1 : the nitrate-bearing gravel or rock of the sodium nitrate deposits of Chile and Peru
2 : a crust of calcium carbonate that forms on the stony soil of arid regions
Jim Mullany’s Caliche Creek
This is a tune made by myself back in 1986 while camping in Death Valley, California. I could be wrong but as far as I know it is the only tune made below sea level. I came up with this tune on my five-string banjo originally but have played it mostly on fiddle since the early 90s. It is a lot of fun on 5-string, though.
The name "Caliche Creek" derives from my having camped next to a very old arroyo cut into a heavily calichified (carbonate-encrusted, as above) alluvial fan. Caliche forms mostly in desert soils, and the older they are the thicker the carbonate can grow. Death Valley alluvial fans are said to be older than a million years and they are crusty!
"Caliche Creek," though only 23 years old, has traveled some ways from my New Mexico home, and because there has been some confusion about the name and author of the tune I would like to take this oppor-tune-ity to clarify matters here.
Some years ago, I gave permission for a band called The Groovemongers out of New York to record "Caliche Creek" and they put in on their recording "Fresh Wares." However, they mistakenly referred to me as "Jim Mulhaney," and the tune has been widely and incorrectly attached to that "Mulhaney" feller. No big deal, really.
However, there is another fellow with a website who seems to go by the name of "FlyinFiddler" who calls it "Callichii Creek" or somesuch and mentions a bunch of medleys in which he plays this tune. I have contacted him for the kindness of an attribution with no reply as yet. Some fellow in England also has also appropriated this tune without permission for inclusion in a benefit CD to which he contributed, the benefit being for some local coffeehouse, pub or brothel as I recall.
Some years ago I gave Ten-Penny Bit, an English Country Band out of Louisville, Kentucky, permission to record it on a tape of theirs, and a year or two ago I gave San Francisco’s Michael Irwin permission to record it on his CD "Backroads." Both of these parties accurately - though obscurely - reported the name and author of "Caliche Creek." Another Engliosh country dance band fronted by Mike Head out of Houston, Texas, also reportedly recorded "Caliche Creek" but I have never heard that recording (Mike?).
Now, the online Digital Library of Appalachia - housed in Berea, Kentucky - has a field recording of West Virginia fiddler Jake Krack playing this (in a rather odd, new-age sort of way) and he calls it "Calichee Creek." Not only do they get the name wrong, but it’s archived without attribution to its forlorn author as well! Academia can sometimes be the loosest with sources, I often find.
While I have a copyright on "Caliche Creek," I have not generally minded seeing my poor musical child wander out into the world, encountering notice in sessions, CDs, and concerts in far away places. And it continues to amaze me that so many people of widely varying musical inclinations have echoed the notes I first scratched out on a banjo 50 feet below sea level 23 years ago. Maybe someday I will get it together - with my band "The Nattering Nabobs" - to record "Caliche Creek" myself and show how it is "really" supposed to be played (as if there could be such a thing!).
I trust, however, that "The Session" - the sort of place where accuracy of source is valued - would be able to partially rectify this situation. Thanks for reading this rambling bit and happy playing!
"Caliche Creek" sheet music?
By the way, the sheet music submitted for "Caliche Creek" - which I had not looked over before - is a bit weird. It starts out sort of OK in the A part but by the B part it is not the tune I made.
But this is probably a very fine tune in and of itself. And the "Folk Process" is a fickle goddess we all must worship at one time or another.
Hey, Jim… 🙂
If you feel like sharing, it would be nice to have your own version in here—either the original, how you play it now or whatever.
Thanks for all the history!
I listened to two of the versions referred to by Jim Mullany and slowed them down so I could transcribe them accurately. No ornamentation or repeats, but you get the idea.
T: Caliche Creek
C: Jim Mullany
D: Fresh Wares
|D/E/F/G/ |AA GG|AA D/E/F/G/ |AA GG|F2 D/E/F/G/|
|AGAG|AA D/E/F/G/| AG FE|D2 A/c/A/c/|
|dd cc|dc A/c/ d|e2 e2|f/e/f/e/ d/c/A/c/|
|dd cc|AF G2 |F/E/D/F/ E/D/C/E/|D2|
T: Caliche Creek
C: Jim Mullany
S: Michael Irwin
|D/E/F/G/ |AA GF/G/|AA D/E/F/G/|AA/B/ A/G/F/E/|D2 D/E/F/G/
|Ad/A/ GF/G/|AA D/E/F/G/ |A/B/A/G/ F/E/D/C/|D2 A c|
|d2 d2|d/e/d/c/ A2 |e2 e2|f/e/f/e/ d2|
|d/e/d/c/ A2|B/A/B/A/ G2 |F/G/A/B/ A/G/F/E/|D2|