Monday, May 02, 2016

"Down the River I Go, Uncle Joe" -- a D Mixolydian fiddle tune for this week's sessions at Peace Lutheran and Clayville

Rolling into town with less than a day to go before our first Prairieland Strings session and my head full of Appalachian dulcimer master Don Pedi's fiddle tunes, I decided to introduce one of them. It's called "Down the River I Go," and tab is available on Don's website. Here's a YouTube clip that shows him playing it at a weekly festival in downtown Asheville, N.C. (the second tune is "Rose in the Mountain"):

Don Pedi plays "Down the River" at Shindig on the Green, July 5, 2014

We have two Clayville-Prairieland Strings sessions coming up this week:

  • From 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, at Peace Lutheran Church (formerly Atonement, Faith and Luther Memorial), 2800 West Jefferson, Springfield.

  • From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 7, at Clayville Historic Site, Illinois 125, Pleasant Plains. Exact location TBA. Ask around. They'll know where to find us.

Don has a lead sheet with dulcimer tab at

I know the tune from Don's dulcimer arrangement in D Mixolydian, which he attributes to the Rev. T.H. Hendricks, of McDowell County, W.Va. If you're not into modal harmony, don't worry about the Mixolydian stuff. If you are, look at all the C naturals in the tab -- or, better yet, listen for them in the video. They're in those flatted, vaguely bluesy "mountain minor" riffs, especially at the beginning, that give the tune its down-home southern Appalachian feel.

But there's also a fine bluegrass version or two making the rounds.

Some YouTube clips:

Foghorn Stringband w/ Hubie King- Down the River [Live at WAMU's Bluegrass Country]. The band, of Portland, Ore., tours internationally (details on their website at WAMU's Bluegrass Country is a member-supported public radio station dedicated to bluegrass and American roots music. 105.5 FM Washington, D.C.; and 93.5 FM, Hagerstown and Frederick, Md.

We Banjo 3 - Down The River I Go Uncle Joe. From a BBC broadcast of the Hebridean Celtic Festival 2014. We Banjo 3 is an Irish band (website at, that according to Wikipedia, "plays a blend of traditional Irish, old time, and bluegrass music they call Celt Grass."

Down the River I Go, Uncle Joe & Big Eyed Rabbit-Medley. The Danish old time band Big Hungry Joe, of Copenhagen, practicing 1. march 2011. From the left Peter Lorichs on banjo, Jesper Deleuran on guitar and vocal, Lasse Høi on harmonica and harmony, Mathias Enevoldsen on bass and Tobias Enevoldsen on fiddle. (Check out their website at

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