23 Apr

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[gDGBD tuning]

From what I can tell, this one comes to us from Tommy Jarrell of Surrey County, North Carolina. Tommy was, hands down, the most influential old time musician for scores of “young fogies” in the 1970s & 80s seeking a link to the traditional music styles of the Southern Mountains. His hospitality was legendary and his bowing style impenetrable. The song Policeman can be heard on the album “Stay All Night…And Don’t Go Home” by Oscar Jenkins, Fred Cockerham, and Tommy Jarrell. It seems to have become a staple among the new crop of Old Time string bands who usually perform it at rip-roaring tempos (Foghorn String Band, The Morgantown Rounders, and Dirk Powell to name a few). Perhaps the most interesting version (to me anyways) comes from Dan Gellert and can be heard on his album “Waitin’ on the Break of Day.” Google the lyrics…they make the song!

Lastly, if anybody out there is unfamiliar with the music of Tommy Jarrell, go HERE for a nice collection of free field recordings (including Policeman) of him fiddling, singing, and picking the banjo. Enjoy!


2 Responses to “Policeman”

  1. Red 05/01/2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Mountain Sprout does a decent version of this tune, they call it “Police Come”. Their tunes are a bit off color so wear headphones if the kids are around.


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