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Cluck Old Hen

There are a number of variants of this modal tune. I first heard Cluck Old Hen played and sung by the Bogtrotters, aka Wade, Crockett and Fields Ward, recorded by John Lomax in 1937. However, my ear was recently caught by a different variant played by Alison Krauss and Union Station. There are two AKUS recordings of Cluck Old Hen. For the basic melody I listened to Ron Block's opening banjo break on the Every Time You Say Goodbye CD. Cluck Old Hen is also on the more recent Live double CD and DVD, in fact it is used as a theme tune for the DVD.

The AKUS version is a wonderful instrumental with plenty of drive, but don't take it too fast, about half note (crotchet) = 126 bpm. Although the tab is fairly simple, you'll need to get the slides just right, and keep the double stops ringing out. The break has something of a clawhammer banjo feel and (I like to think) a bit of Mike Compton style. Then for a real challenge go to CoMando for an interpretation of Adam Steffey's mandolin break on the I've Got That Old Feeling CD!


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