1975, p. 18) remarks that "Rocky Island" was "a close second" to "Hook and Line" as one of the basic Kentucky banjo tunes learned by early 20th century regional players. The tune was recorded by Beth and Alan Lomax from the banjo playing of McKinley Asher on Oct. 14th, 1937, in Hyden, Kentucky, and, days later, from the banjo playing and singing of J.M. Mullins of West Liberty, Kentucky. These words (printed by Rosenbaum), or similar verses (often floating ones) are sometimes sung to the tune (which at other times is played as an instrumental):

Goin' to rocky island
Goin' to rocky hill
Goin' to rocky island
to get my bottle filled.

See the train a-comin'
Comin' down the track,
Carrying away my true love,
Never gonna bring her back.

It's oh, goodbye, my mother,
Oh, goodbye, I say,
Oh, goodbye, my mother,
I'm going away.

Going to rocky island,
Goin' to rocky shore,
Goin' to rocky island,
Ho, honey, ho.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Omie Rose, a coal miner's wife in Helton, Ky., on the Harlem/Leslie County line [Rosenbaum].

Printed sources : - Rosenbaum (The Art of the Mountain Banjo), 1975; pp. 18-19.

Recorded sources: - Fellside Recordings FECD259, Sara Grey, Kieron Means w. Ben Paley - "Down in Old Dolores" (2013). Folkways Records SFW40077, Martin Young & Corbett Grigsby (Hazard, Ky.) - "Mountain Music of Kentucky" (1960. Various artists). Library of Congress AFS 01565 B, Library of Congress AFS 01516 B01, M. Asher (1937). Yodel-Ay-Hee 008, Dirk Powell, John Herrmann, Tom Sauber - "One Eyed Dog" (1993). "The Bing Brother's Band featuring Jake Krack on Fiddle, Live from Pocahontas County, West Virginia" (2012). Sam Amidon - "But this Chicken Proved Falsehearted" (2007).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear John Morgan Salyer's (Magofin County, Ky.) 1940-41 banjo recording at Berea Digital Archives [2]
Hear McKinley Asher's 1937 field recording at the Internet Archive [3]

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