The Coo-Coo Bird

29 Mar

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[gDGCD tuning; aka “Sawmill” or “Mountain Minor” tuning]

This popular banjo song was first recorded in 1929 by Tom Clarence Ashley for Columbia Records, and remained his signature song until his death in 1967. It was his 1929 recording which was included on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (Vol. 5, track 1), thus insuring its place as the “seminal” version known to folk and Old-Time enthusiasts everywhere.

Other stand-out versions of the song are from multi-instrumentalist Hobart Smith (recorded for Alan Lomax in 1942), banjo players John Snipes, Dink Roberts, and Rufus Kasey (on the must-have Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia album), and Dan Gellert on his out-of-print cassette Forked Deer [Marimac Recordings, 1986] .

My arrangement is the result of having all of these mixed around in my head for years…probably closer to Hobart Smith and Dan Gellert than Clarence Ashley.



2 Responses to “The Coo-Coo Bird”

  1. scruss 04/18/2010 at 12:15 am #

    The Holy Modal Rounders did a pretty spiffy version. Peter Stampfel still plays two-finger nearly fifty years later.

    I love the blog – but it would really help if you put the song title as the post title.

    • 2ftlbanjer 04/18/2010 at 1:59 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for the lead on Mr. Stampfel’s picking. Just checked it out…mighty good stuff.

      And thanks for the suggestion about post titles. Consider it done.

      – Sean

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