In 1995 I spent a month or so in Munich with some Irish friends. At that time the Deutsche Mark exchange rate was very favourable to those using the pound and the punt and a fair few Irish students would head to Bavaria for the summer to work in the car factories and the beer festivals. I tagged along and managed to get some work at the world famous Oktoberfest, feeding Maßkrüge (litre beer glasses) into a glass cleaning machine in the kitchen of one of the smaller ‘tents’, the exclusive Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke.
Here is another of my earliest tunes, written around 1994, which I named after my maternal grandmother Jane Prosser. Jane was born in Oban in 1925 and was more commonly known as Jean. Twice married, her first husband was Edward Ritz from Alberta in Canada with whom she had six children.
Over the coming months I’m going to attempt to transcribe, record and post many of the tunes that I have composed. I started writing tunes pretty early in my traditional music ‘career’. I was travelling around a fair bit and didn’t have access to recordings or notation so I just made tunes up. I’ll try and post them in chronological order but I don’t remember all the dates of composition so will have to guess some.
I think I first heard Barlow Knife when hanging around with a bunch of old-time musicians from Wisconsin one long musical weekend in Sligo back in the mid 90’s but the memory is hazy so I can’t be certain. Four Men and a Dog recorded a more Irishy version of it but it’s the old-time versions that I like best. I got most of this version from an early 70s recording by The Fuzzy Mountain String Band with a few tweaks of my own to suit my mandolin playing.
Here is my approximation of an old-time fiddle tune I heard yesterday on an album by American group The Stairwell Sisters. I couldn’t find it online so I just transcribed it myself. Apparently it was written by someone called Hank Bradley on the passing of an old fiddle player called Roscoe Parish. I love the 2/4 bar at the end of each part… really pushes it along.