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Old-Time TOTW #82: Morning Flower (1/19/20)

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Jan 19, 2020 - 2:30:55 PM
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301 posts since 7/31/2018

This week's tune is Morning Flower and comes from James "Ed" Haley (16 August 1883--3 February 1951) via Wilson Douglas (22 October 1922--10 March 1999). Since Douglas learned the tune from Haley, I will detail Haley's life here.

James "Ed" Haley was born in Logan Co., WV, and was the son of Thomas Milton "Milt" Haley (1856-1889) and Emazetta Jane Mullins (1868-?). A second source lists her name as Imogene. She was descended from "Money Makin' Sol" Mullins, a famous counterieiter. Ed's father was a fiddler, as was his grandfather, Benjamin R. Haley.

Haley was blind from the age of 3, due to an outbreak of measles. Local tradition blames his father for his blindness, as he reprtedly dipped his toddler son head-first into ice cold water when he was stricken with fever.

In September 1889, Milt Haley and Green McCoy were accused of shooting Al Brumfield and his wife in Lincoln Co., WV. On 24 October 1889, they were captured and murdered by a lynch mob. Haley's mother died on 11 October 1891, and he was then rasided by his maternal grandfather Jackson Mullins and uncle Peter Mullins. It was under their care that he began playing fiddle.

Haley grew up to be a professional fiddler who traveled throughout West Virginia, Ohio, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia. He had a large and varied repertoire of breakdowns, jigs, waltzes, and show tunes. He performed at square dances, fairs, fiddle contests, and on the streets. He didn't record professionally, as he was afraid the record companies would take advantage of him because he was blind. He did, however, make some studio recordings for his friends. As a young man, Wilson Douglas recalled meeting Haley when he came into town:

"I said, 'Mr. Haley you've played tunes for everybody, and I don't have no money. I'm saving up money to buy me a fiddle.' He laughed! I said 'How about you playing me a tune...I said play the Black-eyed Susie'...maybe somebody of these old farmers would come along...they'd say, 'Well, Ed, play me this tune,' and they'd hand him a dollar. Well, he'd play it fifteen minutes! They'd sit there with big tears, you know, and...they'd hand him another dollar. Well, he's play till the money ran out and he'd quit!"

Haley married Martha Ella Trumbo (1888-1954) on 1 July 1918. She was a blind piano teacher from Morehead, KY. She played mandolin and accordion and would often accompany her husband. Haley moved to Greenup, KY before he married.

Late in life, Haley made recordings for his family on a disc cutting machine. The recordings feature Ed, Ella, stepson Ralph (guitar),and daughter Mona (vocals). Ralph distributed the recordings among his siblings, and about one-half to one-third of them were released to Rounder Records. The remaining recordings are either lost, destroyed, or stil in the possession of family members.

Beginning in 1990, John Hartford began researching Haley and his music. He learned and recorded many of Haley's tunes on two albums. He collaborated with Brandon Kirk on a Haley book project from 1995 until Hartford's death in 2001. In March 2000, Smithsonian Magazine featured a story about their research, but the Haley manuscript remains unpublished. Haley was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in October 2015.
(All the above information from Ancestry and an entry contributed by Brandon Ray Kirk on FindAGrave)

According to Wilson Douglas, Haley sang lyrics to Morning Flower:

"Go little children, go and go; Down in the valley where the flowers grow."

It doesn't seem to be a widely played tune, but really deserves to be known more than it is. For our recording, I tuned to cross F (FCFC), and was joined by Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH), and Jeanie Creamer on guitar (Hocking Hills, OH).

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Jan 19, 2020 - 6:55:56 PM
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11224 posts since 9/23/2009

That's another one that you just never wanna see end...lol. Great tune, Paul. Thanks. I really liked it and y'all did a great job.

Jan 19, 2020 - 7:31:23 PM

301 posts since 7/31/2018

Thanks, Peggy, really appreciate it. I love the flow of this simple melody. Really deserves to be played more than it is. Maybe we can change that!

