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What is 'Vestapol'?

Peter T. 16 Jan 00 - 02:25 PM
katlaughing 16 Jan 00 - 03:57 PM
Liz the Squeak 16 Jan 00 - 04:44 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 16 Jan 00 - 05:11 PM
Peter T. 16 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM
Mike Billo 16 Jan 00 - 07:01 PM
Stewie 16 Jan 00 - 07:46 PM
Peter T. 16 Jan 00 - 09:26 PM
Troll 16 Jan 00 - 09:31 PM
Abby Sale 16 Jan 00 - 10:44 PM
Barbara Shaw 17 Jan 00 - 08:59 AM
Brian Hoskin 17 Jan 00 - 08:59 AM
Jon W. 17 Jan 00 - 02:15 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 19 Jun 00 - 06:30 AM
Songster Bob 19 Jun 00 - 12:35 PM
Jack Campin 05 Apr 09 - 07:22 PM
Joe_F 05 Apr 09 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Apr 09 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Apr 09 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Apr 09 - 10:22 AM
Jack Campin 06 Apr 09 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Apr 09 - 06:29 PM
Cool Beans 06 Apr 09 - 07:18 PM
GUEST, Sminky 07 Apr 09 - 05:23 AM
Joe Offer 08 Apr 09 - 02:10 AM
Will Fly 08 Apr 09 - 02:35 AM
JedMarum 08 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,hewittville 08 Jun 09 - 07:00 PM
Bugsy 08 Jun 09 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,leeneia 09 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,GUEST mike 03 Oct 09 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,acalpin 20 Jan 16 - 05:52 AM
PHJim 21 Jan 16 - 01:22 AM
GUEST 21 Jan 16 - 11:22 AM
Will Fly 21 Jan 16 - 11:58 AM
PHJim 21 Jan 16 - 01:22 PM
Will Fly 21 Jan 16 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Tackleberry828 25 Jul 17 - 10:33 PM
The Sandman 26 Jul 17 - 06:30 AM
The Sandman 26 Jul 17 - 06:42 AM
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Subject: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 02:25 PM

the "origins of fingerpicking" thread reveals that an early parlour song "Vestapol" was so popular that it was used as a name for "open D" tuning. (1) What is a "vestapol"? (is it like Sebastopol in the Crimea?) The search engines are all clogged up with "vestapol videos" from S. Grossman.
(2) Is it a song with words?
(3) Anyone know any good recordings?

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 03:57 PM

Peter, I found a listing for it as a song by Elizabeth (Libba) Cotten on a reissue by Folkways, here, only on the album it is spelled Vastopol. Apparently it was Libba's distinctive style of guitar picking which then took the song name.

The album is Freight Train and other North Carolina songs #SF40009, CA40009 and CDNow had it for $12.99, BUT Dick Greenhaus at CAMSCO AND THE DT can probably get it for you, too!

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 04:44 PM

It may well be an abbreviation for Sevastapol, which was also spelled Sebastapol, for British readers who couldn't quite get the sound right. From the Crimea war, where we also get a lot of other words that people don't realise, like Balaclava and the girls' name Alma.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 05:11 PM

Pete Seeger and, later, the Limelighters recorded a Yiddish song about a town near Sevastopol where there was a Jewish collective farm: "Zhankoye"--could Libba Cotton's "'Vastopol" be a version of it? She, of course, worked as a maid for the Seeger family before they discovered her musical gifts. "Zhankoye" is a good swinging minor key tune that is well suited for fingerpicking--and the song begins in English: "If you go to Sevastopal..." and in Yiddish (this is phonetic transcription--I might have the Sing Out with Pete's transcription, but not easily to hand), "Ahs men fort kein Sevastopol..." and Libba could have taken her name for the tune from hearing the Seegers sing the song.

