2020-05 Tune: Baltimore Johnny

  1. HonketyHank
    The Song A Week thread for this tune is found here: Baltimore Johnny SAW thread. Unfortunately most of the videos in that thread are inaccessible but there a few good ones that do work.

    The original version of this tune by Ronnie McCoury has a 1996 copyright. Here it is played by Ronnie and the Del McCoury Band in 1998: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dboan6GeEmc .

    And if you think you have heard too many notes already, you haven't -- you have to watch the following version with Chris Thile added to the mix (recorded in April 2019). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vkz-w6vAi0 .

    Tabs and sheet music for a bare-bones version can be downloaded as a pdf from here: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/am...ore_johnny.htm . Be sure to scroll down and click the "Download the Music Score and Tabs (PDF)" button -- the score shown above the button omits the last line of the tune.

    I thought the "Baltimore Johnny" in the title might be a reference to Johnny Unitas, famed quarterback for the Baltimore Colts back in the late 1950s and 60s. But no, it is an homage to Ronnie's mentor, Jon Glick, famed fiddler for the Del McCoury Band. So here is a tune whose origin is known with little or no question. (Unless you are a superannuated Colts fan.)
  2. bbcee
    I'm not one that loves 150 MPH bluegrass particularly (blame it on my heavy metal adolescence), but Chris Thile's version is so darn musical! Timing, phrasing, harmonic weirdness, it's the whole package. Plus, it's a really cool melody when slowed down enough to hear it!

    Uh oh, this is sounding like the beginning of the original SAW thread!! Good music is good music, is my conclusion.
  3. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    OK, it's well into the evening of May 30 and no one has taken the bait on Baltimore Johnny. Tomorrow maybe?

    I'm sitting this one out. I don't love the super-speedy bluegrass thing, just like what bbcee said above. It's not anything I aspire to and wasn't anything I felt like spending the month working up.

    How about the rest of you? Preferences? Excuses? Unload, everyone!
  4. HonketyHank
    Yeah, I know that the Tune of the Month this month is Baltimore Johnny. I, ahem, decided to take a bit of a sabbatical this month. But I didn't just sit around twiddling my thumbs; I finished carving a new musical instrument. It will come into play on the second go-round of Flett From Flotta, which, being slightly easier than Baltimore Johnny, I managed to get recorded in the last few days of the month.

    I stumbled on this tune a few years ago at thesession.org and liked it. It is purely Scottish, composed by Donald Macleod about his Army buddy William Flett, a piper. Flotta is a small and flat island in the Orkneys, population 80 according to Google. Macleod wrote the tune while on a train journey with Flett during World War II.

    I call my new percussion instrument a "Victory Stick", but it is basically a fancy rattle. Some day, when parades are safe and approved, I imagine my using it as a drum major's baton at the head of a parade. Following me would be a marching bluegrass band playing Liberty! and maybe a few Sousa marches. Who knows? Might happen.


  5. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Geez, you confine this guy to quarters during a quarantine and he grows a beard and starts making percussion instruments by hand! Way to go, Hank!

    I like the Scottish tune a lot, and the percussion form the Victory Stick is a nice touch.
  6. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Louise. Been doing my beard enhancement exercises on a daily basis.
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