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Origins: Buffalo Skinners

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BUFFALO SKINNERS


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GUEST,Tom Dowling 16 Oct 00 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,ddalton@johnstown.net 16 Oct 00 - 10:47 PM
Art Thieme 17 Oct 00 - 12:54 AM
Groucho Marxist (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 09:54 AM
Frankham 17 Oct 00 - 10:47 AM
richardw 17 Oct 00 - 11:04 AM
Groucho Marxist (inactive) 17 Oct 00 - 11:10 AM
Abby Sale 17 Oct 00 - 02:24 PM
Art Thieme 17 Oct 00 - 08:50 PM
Ely 18 Oct 00 - 03:17 PM
Art Thieme 18 Oct 00 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Tom Dowling 19 Oct 00 - 12:50 AM
GUEST,GUEST,Raymond Wong 19 Oct 00 - 04:24 PM
L R Mole 20 Oct 00 - 02:30 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 00 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,tom/oregon 04 May 22 - 08:51 PM
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Subject: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: GUEST,Tom Dowling
Date: 16 Oct 00 - 10:28 PM

Dear Mudcatters:

I have always like the tune 'Buffalo Skinners', which I only know from the old Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band album ("Jug Band Music"). Does anyone know of any earlier traditional (possibly Celtic) tunes with the same underlying melody? It sure rolls nicely off the pennywhistle, and I wondered if the lyrics had been laid over an older tune.

Thanks,

Tom Dowling


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: GUEST,ddalton@johnstown.net
Date: 16 Oct 00 - 10:47 PM

John Renbourn did a version on the album Farro Annie which is comprised of traditional American tunes.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 12:54 AM

The song you ask about came after the earlier song from the Northern woods lumberjacks and camps called "Collie's Run-i-o". This had a rather poretty major key melody. Both "Buffalo Skinners" and "Collie's Run-i-o" are on a Library Of Congress record. "Buffalo Skinners" was done by the old man himself, JOHN LOMAX---who put out the first larger collection of cowboy songs as a book in 1910. (The first actual booklet of cowboy songs was issued by JACK THORP in 1908.) Jack Elliott got "B.S." from Woody Guthrie. I got it from Jack's singing and I sang it for around 40 years myself with the minor key version although Jack did show his audiences the pretty version once in a long while.

I've heard a lot of Jim Kweskin over the years---much that was never issued commercially by him---but I've never heard him sing "Buffalo Skinners". What record was that on?

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Groucho Marxist (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 09:54 AM

Art,

I have a CD (that used to be two LPs) called "The Greatest Songs of Woody Guthrie." It includes Jim Kweskin (solo, not the Jug Band) doing "Buffalo Skinners."

It's a collection of various artists doing Woody Guthrie songs. Most of the selections are taken from various Vanguard LPs from the 1960s. The tracks of Woody himself were liscenced from Folkways.

Others on this collection include Woody himself, Cisco Houston, the Weavers, Odetta, Country Joe McDonald, Jack Elliott, and Joan Baez.

Groucho


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 10:47 AM

There's a variant called "CAnaday-i-o" as well.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: richardw
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:04 AM

The Canadian group Tamarack does a minor version but slightly altered. The best, absolute best version, with more guts than any other version I have heard is by former Albertan Diamond Joe White, now living on Vancouver Island. He has recorded it a couple of times. If you like the song you have to hear Joe's version.

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Groucho Marxist (inactive)
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 11:10 AM

The best version that I ever heard was performed live, about 30 years ago, by Willie Dunn.

Groucho


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 02:24 PM

A (believe it or not) brief excerpt from my notes on the song:

The roots of "Buffalo Skinner" can be exactly date to 1853.

Fannie H. Eckstorm & Mary W. Smyth in Minstrelsy of Maine; Houghton Mifflin; 1927 (republished by Gryphon Books, Ann Arbor; 1971) deals in some detail with "Canaday-I-O" on page 21 et seq.

I note from this:
Eckstorm had searched the Maine woods for "Canaday-I-O" for 25 years since hearing a fragment of it as a child.  Then finally collected a fragment in 1890.

First printing of any version was Shoemaker, 1919 as "The Jolly Lumbermen" (located at Colley's Run, PA.)  [Assumedly the same song as "Colley's Run-I-O."]

She finally acquired the first known complete Eastern text anywhere from the elderly Mrs. Annie Marston. (no date given... after 1923?.)  This version clearly pre-dates "The Jolly Lumbermen."