--seed(speculating idly as usual)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM

The "origins of fingerpicking" thread refers to "Vestapol" as being a song from the 1840's. That would predate the Crimean War (1850's) -- of course, that may just be a vague dating.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Mike Billo
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 07:01 PM

My understanding is that "Vestapol" is open G tuning, low to high DGDGBD. This is also called "Spanish" tuning (the vestapol tuned "Spanish Fandango" is in open G)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Stewie
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 07:46 PM

Hi, Peter.

In notes to 'OTM Transcription: Spanish Fandango', Tony Russell commented [cf Old Time Music#6 Autumn 1972, p12]:

Old time musicians know many guitar showpieces, but few are as widespread as 'Spanish Fandango'. Few, what's more, go back so far. The origin of 'Spanish Fandango' is uncertain, but it is clearly of the 19th century rather than the 20th century, belonging to the parlour tradition from which came, say, 'The Siege of Sebastopol'.

'The Siege of Sebastopol' was published in 1880, and it probably explains why rural musicians call open D tuning 'Sevastopol'. Similarly, 'Spanish Fandango' may provide the origin of 'Spanish' as a rural musician's regular term for open G tuning. 'Fandango' is commonly performed in open G.

Such theorising explains why the tune is so widely known - as theories about an actual Spanish origin do not.

I hope the above is of some use to you, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 09:26 PM

Thanks, Stewie. That clears up much (though it does show that Stefan Grossman's source is a little confused). Does anyone know if "Vestapol" is just an instrumental, or are there lyrics?
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Troll
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 09:31 PM

Don't know about lyrics. The great rocker, Bo Diddley, says that he first learned guitar in vastabol tuning. He lives near me. Nice guy and still rocking.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 10:44 PM

The non-"Zhankoye" theories seem more likely. Jewish settlement in the Crimea was much later. I did some looking of it up a few years back...

After the Russian Revolution, for the first time, Jews, considered incapable of farming and any kind of physical labor under the Tsar, were permitted to farm on collectives in the Soviet Union.

Dzankoye was the site of one such cooperative effort. This Yiddish song celebrates the joys of farming and the pleasure of thumbing one's nose at prejudicial stereotypes.

This also gave the "new" Rssians the opportunity to clense Russian soil of Jews and try to reestablish the Pale.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 08:59 AM

There's an old-time song on Reed Martin's album "Old Time Banjo" called Sylvester Poole, AKA Sevastopol. I posted a thread a year or so ago looking for the sheet music and never got any response. Is this the same song we're all talking about?


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 08:59 AM

I agree with Stewie. Just to add further explanation though, Sebastopol is a small town in Mississippi.

Brian


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Jon W.
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 02:15 PM

Vestapol tuning as taught by Stefan Grossman is open D tuning, not open G. If I remember right it is DADF#AD. There is a tune of the same name which Grossman got from Elizabeth Cotton's playing (and Pete Seeger may have also). There are no words associated with the piece that I know of. The piece is essentially a musical imitation of a train with whistle, bell, and the clacking rhythm of the wheels on the rails at a crossing. And I don't see where words would fit in. The name has always been a mystery to me but I bet it is more associated with the town in Mississippi than the city in the Crimea. However it's very possible that the piece takes its name simply from the tuning as explained by Stewie and not vice versa. The sheet music and guitar tablature for Grossman's version is in his "Play Country Blues Guitar" book.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 06:30 AM

I just looked up this old thread because I am working up a version of Vestapol to play in our local folk club someday and I though I should know the background.

I learned that "vestapol tuning" is the same as "open D".

The tune that Cotten plays as "Vestapol" is widely used by others. Furry Lewis uses it in several songs including "Big Chief". It appears in "That's No Way to Get Along" (I forgot by whom--Wilkins?). This leads me to think that perhaps the tune is older than the name.

I would be interested in any new information about the old song and the tune.

Murray


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 19 Jun 00 - 12:35 PM

The "Siege of Sevastopol," like "Spanish Fandango," was a set-piece, a "characteristic*" instrumental that parlor guitarists would learn from sheet music and use to show off. There were no words, and I double-doubt that it had ANYTHING to do with Jewish settlers in the Crimea, being a composed piece from a pop music writer.

