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Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)

DigiTrad:
CRANBERRY BOGS
ROLLING TO CAIRO TOWN (ROUSTABOUT SONG)
WAY DOWN IN SHAWNEETOWN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Shawnee Town? / Shawneetown (5)
Lyr Req: Shawneetown (20)
Way down in Shawneetown (12)


leeneia 07 Jul 22 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,henryp 06 Jul 22 - 12:39 PM
leeneia 05 Jul 22 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,talithamac 03 Jul 22 - 04:48 PM
Mr Red 30 Nov 17 - 03:54 AM
Rapparee 29 Nov 17 - 08:57 PM
Joe Offer 29 Nov 17 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,Chanteyman 29 Nov 17 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Chanteyman 17 Nov 17 - 11:41 PM
GUEST,Chanteyman 17 Nov 17 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,Gerry 17 Nov 17 - 06:42 AM
Joe Offer 17 Nov 17 - 02:04 AM
GUEST,Berkeley Chanteyman 16 Nov 17 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,Tuco 19 Feb 16 - 05:00 AM
Squaresinger 28 Feb 14 - 10:26 AM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Harris (classmate of Dillon's) 01 Apr 12 - 08:57 PM
Charley Noble 10 Feb 12 - 08:29 PM
GUEST 10 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jan 11 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jan 11 - 11:04 AM
Charley Noble 31 Dec 10 - 09:27 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Dec 10 - 03:28 PM
Charley Noble 30 Dec 10 - 05:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 30 Dec 10 - 05:11 PM
stallion 30 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM
ClaireBear 30 Dec 10 - 12:16 PM
shipcmo 30 Dec 10 - 10:30 AM
Jacob B 20 May 09 - 11:50 AM
Art Thieme 19 May 09 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Marlisa Clapp 19 May 09 - 12:11 PM
GUEST 17 Jan 08 - 04:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Sep 07 - 10:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Sep 07 - 03:22 PM
Jim Dixon 30 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM
Charley Noble 17 Sep 07 - 10:01 AM
Charley Noble 17 Sep 07 - 09:13 AM
Mark Roffe 22 May 99 - 04:52 PM
22 May 99 - 04:50 PM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 03:24 PM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 03:20 PM
Matthew B. 21 May 99 - 09:26 AM
Mark Roffe 20 May 99 - 05:38 PM
Fadac 20 May 99 - 10:17 AM
Sandy Paton 20 May 99 - 12:47 AM
Mark Roffe 20 May 99 - 12:19 AM
Matthew B. 16 May 99 - 11:08 PM
Sandy Paton 08 May 99 - 01:21 PM
Paul G. 08 May 99 - 11:33 AM
Barry Finn 08 May 99 - 08:44 AM
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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: leeneia
Date: 07 Jul 22 - 12:28 PM

Thanks for that complete and helpful statement, Henry. I think it wraps up for good the story of the composition of 'Shawneetown.'


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 06 Jul 22 - 12:39 PM

Banjo News Letter November 2012 Shawneetown By Tim Jumper
https://banjonews.com/2012-11/shawneetown.html Shawneetown

When I first heard the song a few years ago I assumed it was as old as it sounded. Only recently did I learn of its contemporary (circa 1996) genesis, the details of which Dillon related to me via e-mail:

“My original sources for Shawneetown were two fragments included in Leland DeWitt Baldwin’s “The Keelboat Age on Western Waters” (Pittsburg, 1969)... Baldwin quotes James Hall’s “Letters from the West, Containing Sketches of Scenery, Manners, and Customs” (London, 1828):

Some rows up, but we rows down
All the way to Shawneetown,
Pull away – pull away!

In his endnote Baldwin further quotes Neville’s The Last of the Boatmen in a compilation edited by James Hall, “Western Souvenir”(1828), p. 114:

Hard upon the beach oar! –
She moves too slow! –
All the way to Shawneetown.
Long while ago.

These fragments became my first verse and chorus:

Some row up,
But we float down,
Way down the Ohio,
To Shawneetown.

Hard on the beach oar,
She moves too slow,
Way down to Shawneetown
On the Ohio.”

