Tag: favorite tunes

favorite tunes

John Reischman: A Prairie Jewel – A Beautiful Tune…

I am currently reviewing a list of songs and tunes that I have collected for my band Blackberry Jam. A beautiful instrumental for the mandolin is A Prairie Jewel by John Reischman. John Reischman is one of the best sounding mandolin players that I know. His album North of the Border belongs to my all time favorite mandolin albums.

John Reischman : A Prairie Jewel

“A Prairie Jewel” is from John Reischman’s exquisite 2013 release, “Walk Along John”. His website is http://www.johnreischman.com “One of the most tasteful and accomplished mandolinists anywhere.” – Acoustic Musician

A live video of A Prairie Jewel can be found on the website of Peghead Nation:


My version as a Mandolin & Guitar duet:

I have not found any TABs for this tune, but as it is a slow tune it is easy to learn from the videos.

Chord Chart:

Buy John Reischman – Walk Along John (Amazon partnerlink)

Another great album by John Reischman – one of my favorite albums:

North of the Border



favorite tunes

Sugar in the Gourd – A great fiddle tune

Today I have played some tunes from Butch Baldassari’s book 30 Fiddle Tunes for Mandolin Taught by Butch Baldassari – including a tune named “Sugar in the Gourd” which was fun to play.

I have looked for some youtube videos and found some great performances of this tune as well as some very old recordings like the following recorded in 1930:

SUGAR IN THE GOURD by Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers with Riley Puckett and Clayton McMichen. Recorded in 1930. Good, old timey foot stompin’ hillbilly music. Enjoy!


Sugar in the Gourd is an oldtime tune, but it is also a tune that can be played in a bluegrass style. It is mostly played by the fiddle, the other instruments are mostly playing the acompaniment.

I recommend that you listen to my playlist and select your favorite version of the tune. The tune is a fast tune, a good tune to practice speed.

Sugar in the gourd was the song of the week in the Mandolin Cafe in May 2012 – in the thread about this tune you can find more information and other videos with mandolins.

Playlist “Sugar in the Gourd”

Sheet music

I can recommend the Butch Baldassari book – the tunes are all great to play and the CD that comes with the book helps to play the tunes properly.

You can find some free sheet music links for Sugar in the Gourd in my link collection sugar in the gourd

“30 Fiddle Tunes for Mandolin Taught by Butch Baldassari” (amazon partnerlink)


A Bowl of Bula – One of Mark O’Connor’s…

I have recently listened to several videos with a tune for mandolin composed by Mark O’Connor – – A Bowl of Bula.

Mark O’Connor is today mainly known as a violin player and teacher. He has recorded many great CDs, including Appalachia Waltz which he recorded together with bass player Edgar Meyer and cello player Yo-Yo Ma.

Until 1997 Mark O’Conner did also play the mandolin and the guitar, but then he had to stop this due to problems with his health.

In 1984 he composed A Bowl of Bula:

One of Mark O’Connor’s mandolin signature pieces! “A Bowl of Bula”

Mark O’Connor’s mandolin playing in this video from 1991 features the deft dexterity of both hands and powerfully loud strumming. O’Connor wrote this mandolin piece in 1984 while in Figi. To hear a group version of this song, link here to a 1987 video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxe7ugrRZZo

O’Connor became the World Mandolin Champion in Kerrville, TX as a teenager in 1982.

Mark plays violin exclusively as of 1997, giving way to a bursitis and tendonitis condition in his right arm that would not allow him to play the mandolin or guitar any further at his top form. But the condition allows Mark’s violin bow arm technique to operate free from injury, with no hindrance.


Mark O’Conner has provided two youtube videos with performances of A Bowl of Bula, a solo version and a version with a complete band with Bela Felck (banjo), Jerry Douglas (dobro), guitar and bass.

I have looked for other versions of this great mandolin tune and I have found several very interesting videos.

A great version of A Bowl of Bula has been filmed by the  Saline Fiddlers, the fiddle group has also made a great choreography for the performance:

Gilles Rézard plays a solo mandolin version on his Absynthe mandolin built by Hervé Coufleau:

Head for the Hills with Michael Chappell on the mandolin is a great young band that plays the tune with a lot of energy:




Finally this is a great version played by some Berklee students, together with Mark O’Connor and John McGann who died very early this year:

Mark O’Connor concert, December 2009, Berklee Performance Center, featuring students and faculty in the American Roots Program.

Cast includes Mark O’Connor on fiddle, John McGann on octave mandolin, and many incredible students including Jacob Jolliff, Sierra Hull, Eric Robertson (mandolins), Courtney Hartman, Julian Lage (guitars), Noam Wiesenberg (bass).

Solos: John McGann (octave mandolin), Sierra Hull (mandolin), Courtney Hartman (guitar), Jacob Jolliff (mandolin), Julian Lage (guitar), Eric Robertson (mandolin), Mark O’Connor (fiddle)

Composition © Mark O’Connor

 Playlist “A Bowl of Bula”


Additional Information

Website Saline Fiddlers: http://www.salinefiddlers.com/

Website MarkO’Connor: http://markoconnor.com/

New Blog von Mark O’Connor: http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.de/

Website Head for the Hills: http://headforthehillsmusic.com/live/

Website Gilles Rézard: http://www.gillesrezard.com/

Website Hervé Coufleau: http://www.creationgo.net/coufleauguitars/

Appalachia Waltz (amazon partnerlink)

aa mandolin guitar

Lonesome Fiddle Blues – One of my favorite tunes

During the last weeks I have learned the Lonsome Fiddle Blues, a tune composed by Vassar Clements. I like to play this tune very much, and we are going to play it with my bluegrass band too.

I have first heard the Lonesome Fiddle Blues in a youtube video where Sierra Hull – aged 10  –  played this together with Sam Bush in a Woodsongs Radio Show in 2002. The video had been removed from youtube, but it is available again now:

Sierra Hull & Sam Bush – Lonesome Fiddle Blues

An historical artifact in the (early) career of the finest bluegrass mandolinist working today… besides Sam Bush. This gem from 2002 shows the emerging talent of a very young Sierra Hull at age 10, performing for a weekly music radio show in Lexington, KY

The introduction of Sierra Hull at 2:39 and the Lonesome Fiddle Blues starts after 4:50

Sheet music for Lonesome Fiddle Blues

A very good resource for sheet music for guitar and mandolin and some usefull playalong Files:http://www.bluegrassbooksonline.com/february06lesson.htm

Another source for the sheet music – although the accidentals for the middle part are missing. The middle part should be in d major (2 #)  and a major (3 #)  (chord sequece G D E7 A7). If you add the accidentals you can use this version: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/bluegrass-songbook/006218.HTM

I have added many version in my following playlist, with a preference of versions including the mandolin:

Playlist Lonsome Fiddle Blues