Sand Mountain Breakdown

As played by Austin Rogers from the Alabama region

Reel or Breakdown in A minor

From the Austin Rogers Collection

2 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)

The playing of the late Vernon Derrick, a fine North Alabama fiddler.

Here's a fast breakdown in a minor key. Sand Mountain is one of the southernmost mountains in the Appalachian chain. It is actually a high plateau, and runs northeast to southwest in northeast Alabama. The original inhabitants were the Cherokee Indians (my people), who used it as a hunting ground, as evidenced by the archaeological remains on my granny's farm. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a distinct musical tradition developed on the mountain, including a regional old time banjo style. That is the banjo style that I play, and I learned it from Jim Connor, who was the banjo player in the New Kingston Trio from 1968-1973 and also played banjo for John Denver.

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