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Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)

Joan from Wigan 22 Jul 01 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Les B 23 Jul 01 - 06:54 PM
Joan from Wigan 24 Jul 01 - 04:59 AM
wysiwyg 24 Jul 01 - 10:51 AM
Jim Dixon 02 Feb 02 - 01:57 AM
Joan from Wigan 02 Feb 02 - 02:29 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Feb 02 - 08:42 AM
John in Brisbane 03 Nov 04 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,Dave Day 28 Mar 08 - 08:38 AM
Leadbelly 28 Mar 08 - 03:17 PM
Tootler 28 Mar 08 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,did you find anything 26 Jun 09 - 09:49 AM
Will Fly 26 Jun 09 - 02:18 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jun 09 - 02:18 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Amanda Emerson 12 Mar 12 - 03:24 PM
GUEST 15 Feb 13 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,Pete 26 Mar 13 - 08:10 AM
GUEST 15 Aug 13 - 10:03 AM
Tootler 15 Aug 13 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Winter Storm 19 Sep 14 - 10:40 PM
GUEST,Roger 20 Sep 14 - 06:29 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Sep 14 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Sep 14 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Janice Kelley 16 Jul 16 - 01:59 PM
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Subject: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Joan from Wigan
Date: 22 Jul 01 - 04:01 AM

The original tune and words of "Whistling Rufus" are in the DT, but I've been asked if I can find the words beginning "I knew a man called Whistling Rufus". Can anyone help please? Thanks.

Joan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 23 Jul 01 - 06:54 PM

You can find a bit of history about the song at this site ... but unfortunately not the words.

http://www.basinstreet.com/Programs/TheCakewalkCD/#Whistling Rufus


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Joan from Wigan
Date: 24 Jul 01 - 04:59 AM

Susan, thanks for refreshing the thread, and Les, thanks for the link - although I had already found that one. The original words are easily found (although very non-pc, and probably unacceptable to sing these days) in the DT by doing a search for "Rufus". My friend who's asked me to search tells me she's been told of words beginning "I knew a man called...", which I've not found either here or elsewhere. I've tried Google, which is normally excellent for finding lyrics if they're anywhere on the web, but come up blank. So I'm just hoping someone in Mudcat-land knows of them.

Joan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Jul 01 - 10:51 AM

*G*


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 01:57 AM

It appears that the original "Whistling Rufus," written by Kerry Mills in 1899, was a tune only, without words. The sheet music can be seen at the Duke University "Digital Scriptorium". It is also in the Levy collection.

You can find a MIDI file on this page.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Joan from Wigan
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 02:29 AM

Many thanks for that additional info, Jim.

Joan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 08:42 AM

Hey, Jim: I have a framed copy of the original sheet music of Whistling Rufus hanging on the wall in my music room....
Jerry


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHISTLING RUFUS
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 09:00 PM

From http://hetzler.homestead.com/NBCakeWalk.html

QUOTE

Whistling Rufus

Ole Rufus would go to a ball or a party,
Rainy weather or shine,
And when he got there he was handsome
After the chicken and the wine.

When he got through with the chicken and the wine,
Then he whistled and he sung so grand
That they thought the angels' harps was a-playing.
And they called him the one-band man.

(Chorus): Don't make no blunder, they couldn't lose him,
For perfect wonder they had to choose him;
A great musician with a high position
Was whistling Rufus, the one-band man.

The above are Kerry Mills' original lyrics from 1899 (slightly edited to remove offensive language).

Variations of this song were widely recorded in the 1920's with blatantly racist lyrics. The melody has survived as an Old Time fiddle tune. Thankfully the lyrics have not.

Colored Aristocracy (1899) and Whistling Rufus (1899) are often played as reels, but they were originally intended to be played at a stately march tempo. Both tunes were written specifically for a dance known as the Cakewalk. They were the popular commercial music of their day,

The Cakewalk dance craze started in 1889, peaked in popularity between 1895 and 1905 and survived into the 1920's.

The Cakewalk grew out of the dancing of African-American slaves who, as early as 1850, did a dance known as the Chalk Line Walk. Many of the movements of this dance, such as bending back the body and dropping the hands at the wrists, were features of African Kaffir dances.

The Chalk Line Walk consisted of a couple promenading in a dignified, but exaggerated manner with high stepping and kicking. The name Cakewalk comes from the practice of plantation owners entertaining their neighbors by holding dance contests with their slaves. The winning dance couple would receive a cake.

The Cakewalk also has roots in the minstrel shows that toured the country beginning in the 1840's. Minstrel shows always ended with a Grand Finale called a walk-around. This started out as a way to showcase individual performers, but grew into elaborate and stylized routines which included exaggerated dancing often mocking society's elite.

These routines eventually made their way to the ballroom and became the Cakewalk. At its peak the Cakewalk was a grand promenade with dignified walking, bowing, waving canes, doffing hats, etc.

The Cakewalk was the first American dance to cross over from black to white society as well as from the stage (minstrel shows) to the ballroom.

UNQUOTE

And from Albert's Hillbilly Songster No.2, here are unedited lyrics:

WHISTLING RUFUS
By Kerry Mills.

