Blue Ridge Cabin Home
The song of the week is 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home' in the key of A.
Flatt and Scruggs - key of Bb. This is the original recording of 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home'. It is in the key of Bb instead of A only because all the instruments were tuned a half-step higher than standard.
For a more recent recording of Blue Ridge Cabin Home, here is one of my favorites:
The Bluegrass Album Band - key of Bb
In many Bluegrass circles, the Bluegrass Album Band (Tony Rice - guitar, vocals; J.D. Crowe - banjo, vocals; Doyle Lawson - mandolin, vocals; Bobby Hicks - fiddle; Todd Phillips - bass) version of Blue Ridge Cabin Home, released in 1981, has replaced the 1950s Flatt & Scruggs version as the primary point of reference for the song.
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of Bb
Jason Homey and the Snake River boys, IBA Open Mic, 10_22_19 - YouTube
Here are four youtube jam videos I have made for Blue Ridge Cabin Home. I recommend starting with the one listed first. In that one, I am on guitar, and am playing in the key of A.
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
The Bluegrass Album Band
Listening over and over again to the set of records recorded by Tony Rice, J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, etc., under the name 'The Bluegrass Album Band' was a big help to me when I was first learning to play bluegrass in the early '90's.
Here are my other favorites, besides Blue Ridge Cabin Home, on the first of the Bluegrass Album Band records:
Molly & Tenbrooks
We Can't Be Darlings Anymore
On My Way Back To The Old Home
Gonna Settle Down
..and my favorites from the second record:
Your Love Is Like A Flower
Your Love Is Like A Flower - YouTube
Take Me In The Lifeboat
Take Me In The Lifeboat - YouTube
Back To The Cross
Back To The Cross - YouTube
Just When I Needed You
Just When I Needed You - YouTube
Is It Too Late Now
Is It Too Late Now - YouTube
I'll Never Shed Another Tear
I'll Never Shed Another Tear - YouTube
The chord progression for Blue Ridge Cabin Home is:
(Progression W8 on the Basic Chord Progressions chart. In the key of A: 1=A, 4=D, 5=E. In the key of Bb: 1=Bb, 4=Eb, 5=F. In the key of G: 1=G, 4=C, 5=D.)
Notice that both halves of the progression are identical with each other, and that the 4 chord is always followed by the 5 chord without the 1 chord intervening between them.
Other very jam friendly songs that use the same chord progression, include:
A Few More Seasons.
I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes
Is It Too Late Now (A recording of this song is included in the 'Bluegrass Album Band' section of this song of the week email.)
The Prisoner's Song
She's Gone, Gone, Gone
Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong
We Can't Be Darlings Anymore (A recording of this song is included in the 'Bluegrass Album Band' section of this song of the week email.)
We'll Meet Again Sweetheart
Starting the Song
On the classic recordings of Blue Ridge Cabin Home, the song begins with a banjo intro break that is based squarely upon the melody for the verses of the song, and that is how the song is usually started at bluegrass jams. The pickup measure played on the banjo on the recordings before the first measure proper of the song consists of a half-note pinch (double-stop or triple-stop lasting for half a measure) on the open 1st (3rd) and 5th strings, followed by two quarter-note pickup notes: open 4th string, then open 3rd string, which leads into the 2-4 or 2-3 slide on the 3rd string that the first measure proper of the break starts with. This is the way that I like to start the song, but at jams, if I feel uncertain that enough people are familiar with how the song starts on the recordings, I will often play a more generic set of pickup notes, so that the song has a better chance of getting off to a strong start with everyone coming in at the right time, like the pickup phrases I recommended using to lead into breaks for the previous songs of the week 'My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains', 'Beautiful Brown Eyes', 'I'll Fly Away', and 'All The Good Times Are Past And Gone'.
In ascending order of pitch, the notes that make up the melody of Blue Ridge Cabin Home are:
sol la ti do re mi sol
5 6 7 1 2 3 5
Key of G: D E F# G A B D
Key of A: E F# G# A B C# E
Key of Bb: F G A Bb C D F
Key of B: F# G# A# B C# D# F#
Key of C: G A B C D E G
Key of D: A B C# D E F# A
Key of E: B C# D# E F# G# B
Key of F: C D E F G A C
Notice that the 4th note of the Major Scale (fa; a C note when in the key of G, a D note when in the key of A, an Eb note when in the key of Bb, etc.) is absent from the melody.
On the first 4 chord measure in lines 1 and 3 (i.e., measure 3 of lines 1 and 3), the 2nd note of the scale (a B note when in the key of A; an A note when in the key of G, etc.) is dwelt on, even though this note does not belong to the 4 chord. To see the melody sheets for Blue Ridge Cabin Home, scroll down to the files given at the end of this song of the week write-up.