Rickaby published the North Dakota version, "Michigan-I-O" (with tune) in 1926

In January, 1914 Eckstorm heard "Buffalo Skinners" at a Lomax lecture & told him it was a later version of  "Canaday-I-O." This was new information to Lomax.  (However, Lomax apparently didn't tell Sandberg of the connection as it doesn't appear in Songbag.)  In fact, it is not until Folk Song U.S.A. (1947) that the Lomaxes finally give full credit to "Canaday-I-O" as the source of "Buffalo Skinners."

"Canaday-I-O"  dates itself as the "fall of [18] fifty-three."

Eckstorm: "This woods song is entirely unlike the sea song, also called 'Canada I O,' which was much sung in Maine, both in the woods and elsewhere, and was common in English broadsides and in early songbooks."

Full details, including both text and tune for both the "old" and the "new" "Canaday I.O."
are available in Fannie H. Eckstorm's article, "Canada I-O;" Bulletin of the Folk-song Society of the Northeast; (Cambridge, MA, 1933, no. 6, page 10) which includes her more extensive historical  treatment.  The two tunes are very similar, even 50 years after their bifurcation.  The tune is only vaguely like the modern "Buffalo Skinners" but the roots can clearly be heard there.

Duncan Emrich, editing Library of Congress record #L28,  Cowboy Songs, etc. as collected  by John Lomax; (1952) gives a more extensive summary and introduces some new information and (finally) references.  The record includes a field recording of "Colley's Run-I-O." He credits the roots as Maine & before that, England.  "An original English love song, 'Caledonia,' appeared in print somewhere before 1800 in The Caledonian Garland (Boswell Chapbooks...) and this song was used as the base upon which was built the English sea song 'Canada I O,' which was printed in the Forget-me-not Songster." The Maine lumberjack, Ephraim Braley, probably read the Forget-me-not Songster.  After a stint of lumberjacking in Canada in 1853, he composed "Canada I O." In Maine, the song existed in oral tradition only (until printed by Eckstorm) but the versions that erupted out to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, etc. became well-known and were printed.  He credits Eckstorm's 1933 article for most of the historical background.

Finally, Emrich prints the first and last stanzas of the songs from both the Forget-me-not Songster (now calling it a "love song of the sea") and Braley's  "Canada I O."

"Caledoni-o" ("the love song") is in Greig~Duncan.  The only link I haven't been able to fill is common tunes for the English version of "Canadee-I-O."  Of course Nic Jones does a superb job on Penguin Eggs but there is, and he has, no record of his tune's origin.
 
 


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 08:50 PM

Abby,

That's great. I can sing 'em but you sure do got the info. I'se gonna copy this thread.

Art


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Ely
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 03:17 PM

[Sidenote]

I have a recording somewhere of a song about the Monitor and the Merrimack (American Civil War era battleships) set to the same tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Oct 00 - 11:52 PM

Craig Johnson's fine song, "A North Country Tragedy" is also set to this tune.

Art


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Subject: RE: Thanks to all of you Buffalo Skinners and Mudc
From: GUEST,Tom Dowling
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 12:50 AM

My thanks to all of you fine folks who responded to the Buffalo Skinners inquiry. For Mr. Art Thieme, who asked which Kweskin ablum the song was on, as I recall, it was one the "Jug Band Music" Album, which also had on it "Ukelele Lady" "Make me a Pallet on Your Floor" "Eight More Miles ot Louisville" and Maria Mauldar's version of "I'm a Woman". In fairness to the Jug Band, these recollections go back to the 1960's and may be a bit skewed. This sure is a grat website!!!


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: GUEST,GUEST,Raymond Wong
Date: 19 Oct 00 - 04:24 PM

Arlo Guthrie also did it on 'One Night'. Both this and 'Last night I had the strangest dream' are my favorites from this CD.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: L R Mole
Date: 20 Oct 00 - 02:30 PM

Clamzo, me boys, clamzo.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: BUFFALO SKINNERS - Origins, Anyone?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 00 - 03:49 PM

What are the origins of the minor-key melody to which "Buffalo Skinners" is sometimes sung ?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buffalo Skinners
From: GUEST,tom/oregon
Date: 04 May 22 - 08:51 PM

I sing this song on my banjo in the key of Bm out of D tuning which is the same as standard G tuning but lowered down with Minstrel Nylgut strings. In the middle I throw in the fiddle tune "Buffalo Hunters" which syncs well as a break with Buffalo Skinners.

It is supposed to be the same melody as "Hills Of Mexico (which I also sing with the banjo) so what's the relation? Which came first?

Early in the BHO history a husband/wife team did a great version where she does the singing but I've never found it since. Where did it go?


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