Sam Amidon is known for putting his own spin on traditional American music, and his song “Maggie” is a perfect example. Written sometime in the 19th century, it was first recorded by country music forefathers Grayson and Witter in 1928, and later became a staple for bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, and generations of players who followed him. “It's just a classic, forlorn kind of a breakup song, really,” Amidon told NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Tom Casciato.
But Amidon took the classic and rearranged it. “I think it was at a sound check …
And I just had this little banjo riff going on and I didn't know what song would come on top. It was just a little moment.” He recorded the “little moment” on a voice memo on his smart phone, and later returned to it in the studio, and eventually built his version of “Little Maggie” – which he calls simply “Maggie” – around it, improvising live in the studio over a driving rhythm with Chris Vatalaro on drums, Shahsad Ismaily on Moog bass and synthesizer, and Bert Cools on electric guitar. You can hear that version on his 2020 album Sam Amidon.
The version here is done solo on the banjo, and was filmed at Amidon’s home studio in London.
Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG
Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6