Winfield Winners, is a book full of transcriptions of recorded versions of tunes that helped some great flatpickers win the flatpicking contest at Winfield. These are contest arrangements, which I happen to like because of their complexity and surprises, but some folks find them tiresome. Some of the arrangements are better than others as well, with a few leaving you with a “guess you had to be there” feeling.
The bad news about the book is that the transcriptions are just terrible, as though a non-guitar player did them. In fact, as with Mark O’Connor’s Dixie Breakdown, it sometimes seems that the better the phrase, the worse the transcription, so you miss all the really cool stuff. I dunno, maybe it’s just me. The good news about the book is that it comes with a CD of these tunes, some of which might be hard to find otherwise. This alone is worth the price of the book. One tune that really struck me was Mike Whitehead’s (1994 Winfield winner) arrangement of the venerable Whiskey Before Breakfast. This Scottish-Irish tune is already good by dint of the title alone, and then also by the many, many versions that have been recorded over the years. Mike’s is played out of D position with a dropped low D string (my all-time favorite guitar tuning), and it is just a pleasure to play and to listen to, and it’s fairly straightforward, and it sounds good even if you can only play it slowly.
I was reminded by a post on Flatpick-L regarding WBB that I had (properly) transcribed the tune myself last year, but I never prettied it up for posting. Today, I added some rhythm chords and fixed up the intro and outro a bit (these should really be played slowly and freely - I skip them, myself). Anyway, here is the transcription the way Mike actually plays it on the CD.
I have included an exported MIDI of the tab below. It sounds better than when the tab is played directly in TablEdit, but again, it is still nowhere near the actual sounds of guitars. I have included a fictitious second rhythm guitar track just to put the melody in context.
Play MIDI of the tab
Download: WBB tab here (Note: If you have not downloaded this tab since 12/9/05, you do not have the latest version)
(in TablEdit Format, which you can download a free viewer for)