January-February 2013

Estill Bingham’s Cookhouse Joe

By David Bragger

Estill_BinghamI’m jumpstarting the year with a tune by Kentucky fiddler Estill Bingham. I know tons of fiddlers that love his tunes. Tunes like Cotton Bonnet and Old Billy Hell are jammed frequently in many parts of the country. Los Angeles is no different. One of my favorites is Cookhouse Joe. It’s simple, crooked and modal! What more can you ask for? In a short bio from Jeff Todd Titon’s book Old time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, one can glean a few tidbits about Bingham. He was born in 1899 and died in a car accident in 1990 at age 91. He was the youngest of thirteen children. He started learning fiddle at the age of seven and was initially taught gospel tunes to prevent rowdy behavior! He was recorded by Bruce Greene, a man who has given the world of old-time music more treasure than anyone I can think of. Thank you Bruce!! So here’s the fiddle lesson for Cookhouse Joe! Enjoy!

Estill Bingham’s Cookhouse Joe

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