Jan 31, 2020 - 2:14:52 AM
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214 posts since 6/25/2007

Thanks for posting this, Paul! Nice job, and I like the way it sounds tuned low like that. I love this tune, but not many people play it, so it's nice to know you're spreading it around!

While my wife Maxine and I were visiting with my friend Rich Hartness in Greensboro, North Carolina in August of 2003, Rich, his partner Tolly, Maxine, and I recorded a number of tunes, with Maxine and I switching off on banjo. This was just for fun, not for a commercial recording, but those recordings bring back some lovely memories of music with dear friends. Rich and I recorded a version of this tune, learned from the Ed Haley recordings rather than from Wilson's recording. Ed Called it "Flower Of The Morning", and it's got a little tag on the high part that Wilson doesn't play.

Flower Of The Morning

Jan 31, 2020 - 4:13:04 AM

301 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Brendan Doyle

Thanks for posting this, Paul! Nice job, and I like the way it sounds tuned low like that. I love this tune, but not many people play it, so it's nice to know you're spreading it around!

While my wife Maxine and I were visiting with my friend Rich Hartness in Greensboro, North Carolina in August of 2003, Rich, his partner Tolly, Maxine, and I recorded a number of tunes, with Maxine and I switching off on banjo. This was just for fun, not for a commercial recording, but those recordings bring back some lovely memories of music with dear friends. Rich and I recorded a version of this tune, learned from the Ed Haley recordings rather than from Wilson's recording. Ed Called it "Flower Of The Morning", and it's got a little tag on the high part that Wilson doesn't play.

Flower Of The Morning

Love it, Brendan, thanks for sharing! I like that little extra bit and may start adding it. Did Haley play the B part four times, and were his parts reversed from what Wilson did? Just curious
Jan 31, 2020 - 5:17:31 AM

214 posts since 6/25/2007

quote:
Originally posted by FiddlerPaul71
quote:
Originally posted by Brendan Doyle

Thanks for posting this, Paul! Nice job, and I like the way it sounds tuned low like that. I love this tune, but not many people play it, so it's nice to know you're spreading it around!

While my wife Maxine and I were visiting with my friend Rich Hartness in Greensboro, North Carolina in August of 2003, Rich, his partner Tolly, Maxine, and I recorded a number of tunes, with Maxine and I switching off on banjo. This was just for fun, not for a commercial recording, but those recordings bring back some lovely memories of music with dear friends. Rich and I recorded a version of this tune, learned from the Ed Haley recordings rather than from Wilson's recording. Ed Called it "Flower Of The Morning", and it's got a little tag on the high part that Wilson doesn't play.

Flower Of The Morning

Love it, Brendan, thanks for sharing! I like that little extra bit and may start adding it. Did Haley play the B part four times, and were his parts reversed from what Wilson did? Just curious

 


Yes, Haley started the tune on the high part and ended with the low part. On the recording, he usually played the low part three times, and a few times only two, but never four. I just followed Rich's playing here. Rich definitely makes every tune his own - I call his the EnRiched versions! I love Wilson Douglas's playing of the tune as well, with his wonderful, evocative upbowing. Rich is an "upbow" fiddler as well, and I love his versions of Wilson's tunes.

I visited Wilson at his home in Maysel, WV in 1979, and he made a deep impression on me, not just his fiddling, but his warm personality and his philosophical approach to life. He was very generous and encouraging to this 25-year-old kid who was trying to soak up everything I could from my elders! I crossed paths with him several more times, at the Fiddle Tunes festival and at Clifftop, and got to play with him some each time, but I always regretted that I didn't get back to visit him at home again. Wilson was a big influence on me in ways that are hard for me to articulate, and I feel very fortunate to have connected with him.

Jan 31, 2020 - 2:40:58 PM
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3046 posts since 6/21/2007

Great tune! I picked it up from the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes.

Edited by - BanjoBrad on 01/31/2020 14:41:24

Jan 31, 2020 - 6:10:35 PM
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301 posts since 7/31/2018

Ahh, I hear ya, Brendan. With short parts, I often like to do the asymmetrical thing and repeat one of them 3 times.

Great story, great memories--thanks for sharing, Brendan!

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