Dillon wrote several additional verses evocative of the early 19th century keelboat era when Shawneetown, Illinois was an important frontier trading center, and his catchy pentatonic melody stands worthy of comparison with the best of the prolific Mr. or Mrs. Anon. What he has given us is a new American folk song; so when you sing it for other folks, be sure to tell them who wrote it.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: leeneia
Date: 05 Jul 22 - 12:05 PM

Here's a clear map of the Ohio River with the states labelled.
not near New Orleans

[Funny how they don't label the states on the SOUTH bank of the Ohio.
Too banjo-ridden, maybe?]

Throughout this discussion, bear in mind that these rivers used to be much wider and much slower than they are today. Today's rivers have been engineered to handle big boats, mostly barges.

As you can see, the Ohio starts at Pennsylvania's western border and ends at the southern tip of Illinois, where it joins the Mississippi. (Where Huck and Jim got lost in the fog.) For other information, see Sandy Paton's post from May, 1999.

Shawnee was in Illinoi where the Wabash River comes in from the north.    The boatmen in our song are taking whiskey and wheat from Pennsylvania and Ohio to Shawnee and will take rock salt from Shawnee back upriver. So New Orleans, the Natchez Trace and the Mississippi don't come into this journey. Our boatman will get to see his wife in Louisville, but not the other one.

It never seems to occur to these guys that their various "wives" could have had various "husbands", depending on who's in town and who's slogging their way back north. Must have been complicated.

Given how hard it was to go back upstream, it makes sense to have shorter journeys such as this. By the way, I don't think there were many beaches, because if there had been, they would have been using draft animals, not humans, to go upstream.

Oddly, the actual Wabash Cannonball, the train takes good hoboes to Heaven, didn't run near the Wabash River. And that reminds me:

   Oh the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash.
   Through the fields there comes the breath of new-mown hay.
   Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming
   on the banks of the Wabash, far away.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,talithamac
Date: 03 Jul 22 - 04:48 PM

When I recorded this in 1986, with Dillon Bustin singing on the chorus, he gave me words to a couple of extra verses. This is my version:

Vs 1        Some row up but we float down
        Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown

Cho        And it’s hard on the beech oar
        It moves too slow
        Way down to Shawneetown
        On the Ohio        

Vs 2        Now the current’s got her and we’ll take up the slack
        We’ll float her down to Shawneetown and bushwack her back

Vs 3        The whiskey’s in the jug, boys, the wheat is in the sack
        We’ll trade ‘em down in Shawneetown and bring the rock salt back

Vs 4        Got a wife in Louisville, one in New Orleans
        When I get to Shawneetown gonna see my Indian queen

Vs 5        Them hoop-pole boys talk loud and long
        Round as a barrel and they’re twice as strong

Vs 6        I like to fight, I can take my knocks
        But not like last Saturday night at the Cave-in-Rock

Vs 7        The water’s mighty warm, boys, the air is cold and dank
        And the cursed fog it gets so thick you cannot see the bank

Rpt Vs 1


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Mr Red
Date: 30 Nov 17 - 03:54 AM

searching for beech oar will get a few results. But Guest's grammatical explanation is very appealing.
I say this many times: having two meanings in a song (or three if we include pole) is perfectly reasonable, and makes the song connect with more people - who take the meaning they think of first, usually. We build a virtual image in our minds, it is what humans do. The song is as much art as it is a fossil. Given it's authorship.
Comparing historic/logic interpretation, it only has value in a discussion like this.

I like the song, and revel in the discussion. Win Win!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Rapparee
Date: 29 Nov 17 - 08:57 PM

There's this and other versions of the song on You Tube.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Nov 17 - 08:53 PM

Thanks a lot, Steve. I'm glad we finally have this clarified. I credited the song to Dillon Bustin when I sang it last week. Glad I was correct.

Joe


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Chanteyman
Date: 29 Nov 17 - 04:37 PM

Well, I just got off of the phone with Mr. Dillon Bustin. I've arranged to send him the royalties for The Dogwatch Nautical band's use of Shawneetown on our upcoming CD.

The email contact information on his website is obsolete but the phone number worked. I should have tried that sooner, duh! :-)

Of interest to Mudcatters is this part of our discussion, Dillon actually wrote ALL of the verses except ONE, not the other way around. Unfortunately, I didn't have that info in time to update the liner notes on our album but I promised to do that here. (Don't ask me which verse is the one he didn't write-- I neglected to ask. Maybe I'll get to that when I send him our CD.)