* That term, "characteristic," was used to describe pieces of music which included "sound imitations" of things like cannons, trains, bugle calls, etc. A banjo piece that comes to mind was "Coal Creek March," the original of which -- if I recall -- had three movements, and included bugle calls, marching armies, etc. I suspect that the "Siege" had similar parts.

There are many hold-overs from the popularity of these two pieces, including the names of two popular open guitar tunings, DADF#AD and DGDGBD.

That's all there is to it.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:22 PM

There is a much-recorded Turkish song of the Crimean War, the Sebastopol March (Sivastopol Marsi), apparently written by Rifat Bey (1820-188). Sounds quite a bit like "Vestapol" to me. The Turkish tune could have been vectored by military bands, though I haven't looked for a Western arrangement of it.

A straightforward sung performance of the Sebastopol March: Ruhi Su

With added drums, shawms and jingoism: Turkish military band performance.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:34 PM

There's also a Sebastopol in California (not, it turns out, going back to the Russian colonization as I had thought), a couple in Australia, and one in Wales!


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:02 AM

Some years back I traced the roots of this Sevastopol/Vastopol open tuning thing to:

"Sebastopol." Descriptive Fantaisie composed by Henry Worrall.
Published in separate versions for piano, banjo, and guitar
Boston, Oliver Ditson Co. 1888. Also published by C.H. Ditson in New York, J.E. Ditson in Philadelphia, Lyon and Healy in Chicago and John C. Haynes & Co. (also) in Boston.

No doubt it was also published in other places by other companies, for this was a very widespread and popular stage piece. It does indeed refer to the Crimean town and its role in the Crimean war, and uses harmonics, bugle effects, etc. to evoke stirring sounds of battle in performance.

(Interestingly the arrangement for banjo was done by banjo pioneer/craftsman S.S. Stewart.)

The sheet music gives the guitar tuning for "Sebastopol" as (low to high strings) D A D F# A D. The sheet music adds a direction for the guitarist to "Finger as if tuned in the ordinary manner."

The piece is without words. In tone it is a stage bravura piece, of the sort that used to be learned by advanced students for recitals. Because it was both formidable to play and relied on passages that weren't especially down-to-earth, the piece as written never passed into tradition.

But the open tuning caught fire and circulated among pickers almost at once, and there must have been enough performances by guitarists to get the name into circulation. Certainly by the 1920s "Sevastopol" (spelled thus by then) alternated with "Spanish" tuning (D G D G B D) as the most popular for both chord and slide guitarists who favored open tunings.

The placename Sebastopol meant little or nothing to most guitarists who, as years went on, had barely heard of Crimea or that war. Thus the word got bent into all kinds of shapes, Vestopol, Vastopol, Bestapol, etc., and the pronunciations would crack you up.

By the time I learned the tuning in the 1950s, nobody I knew called it anything but "Open D" --- just as the Spanish tuning (so called because it was used for Spanish Fandango) had become "Open G."

So far as I know there never was a standard traditional guitar piece called "Sevastopol" or any derivative. Libba Cotten's is one by that name, but over time I've heard people play various tunes called that. In short the name refers to the tuning, not the tune.

Bob


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 09:57 AM

One further note:

It's an unanswered question whether the "Open D" tuning originated with the 1888 "Sebastopol" or existed before then.

Anyone have evidence of use of open D guitar tunings BEFORE 1888?

The same thing can be said with respect to "Open G" and "Spanish Fandango." I know of no traces of the American guitar/banjo pieces called "Spanish Fandango" (there are at least two) much earlier than the 1920s.

It's true that fandangos as a dance genre go back well into the 19th century. However, our native "Spanish Fandangos" bear no resemblance to genuine Spanish fandangos. They are southern American instrumentals, whose source I don't know.