(In the key of A, the 4 chord is a D which consists of the notes D, F#, A; in the key of G, the 4 chord is a C which consists of the notes C, E, G). The melody note, when added to the chord, creates a 6th chord. The melody note is the root note of the relative minor chord of the 4 chord. The relative minor chord of the 4 chord is the 2m chord. (Bm in the key of A; Am in the key of G.) This note (the 6th, relative to the root note of the chord; B relative to D on a D chord, A relative to C on a C chord, etc.) is the fourth most common note for a melody to dwell on. Of all the notes that are other than the 3 notes that make up a major chord, adding the 6 creates the least degree of dissonance with the notes, considered collectively, of the major chord.)
Also notice the prominence of the 7th note of the major scale (ti) in the melody during the 5 chord measures. This is the 3rd of the 5 chord (the G# note in the E chord when in the key of A, the F# note in the D chord when in the key of G, etc.). Compare this with the melody of Little Birdie during the first two of its 5 chord measures, and with the melody of Bury Me Beneath The Willow in its last 5 chord measure (2nd measure of line 4). The melody sheets and song of the week write-ups for the 19 previous songs of the week for the jam, including Little Birdie and Bury Me Beneath The Willow, can be found at:
Idaho Bluegrass Association - Beginner Bluegrass Jam Songs
The two spots in the verses, choruses, and breaks where a fill-in lick will fit (both of these spots are during '1' chord measures) are identical with the spots in which fill-in licks will fit into the previous songs of the week on the '1' chord: 'Nine Pound Hammer', 'Little Birdie', 'I'll Fly Away', and 'Way Down Town'. That is, at the ends of lines 2 and 4, starting in measure 3 of those lines. In the attachments I have included a chart of simple A chord fill-ins for fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo.
At jams, over the years, I have noticed that some people, when singing harmony, (and occasionally even a person leading the singing on the song) fail to notice that the last line of the chorus uses the word 'mountain' rather than 'cabin'. This may be because the title of the song is 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home', rather than 'Blue Ridge Mountain Home'. But I have also heard people at jams call the title of the song incorrectly also, and perhaps this is due to the last line of the chorus having the words 'Blue Ridge mountain home' in it, and because nowhere in the song do the four words 'Blue Ridge cabin home' occur back to back, although the word cabin does occur in one of the verses (the beginning of the third verse).
For the longest time, I experienced great difficulty remembering how either the second verse or the third verse started when leading the singing on the song at jams, and it would often happen that I would sing the first half of the third verse and the second half of the second verse as my second verse, and then not be able to remember the remainder of the lyrics, so as be able to put a third verse together. In observing, and in speaking to others about this, it would seem to me that this is a common problem that people experience with this song.
Therefore, when I first introduced Blue Ridge Cabin Home into the beginner jams within the first year after moving to Boise, I created a cheat sheet for myself, that had written on it the beginning of both the first and the third lines of the second and third verses of Blue Ridge Cabin Home, and I had this taped to my guitar for several months before I removed it because I felt I no longer needed to glance at it near the end of the break before starting to sing the next verse.
An alternative to taping a small print cheat sheet on your instrument (which works well only on guitar and bass), is to create a large print cheat sheet that you can place on the floor in front of you. In the attachments, I have given an example of what such a cheat sheet for Blue Ridge Cabin Home might look like.
The first melody note of the first full measure of the chorus (just like for the verses) is the 3rd of the 1 chord (C# note when in the key of A, B note when in the key of G, etc.) "Oh I love..." Therefore, the corresponding note that is dwelt on here in the tenor harmony part is the 5th of the chord (E note when in the key of A, D note when in the key of G, etc.), and the corresponding note that is dwelt on here in the baritone harmony part is the root note of the chord (A note when it in the key of A, G note when in the key of G, etc.).
Observe, in listening to the recordings, that the melody for the chorus (especially in the first and third lines) is different than the melody for the verses, and that the phrasing of the lyrics is different in the chorus than in the verses. The melody sheets provided here at the bottom of this write-up give the melody for the first verse, for when the melody of the chorus differs from the melody of the verses of a song, melody-based breaks on the instruments usually take their cues from the verse melody, rather than the chorus melody. So, in this case, the melody sheets given here should not be used as a reference point for finding the harmony parts for the chorus.
16 songs were played at last night's jam: 11 from the main list, and 5 from the additional songs list:
All The Good Times Are Past And Gone - A
Angeline The Baker - D
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Boil The Cabbage Down - A
Down The Road - B
Gathering Flowers From The Hillside - G
A Memory Of You - A
Old Joe Clark - A
Soldier's Joy - D
Way Down Town - F
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - A
Jambalaya - D
Liberty - D
Light At The River - A
Mountain Dew - A
O Susanna - A
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - banjo tab
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - guitar tab
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - mandolin tab
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - melody in A
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