Gene Goforth Collection

Gene Goforth was a remarkable fiddler from the Missouri side of the Ozark Mountains.   He is perhaps best known through his famous student, John Hartford, who acknowledged Goforth as a musical mentor. In Hartford’s own words: “we learned a lot from every fiddler that we ever came in contact, and especially in those days, but the standards and the true language of fiddlin' we got from Gene Goforth.”

Goforth learned old time fiddle from his father Dink and other fiddlers, such as thieving Roy Wooliver. According to the book Ozark Fiddle Music, he was playing for squaredances by the age of eight. He apparently went through a bluegrass phase, and recorded an unmistakably grassy album entitled Strike Up the Bow. He is reputed to have recanted later in life and definitely went back to a more old timey style, playing tunes more slowly and with slightly less aggressive bowing. He recorded the album Eminence Breakdown with John Hartford, who also made some videos that can be found on YouTube. Goforth’s fiddling also appears on the compilations Play Me Something Quick and Devilish and Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks: Volume I: Along the Eastern Crescent.

Although I am not a bluegrass fiddler, I am transcribing the tunes from Strike Up the Bow. However, when a tune from that grassy album is also available in a more old timey recording, I am transcribing the one that sounds more old timey. (Transcriptions of the bluegrass versions may be commissioned if desired.)

Goforth’s fiddle style is aggressive, with lots of drones and double-stops (some of which you may find difficult). While it is not as highly ornamented as Texas contest-style fiddling, they do sometimes sound alike. My favorite tune from Gene Goforth is Coming Down from Denver on a Trip to Galway Here and There, a difficult tune that is very worthwhile to learn.

This collection is complete; I have transcribed all of the Goforth material I could find.  I suspect there are more recordings of Gene out there, but I have not been able to find them.  I have heard rumors of a big batch of field recordings, but they have proved elusive so far.  If you can assist me with more Gene Goforth material, please contact me.

43 tunes found in this collection.

Click on table headers to sort tunes.

Name Type Key Date Added Date Updated
Apple Time (Billy in the Low Ground) Reel or Breakdown C 2014-05-30 2014-05-30
Back Up and Push (Rubber Dolly) Rag C 2014-05-23 2014-05-23
Big Sandy Reel or Breakdown A 2014-05-23 2014-05-23
Billy in the Low Ground Reel or Breakdown C 2014-05-30 2014-05-30
Black River Reel or Breakdown C 2014-05-23 2014-05-23
Boatin’ Down the River Reel or Breakdown G 2014-05-23 2014-05-23
Charleston Number One Reel or Breakdown C 2014-05-23 2014-05-23
Coming Down from Denver on a Trip to Galway Here and There Reel or Breakdown A 2013-05-12 2014-05-23
Darkie’s Dream Reel or Breakdown D 2014-06-23 2014-06-23
Devil’s Hornpipe Hornpipe A 2014-06-23 2014-06-23
Dusty Miller (Dink's Dusty Miller) Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2014-06-23 2014-06-23
Eminence Breakdown Reel or Breakdown D 2014-06-23 2014-06-23
Fiddler’s Hornpipe Hornpipe B flat and F 2014-06-23 2014-06-23
Gettin' Out the Way of the Federals Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2014-07-12 2014-07-12
Grandmammy Look at Uncle Sam Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2014-07-12 2014-07-12
Greenleaf Breakdown Reel or Breakdown G 2014-07-12 2014-07-12
Grey Eagle Reel or Breakdown A 2014-08-08 2014-08-08
Hamilton Ironworks Reel or Breakdown D 2014-07-12 2014-07-12
Hop Skip Squirrel Reel or Breakdown G 2014-07-12 2014-07-12
I Don’t Love Nobody Rag A 2014-08-01 2014-08-01
Jawbone Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2013-05-19 2014-05-23
Katy Hill (Sally Johnson) Reel or Breakdown G 2014-08-01 2014-08-01
Knockin’ at Your Door Reel or Breakdown C 2014-08-01 2014-08-01
Laughing Boy Reel or Breakdown A 2014-08-01 2014-08-01
Little Brown Jug Reel or Breakdown G 2014-08-01 2014-08-01
Money Musk (Roy Wooliver’s Money Musk) Reel or Breakdown A 2014-08-25 2014-08-25
Nine Mile Reel or Breakdown G 2014-08-25 2014-08-25
Paddy on the Turnpike Reel or Breakdown G mixolydian 2014-03-12 2014-05-23
Prettiest Little Girl in the County Reel or Breakdown G 2014-08-25 2014-08-25
Quail is a Pretty Bird, The Reel or Breakdown A mixolydian 2014-08-25 2014-08-25
Ragged Bill Schottische B flat and F 2014-08-25 2014-08-25
Reveler’s Reel Reel or Breakdown C 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Rocky Road to Denver Reel or Breakdown G 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Rye Whiskey Waltz A 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Sail Away Ladies Reel or Breakdown G 2013-05-04 2014-05-23
Sally Goodin (Key of A) Reel or Breakdown A 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Sally Goodin (Key of G) Reel or Breakdown G 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Say Old Man Reel or Breakdown E 2014-09-08 2014-09-08
Uncle Dink Reel or Breakdown A 2014-09-22 2014-09-22
Walking in My Sleep Reel or Breakdown G 2014-09-22 2014-09-22
White Horse Breakdown Reel or Breakdown G 2014-09-22 2014-09-22
White River Reel or Breakdown A 2014-09-22 2014-09-22
Wolves A’ Howlin’ Reel or Breakdown A 2014-09-22 2014-09-22