and Study Guide
to accompany the recording
I Got A Bullfrog:
Folksongs For The Fun Of It
About the Recording
I Got A Bullfrog: Folksongs For The Fun Of It.
I have been collecting songs from the southern mountains for
over twenty years. In that time I have performed for hundreds
of thousands of children around the country. I Got A
Bullfrog: Folksongs For The Fun Of It brings together
the favorite folksongs that children love to sing and hear.
About the Music
The southern mountains are a treasure trove of traditional
music and song. This music is a unique blending of Anglo and
African-American traditions. The early settlers to the region
came from England, Scotland and Ireland in the late 1700's
and early 1800's. They brought their ballads and fiddle tunes
with them which formed the basis of traditional mountain music.
Many of the old songs and tunes from "across the waters" still
exist in the region today.
The mountains created
a natural isolation for the people there and the music changed
very slowly compared to the rest the country. But changes
did occur. The musical influences that affected other parts
of the nation during the 1800's also affected the mountain
folk. You can still see the early influences of blues, jazz,
minstrel and sentimental songs in modern mountain music.
The early settlers
came to the mountains with European ballads and dance music,
but almost immediately began creating new pieces like "Cindy,"
"Blackeyed Susie" and
"Mole in the Ground"
that told of life in their new home. The Civil War introduced
the African banjo to mountain people. They also began to hear
minstrel songs which were some of the first blending of black
and white musical ideas. Medicine shows began to tour through
the mountains. They would often have an African-American entertainer
with the show who would sing songs like "C-H-I-C-K-E-N,"
"The Cat Came Back" and
"Who Broke The Lock."
It was in the medicine shows that many mountaineers first
heard the guitar and harmonica played in a blues style. Roy
Acuff, Uncle Dave Macon and many other early country performers
got part of their musical training in the medicine shows.
In the early l920's,
recordings and radio spread southern old-time music throughout
the United States. Fairly obscure folk songs became widely
known and played because of their exposure through this new
media. Songs like "Keep on
the Sunnyside," "When
the Train Comes Along" and "Sail
Away Ladies" became known in the mountains in this way
and are still played today. The beginnings of commercial country
music started with folksongs like these. Gradually, newly
written songs and "stars" began to be the driving force in
popular country music so that by World War II, the old-time
folksongs had been displaced in the media.
Even though you
rarely see it in the media today, traditional mountain music
is still very much alive. Through folk festivals, fiddlers
conventions, square dances, front porch picking sessions and
professional entertainers, the music continues to be carried
on. Uncle Dave Macon in the 1920's
The Songs and
1. Doodle Daddle Day - This is
an old tune for which I created new words and chords. There
are several unusual instruments played on this song. The "twanging"
sound is the jaw harp (sometimes called jews harp or juice
harp). The odd guitar sound is the bantar. This is a combination
of banjo and guitar. Sometimes called a gitjo, it has six
strings like a guitar, but the body of a banjo. The first
solo you hear is Russ playing a guitar, the end solo is Russ
playing the bantar. You can also hear me playing a pair of
A. Learn to play the spoons along with "Doodle Daddle
Day." (see enclosed instructions) B. Invent a "hambone" or
body slapping rhythm to go along with the song. C. Learn to
play the jaw harp. (See Play the Jaw Harp Now! instruction
tape available on High Windy Audio.)
2. The Cat Came
Back - This song was a favorite of early country musicians.
It was recorded many different times, from Fiddlin' John Carson
to Sonny James. Most folk tunes have more than one version
because they were passed from one person to another without
being written down or recorded. Different people in various
parts of the region would make up their own version of the
A. There are many versions of "The Cat Came Back." Find
two others and compare melodies and words. B. This song tells
a story with lots of action. Illustrate the story of "The
Cat Came Back." C. Watch how a cat moves when it stretches,
licks its paws, plays, etc. Make up a cat-like dance to go
with the chorus. D. Do cats really have nine lives? Where
did this myth come from?
Susie - This is often played as a fiddle tune for dancing.
Compare the fiddle sounds in "Blackeyed Susie" and "Doodle
Daddle Day." Notice how the fiddle plays single notes in a
jazzy style on "Doodle Daddle Day." In "Blackeyed Susie" the
sound is full and driving, playing two strings at the same
A. This song makes you want to dance. Try this simple
dance: All join hands in a circle. During the verses dance
to the center and back to place (4 beats forward, 4 beats
back). During the chorus circle left and back to the right.
In the instrumental breaks have someone call simple figures:
do-si-do, right elbow swing all the way around and back with
a left elbow, swing your partner with a two hand swing, etc.
