In this lesson Craig Judelman teaches the classic Midwest tune “Kansas City Rag”. This tune was well known in the repertoires of Missouri fiddlers Pete McMahan, Jimmy Gilmore, Lyman Enloe, and Ray “Pick” Johnson. Judelman presents his own version here, inspired by the playing of Brad Leftwich and Dan Gellert.
Not really a rag at all, it is a fun tune for the fiddler that also happens to leave a lot of room for the guitar player. Judelman’s version uses a simple I, IV, V backup harmony, but that’s not the only option.
For instance, in the video below Kenny Applebee plays changes more typical of Texas contest style backup. (hat tip Jim Nelson)
The result is a quick II chord in the first half of the chorus and jazzy, chromatic bass line in the second half that adds a lot of variety. It’s worth noting that many guitar players “cheat” and substitute the C# diminished chord by just moving the C major shape up one fret and embracing the dissonance of the open G. But the real deal sounds better in most situations.
Here it is in action:
Here’s one more version from Charlie Walden with that solid Missouri groove.
And finally, here is Iowa fiddler Alan Murphy playing the tune as he learned it from Lyman Enloe.