Tune of the Month: Harvest Home
You may have heard Harvest Home played by Irish musicians in its original form, kind of slow and hornpipey. In Canada and the Northwest however, it’s taken on another life, as a lickety split - no holds barred hoedown. I first heard it this way by Saskatchewan fiddler Wally Bloom back in the 1970s in Eugene, OR. (See Wilson’s Clog, The Evergreen Fiddler: Vol II). In fact, Harvest Home is in that same family of tunes, along with the well-known ‘Cleveland Hornpipe.’ Thanks to Phil Williams’ recordings and to the wonders of youtube. I have enjoyed listening to former Idaho State Champion, Almon Manes, playing his version of this driving hoedown, as well as a number of other fine tunes.
Almon Manes was born in Clearwater, ID in 1923. When he wasn’t making gorgeous fiddle music, often with his wife, Virginia (National Ladies Division Champion), he could be found making fiddles, flying airplanes or working on his ranch. He and Virginia performed at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival and can be seen on an old clip, along with Clark Kessinger, Tex Logan and others.
Both Wally and Almon drew the bow in a simple down-up sawstroke using the occasional slur to get the down bow back on the down beat as necessary. While not the only approach, I find this helpful in getting the rhythm really cranking on a tune like this. Thanks to the Williamses, Phil and Vivian, and to the ‘Idaho Fiddler’ for information. The recording was made by Art Nation in 1962 at the Seattle World’s Fair.
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Stuart Williams, Music Editor
Updated November 1, 2011