B. This can be a call and response song. In concert I sing
"Hey, Hey" and the audience answers "Blackeyed Susie." Try
it that way.
4. Ain't No
Bugs On Me - Fiddlin' John Carson and Moonshine Kate made
a recording of this in the l920's. I am playing a ukulele
here...that is Larry Paxton on tuba.
A. Make a list of all the bugs in your region and make
a little chant that will fit in during the instrumental breaks.
For example: ladybug, cockroach, horsefly, flea, doodlebug,
butterfly, stinkbug, bee.
- Sam and Kirk McGee recorded this in 1927. Roy Acuff
told me he used to sing it in a medicine show. Grandpa Jones
is Ragtime Joe in this version.
A. This is a good example of the difference between a
speaking voice and a singing voice. Try saying the letters
and singing the response. B. Think of other seven letter words
and replace the word chicken in the song. Try "Rooster." C.
Try tapping out the rhythm of the washboard: One and two and
three and four and -with accents on the second and fourth
6. Mole In The
Ground - When I first came to the Mountain Dance and Folk
Festival in Asheville, NC, in 1969, there on stage was a 90
year old man in a white suit playing and singing this song.
It was Bascomb Lamar Lunsford, local hero and founder of this
oldest folk festival in the country. You can hear the banjo
very clearly on this cut. This is a good example of old-time
clawhammer banjo style. If you look at the cover art, you
will notice how I am holding my right hand to play in this
style. (It is hard to do sitting on the back of a frog.) Basically,
you strike the strings with the fingernail of your index finger
in a downward stroke. The thumb picks the 5th or drone string.
This is the oldest style of banjo playing and came to this
country from Africa. Get a recording of a bluegrass banjo
and compare it to the clawhammer sound. Common bluegrass banjo
tunes include "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Dueling Banjos."
The library is a good place to find these recordings.
A. Write down all the animals you could wish to be and
make a list of the advantages of being each of them. Using
this list, try making new rhyming verses to "Mole in the Ground"
using the following form: Oh, I wish I was a.....................
If I was a ..........I would...........
7. Who Broke
The Lock - Blind guitarist and singer Riley Puckett (of
Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers) recorded this old minstrel
song in the l920's. I have rounded up verses from other versions
and put them all together here.
A. What other nonsense songs do you know? B. Illustrate
one of the verses for "Who Broke The Lock." C. Try clapping
on the off beat. Notice how the bass is playing on the 1 and
3 beats. The little clicking sound is made by the bass player
tapping the strings against the fretboard. This click sound
is on the 2 and 4 beats or the off beat. Try clapping along
with the click. Notice that emphasizing the off beat gives
the song a lift and bounce.
8. I Got A Bullfrog
- This song started out as a bedtime story for my children,
about a giant pet frog you could ride. In the story he went
on to become the first amphibious president of the United
States. The song was inspired by an old fiddle tune melody.
The odd sounding instrument you hear during the fiddle solos
is a mouth bow. I learned to play this ancient one-stringed
instrument from Morris Norton of Sodom, NC.
A. Using the cover art as a starting point, create a
story about the adventures of a man and his 500 pound bullfrog.
You can copy the front of the study guide and color it as
well. Send your ideas to me so I can incorporate them in a
story for telling. B. Using your ideas for the bullfrog story,
add some more verses to the song "I Got A Bullfrog." C. Name
the bullfrog and send me your ideas. D. Write more verses
about other oversized animals. E. Have you ever laughed this
hard? Tell the story of what was so funny.
9. The Glendy
Burke - Stephen Foster wrote many of our most famous songs
in the mid 1800's. "Oh, Susanna," "Camptown Races," and "Swannee
River" are just of few of his many songs. Even though he was
a professional songwriter, many of his works have been absorbed
by folk tradition.
A. Sing "Oh, Susanna." (I'm always amazed at how many
children do not know this classic.) B. Listen to and sing
other Stephen Foster songs. C. What can you learn about the
time period from the words of the songs? What can you learn
- This was one of my favorite folksongs in elementary school
in Garland, TX. When we moved to California, I was surprised
to find children singing it there as well. I was pleased to
find it was well loved and played in the mountains of North
Carolina when I moved there, too.
A. Try this as a call and response song. When I sing
"Get along home", you answer back "Cindy, Cindy." B. Listen
to the mandolin. Notice how it takes the place of the drum
in other types of music. It keeps a very solid "chop" on the
2 and 4 beats. Try clapping along with the mandolin. Stay
right with it. This is where the musicians are putting the
emphasis. If this is difficult, slap your legs first and then
clap your hands. This will put you on the 2 and 4 beats. C.
