Ida Red with Jamie Ferguson

One of the great things about playing old-time music is developing musical relationship with people from all over the country.  I think I first met Jamie in Pennsylvania at the Lake Genero Fiddling’ Bear festival.  Had an absolutely great late-night jam with her and a few other folks.  We played together at Clifftop in West Virginia a few years later as well.  This week she was traveling in the area and stopped by the school.  She’s a very talented fiddler- very musical and easy to follow.  We had never played this tune together before today.  The tune is Ida Red and was inspired by the fiddling of Ed Haley. Here’s some great info from the excellent musician Craig Edwards: “Started as an African American cargo loading song on the Ohio/Misssissippi Rivers. See Mary Wheeler’s “Steamboatin’ Days”, one of the great underutilized collections of American music. Long out of print, but you can find copies on Amazon for practically nothing. You’ll find a lot of old time and blues lyrics in their original forms- very cool material.”


I first played this tune with Canadian fiddler Glenn Patterson.  It was two in the morning and we were at Black Creek Fiddlers Reunion in Altamont New York.  I think I’d been playing for a dozen hours in the key of G.  I think the tune source was Kentucky fiddler Buddy Thomas.  Glenn said he learned it from a recording by Roger Cooper.

Every once in a while in the whirlwind of late night festival jams, a particular jam stands out.  For me this one was really memorable and still remains a favorite.  Glenn played a bunch of tunes that I didn’t really know but somehow they all seemed to work for me.  Over the next two hours we played about twenty-five tunes- I recorded most of them on my phone.  Some fiddlers present melodies in a way that just make sense to me.  I’ve been working on this one for a while and have quite a ways to go before I can play it smoothly.