Some tunes grow on you with repeated listens. Others grab you the first time through.
Cherokee Shuffle is in the latter category. Which is probably part of why it’s become a “crossover” tune, equally likely to crop up in an old-time, bluegrass, or any other manner of traditional music jam setting. Great melodies have a way of doing that.
Some of you may know that Cherokee Shuffle is closely related to the tune Lonesome (or Lost) Indian, and the relationship between these two tunes is one of the most mindbending stories in all the land of old-time and folk music, which is saying a lot.
Not to mention that there are entirely unrelated tunes by the name “Lost Indian” wandering around (ouch, sorry).
Suffice to say that if someone calls out either of these in a jam, it’s best to first ask what key you’ll be playing it in, whether it’s the square or crooked version, and then remember that things are still likely to crash and burn before everyone gets on the same page.
All that said, whatever version you end up playing, it’s bound to sound pretty great in the end.
Here’s the tab:
aDADE tuning, Brainjo Level 3
Notes on the tab
Alternate string hammer-ons: There are several alternate string hammer-ons in this arrangement, noted where you see a number underneath tab with a circle around it. The number represents the finger I typically use to execute the hammer-on.
Skip notes: The notes in the shaded box are “skip” notes, meaning they’re not actually sounded by the picking finger. Instead, you continue the clawhammer motion with your picking hand, but “skip” playing the note by not striking it (this is a technique used to add space and syncopation). The fret number you see in the shaded box is the suggested note to play should you elect to strike the string.