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18. Yellow Gal

Recorded March 20, 1977 by Bruce Greene, this is perhaps the only time Hiram Stamper (1893-1992) played the tune on the fiddle. This was usually a banjo tune for Hiram, but was asked to play it on fiddle for this session. A yellow gal refers to light-skinned African American women celebrated in song and story throughout the history of music in America. The “Saturday night” verse was sung by Hiram after the tune was over. The “Standin' in the door” verse we borrowed from the African American duo Joe and Odel Thompson and their rendition of “Rain Crow.” Kentucky fiddler Santford Kelly also plays and sings a banjo tune by the same name, but with a different tune, indicating this is a floating title. Hiram Stamper's style normally has uneven parts separated by rhythmic interludes pervaded by an accent on the up bow, making accompaniment difficult and indicating the prevalence of a solo fiddle tradition in at least his part of the Appalachians. Stamper played his fiddle a step or two below modern pitch with a flattened bridge, allowing him to play three strings at once in the manner of Isham Monday. In this tune, the parts are nearly even, without the “crookedness” of most of his repertoire.

Chris' Civil War fiddle EBEB (GDGD)