The song of the week is 'Way Down Town' in the key of E.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Doc Watson - key of D
Tony Rice - key of D
Doc and Merle Watson - key of E
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of E (starts at 3:31)
Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys, IBA Open Mic, 6_25_19 - YouTube
Here are four youtube jam videos I have made for Way Down Town. In the one listed second, I am on guitar, and play the song in the key of E.
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
The chord progression for Way Down Town is:
This is Progression W10 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.
Notice that: 1) the progression starts with the 4 chord rather than the 1 chord; 2) the two halves of the progression are identical; 3) the chord changes occur consistently once every two measures; and 4) each line of the progression ends with 2 measures of the 1 chord.
In the key of E: 1=E, 4=A, 5=B
In the key of D: 1=D, 4=G, 5=A
In the key of C: 1=C, 4=F, 5=G
The notes that make up the E chord are: EG#B
The notes that make up the A chord are: AC#E
The notes that make up the B chord are: BD#F#
Together, these 7 notes make up the E major scale: (four sharps:) EF#G#ABC#D#.
An effective way to lead into a melody-based break for Way Down Town in the key of E is to play the same set of pickup notes that I have recommended in previous song of the week write-ups for Down The Road and Mama Don't Allow when played in the key of A:
E F# G# leading to A (the first melody note)
Key of E: 1 2 3 4
Key of A: 5 6 7 1
When Way Down Town is played in the key of E and Down The Road (or Mama Don't Allow) is played in the key of A, they share the same starting melody note (the A note), and the same starting chord (the A chord)
Transposed to the key of D (for Way Down Town) and G (for Down The Road/Mama Don't Allow): the pickups become:
D E F# leading to G (the first melody note)
Key of D: 1 2 3 4
Key of G: 5 6 7 1
Transposed to the key of C (for Way Down) and F (for Down The Road/Mama Don't Allow): the pickups become:
C D E leading to F (the first melody note)
Key of C: 1 2 3 4
Key of F: 5 6 7 1
Fiddle & Mandolin: Easy Double Stops
Notice that, in first position, in the key of E, the melody (see the files at the bottom of this write-up) is carried on only the 2nd and 3rd strings. It is convenient that the 1st string on the fiddle and on the mandolin is tuned to an E note, for both the E and the A chords contain that note. Therefore, the open first string can be played along with the melody notes that occur on the 2nd string during the E and A chord measures to create double stops.
Way Down Town has dead spaces in its melody on the 1 chord measures that occur at the ends of lines 2 and 4. These are the same spots where the dead spaces occur in I'll Fly Away, Mountain Dew, Nine Pound Hammer, Bury Me Beneath The Willow, Blue Ridge Cabin Home, Foggy Mountain Top, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, All The Good Times Are Past And Gone, and too many other songs on the song lists to name here. To fill up some of these dead spaces, try to make use of the simple E chord fill-in licks provided in the PDF file at the bottom of this write-up when playing your breaks and when playing backup if you do not already have fill-in licks in your repertoire of licks that work for playing over an E chord.
Banjo: Capo 2, Spike 9
I recommend that banjo players try to play this song with the capo on the 2nd fret and with the fifth string capoed, or spiked to a 'b' note, i.e., 9th fret, playing as if in the key of D. This way the melody can be located on the 3rd and 4th strings at the very same locations as is most common for melody notes for songs played in the key of G (or with a capo, A, Bb, etc.) See the banjo tab melody sheet at the bottom of this write-up.
Guitar: Capo 2 or 4
Guitar players will probably want to capo either to the second fret to play as if in D (1=D; 4=G; 5=A) or to the fourth fret to play as if in C (1=C; 4=F; 5=G). The latter option will work better for those who wish to play a Carter-style break for Way Down Town, but the first option lends itself more easily to the use of 'blue notes' (b3 and b7 notes: in the key of D, these notes are F's and C's: called b3 and b7 respectively because they are each a half step lower than the 3rd and 7th notes of the D Major Scale, namely F# and C# notes) which can also sound good when used in appropriate spots in breaks for this song. Therefore, I have included two melody sheets in guitar tab at the bottom of this write-up.
The set of lyrics that I sing for the chorus of Way Down Town are given on the melody sheets in the files at the bottom of this write-up.
The three verses I sing for the song begin as follows:
18 songs were played at last night's jam: 11 from the main list, 3 from the additional songs list, and 4 that are on neither list:
Down The Road - B
Foggy Mountain Top - G
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms - A
Lonesome Road Blues - G
A Memory Of You - A
Mountain Dew - A
New River Train - F
Nine Pound Hammer - A
Old Joe Clark - A
Way Down Town - E
Wreck Of The Old '97 - D
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Columbus Stockade Blues - Bb
Hand Me Down My Walking Cane - C
Bring Back My Blue Eyed Boy To Me - A
Home Sweet Home - D
O Susanna - G
You Are My Sunshine - A
Way Downtown - banjo tab
Way Downtown - mandolin tab
Way Downtown - guitar tab 1
Way Downtown - guitar tab 2
Way Downtown - melody in E
E Chord Fill-in Licks