Rebel's Raid

by Stacy Phillips

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William Stepp of Maguffin County, Kentucky recorded "Rebel's Raid" for one of Alan Lomax's tune hunting excursions in 1937. It is the only known version of this melody performed by someone living the tradition. Stepp's playing is about as "authentic" as American old time fiddling gets. The original recording is unaccompanied, so the suggested chords are just that. Parenthetical chords are alternatives. Back then, guitarists from that part of the world would certainly not have used any minor chords.

The "raid" in the title probably refers to the Civil War activities of Confederate general John Morgan, whose troops roamed eastern Kentucky in 1864.

Stepp's fiddle is tuned down a whole step, so it is pitched at "concert" key of F, but fingered as standard key of G. He played it at a very peppy MM=138.

"Pulsed" bow strokes are typical of this style, and typically highlight off beat accents eg. the final bow stroke of the last measure of the first section.
There are some particularly short bow strokes in motives that serve rhythmic function (as opposed to melodic), eg. last quarter note of the fourth measure and last three notes of first measure of second section.

Stepp plays the repeats with little variation, most of which is in the bowing.

The recording of this piece is available only from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and has made its way to fiddle enthusiasts via the modern underground railroad of tape trading. There is an enormous amount of great traditional music moldering (and hopefully not disintegrating) on the shelves of that great repository of Americana. Take advantage of it by having them make a copy of some of their fiddle tune recordings or, better, urging them to use our taxes to release them commercially.

A slightly different transcription of this tune (under the title "Rebel's Road") can be found in my "Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes - Volume II: Hoedowns, Reels & Breakdowns".

Some of this information is culled from Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes by Jeff Todd Titon (University Press of Kentucky).

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