Cheers,
Steve Aultman


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Chanteyman
Date: 17 Nov 17 - 11:41 PM

Now I remember why I tried contacting Dillon Bustin via Facebook Messenger-- the email address given on his website, dillonbustin@dillonbustin.net, doesn't work.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Chanteyman
Date: 17 Nov 17 - 11:26 PM

Thanks Joe! Me too.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 17 Nov 17 - 06:42 AM

There's a fine recording of Shawneetown on an album by the Australian group, The Roaring Forties. The album has the great name, Life of Brine, and was released in 2008.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Nov 17 - 02:04 AM

Hi, Chanteyman - there's a message above from Sandy Paton (click), the late owner of Folk-Legacy Records. Sandy says that Dalglish, Larsen & Sutherland learned the song from Dillon Bustin, who made up at least part of the song.
I'm hoping Dillon will respond to your Facebook message or mine and give us definitive information.

Here's the URL for Dillon Bustin's Website:There's contact information there.

-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Berkeley Chanteyman
Date: 16 Nov 17 - 11:15 PM

I'm interested in publishing my band's recording of this and would appreciate any clarification regarding the copyright.

I searched the online copyright database here:

http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=Shawneetown&Search_Code=TALL&PID=py6zcCF6HwZYsqVKZL_w9krAhdq1&SEQ=20171116224732&CNT=25&HIST=1

I didn't find any reference to Dillon Bustin, though there are entries for Dalglish, Larsen & Sutherland -- but on the latter it's not clear whether they claim copyright for the lyrics or just (p) on the recording for this song. (Disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer.)

I tried contacting Dillon Bustin-- I was able to find him on Facebook and tried PM'ing him but that was a while ago and I have as of yet received no reply.

I'd be interested in hearing from "stallion," above, in particular, since he seems to have had some experience with this but I would also welcome any additional feedback.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Tuco
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 05:00 AM

Being old enough to remember the Fess Parker "Davy Crockett" movies, I recall scenes where Davy was on a keel boat(?) that was propelled by men walking the length of the boat, from bow to stern, with long wooden poles that were long enough to reach the river bottom so that as they pushed against the pole while walking the length of the boat, it pushed the boat forward.

In that regard, "beach" (or river bottom near enough to shore for the poles to reach the river bed) might make more sense than naming the wood which those poles were made of. As far as an "oar" goes, that might not necessarily have to be what we might think of as a wooden pole with a flat blade that pushes against water, not the river bed.

More like such, maybe: https://youtu.be/WYRtziLzSjQ 'Course, that's presuming Hollywood got it right for river boat propelling of that period.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Squaresinger
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 10:26 AM

I was puzzled by 'beach oar' from the first time I read it in this spelling. I first supposed it might mean the rowing oar at the side of the beach, but I have never seen anything on board a ship named with reference to something outside the ship. If a rowing oar was meant it would have been called the starboard oar or the port oar.
I didn't find any other reference that explained 'beach', so I'll stick to 'beech' or possibly "It's hard on the beach, or she moves too slow".

Anyone with thoughts on beach versus beech?

Arend


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 11:52 PM

@ GUEST 10 Feb 12 -

You're right about bushwhacking flatboats up river, but I think the "beech oar" in the song is simply an oar made of beech wood, which is very strong and suitable to the purpose.

The Google eBook "A Manual of Forestry ...: Forest utilization, by W.R. Fisher ... being an English translation of 'Die forstbenutzung,' by Dr. Karl Gayer" may shed some light: "Large quantities of wood are used for making rudders and oars. Ashwood is best, but beechwood is also used" (1896, p. 96). The tree grows throughout the eastern United States as far west as Illinois.

- Peter Ellertsen, Springfield, IL


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Harris (classmate of Dillon's)
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 08:57 PM

Dillon has a website, replete with phone number and other contact information:

http://www.dillonbustin.net/about.html


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 08:29 PM

Guest-

Interesting but would you provide some "guest handle" so we can at least keep track of you. We (well most of us on this forum) value comments that advance the discussion but it's nice to know who is generating them.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble (who is not Charley Noble)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM

In my opinion from being around the river all my life and googleing beach oar is, it doesn't exist. I believe the line is about bushwacking the boat back and it should read " It's hard on the beach, or she moves too slow" Bushwacking is putting men on the beach with ropes to the boat to pull it up stream when it can't be poled up. Dillion, being around water, must have known this. It was confusing to me when i heard this 30 or so years ago, but thinking about the song led me to believe as i stated. I have not found any thing to change my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 11 - 11:08 AM

Here's a book I just read which finally makes sense of those inland seas of yore:

Vanished ocean : how Tethys reshaped the world
Stow, D. A. V. (Dorrik A. V.)
Publication: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.


