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GUEST,Frank Hamilton Uptempo Folk Songs (28) RE: Uptempo Folk Songs 11 Jan 07


American folk songs depend on the area in which they were originated. As illustrated above, the dance tunes of the Appalachians tend to have lyrics, some used for dancer's calls and some to suggest humorous content. Many of these songs were crossed-over from the Minstrel Show tradition which was very popular in the South due to the touring companies of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The tunes were widely used as dance tunes in "hoe-downs" or "set-runnings". Some of the more lugubrious ballads found themselves transformed into bowlderized versions that had humorous takes on serious subjects. The five-string banjo accompanied many of the songs from the earlier Minstrel Show tradition. Some of the songs were tongue-twisters with nonsense syllables that might have suggested Gaelic phrases as forebears. A lot of "bob-a-link-a-die-do's" in choruses are a case in point. "King-kong-kitchy cant'cha tie me O" etc.

Many popular songs from the dance tradition in African-American blues party songs are uptempo and humorous such as "Diddy Wah Diddy" and Georgia Tom's "Tight Like That".
Leadbelly had a number of these tunes in his repitiore. "Rock Island Line", "The Grey Goose", "Fannin' Street" and "You Can't Lose-a Me Charlie" come to mind.

The notion of the ballad singer singing lugubrious songs is probably a recent one due to the image of the Joan Baez followers languishing in the coffee-houses of the 60's. This was an exagerration of the "ballad" rather than representative of the American folk tradition.

Some uptempo folk songs to consider:

"Come on girls we're going to Boston"
"Fod"
"Springfield Mountain"
"Hoosen Johnny" (var. of "The Old Grey Mare"
"Lynchburg Town"
"Boil Them Cabbages Down"
"Poor Liza Jane"
"Goin' Down to Cripple Creek"
"Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy"
"I Don't Lie, Buddy" (Lead and Josh)
"Ten Nights Drunk"
"Ole Rueben".."Train 45"
"Cindy" "Old Joe Clark"
"Train on the Island"
"Eggs and Marrowbone"
"Shady Grove"
"Poor Howard's Dead and Gone"
"Goin' Down to Cairo (Kay-ro)
"Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago"
"Sourwood Mountain"
"Jubilee"
"Year of Jubilo"
"Bowlin' Green"

and many more.

Frank


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