Poca River Blues

As played by Clark Kessinger from the West Virginia region

Rag in C

From the Clark Kessinger Collection

3 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)


Recording of Clark Kessinger released on the album The Legend of Clark Kessinger


This is a good example of Kessinger’s later fiddling, exhibiting a broader range of stylistic influences than his earlier recordings. In other words, it’s overwrought. This consists of a single part, played several times with dramatic variations. It should be noted the single part is actually the A part from East Tennessee Blues (see Eck Robertson’s version under the name Ten Cent Cotton).

There are several things to look out for in this tune. Three of the variations are borderline insane. One is played entirely with Spiccato bow strokes (the last few measures of the ending are also entirely Spiccato). The Spiccato variation also includes bowed triplet. Another variation is entirely Pizzicato, the most challenging Pizzicato passage I’ve ever seen. Yet another variation is entirely Hokum bowing, but not very cleanly played. There are several difficult double-stops. Also look out for high notes; there are several high Cs and a few high Ds. Kessinger also used a good bit of vibrato, denoted by squiggly lines to the left of notes to be played vibrato.

Here’s a YouTube video of Kessinger’s rendition:

This next YouTube video is of Reese Jarvis’ recording of Poca River Blues. Jarvis, who was also a West Virginia fiddler, played a much more straight-forward version. Kessinger reported that he learned the tune from Jarvis.

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