The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #120609   Message #2630982
Posted By: Charley Noble
13-May-09 - 01:27 PM
Thread Name: Michigan Musically Revisited (2009)
Subject: RE: LYR.ADD: Jam at Chubby's Van, The
Here's another old favorite from the fertile mind of Joel Mabus, who was kind enough to track down the lyrics for me:

Words by Joel Mabus, © 1983
As recorded on Fairies and Fools, Rounder Records
Sung to the traditional tune "Jam At Gerry's Rocks"

The Jam at Chubby's Van

Come all you country fiddlers and listen unto me,
As I relate to you the tale as it was told to me,
About a brave young fiddler so stalwart and first-rate,
And of the jam at Chubby's van where he met his dreadful fate.

This fiddler's name was Johnny B., a lad well liked by all;
Some say he came from Canada, some say from Saginaw;
He fiddled for the contra dancers, likewise for the squares;
He had a feel for jigs and reels, both schottishes and slow airs.

'Twas the festival at Union grove in the year of seventy-three,
A man by the name of Chubby stepped up to Johnny B.;
"How do you, young fiddler, how would you like to go
And join the jam behind my van – come rosin up your bow!"

"Oh yes I'd like to go with you and fiddle for a while;
I've never played with Southerners, though I hear they've quite a style."
Chubby, he just gave a wink, and then he led the way
To join the jam behind his van where they all began to play.

There was guitar, banjo, a mandolin, two fiddles and a bass.
The first tune up was "Soldier's Joy" played at a frantic pace;
Johnny B could scarce keep up, then came the dreadful news
When Chubby told the boys, "Let's play that old 'Lee Highway Blues.'"

Now although this is a well-known tune it was new to Johnny B.
And all that Chubby told him was "It's in the key of D;"
The first part it seemed straight enough but the second part was not;
There seemed to be no melody – just licks both fast and hot.

"I am confused," said Johnny B. "I do not understand.
What brand of madness is this that you're playing with your band?"
"Why this here's bluegrass," Chubby said, "And I'll show you how to go
To play the music as 'twas meant by our forebear Bill Monroe."

"Forget about the melody, just play what's in your head
And if you cannot think that fast just play loud notes instead,
And if you want to learn that bluegrass lick, son, I'll show you the knack –
It's first you slide your finger up – and then you slide 'er back!"

This came as revelation to the likes of Johnny B.;
"I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see!
Forget about the 'Petronella,' likewise the 'Black Nag'
Let's play another chorus of that old 'Black Mountain Rag.'"

This is the last that anyone has heard of Johnny B.;
Some say he changed his name to "Slim" and moved to Tennessee;
Others say he's lost his mind – that I don't pretend to know
But somewhere he's playing bluegrass like his forebear Bill Monroe.

Charley Noble