Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"America the Beautiful" -- a song for our July 4 slow jam at Clayville Historic Site, with a YouTube video of a moving performance by Willie Nelson

Blast email I sent out today to the mailing list for our Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music jam sessions. We meet next Saturday morning, July 4, and we'll be tackling "America the Beautiful." So I went on line to find chords, dulcimer tab and video clips. And I struck pay dirt! The YouTube video embedded below is from a historic benefit concert, only a few days after 9/11, and it features a haunting version of the song fronted by Willie Nelson.

First, the video:

Willie Nelson and Ensemble - "America the Beautiful" From the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon, a benefit concert to raise money for New York City firefighters, policemen and others who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. It aired live on 35 broadcast and cable networks on Friday, Sept. 21, only 10 days after the 9/11 atrocity. Clint Eastwood introduced the song, and Willie Nelson sang lead, backed by too many performers to mention by name. Watch it a couple of times -- Willie's vocal is, well, you know ... and you'll have fun picking out the performers for yourself!

Here's the blast email, lightly edited for posting on line --

Hi everybody --

A reminder: Our regular July session of the Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music is from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 4, at Clayville Historic Stagecoach Stop on Ill. 125 at Pleasant Plains. Since it's the Fourth of July, Chuck suggested we play "America the Beautiful." So I went looking on line and found chords -- with lyrics -- and a melody line in G.

I also found a wonderful YouTube video of Willie Nelson playing an intro on acoustic guitar and singing it, backed by a whole stage full of first-class performers at a benefit concert 10 days after 9/11. I embedded it on my blog, along with the email message [...]

Be sure to watch it. I can't think of a more appropriate piece of music for the 4th of July!

Here are links to our music for the session at Clayville:

-- To the lyrics and guitar chords -- http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/s/samuel_ward/america_the_beautiful_crd.htm

-- To the mountain dulcimer tab -- http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/files/tab/america_the_beautiful2.pdf

A word about the dulcimer tab. The melody is in G, so it calls for using a capo on the third fret in the usual DAD tuning. But I could no more play that tab than I could fly to the moon! It starts out on the bass string and jumps around all over the place. You're welcome to try it if you don't want to break away from the DAD lockstep, but I also tabbed it out for a DGD tuning and wrote in fret numbers in red ink below the notes. [If you're reading this on line, please note: You can do this yourself. Print out the tab, and write in the numbers below the notes: G is on the 3rd fret, A on the 4th, B on the 5th and so on up to G' on the 10th fret. You'll find one note, a G# between the 10th and 11th frets that isn't on the dulcimer. I just play that riff as A-A-A instead of A-G#-A.] That way I can play it the way a mountain dulcimer was meant to be played. A copy of my tab, with the frets in red, is attached.

A word about the DGD tuning. It's Ionian, which means the key note -- G in this case -- is on the third fret and you skip the 6-and-a-half fret as you play up the scale from 3 to 10. It's easy to retune from DAD, too. All you have to do is to tune the middle string down a whole step -- from A to G -- and you're ready to go. It takes about the same amount of time as it does to put on a capo. Try it, you'll like it.

DGD has a nice sound, too. Try it, like I said, you'll like it.

Hope to see you Saturday!

-- Pete

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