Hickory Leaf

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HICKORY LEAF. American, Reel (cut time). D Major. DDad (Smith) or ADad (Chapman) tuning (fiddle). The tune is sourced to Tennessee's Fiddlin' Arthur Smith [1] (1898-1971). It was also in the repertoire of Kentucky fiddler Owen Chapman (1919-2003), a one-time coal miner from Canada, Pike County, southwest Kentucky, who played in a bluegrass band during a brief move to Michigan to work in the auto industry in the mid-1960's. Chapman was of the opinion that the tune was Smith's reworking of "Bonaparte's Retreat (1)."

A hickory leaf can be "played" by holding it tightly between the hands, parallel to the lips. Sterling Kelly and Ralph Lee Smith issued a recording in 1977 called "Old Time American Harmonica, Bones and Hickory Leaf Playing."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: The Devil's Box, vol. 24, No. 1, 1990; p. 23.

Recorded sources: Rounder Records RNDS 418, Owen "Snake" Chapman - "Walnut Gap" (1999). Folkways FA2419, Tracy Schwartz - "Look Out Here it Comes" (1975. Learned from a recorded WSM broadcast of fiddler Paul Warren, playing with Flatt & Scruggs, "which came to him directly from his association with Fiddling Arthur Smith. According to Kirk McGee the tune may be 150 years old").

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear a 1957 home recording of Arthur Smith and Earl Scruggs playing the tune on youtube.com [3]

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