Sally Ann Johnson

As played by Clark Kessinger from the West Virginia region

Reel or Breakdown in G

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


Clark Kessinger recorded this tune at least twice: once in the late 1920s under the name Sally Johnson and again in 1964 under the name Sally Ann Johnson. The two recordings are very different. This present transcription is of the later recording.

This is a really nice breakdown. Although it is from Kessingers’s later period, and although he played it very fast, he did not grass it up very much. There are several nice variations, including a low A part (third and fifth times through) and a slide B part (second, fourth, and sixth times through). The last several notes in the ending are played with a Spiccato bow stroke, and are denoted with Xs.

Here is a marvelous YouTube video of Clark Kessinger playing Sally Ann Johnson at the Newport Folk Festival. He was 70 at the time, and danced during the banjo break! Note that this is more similar to his 1964 recording of this tune, featuring much flashier fiddling than his 1920s recording.


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