Tennessee Wagoner

Mac Traynham's Music of Our Mountains

This weekend, I managed to get in a couple of good jams. The first one was on the street in Floyd with Cheyenne and Wyatt Grantham who are 11 and 9 years old. Andy Buckman joined me to have some BBQ at an outside vendor and to meet the Grantham family who came from Franklin County to check out the Friday night scene in Floyd for the first time this summer. Friday nights in Floyd have been light on the usual summer music jams due to COVID. Floyd Country Store started having ‘live music outside behind the store for live audiences as well for Facebook ‘live’ audience.

So we had a nice small socially distant jam with masks on as a few people wandered by stopping to watch the kids play fiddle and banjo with us backing them up. Andy and I have met them a few times since mid-June in a picnic shelter near their home for a double lesson on how to play old-time fiddle and clawhammer banjo. They are great students who just need more experience. It’s been sad to see the life of Floyd’s Friday night scene struggling with lack of tourists and musicians but it is very understandable. It was my first time jamming on the street since 2019.  Sprinkles of rain ended that jam but we started another one in a dry location with all older adults (50’s and 60’s) as the kids left before dark set in. We did OK and stayed apart somewhat with our masks on for the most part. Our sanity at least returned for a couple of hours.  

The next night I had a few tunes with daughter Hanna Traynham who returned home that day after a two-week quarantine in Johnson City, Tennessee following a few months adventure to Lopez Island in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, WA. It was great to have a one on one jam with her in the key of C with just fiddle and banjo. Earlier on Saturday evening, we celebrated Hanna’s 33rd birthday with Jenny as well as Jenny and my 30th year of living at our place in Floyd County.  Hanna was just 3 when we moved here from the New River Valley about 20 miles away. Time has flown.

So this week’s tune is from fiddler Ivan Weddle who lived just outside Floyd town. He passed away in The Fall after we had moved to Floyd in 1990. We had met him and gotten to know and appreciate his old-time fiddling style a few years earlier. He can be seen fiddling in the Mabry Mill scenes in the Mike Seeger produced film on traditional dancing called Talking Feet. His band was called the Korn Kutters and I have featured tunes by the band before.

C tunes in the Blue Ridge are kind of rare and special. Tennessee Wagoner is one Ivan probably heard from a recording. His repertoire was influenced by recordings available as he grew up as much as by the local dance music he was exposed to growing up in the 1920s. His wife Hallie told me that he quit playing for 30 years while raising their family.

This tune is in the repertoire of many fiddlers all over the South.

Tennessee Wagoner by Ivan Weddle (solo)

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