Can you hear where I start clog dancing? Try your own fancy
11. Long John
- I learned this in Gatesville, TX, where I spent my childhood
summers. There was a prison there (I wasn't in it) and this
song about a man running away from prison was well known by
the kids in town.
A. "Long John" is a classic call and response song from
African-American tradition. Try echoing the singing and clapping
along. Slap your legs on the first beat, then clap your hands
on the 2 and 4 beats. B. Notice the rhythmic mouth sounds
I make. Can you make up some different ones? C. Have a student
learn the lead and echo his or her singing and sounds.
12. Keep On
The Sunnyside - This song was made popular by the Carter
Family during the l920's and 30's. It was their theme song
on station XERA in Del Rio, TX. The station was actually across
the border in Mexico and therefore had no legal limits and
tremendous power, some say 500,000 watts. (In Del Rio you
could pick up the telephone and hear XERA.) The station transmitted
early country music around the U.S. and into Canada.
A. All the instruments on this recording are acoustic
instruments. This means they are not electrified or amplified.
Compare the natural sound of the guitar in "Keep On The Sunnyside"
with an electric guitar sound. B. How many instruments do
you hear? (Guitar, mandolin and bass) C. How many voices do
you hear? (Two) D. Discuss what this song is about. How can
we keep on the sunnyside? E. Find proverbs that illustrate
the same idea. For example: "Smile and the world smiles with
you, cry and you cry alone." F. Listen to other Carter Family
songs like "Wildwood Flower," and "The Wabash Cannonball."
Learn the chorus to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
13. Sail Away
Ladies - Uncle Dave Macon was the first star of the Grand
Ole Opry in l925. His recordings still inspire us today. He
was full of life and had a vast repertoire of old songs and
banjo tunes. Some of the words in this version have been added
by school children I have worked with over the years.
A. Write new verses to "Sail Away Ladies" using this
form: If I had a ........... I'd give it to........
14. Yes, Papa
- I have spent a number of days with the oldest woman
in the world, Susie Brunson. She was born Dec. 25, 1870. The
first instrument she remembers seeing around her Bamberg,
SC home is the washboard. Ms. Brunson recalls all night dances
to the rhythm of the solo washboard. She inspired me to write
A. This is a good call and response song for practicing
vocal dynamics. See if you can answer dynamically. B. Listen
to "Yes, Papa." Make a list of all the things that have to
be done around your house. Now, make them rhyme and create
your own call and response song. Think of a place you want
to go when all the chores are done and put that in the second
half of the song. Send me your versions. C. Write a more realistic
song called "No, Papa." Susie Brunson at 123 years old with
David Holt photo: Will McIntyre
15. When the
Train Comes Along- This is another song from Uncle Dave
Macon of Murfreesboro, TN. Uncle Dave was the first star of
the Grand Ole Opry in 1925. As a young man growing up in Nashville,
TN, his parents ran a hotel for traveling performers and Uncle
Dave learned many songs from the guests. For most of his life
Uncle Dave ran a freight company, hauling cargo on horse-drawn
wagons. In his work he met many folks who played music from
whom he gathered a large repertoire of songs. When trucks
started hauling most of the cargo, Uncle Dave went into the
music business. He was a raucous, natural entertainer and
audiences loved him. Those of us who play old-time music still
regard him as one of the greats. I learned this song from
one of Uncle Dave's old 78 rpm recordings.
A. Until the invention of the phonograph record, all
folk music was handed down from one person to the next. How
do you think recordings have affected the folk process? (For
example: they carried the music out of the mountains to the
rest of the world; they standardized the music to some degree;
they made musicians famous, creating stars; they helped preserve
the performances of old music. They caused many people to
stop creating homemade music, etc.)
16. This Little
Light of Mine - A Black gospel standard and my favorite
A. Notice how this song builds by adding instruments.
Can you name the instruments as they are added? B. Can you
think of someone who has a special light? C. What other words
can you use for this light? Examples: friendly, giving, caring,
loving, interested, committed etc. D. What are your own personal
you name the instruments in this photo? (front: mouth bow,
middle: washboard, 5-string banjo, ukulele, bantar, fiddle,
guitar, mandolin, back: acoustic bass)
the songs presented here were made for singing along. That
is the number one activity...learn to sing them. Have fun!
3. I collect
children's art. Make a drawing of any song and send it along.
We'll enjoy it.
