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Oct 3, 2021 - 6:37:59 AM
443 posts since 7/31/2018

Old-Time TOTW #171 is Mississippi Palisades from Lynn "Chirps" Smith. He was born in Illinois in 1953 and moved to Wisconsin in 2009.

Chirps began playing mandolin around 1972/1973 and started on fiddle and banjo a short time later. He played with the Indian Creek Delta Boys and learned a lot from Garry Harrison and many of the older fiddlers they encountered. Smith moved to Chicago and began playing mandolin for dances with The Polecats along with Mark Gunther on fiddle, Fred Campeau on Banjo, John Terr on guitar and Tony Scarimbolo or Moe Nelson on bass. Eventually, that band ended up growing to be the Volo Bogtrotters because Fred and Chirps wanted to play more fiddle. In 1984, Chirps moved to Grayslake, Illinois, where he lived until his departure to Wisconsin in 2009.

Lynn's well-known nickname "Chirps" comes from his days of playing with Indian Creek Delta Boys. A local newspaper wrote a short article about them. The reporter made mention of a "chirping mandolin." Garry had nicknames for just about everyone (sometimes more than one), and Lynn's nickname was born. Lynn jokingly likes to think the nickname also involves what bluegrass mandolinists call "chops" for the rhythm chords. He usually played the melody along with Garry and not many chords--ie. "chirps."

Chirps made Mississippi Palisades on his banjo with minstrel style strings that he keeps in the G equivalent of open C tuning (which is, from the 5th string: EGDGB). He first recorded the tune as a banjo/fiddle duet on 7 April 2004 for "Chirps' Home Recordings, Vol. 2," CHR-02 (2004).

Chirps told me the tune was named for Mississippi Palisades State Park along the Mississippi River, near Savanna, IL. He says "It's a beautiful park with tall cliffs (AKA palisades). There are many areas of cliffs on the upper Mississippi River...I was just messing around with the banjo and that tune came out. I'm sure it is informed by all the other hundreds of tunes I know, but no particular one comes to mind."

All the information here and the photos in the video came directly from Chirps, and I'd like to thank him for answering all my questions about him and the tune and for the great correspondence we've had.

Chirps' website is:

Joining me is friend Stephen Rapp on banjo from Kent, OH. Stephen has a YouTube channel that you can subscribe to as well:

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I have lots of great tunes in store for y'all in upcoming episodes of Old-Time TOTW. This month I am featuring "newer" tunes, so Stay Tuned! 

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 10/03/2021 16:33:44

Oct 3, 2021 - 9:27:58 AM

5501 posts since 9/26/2008

Stephen used this tune for BHO tune of the week a couple weeks back. Fun one!


I see there are a couple of  ??  at the end there. My guess is that you used an emoji. This site only allows the emojis available in the "rich text" posting, and even those can wind up with a string of question marks following them if you don't just leave them at the end of the post. smiley

Edited by - ChickenMan on 10/03/2021 09:31:15

Oct 3, 2021 - 4:32:56 PM

443 posts since 7/31/2018

Hey Billy, yeah, I did use the rich text option, but I'm sure I still did something wrong!

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