(In fact, I have known my version of "Spanish Fandango" so long I have no idea where I learned it -- talk about the mists of history.)

It would be worthwhile investigating the earliest history of both these widely popular open tunings, because they provided, among other things, the foundations for country and blues slide guitar as well as open fingerpicked styles. Off the top of my head here's a capsule outline for research:

You'd have to take into account the Portuguese cowboys who went to work in Hawaii punching cows, and brought open guitar tunings with them, which became the roots of:

1, The phenomenally popular "Hawaiian guitar" slide style beginning in the early twentieth century and fostered by such widely popular duos as Ferera and Francini. (Chinese restaurants, whose cuisine also developed in Hawaii I believe, commonly featured Hawaiian slide guitar musicians and spread the music that way -- it was also a hit I think at one of the World Expositions at the start of the 20th century.)

2. The lovely fingerpicking equivalent known as "slack key," enormously influential especially after 1940, based on open tunings. Since "Spanish Fandango" strongly resembles slack key playing, it may have originated there.

In Mississippi W.C. Handy reported hearing a slide guitar bluesman playing in a railroad station -- I think in 1903 (could be off by a year or two) -- the earliest such I know of. (Some have speculated it could have been a young Charlie Patton.) Slide blues of course used both open D and open G, and guitar bluesmen not only used the slide, but picked in open tunings too. (Some slide bluesmen began on a one-string instrument using an unraveled broomstick wire, but they soon graduated to the guitar.)

So if you go back far enough, you should find a ferment of activity using open tunings, perhaps sometime in the 1890s. As for anything before 1888, it's certainly a possibility that deserves a closer look.

But


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:22 AM

Just to correct the signature to the above: that was really me, not the previously unknown fellow named But, who came out through my uncontrolled fingers.

And here's an idea about "Spanish" tuning. It tunes the top four strings of the guitar like the standard "G" banjo tuning. (Just as "Sevastopol" tunes the top four strings of the guitar like the banjo tuning I know as "Straight D.")

That suggests that these guitar tunings may originally have been borrowed from banjo tunings popular in the 1880s or before. Seems likely enough, since banjo pickers have long been accustomed to use dozens of alternate tunings, whereas relatively few guitarists ever tune outside of standard EADGBE.

I don't know how far back "Straight D" can be traced, but the standard G tuning for the banjo dates well back into minstrel show days. Should we then be looking in minstrel show history for the origins of these tunings that later got transferred to the guitar, perhaps by musicians who played both and (as I've been accused of more than once) tended to find themselves blurring banjo styles over into guitar and vice versa?

Bob (Mr. But also says hello.)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 01:39 PM

Worrall's "Sebastopol" is unknown to the Lester Levy Sheet Music Archive.

Is it on-line anywhere?


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 06:29 PM

See the sheet music at Maine Music Box here:

http://mainemusicbox.library.umaine.edu/musicbox/pages/imagesequence2.asp?id=KAS_002209&seq=1&full=0

Bob


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 07:18 PM

Coincidentally, Elizabeth Cotten played a tune called "Spanish Flang Dang" in an open tuning. It may be your "Spanish Fandango." "Vastapol" and "Spanish Flang Dang" are on the same Elizabeth Cotten Folkways album.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 05:23 AM

the Crimea war, where we also get a lot of other words that people don't realise, like Balaclava and the girls' name Alma.

ahem.......my Gt Grandfather's middle name was Alma. He was born in the same year as the battle (1854). He loathed the name.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 02:10 AM

You can hear Elizabeth Cotten play "Vastopol" at last.fm (click).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 02:35 AM

I first heard a version of Vestapol from an American guitar player on the radio about 40 years ago - no idea who he was. A friend of mine taped it on a cheap little reel-to-reel machine with a mic held next to the radio speaker.

I've played it ever since then but had no idea, for many years, that it was in an open tuning, and was trying - without realising it - to imitate the open tuning sound!