Too bad it has maps of the world that are about the size of a business card.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 11 - 11:04 AM

There might be another terrible quake, but an inland sea is not in the cards.

In the meantime, people in the region should practice basic earthquake safety - water heaters strapped down, no heavy pictures over beds, a pair of shoes right by the bed, a piece of heavy furniture to hide under for every member of the family. etc


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 09:27 PM

Leeneia-

Surely you're not implying that a massive earthquake might happen again and that the entire set of "red states" would become a great inland sea?

Thread drift but I couldn't resist!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 03:28 PM

I just read a book, author Jay Feldman, that deals with this part of the world. It is:

When the Mississippi ran backwards : empire, intrigue, murder, and the New Madrid earthquakes. 2005

Shawnee Town even gets a mention. The book combines history and geology. I was especially interested in the description of the colossal New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. I think every American, and certainly every Midwesterner, ought to know about those quakes.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 05:31 PM

Gibb-

Nice to have this historical note added to this thread.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 05:11 PM

Not sure if you guys were aware of this reference to Shawneetown in 1821, which was introduced by J. Lighter in our chanties discussion.

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=126347#2869260

You'll also find it in this publication:

1828        Hall, James. _Letters from the West._ London: Henry Colburn.

The song text is:

Some rows up, but we row down,
All the way to Shawnee town
Pull away - pull away!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: stallion
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM

We just put it out on our new cd "Crossing the Pond", the liner notes got cocked up and it was put down as "trad" and not Dillon Bustin, however the important recording licence does have it credited to Dillon and he should recieve the royalty payment. Having said that Ron learnt the song from a scotsman in a bar in Perth, Western Ausralia, I haven't heard Dillon's version yet, perhaps Charley can enlighten us as to whether our version is a copy of his.
Peter


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: ClaireBear
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 12:16 PM

I can't attest to its origins (though WE certainly didn't write it), but my band sings an additional verse to Dillon Bustin's Shawneetown that fits the information Sandy provided above about keelboats vs. flatboats. This verse should come just before the reprise of the first one:

Keelboat boys call loud and long
They're round as a barrel but twice as strong
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: shipcmo
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 10:30 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Jacob B
Date: 20 May 09 - 11:50 AM

What's missing is a link to that website!

I didn't find it, but I found

a page about Dillon Bustin

and

his CD on CDBaby.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 May 09 - 02:59 PM

Sandy mentioned that Mr. Bustin got it from Poss Skaggs. If I recall right, "Poss" was short for "Possum" -- He either looked like that animal, or was a trapper of those. (I'm sure it has nothing to do with George Jones. ;-)

Art
(Still here in this thread--after all these many years!)


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: GUEST,Marlisa Clapp
Date: 19 May 09 - 12:11 PM

I know Dillon Bustin. He is launching a website soon.
Are you still looking for more info?
He has a concert this Fri if you are in Massachusetts.

See
mcdstudios.com for my contact info


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 04:11 PM

While listening to Martin Simpson's recording of "Shawnee Town" (from an album called "The Definitive Collection") online from Pandora pandora.com I googled the lyrics and came upon this very interesting and informative thread. THANKS, GUYS! :-)

What is interesting to me is that I just updated my collection of recordings by Cathy Barton & Dave Para, which included a Christmas CD they recorded with the Paton family. Then I happen upon this lively discussion (about as lively as an eight-year discourse can be, I figure!) I am surprised that they (Barton-Para)or their late recording partner, Bob Dyer, haven't recorded this song since Bob's main emphasis was river songs, and B-P sing mainly Missouri/ midwestern/plains/river songs. I shall have to suggest it to them if they haven't already done so! Oops, I just checked their discography Cathy Barton & Dave Para discography They have indeed recorded it on one of the few albums of theirs I'm still lacking, the aptly-named "Livin'On The River".


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 10:43 PM

Another blog version without source; close to the version by the Patons, thread 4597: beech oar .

