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)


78rpm Record


Tugboat was a favourite of Texas contest-style patriarch Benny Thomasson, who took this tune and ran with it. It likely entered the Texas repertoire from West Virginia fiddler Clark Kessinger’s 1929 recording, which is transcribed here. Kessinger’s version isn’t very difficult. Just be careful of the timing, which evokes a rag in many places. He also used a bit of vibrato, which is denoted in the transcription by squiggly lines next to notes to be played vibrato. It’s easy to see why Thomasson and others have embraced this tune over the years; it’s one of those catchy tunes that just makes you feel good.

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