I still play it that way, and it was one of the very first videos I ever posted on YouTube. You can see it, if you're interested (and the video quality is pretty crappy) at: Vestapol.

I really can't be bothered to learn it in any other tuning after all these years...


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: JedMarum
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM

Vestapol refers to the chord voicing, not necessarily the Key. The most common chord played in Vestapol tuning is D Major, so your tuning is: D-A-D-F#-A-D or E Major, so your tuning is E-B-E-G#-B-E.

But it is the relationship between the open strings (or the voicing of the chord) that is described rather then Key that the term defines.

I don't know about the origins of the word. Here are two webpages with more info:

ONE

TWO


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,hewittville
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 07:00 PM

According to the Wichita Kanssas Eagle, 5/25/09 information from the Kansas Historical Society states that a guitar piece called "Sevastopol" by Henry Worrall was published in 1855 and he sold the copyright for $15. He also composed "Spanish Fandango" in 1866. He was born in Liverpool, moved to the U.S. when he was 10. He studied music in Cincinnati Ohio and learned to play more than 20 musical instruments. He moved to Ks. in 1868 where he earned a reputation as an artist. His work appeared on the cover of the ATSF railroad magainze, in Harper's Weekly etc. He also made a large wood carving of the seal of Ks and the state's products that was exhibited at the Centennial expo at Philadelphia in 1876. Quite a talented gent!


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Bugsy
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 09:15 PM

You're all wrong. "Vestapol" was a brand of paint popular in England in the '50s.


cheers

Bugsy


(Don't worry, I'm already halfway out the door)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM

Thanks for the link, Will Fly. After all this discussion, I wanted to hear how the song sounds.

You do a good job.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,GUEST mike
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 06:59 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TPn6ZVKlwE


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,acalpin
Date: 20 Jan 16 - 05:52 AM

Vestapol is another name for the original song "That's no way to get along" by Robert Wilkins.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 01:22 AM

Here is John Fahey's version of "Siege Of Sevastopol" played in open D (Vastopol) tuning. John Fahey's Siege Of Sevastopol
Here's Norman Blake's version of "Spanish Fandango" played in open G (Spanish) tuning. Norman Blake's Spanish Fandango
Here's Libba Cotten's version of "Spanish Flang Dang" played in open G (Spanish) tuning. Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flang Dang
Here's Libba's version of Vestopol.
Elizabeth Cotten's Vestopol


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 11:22 AM

Here's a YouTube where Stefan Grossman gives a lesson on open tunings, with history, and in a NE US accent. I mention the accent so you will understand, for example, that "pawlah" is "parlor."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdY8CsSrmmU
=============
He seems surprised that 19th-C parlor music made it into guitars in the hands of black Americans. Hello? They worked together, and black people were servants in white homes. They heard, they liked, they learned.

Now I'm going to see if I can find Spanish Fandango online.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 11:58 AM

I posted a version of this tune (recorded by me in 2006) to this thread in 2009. The video sounded and looked pretty rubbishy, so I re-recorded it in 2011, with some variations.

This later version, like the first, is simply played in standard tuning in the key of D. I just can't be bothered to de-tune and re-tune my guitars these days - too lazy!

Vestapol#2


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 01:22 PM

What a great version Will! Lovely variations.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 01:32 PM

Thanks mate!


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: GUEST,Tackleberry828
Date: 25 Jul 17 - 10:33 PM

Anybody know "Lonesome Road Blues"?
I first heard it by Flatt & Scruggs.
I think it's the same tune as Vastapol, which makes sense with it possibly being an old banjo reel.

Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 17 - 06:30 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4dgyx9Q850
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4dgyx9Q850 typical earl scruggs how to mess a good tune up, technically brilliant but no gaps in the music


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Subject: RE: What is 'Vestapol'?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jul 17 - 06:42 AM

in my opinion earl was a much more sensitve guitarist than bamjo player, in my opinion his banjo playing was a bit mechanical, but here is some lovely guitar playinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA6jWj0bTi8


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