Watercolor and Egg Tempera Paintings
Paula works in two water-based medias, watercolor and egg tempera. Egg tempera is basically watercolor with an egg yolk binder added to it so it is a bit easier to work with. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get the egg yolk off your plate? That is the principle behind egg tempera. Unlike watercolor which is always moving around. She paints with Sennelier pre-mixed egg tempera from France. In the slideshow below are some of the stories behind the musical titles. Enjoy.
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Artist: Paula McHugh
Inspired by the Titles of American Fiddle Tunes and Folk Songs
This tune began in the British Isles as a melody called Rosasolis/Morris Off and is still used for English Morris dances today. Some regard it the earliest recorded Morris dance tune. Later developments of the tune were popular in England and Scotland from the early 17th century through the 18th under the title Three (Jolly) Sheep Skins; while in Ireland a variation became known as Aillilliu mo Mhailin (Alas My Little Bag) — a humorous lament for a stolen bag of sundries. Brought to the United States from these various sources, the melody developed into an old-time standard Black-Eyed Susie which became well-known throughout the South and Midwest.
A very old tune in the key of G that Appalachian fiddlers were playing well before the Civil War. One story about how the tune got its current name involves Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith who in 1929 played the tune over the radio as part of a contest in which listeners were asked to give the tune a title. A woman from Arkansas won with “Blackberry Blossom.”
The Cumberland Gap is a low point in the Cumberland Mountains where the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia all meet. Pioneers moving west through the American frontier traveled on the Cumberland Gap trail through Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Built along the Cumberland Gap there were “stations or forts” to protect settlers from the Indians. Chadwell Station was one of these. A log hewn building that a family might replenish supplies, trade, and hear news of distant events.
Chicken Reel is a traditional square dance tune that mimics the sound of the barnyard chickens. The tune was and is a favorite with fiddlers because of its instant recognizability and by the fact that it was easily used in combination with other tunes for variety or added length for dance sets.
Fiddler Tony Lowe played this tune with an intricate routine which combined pizzicato “clucks” on the fiddle and elaborate gestures: “He’d swing the whole fiddle way out, and when he started back, he’d pluck it again and hit the string with the bow, and all the while he’d never miss his time,” said fellow fiddler Tommy Jarrell. My old hen’s a good old hen, She lays eggs for the railroad men;t Sometimes one, sometimes two, Sometimes enough for the whole dang crew. First time she cackled, she cackled in the lot, Next time she cackled, she cackled in the pot; Cluck Old Hen, cluck and squall, Ain’t laid an egg since late last fall
“I am a little beggarman, a begging I have been, For three score years in this little isle of green.” One of the few tunes common to fiddlers from both Ireland and Scotland where it is also known as the “Little Beggarman.” One story involving a piper, not a fiddler, claims the tune was first learned from the Fairy Folk. The tune eventually made its way across the water with the earlier settlers of western Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
The common jay of Eastern North America; bright blue with grey breast This tune, also known as “Jaybird sitting on a Limb” was popularized in the late 1960’s/early 70’s by Art Rosenbaum, John Burke, Joel Shimberg and other young banjo players and fiddlers of the time. Jay bird, jay bird, sittin’ on a limb, He winked at me and I winked at him. I picked up a rock and I hit his shin, Sez he: “You’d better not do that agin.
The miller and his mill were an important part of rural life in Europe and early America. Originally from England and Scotland this tune can be heard as an old-time breakdown from the hills of eastern Kentucky, the fiddling of Dusty Miller was occasionally accompanied with words: Hey, the dusty millar and his dusty coat, He will win a shilling or he’ll spend a groat, Dusty was the coat, Dusty was the colour, Dusty was the kiss that I gat frae the millar.
East Tennessee Blues is played in the key of C major. This watercolor painting was inspired by a photo John Vachon took in 1940. These unnamed Tennessee migrants were photographed picking cherries in the orchards of Berrien County, Michigan, far away from their home in East Tennessee.
A common story attached to this tune concerns a man named Flannery who was worried that he didn’t know any fiddle tune good enough to win a certain contest. Then on the night before the contest he had a dream about a bear playing the fiddle. The tune the bear played was one Flannery had never heard before and he played it in the contest and won.
A very popular fiddler of country music of the 1920s and 30s, his band was called Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers. One of the most influential of the old-time bands, they often included humorous skits as well as tunes on their recordings. Other band members included Clayton McHichen on fiddle and Riley Puckett on guitar.
This tune originates from West Virginia and is known as a “modal tune” being in neither the key of D or A but “somewhere in between.” Fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour and the Hollow Rock String Band helped popularized the melody with their 1967 recording. Jabbour collected the tune from Virginia fiddler Henry Reed. Fiddler Bill Hicks points out that a “kitchen girl” was a term often used for a female slave who worked in the kitchen.
“Mother” Maybelle Carter was a member of the legendary Carter Family Band. Founded in 1927, the band played a major role in popularizing rural music in America. They recorded numerous records and often performed on the new medium called “radio.” Maybelle also developed a unique style of guitar playing called the “Carter Scratch.” She would play the melody line on the bass strings with her thumb while strumming the rhythm with her fingers on the remaining strings. Her guitar can be seen in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
An old-time breakdown from Nebraska and northwest Missouri, the tune is played in the key of D and the timing had a “crooked” feel with an extended note at the end of each part. The tune comes from a group of fiddle tunes related to Dubuque and may be related to a minstrel song from the 1840s called, Coonie in the Holler.
Uncle Dave Macon, born David Harrison Macon in 1870, was an American old-time banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian known for his chin whiskers, plug hat, and gold teeth. Music historian Charles Wolfe wrote, “If people call yodeling Jimmie Rodgers ‘the father of country music,’ then Uncle Dave must certainly be ‘the grandfather of country music.’ Uncle Dave began his professional music career at the age of 50. In 1923, he struck up a few tunes in a Nashville barbershop with fiddler Sid Harkreader, and an agent from the Loew’s theater chain happened to stop in. By 1925 he had become one of two charter members of the Grand Ole Opry, then called the WSM Barn Dance. Uncle Dave remained a well-loved icon of country music until his death in 1952.