This arrangement of Briarpicker Brown is based on the version by Clyde Curley from his 1998 Clyde Curley and The Oxymorons: Old Time Mandolin Music CD. On the CD, Clyde plays Briarpicker Brown as the first of three tunes in a medley. Briarpicker Brown comes from the fiddle playing of Kentucky fiddler Buddy Thomas.
Buddy Thomas died in 1974 at the young age of 39 and was from Emerson, Kentucky (Lewis County). Rounder released an LP/CD of Thomas’ fiddling playing titled Kitty Pussy Rounder 0032 which includes Briarpicker Brown.
You can find music notations of the tune in an excellent book by Jeff Todd Titon - Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes published by The University Press of Kentucky in 2001, and the equally excellent collection of contra dance and fiddle tunes collected by Susan Songer with Clyde Curley titled The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s interesting how Clyde adapted the tune to mandolin. I’m sure part of Clyde’s adaptation is the natural evolution of tunes as they are passed from musician to musician. In the liner notes to Clyde’s CD, he says that he learned the tune from the Hurricane Ridge Runners. Clyde’s version is very faithful to the way Buddy Thomas played it on fiddle, but has some nice mando oriented changes. It’s worthwhile to listen to both Buddy’s and Clyde’s versions.
The tune is played in the key of D with just two chords: D and A.
Download a pdf of Briarpicker Brown -> Click BriarpickerBrown.pdf.
Download a sample mp3 of Briarpicker Brown -> BriarPickerBrown.mp3