4. Get another
old-time music recording, a Bluegrass recording and a modern
country record. Compare what you hear.
your parents what folksongs they learned as children. See
if they are familiar with any of the songs on I Got
A Bullfrog. Find out where they heard them and if
their versions are different.
to the oldest adults in your family and neighborhood. Make
a list of all the skills...not just the work-related skills,
but the little fun things as well. Can they do yo-yo tricks?
Can they make simple toys or instruments? Do they know a dance,
song or old-timey game? Pick one skill from each person and
get them to teach it to you.
Holt (vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonica, ukulele, jaw harp,
hambone, spoons, washboard, mouth bow and clog dancing)
When I was 10 years
old my father taught me to play the spoons and the bones.
The rhythm bones had been handed down in my family for five
generations by my Texas forefathers. When my family moved
to California, I started playing drums and continued to play
in rock and roll and jazz bands until I went to college. In
college I met banjo player, Steve Keith. The two of us traveled
to the southern mountains in 1969 and found a world of living
traditional music. I began learning the old-time clawhammer
style banjo. In 1973 I moved to Western North Carolina to
learn about mountain music first hand from the old-time mountaineers.
In l975 I founded
and directed the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson
College in Swannanoa, NC. In l980 I began performing full
time. Many people know me for my television and radio series.
For the Nashville Network I have hosted "Fire On The Mountain,"
"Celebration Express," and "American Music Shop" and for PBS,
"Folkways." I am currently hosting American Public Radio's
"Riverwalk: Live From The Landing." I maintain a full time
concert schedule and still collect and research music of the
About the Musicians
(fiddle and mandolin) is well known for his work with the
New Grass Revival. Currently he performs with Emmy Lou Harris.
Sam is regarded as one of the finest musicians in Nashville.
His wonderful musicianship and sense of humor shine through
on this recording.
(guitar, bantar) is one of the best acoustic guitar players
in the country. Listen to his subtle choice of notes and beautiful
Jr. (bass) is in great demand in the studio as an acoustic
bass player. Listen to his big tone and rock solid rhythm.
(tuba, bass on "Long John") has played on recordings
with everyone from Chet Atkins to Dolly Parton and on David
Holt's Grandfather's Greatest Hits. Listen to
Larry make the bass and tuba "talk."
(Ragtime Joe on C-H-I-C-K-E-N) is well known for his regular
appearances on HEE HAW and the Grand Ole Opry. He has helped
keep old-time music before the public for over 50 years.
(piano) is a master of many styles of piano. Listen for his
blues and gospel influences.
and Alan O'Bryant (harmony vocals) Kathy has appeared
on two other David Holt recordings as well as on recordings
by Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and many others. Alan sings and
plays banjo with the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Listen for
his high lonesome harmonies.
(producer) The producer's job is to bring out the best in
all artists and to oversee the project from beginning to end.
There is no one better at this than Steven, and he makes it
Asked Of David Holt
did you start playing music? David: I started drumming
on the furniture when I was in elementary school. At 14 I
actually started taking drum lessons. I began learning the
banjo when I was 22. Music has always been important to me,
but I have college degrees in biology, art and elementary
2. Why did
you start playing folk music? David: I fell in love
with the sound of the old-time banjo. I just wanted to learn
to play for my own enjoyment. It slowly grew into a career.
3. How many
instruments do you play? David: I play banjo, guitar,
slide guitar, ukulele, bantar, hammered dulcimer, lap dulcimer,
autoharp, bones, spoons, harmonica, jaw harp, mouth bow, washboard
and paper bag.
4. Why do
you play so many? David: I really like the sounds they
make. Each one creates a different mood. When I came to the
mountains I was surprised to see the variety of instruments
that people played. I want to show that diversity in my programs.
I try to play even the very basic ones like the spoons or
washboard as musically as possible and not as a gimmick.
5. Who did
you learn from? David: When I first came to the southern
mountains, I was surprised to see how many people still played
this music. Many of them were old-timers and were more than
happy to show a young person like me how to play. As it turned
out, I learned a lot more than music from these men and women.
They became my heroes and mentors. Doc Watson and David Holt,
Deep Gap, NC
is your favorite instrument? David: The old-time banjo
is still my favorite and best instrument.
7. Do you
have a family? David: Yes, I live with my wife Ginny
outside of Asheville, NC. My son Zeb lives in Chapel Hill,
NC and performs with me as much as he can. Our wonderful daughter
Sara Jane died in an automobile accident when she was 10.
We miss her every day.
have you traveled playing music? David: I have played
in almost every state. For the U.S. State Department I have
traveled to Africa, South East Asia and Latin America.