Some poles up but we floats down,
Way down on the Ohio to Shawneetown.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Whiskey in the brown jug, cornmeal in the sack,
Gonna float her down to Shawneetown and bushwhack her back.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down in Shawneetown on the Ohio.

The water's mighty cold boys, the air is thick and dank,
That damned old fog is got so thick you can scarcely see the bank.
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Got a wife in Cairo, another in New Orleans,
Gonna float on down to Shawneetown and see my Angeline.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down in Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Anyone know who sang this?
Way down in Shawneetown


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 03:22 PM

I wonder if the last line should be- Long way to go.

I have seen excerpts from the Mitford volumes before; they suggest that the book is worth reading. Unfortunately, the three volumes of "Lights..." are costly. A reprint was made some years ago, but it is just as expensive.
Following Dixon's search for beech oar, I found this in a blog. Something newly coined? (the dialect looks false).

HARD UPON THE BEECH OAR

Hard upon the beech oar
She moves too slow
All the way tay Mandan town
Long way tay go.

Hard upon the beech oar
Up Mizzou we go
All the way to Cook's Sound
Long way to go.

Hard upon the beech oar
Row you bastards row
Big John is blowing our roofs down
And it's a long way to go.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM

I used Google Book Search to search for "beech oar" and found this, from "Lights and Shadows of American Life" by Mary Russell Mitford, 1832. The chapter is called "The Last of the Boatmen."
    As they left the shore, they gave the Indian yell: and broke out into a sort of unconnected chorus, commencing with —

      "Hard upon the beech oar!
      She moves too slow!
      All the way to Shawneetown,
      Long while ago."
I also found some quotes--the oldest was 1874--that used the spelling "beach oar." The same 4 lines are quoted in several old books, but none gives more lyrics than that.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 10:01 AM

Here's an unrelated "Shawneetown" song:
^^
SHAWNEETOWN

Shawneetown is burnin' down,
Who tole you so?
Shawneetown is burning down,
Who tole you so?

Cynthe, my darlin' gal,
Who tole you so?
Cynthie, my darlin' gal,
How do you know?

How the hell d'ye 'spect me to hold her,
Way down below?
I've got no skin on either shoulder,
Who tole you so?

De houses dey is all on fire,
Way down below.
De houses dey is all on fire,
Who tole you so?

My ole missus tole me so,
Way down below.
An' I believe what ole missus says,
Way down below.

After being flooded out several times (due more to the Engineers working on flood control, I believe), the town was moved to higher ground. When I went through there years ago, the carcases of some old stone buildings were still on the old site. The town had lost its importance. Shawneetown is referred to in other threads.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 09:13 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 22 May 99 - 04:52 PM

Cookie crumbled...it was me writing -- Mark Roffe


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From:
Date: 22 May 99 - 04:50 PM

Thank you for your work on this, Sandy. I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to do something as nice for you. I've wondered about this song for many years. Now I can even pass the information on to Jessica, who taught me the song over twenty years ago.
And just after writing the above paragraph, I was searching the net for albums by Jessica and her husband Martin, and I found that they also recorded "Way Down Shawneetown" on an 1994 Shanachie album called "Martin Simpson: Collection." !! I haven't heard the album, but CDNow had a short clip of the song, and it is the same song. Give it a listen. (I also found it on Tunes.com, but for some reason their cut-order is all mixed up and if you click on one song you get a different one, so the CDnow works better, at least for Shawneetown.)

Mark
Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 03:24 PM

If you copy this text, please correct "curses" to "cursed" in the penultimate verse. Thanks.
[Done]
Sandy, super-typist.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHAWNEETOWN (sung by Dalglish & Larsen)
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 03:20 PM

At long last, some information for you. Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen recorded "Shawneetown" on their The First of Autumn LP (June Appal JA026). What follows is taken from the booklet that accompanied the album.

