Ebenezer reel

Also known as West Virginia Farewell, West Virginia Highway, The West Virginia Highway.

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

Ebenezer has been added to 8 tunebooks.

Download ABC

One setting

X: 1
T: Ebenezer
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
Bc|dBdB G2 Bc|dBdB G2 Bc|d2 g2 f2 g2|a3 a a2 AB|
cBAG FGAB|cBAG FGAf|gfed BG A2|G6:|
Bc|d2 g2 f2 g2|b4 b2 Bc|d2 g2 f2 g2|b4 b2 g2|
agbg ageg|agbg agef|gfed BG A2|G6:|

Twelve comments


I learned this American old-time tune from Pete Budd, and old-time enthusiast who lives in Edinburgh. The source ultimately was probably Henry Reed of Virginia, via Alan Jabbour and the Fuzzy Mountain String Band. Another recorded name for the tune is “West Virginia Highway” (on a 78rpm record by Kahle Bewer).

“The Whistler” - certain recognized similarities

# Added by ceolachan ~ May 10th, 2013

This definitely is in the blood, and also having danced to it and played it, including without any strings, which some folks tended to turn their noses up to, while others welcomed me into the fold. It’s not like ‘old time’ music hasn’t a wider history with regards to the kinds of instruments that used to give it air and inspire dancers. I love old time, and Cajun, and have played both with some great and accomplished musicians without any problems, whether or not I was ringing strings… 😉 I miss that. It has been too long since I was in such a mix, old time or Cajun, or calling dances to such music. However, I do get in a little now and then, and our group here is fond of a certain Cajun waltz, and at least once a year we have an ‘American Potluck & Dance’ where the focus is on traditions of North America, with the intent of making the connection to related Irish traditions. It’s good kick!

Thanks for this Nigel, and the memory. I now feel a responsibility to dig out a recording of this to another transcription for it here, and to get back into that swing for a spell.

I’ve just realized this isn’t linking through to a recording, so I’ll look to find something to add to that database too.

“Ebenezer” - a ‘classic’ old time fiddle tune & a few YouTubes worth, for now 😎

Frank George Plays Ebeneezer

Black Twig Pickers: Poplar Pole & Ebenezer
at 2012 Henry Reed Fiddlers Convention
in Glen Lyn, VA on 6/9/12.


Ebenezer– FOB Jam ~ big band!

Fiddlers I’d have known this from would include George Wilson, Alan Jabbour and Armin Barnett, and a number of string bands as well…

“Ebenezer” ~ The Fiddler’s Companion


EBENEZER. AKA and see “West Virginia Farewell,” “West Viginia Highway.” Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; West Virginia, southwestern Virginia. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB. ~

Franklin George (Ebenezer)

An interesting fact about Frank George is that he also plays bagpipes which, if memory serves me right, he learned in Scotland while on service duty.

I don’t think Franklin served in Scotland, Nigel. He served for two years with the 4th Infantry Division (their only piper) , after he had graduated from Greenbrier Military School. However, the 4th ID came to England in January 1944, when Franklin was 15 years old. The dates don’t tally. There is a pretty good biography here, which makes no mention of him having ever left the US:

Franklin George (Ebenezer)

Ah, thanks, Weejie - my memory did not serve me right, then. I thought I’d seen it mentioned on the back of his LP “Traditional Music for Fidlle, Banjo and Bagpipes”, but I don’t have that any more, so I’ll put it down to imagination! Tell you what, though, Joel Shimberg, who knew Frank, would know, and he occasionally posts here. Be great if Joel filled in some info about that magnificent fiddler.

Franklin George (Ebenezer)

I’m quite sure that Frank served in the US Army and was stationed in West (at the time) Germany. He was close to a group of BAOR gents, and learned a lot about old-world (mostly Scottish) antecedents of tunes that he grew up with in West Virginia. I know that he visited Ireland at that time also, because he purchased a full set in concert pitch directly from Leo Rowsome. He didn’t learn to play them, and he let various people borrow them for times. I don’t know it, but I think that Frank learned to play the GHP from Scottish pipers in BAOR bands.

I get the feeling that there is much discussion of Irish and Scottish music here, and I would not call Ebenezer a reel, because that would be misleading. I would suggest ‘breakdown’ or ‘hoedown’ instead.

Best wishes,

Your Friend, Joel

Franklin George (Ebenezer)

I’m here because my old friend Nigel asked me to exhibit my ignorance. I’m always happy to do that, as that’s the first step to learning.

Let me add that I am one of quite a few people who spent time learning at the feet of Frank George, and I’m always glad of a chance to acknowledge my debt to him and his great generosity. He’s a fine fiddler, but I must say that I think of him as a magnificent banjo player!

Your Friend, Joel

It does make sense that he would be stationed in Germany (Frankfurt) because this fits in with the history of the 4th Infantry Division. They were stationed there for 5 years from 1951.

Franklin George (Ebenezer)

In my first flush of enthusiasm for American music I discovered that John Summers and Frank George recording, and it informed and influenced my listening and playing for years after. In my ignorance I was amazed and delighted to find out that not only was he still alive and playing, but that THERE WERE PEOPLE AROUND WHO KNEW HIM! Joel - himself a fine fiddler - was one of those people, and I loved hearing comments and stories which put real flesh on imagined mythical bones. Thanks for continuing to do this, Joel!

Joel mentions “antecedants of tunes that he grew up with in West Virginia”. There are a few possibly worth mentioning: “Old Zip Coon” (a.k.a. “Turkey In the Straw”) is still played in Scotland under the title “Old Bog Hole” and found in Kerr’s Merry Melodies (although possibly a borrowing from the US originally); “My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet”; “Old Molly Hare” (composed in the early 19th century by Nathanial Gow as “The Fairy Dance”); “Wake Up Susan” (related to “The Mason’s Apron”); “Devil’s Dream” (related to “Deil Amang the Tailors”). Parts of “Forked Horn Deer” (aka “Forky Deer” etc) are very reminiscent of “Rachel Rae”, although that may be coincidental.

Having said all that, the notion that Appalachian music is “all Scottish and Irish music” is too often heard, and it’s a dangerous alley to go down.

(Re the “reel” description, Joel: we’re restricted in what we can call tunes here, so you’ll often get marches called “polkas” and airs called “jigs”, and so on. “Hoedown” ain’t on the menu 🙂 )

watchin the ebenezer you tube cut by frank george, very nice, great tune and musician. as well as all of his musicial credits i think he helped get a wv tartan approved. I think wv fiddle tunes have a point where the kettle comes to a boil and it whistles, i know thats a funny analogy. Theres a few of them on here, this is a link to West Frok Girls: https://thesession.org/tunes/11179