My Tunes: Willie Hoffleman’s Unbelievable Reel

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.

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Old-Time Tune: Barlow Knife

I’ve had this tune floating around my head for a number of years now, one of those tunes that you can hum but never get round to learning. Well, I though it was time to put that right.

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.

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Old-Time Tune: Roscoe’s Gone

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.

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