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Here’s a web-only bonus tune of the month for January 2023 — a unique version of “Katy Hill” from Jim Herd (1919–2002). I don’t know anything about this tune except what the description on the YouTube video I learned it from says: it comes from the Herd family, which had settled in Tennessee prior to the Revolutionary War but moved to Missouri before Jim’s birth.

In the high part, I hear a similarity to the bluegrass hoedown I normally think of “Katy Hill” as (see the video below), but the low part bears only a passing resemblance, and I don’t think the common “Katy Hill” would work with the E minor chord I hear in this one. And then there’s the obvious crookedness, with only the first repetition of the low part containing an even number of beats.

The Traditional Tune Archive’s entry for Katy Hill refers to Jim Herd playing a four-part version, which this is not, so I’m left wondering if he played two different tunes he called Katy Hill, or if this recording was somehow mislabeled. In any case, I think it’s a great tune, and I’d love to hear it in circulation.

Here’s a fine performance of the other Katy Hill, for comparison:

–Josh

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