This week’s tune is called Oh, Dem Golden Slippers, an American folk song written by James A. Bland in 1879, some say as a parody of the spiritual Golden Slippers made popular by The Fisk University Jubilee Singers after the civil war. Here’s the original –

Doesn’t sound much like a fiddle tune, does it? Bland composed new lyrics and his version became more popular than the original and is now known as Golden Slippers at any old-time or bluegrass jam. Here it’s played bluegrass style, with each instrument playing the lead, or “taking a break” in turn –

And here it is with Bland’s lyrics –

Bland’s original sheet music can be found at the Library of Congress website, along with a huge collection of American music – do browse the archives!

Golden Slippers also happens to be the first song of Red Desert Fiddle’s Fabulous Fiddle Fundamentals lesson course. Lora teaches many ways to embellish this song as well as ways to play backup and ideas about improvising and change ups. It’s a lot to digest for a first fiddle lesson, and this tune won’t be played at a fiddle contest by me, but I’ve decided to make a little video just to prove that I do indeed scrape away on a fiddle on occasion. As played (imperfectly) on the Six Foot Fiddle

And again (imperfectly) on Brandon’s Amati copy

Which fiddle sounds better on your speakers?