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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

July 18 2018  Featured tune:           SADDLE OLD PAINT

Chief Red Bird

Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Ohio. G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle).
This unusual tune was in the repertoire of Forest Pick (1911-1979), a fiddler from West Portsmouth, southern Ohio, who said he had learned it from a full-blooded Cherokee Indian fiddler named Chief Red Bird who played dances in the area. The Native American fiddler may have taken his name from an earlier Chief Red Bird, who lived in the Kentucky/Ohio area prior to and for a time after the arrival of the first European settlers. The headwaters of the Red Bird River, near Beverly, Kentucky, is named for the historical Cherokee chief. Chief Red Bird and the Oklahoma Cowboys were entertainers, recording artists and radio performers in the 1930's, who toured the Midwest States. Redbird's name was originally William A. Sanders, born in 1899 near Cherokee City, Arkansas, and who grew up in Indian Territory. He learned to play the fiddle, guitar, bass and banjo, and held several jobs before joining the group the Oklahoma Cowboys, including competing in calf roping events at rodeos, and playing semi-professional baseball as a pitcher. He and his brother Sam played music for square dances, including tunes "Danced All Night with a Bottle in My Hand" and "Old Judge Parker, Take the Shackles off of Me." He is quoted as saying:

I was playing them old tunes down at a television station, and the announcer said, "Chief, I bet you made a lot of money with that old fiddle." I said, "Well, quite a little bit." He said, "How much did you make on one setting?" So I said, "One setting, you mean? Well, let's see. It was me and my brother Sam, we was a-playin' for a country square dance, and we made nine hundred and five dollars apiece. "Nine hundred and five dollars apiece," he said, "That's a lot of money!" "Well, yeah, they paid us five dollars in cash and we had nine hundred dollars worth of fun."

After the Oklahoma Cowboys broke up, Sanders continued to play on the radio in Detroit and Cleveland as Chief Redbird and His Tribe, and then in a variety of groups, including an act with his family. After a lifetime of performing with modest success, he died in 1978.

There is a chapter on Chief Redbird in Craig Maki with Keith Cady's book Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockablillies (2013, Chapt. 2, "Cherokee Boogie", pp. 15-27),


SADDLE OLD PAINT full Score and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes



X:1 % T:Saddle Old Paint S:Forest Pick (Ohio) M:4/4 L:1/8 D:Heritage XXXIII, Forest Pick - "Visits" (1981) Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:Gmin D2|\ M:5/4 L:1/8 (G/F/G)-GA Bd-d2(AB) |\ M:4/4 L:1/8 G(A/B/ A)(^FD2)D2|\ M:5/4 L:1/8 (G/F/G)-GA Bd-d2(AB)|\ M:4/4 L:1/8 G(A/B/)AF G2|| f/>g/f|d2 BG- G2(AB)| G(A/B/ A)(^FD2)f/>g/f|d2BG- G2 (AB)|G(A/B/)AF G2|]

Why TTA Who builds the Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.


This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni


Please register as a user to make the most of the many functions of the TTA, and enjoy the many ways that information about traditional tunes can be elicited and combined, from simple to complex situations. Users may make contributions, which, when reviewed by an editor, become part of this community project. Serious user/contributors may become editors through the TTA's autopromotion process, in which quantity and quality of entries allows increased levels of permission to edit and review the entire index.
Above all, the developers wish you joy in the use of the TTA.


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