There's a Brown Skin Girl down the Road Somewhere

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X:1 T:There's a Brown Skin Girl down the Road Somewhere T:Brownskin Gal N:From the playing of fiddler Eck Robertson (1887-1975, Vernon, north Texas) M:C| L:1/8 R:Country Rag Q:"Fast" D:Victor V40145 (78 RPM), Eck Robertson & family (1929) D:County CO 3515, Eck Robertson - Old Time Texas Fiddler (1998) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/theres-brown-skin-girl-down-road-somewhere Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G d'2|+slide+d'abe gdeB|dA-BA G2 AA|BGED EA-B2|G6 d'2| d'abe gdeB|dABA G2G2|ce2a- age2|[df]-[f3a3] [f3a3]b| d'abe gdeB|dA-BA G2AA|BGED EA-B2|G8| G,A,B,C DEGA|g2ed- dABA|BGED E(AB2)|G6:| d2|defd eedd|fde2 d3A-|BGAA GGE2|G6d2| defd eedf|aga2 c3A|cABB AGE2|G6d2| defd eedd|fde2 d3A-|BGAA GGE2|G6 || |: [C2E2]|[CE2]-[E2G2][EG]- [EG][EG][EG][EG]|[EA][E2G2][EF]-[E2G2][E2A2]|BAGE DB,D2|[G6B6][G2B2]-| [B6d6][Bd][Bd]|[Bg][B2d2][Bd]- [Bd]a2|bd'ba ge3|g6:|]



Eck Robertson (1887-1975)

THERE'S A BROWN SKINNED GIRL (DOWN THE ROAD SOMEWHERE). AKA - "Brown Skin Gal," "That Brownskin Gal" (2). American, Country Rag (cut time). USA, Texas. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABC. Some sources insist the tune is original with Texas fiddler Eck Robertson (1887-1975), though Charles Wolfe (1997) states it is generally credited to Robertson’s contest nemesis Lefty Franklin. Lewis "Lefty" Franklin was born in Bonham, Texas, in 1874, and learned to play at an early age. He won his first contest at the age of thirteen, garnering the prize of a bottle of sorghum syrup. Franklin, Robertson, and a fiddler named A.P. Howard (of the group Doctor Howard's Dixie Fiddlers) were top competitors together in numerous contests, but also used this friendly rivalry to collaborate for performances. They travelled together in support of World War I activities and, later, veterans' events. In 1928 the Vernon (Tx.) Daily Record mentioned them in an item:

"Eck" is known far and near as the world famous cowboy fiddler and began his fiddling path to fame right here in Vernon. During the [First World] War, for the benefit of the Red Cross, Eck Robertson, Dr. A.P. Howard, Louis [sic] Franklin and others staged a three-day fiddling bout, playing to packed houses. After that the trio went to Tennessee and fiddled with Ex-Governor Taylor, "fiddling governor" of that state, by request.

Franklin, a left-handed fiddler, was often accompanied by his brother M.H. Franklin, on banjo, and continued to have a good playing career (supplemented by odd jobs and laboring work when times were a bit tough) well into the 1930's. In 1937 he played at a huge celebration or Independence Day and the opening of a new bridge over the Pease River, where his fiddling was showcased alongside a musical group arranged for the square dances. A few weeks later he got into an altercation with his landlady in Chillicothe, Texas, and became so incensed that he shot her dead with a revolver. Tried and convicted, he spent ten years of a 'life sentence' in the state penitentiary (during which time he continued to fiddle with a prison band) before being pardoned. After his release Franklin returned to contest playing, competing in numerous old-time contests until his death in 1956 at age eighty-two[1].

Robertson recorded "There's a Brown Skinned Girl Down the Road Somewhere" in Dallas, Texas, in August, 1929, for Victor records, and Victor credited the composition to him. He was ably accompanied on the recording by members of his family: son Dueron Robertson on tenor banjo, daughter Daphne on tenor guitar, and wife Nettie on guitar. Robertson's fiddling on the recording is excellent, and the tune requires position playing on the violin, at speed, and is well-executed. Both Franklin and Robertson were friends of Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson, adjudged by many to be the best Texas fiddler of the 20th century.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Eck Robertson (Texas) [Brody]; Alexander Robertson [Phillips].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 275. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 147.

Recorded sources : - American Heritage 515, Junior Daugherty - "You Be the Judge." Stoneway 148, Howdy Forrester - "Fiddle Hoedown." American Heritage 516, Jana Greif - "I Love Fiddlin.'" American Heritage 1, Herman Johnson - "Champion Fiddling." Victor 40145 (78 RPM), Eck Robertson & Family {1929}. Folkways 31062, Ship in the Clouds - "Old Time Instrumental Music" (1978. From an Eck Robertson recording). June Appal 024, Luke Smathers String Band - "Mountain Swing." Rebel Records, Eck Robertson - "Old-Time Texas Fiddler: Vintage Recordings 1922-1929" (1999). Sonyatone 201, Eck Robertson - "Master Fiddler."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Eck Robertson's 1929 recording at Slippery Hill [2] and at youtube.com [3]



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  1. See Christine Gnagy, Texas Jailhouse Music: A Prison Band History, 2016.