9. Do you
always wear a hat? David: I love hats. I've been collecting
fedoras from the 1930's and 40's for a long time. When I started
playing on television the hat became a trademark. Now, I always
wear a hat when I perform. I also collect neckties from the
are the southern mountains? The Appalachian mountain range
extends from Georgia to Maine. The southern region of the
Appalachians includes parts of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee,
Virginia and West Virginia.
is Asheville, NC? In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North
do you call the folk music you find there? There are several
names: old-time music, traditional mountain music, early country
music. In the past it was called hillbilly music.
4. How is
it different from modern country music? The songs are generally
folksongs handed down from one generation to the next, and
not written by professional songwriters. There is more emphasis
on preserving an older tradition than on creating something
new. The instruments are not electrified. Most of the people
playing old-time music are non-professionals playing for their
5. How is
old-time music different from bluegrass music? Bluegrass grew
out of old-time music in the 1940's. Lester Flatt called Bluegrass
music "old-time music in overdrive." The banjo style is one
essential difference. Bluegrass banjo is played with a highly
syncopated 3-finger roll. Old-time clawhammer banjo has more
of a "loping, bouncy" feeling to it. Bluegrass musicians perform
many newly written songs and old-time musicians generally
rely on traditional songs. Basically, they are brothers in
the same family each with his own personality.
6. Can you
hear the African-American influences in many of the songs
on I Got A Bullfrog? For example, listen to
the bluesy, jazz licks from the fiddle and bantar on "Doodle
Daddle Day." Notice the harmonica and the rhythm of the piano
and guitar on "The Cat Came Back." Many of the tunes including
"Blackeyed Susie" have a banjo, an instrument originally from
Africa. "C-H-I-C-K-E-N" is very likely from the Black tradition.
"Long John" is an African-American folksong using the call
and response form. The "Glendy Burke" was written by Stephen
Foster who started writing minstrel songs. "This Little Light
of Mine" is an African-American folksong. These are just a
few of the many examples.
bother trying to preserve an older tradition?
can you do to make sure our folksongs are around for another
Traditional music is like any other network, once you get
involved you find lots of resources. Here are a few resources
to get you started:
1. For catalogs
of recordings, books and musical instruments, contact: Elderly
Instruments, 1100 N Washington, Lansing, MI 48901 phone (517)
2. For summer
workshops in old-time music and dance contact: The Swannanoa
Gathering, Warren Wilson College, P.O. Box 9000, Asheville,
NC 28815 phone (704) 298-3325 or Augusta Heritage Center,
Davis and Elkins College, Elkins, WV 26241 phone (304) 636-1903
3. For instrumental
instruction on audio and video tapes, contact: Homespun Tapes,
Box 694 DH, Woodstock, NY 12498 phone (800) 33-TAPES
The Old-Time Herald, P.O. Box 51812, Durham, NC 27717; Bluegrass
Unlimited, P.O. Box 111, Broad Run, VA 22014
HOW TO PLAY
Hold the first
spoon between your thumb and your first finger. It should
go across the middle bone of your index finger. The index
finger wraps around the back of the spoon and holds it tightly
against your palm. The thumb should press down on top giving
you a firm grip. Turn the second spoon upside down and place
it between your index and middle fingers. The bottoms of the
spoon bowls should be back to back. Your middle finger wraps
around and holds the edge of the second spoon tightly against
your palm. Basically you're making a fist around the spoons.
There should be
a space of about a half an inch between the bottoms of the
spoons so that when you hit down on your leg they will click
together. Put your opposite hand, palm down about seven inches
above your leg. Start playing by hitting your spoons down
on your leg and up on your palm. Go back and forth, hitting
down on your leg and up on your hand, getting a click going
each direction. Put a slight accent on the 2 and 4 beats by
hitting a little harder on those beats.
To make a roll,
spread the fingers of the opposite hand wide apart and make
them rigid. Let the spoons bounce down across each rigid finger
in a rapid motion letting the last beat hit on your leg. Use
the roll as an occasional flourish, always going back to the
Remember, if you
are having trouble keeping the spoons in line, you are probably
not holding them firmly. Keep your index and middle fingers
pressed against the edge of the spoons and pressed tightly
against your palm. HAVE FUN!!
Feel free to copy this learning guide, but please do not copy
the tape or CD. We depend on your purchases to keep us in
business so that we can continue bringing you quality products.
Special thanks to Sheila Donahue and Judy Thomas for their
suggestions for the activities.
Explore the rest of the site for more great learning opportunities.