January-February 2011

Lee Hammons’ family moved to West Virginia from Kentucky around the time of the Civil War. Lee was born in 1886 and by 1930 he had “worked as a coal miner, lumberjack, teamster, sawyer, railroad hand, tannery worker, and farm laborer.” He stopped playing music in 1923 to raise family. Apparently he never counted the amount of grandchildren and great-grandchildren he had. Fortunately Lee Hammons started playing again in the 1960s. These field recordings come from this later era in his life. One of the tunes is his version of Paddy on the Turnpike. I first heard this on another great out-of-print CD, Natural History by Jimmy Triplett. If you ever get a chance to see or hear Jimmy, you will be amazed at how someone can sound so old!!! So, my current lesson for you fiddlers is Paddy on the Turnpike based on the Lee Hammons version. Enjoy!!

Paddy on the Turnpike - Fast Tempo (GDGD)

on the Turnpike - Slow Tempo/with Bowing

David Bragger is a Los Angeles-based instructor and player of old time fiddle and banjo music. He also photographs, films, and collects the lore of traditional artists, from puppeteers in Myanmar to fiddlers of Appalachia www.myspace.com/davidbragger


All Columns by David Bragger