We learned "Shawneetown" from a good friend of ours, Dillon Bustin. Dillon learned part of the song when he was young from a year-round fisherman (*) on the White River in Indiana. Since then he has picked up verses from travel logs and novels of the keelboat era. He even made up one of the verses. (**)
Shawneetown is an Ohio River town in southern Illinois just a little south of the Wabash River junction. The town was the first Anglo settlement on the Ohio and before 1830 was the major trade center for Illinois settlers and the Indians. The nearby salt mines provided the town's major commodity.
The most efficient commercial boats in those days were the keelboats. Unlike flatboats and rafts, which only travelled downriver, the keelboats made the difficult trip back as well. In the days before steam power, and before present dams tamed the river's currents, the methods for getting a boat back up river (whether "cordelling" or "bushwacking" ) involved the crew literally pulling the boat against the current. While a downriver trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans took only a few weeks, the return trip took several months. … The use of the beech oar, a long oar that most river craft had to guide the boat as well as to physically maneuver it off mudslicks and snags, was the main work of the downriver course.

Here's the text as Dalglish and Larsen recorded it:

SHAWNEETOWN
(Dillon Bustin)

Some rows up, but we floats down,
Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown.

Chorus:
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow.
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.


Now the current's got her and we'll take up the slack.
Float her down to Shawneetown and we'll bushwack her back.

The whiskey's in the jug, boys, the wheat is in the sack.
We'll trade 'em down to Shawneetown and we'll bring the rock salt back.

I got a wife in Louisville and one in New Orleans,
And when I get to Shawneetown gonna see my Indian Queen.

The water's might warm, boys, the air is cold and dank,
And the cursed fog it gets so thick you cannot see the bank.

(repeat first verse)

(*) This, as I recall, is the gentleman known as 'Poss Skaggs.
(**) They don't say which one, however.

That's about all I can come up with. It would seem, then, that credit for the song should be given completely to Dillon. He created the song from a fragment.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Matthew B.
Date: 21 May 99 - 09:26 AM

But I want to know Now!!!

:)


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 20 May 99 - 05:38 PM

Thanks, Sandy. Don't knock yerself out -- I've been wanting to find out about this for about 20 years. Guess a little more waiting won't make much difference.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Fadac
Date: 20 May 99 - 10:17 AM

Hi A song called "Shawnee town" was reliesed by St. Elmos Choir, a all femail sea chantie group in the Pacific Northwest. The name of the tape is White Stocking Day. I bought mine from the Hyde st. pier musium book shop, in Down town San Francisco, ca. I don't have the phone number...sorry, but that info should get you close.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 May 99 - 12:47 AM

Still workin' on it. Sorry. I can't find my original notes. Next week we're gonna get organized!

We help to market the Kallet, Epstein, Cicone recordings, Angels in Daring and Only Human, but we didn't produce them. Those two, an Cindy's solo Dreaming Down a Quiet Line were "self-produced" CDs. Now, I recently learned, they have a new one coming out on Philo, one of Rounder's labels.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 20 May 99 - 12:19 AM

I'd still like to know the answer to that one, Matthew.

I may have put Sandy off the scent when I mistakenly called the label on which someone recorded a Dillon Bustin song as the "Legacy" label -- it was actually the "Folk-Legacy" label, which Sandy and friends started in 1961. (The album is ONLY HUMAN, Folk-Legacy #CD-5061, by Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone. I don't know which of Dillon Bustin's songs are on the record, and I don't know if Dillon has written songs other than "Shawneetown.")

Web searches yielded that Dillon does perform at Massachusetts festivals, but I haven't yet found a way to contact him. So...Sandy, can you tell us more about how the song came to be, or maybe how to contact Dillon?

Thanks,

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Matthew B.
Date: 16 May 99 - 11:08 PM

So what's the verdict? When was this song written, by whom, and under what circumstances? (my favorite theory is the one about the two college students)

Does anybody know?


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 May 99 - 01:21 PM

You know, Barry, I'm not sure. I have a vague memory that suggests Dillon got a fragment of it from an elderly southern Indiana "informant" known as "Poss'" Skaggs, then filled it out with his own contributions. But don't take that as Gospel; let me do some homework first. Got your E-mail, thanks. I appreciate it.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Paul G.
Date: 08 May 99 - 11:33 AM

Just a brief interjection to mention that if you have not heard the version of Shawneetown by my friend and fellow north Floridian, Sam Pacetti, you are missing pure genius. The CD is "Solitary Travel" on Waterbug. Sam was a protege of Gamble Rogers, and is a 23 year old finger-style magician. All of you celtic fans will appreciate Sam's treatment of the music...

Blessings,

Paul G.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 May 99 - 08:44 AM

Hi Sandy, any clue as to the songs origin, I always thought it was traditional. I gonna send you an e-mail about Julianna. Barry


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