The song of the week is 'Keep On The Sunny Side' in the key of G.
The chord progression that I use for the song is as follows:
for the verses and breaks:
for the chorus:
Note: Some play the first line of the chorus as: 1 1 4 4/1 and/or the last line of the chorus as: 1/4 1/5 1 1, or 1/4 5 1 1. But, as always, regardless of how you are most used to playing or hearing the song, follow the leader for the progression.
Here are some youtube links to listen to.
The Carter Family - key of B
This is the original recording of 'Keep On The Sunny Side'. Though it is pre-bluegrass (1928), it is likely still the most well-known recording of the song amongst dyed-in-the-wool bluegrassers, and has directly influenced many bluegrass versions of the song. As on most Carter Family records, all the breaks are played on guitar, and are played 'Carter-style', which means that the melody is carried on the bass strings, with chords being strummed on the treble strings between melody notes when there is time for them between the melody notes.
Although recorded in the key of B, the guitar is played here as if in the key of C. This means that each of the strings of the guitar were tuned down a half step when the song was recorded. It is common on old recordings for the instruments to be tuned either lower or higher than how we are used to tuning them. You might notice the odd timing between the end of the verses and the beginning of the choruses on this recording. The chorus starts a half measure earlier than what one would ordinarily expect. I don't recommend this way of playing the song (most of your fellow jammers will not appreciate it): most bluegrass versions of the song have the usual 2 measures of the '1' chord at the end of the verses that is so common in bluegrass songs.
Flatt and Scruggs - key of F
All the breaks are played on guitar, and in 'Carter-style'. Here the influence of the Carter Family recording is obvious.
With those in mind who wish to play a Carter-style break for this song similar to the ones on the recordings, I have included a guitar tab melody sheet written in the key of C: capo 7 to play in G. (Try also capo 2 to play in D, since Keep On The Sunny Side is also often played at the jam in D.)
Mac Wiseman - key of A
Here are some good examples of breaks being split between two instruments. This is good for recordings and band performances, but not something that is usually desirable to do at a jam, except on the occasional slow song, especially when both halves of the break have the same chord progression (which is not the case with Keep On The Sunny Side). Also notice how short the intro break is: it is based upon the last 4 measures of the chorus. When a break is this short, it is called a 'turnaround'. Once again, at a jam, it is usually best to play a complete break to intro a song. (A complete break means the length of the verse - in this case, as in most cases - 16 measures, not the length of a verse and chorus together.) However, since it is fairly common on recordings for Keep On The Sunny Side to begin with a turnaround, it would not be an odd thing to do to intro it this way at a jam. Having said that, I still don't recommend starting the song with a turnaround at the jam while it is the song of the month, for the turnaround intro tends to occur mostly in versions which use 1/4 1/5 1 1 or
1/4 5 1 1 as the last line of the chorus (and as the progression for the turnaround), and not so much in versions which use 1 5 1 1 as the last line of the chorus.
Instrumental Version: banjo, fiddle, dobro, guitar breaks: key of G
Here is a good source for ideas for breaks on banjo, fiddle, dobro, and guitar. Because this is an instrumental version, each break is the length of a verse and chorus put together. Keep in mind that in versions with vocals, it is far more common for breaks to be played only over the verse progression: at the jam, once you have played through the verse progression once for your break, your break is over: it is time either for more singing, or for the next person to start their break.
As is the case for most songs played at the jam, if you are working up an intro break for the song, it is best to stick close to the melody. Subsequent breaks need not follow the melody all that closely. For instance, one approach that I like to take for playing a (non-intro) break for 'Keep On The Sunny Side' is follow the melody closely for the first half of the break, and then to disregard the melody for the last half of the break, playing 'stock' licks I know that fit well over the 5511 progression that the last two lines of the verse progression consist of. Give it a try and see if you come up with something you like.
Here are the progressions for 'off-list' songs played at last night's jam, or at last week's intermediate jam, that deviate significantly from the progressions on the basic chord progressions chart:
The Carter Family - Keep on the sunny side
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Alison Krauss, Keep On The Sunny Side (50th Anniversary)
Yonder Mountain String Band - I Know You Rider
1 1 b7 4
1 1 1 1
1 1 b7 4
1 1 1 1
b3 b7b3 b7
1 1 1 1
Here are some excellent versions of various songs recently introduced into the new intermediate jam that I highly recommend taking a listen to:
In The Gravel Yard: Doyle Lawson: key of A
Leavin': James King: key of B
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms: Flatt & Scruggs: key of Bb.
Note: When played as a Bluegrass song, this is about how fast this song is when it is played 'up to speed'. To play this fast without tiring out and slowing down, economy of motion is a necessity, especially as it concerns the right hand. It also helps greatly if one eliminates any unnecessary 'clutter' from one's playing: e.g., upstroke strums on rhythm guitar between the four strongest spots in a measure, consecutive 8th notes on banjo in places where a quarter note played in place of a pair of 8th notes could be more effective for drawing attention to an important note.
Love Me Darling Just Tonight: The Stanley Brothers: key of A
Dooley: The Dillards: key of B
Big Sandy River: Kenny Baker: key of A
I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home: The Bluegrass Album Band: key of Bb
Ninety-Nine Years (And One Dark Day): Hot Rize: key of B
The G-Runners: key of A
Head Over Heels: Flatt & Scruggs: key of G
Jason's Intermediate Jam Blog 2017 - 2018
started as Beginner Jam in Jan 2015
Songs regularly called at Bluegrass Jams and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order