Copyright 1959, F. A. Mills, New York

1. Down in de south whar de sly ole possum
Hides in de sycamore tree,
Dar lived a coon name o' Rufus Blossom,
Black as a nigger could be.
Rufe had a head like a big sledge hammer,
Mouth like a terrible scar,
But nothin' could touch him in Alabama
When he played on his old guitar.

CHORUS: Don't make no blunder.
You couldn't lose him.
A perfect wonder,
They had to choose him.
A great musician
Of high position
Was Whistling Rufus the One Man Band.

2. Miles he would tramp to a ball or party
In rainy weather or fine.
When he arrived, he was welcomed hearty.
Out came chicken and wine.
When he was froo wid de wine an' chicken,
He'd play an' whistle so grand,
You'd think dat de angels on harps was pickin',
And dey called him One Man Band.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: GUEST,Dave Day
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 08:38 AM

My Granny Sophia Jane Green (nee Wren) born in Islington, London in 1885 used to sing a version of Whistlin Rufus at every Christmas Party, after a few gins. She sang the first verse & chorus of the above entry (almost). She died in 1974. I still remember her words but won't repeat them here.In later years I heard the melody played by various jazz bands in the jazz clubs I went to in the 1950s/1960s. Notably Mick Mulligan and Mike Daniels. They never used the words though. It made a great jazz number, fronted by the banjo.
Dave Day


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Leadbelly
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:17 PM

...would like to add the version of Chris Barber's Jazz Band long time ago. As mentioned, without words.
Not knowing about the history of this song I thought Rufus was a dog.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I knew a man called Whistling Rufus
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 07:15 PM

There's a wonderful arrangement for four recorders (SATB). Everyone gets a solo at some point.

We play it quite regularly.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,did you find anything
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 09:49 AM

I run an Alzheimer's Day Center and one of our clients keeps singing "I knew a man named Rufus who had a head like a sledgehammer and his mouth/face had a terrible scar" Just trying to find the source to surprise him.
Thanks for any help
Email to amy.voisine@mainegeneral.org


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mill
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:18 PM

I can't resist a spot of shameless self-promotion, I'm afraid. Apologies in advance for the selfishness. Here's my arrangement for guitar:

Whistling Rufus


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:18 PM

The tune "Whistling Rufus" by Kerry Mills, 1899, as noted above, lacked lyrics; it was described as "A Characteristic Two Step March" in the sheet music.
In 2/4 time, piano, the cover to the sheet music says "A characteristic marck which can be used effectively as a two-step, polka and cake walk," and is "Song 5, of Kerry Mills Two-step Marches.
Sheet Music at Levy sheet music collection.
All lyrics have developed later.

An interesting note heading page one of the sheet music says:
"No cake walk given in the Black Belt District in Alabama was considered worth while attending unless "WHISTLING RUFUS" was engaged to furnish the music. Unlike other musicians RUFUS always performed alone, playing an accompaniment to his whistling on an old guitar, and it was with great pride that he called himself the "ONE-MAN BAND"

Does anyone have any information on this performer?

Kerry Mills (1869-1948), professionally trained, was head of the violin-string department of the University of Michigan School of Music before moving to NYC and starting his own music publishing company in 1895.
Other tunes include "At a Georgia Camp Meeting" and "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis." He wrote the music for "Redwing," adapting the tune from Schumann's "Merry Peasant." (brief at Wikipedia)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM

Guest, I haven't found those particular lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mill
From: GUEST,Amanda Emerson
Date: 12 Mar 12 - 03:24 PM

My father, Lawrence Waldo Emerson of Haydenville. Ma., when he was a young man in W.W.II, in an army camp, heard laughing and singing and a "wonderful time" coming from the black barracks. He took his harmonica down one night and knocked on the door. He asked if he could join them and after a slight hesitation, he was invited in. One of the soldier musicians claimed descendency from Rufus Blossom, a freed slave who fought for the confederacy, not because he loved slavery, but because the South was his home. These guys taught my father the words of this Rufus Blossom song, which you have printed here, and he taught it to us. As an aside, some time after my father was making music with the black soldiers, some white service men joined him. Soon, there were a few racial epithets thrown at my father and the others for fraternizing. Then another of the white soldiers said, "Hey, if we got a problem with that, what are we fighting this war for anyway? Some time after that one of the black musicians said, "You know that we call ourselves n-----, but we don't like to hear that coming from white people. So, Emerson, we hope you understand when we say, you got the soul of a n-----". My family is very proud of this story... but we don't tell it to everybody.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Feb 13 - 08:51 PM

My Grandfather would sing this song to me when I was very young.
I am 46 now and Grand Pop is gone now but I remember this little tune from time to time and still love it.
I sing it to my kids now and then.
Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,Pete
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 08:10 AM

I am sure I first heard this song at a Wolf Cub camp about 1938/9but very few of the words stuck in my mind but Great muscian of hi position was Whisting Rufus the onr manband. Thanks for giving me the proper words


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:03 AM

Roger Bush - rogerbush@onetel.com

Just found your comment in Mudcat dated 2008 that you played the wonderful arrangement of Whistling Rufus on recorders. I had a copy of that many years ago and now cannot find it. Can you tell who publishes it as I would love to play it again with my group? It was in a book of similar arrangements I recall.

Many thanks.
Roger Bush Sedbergh, Cumbria


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 12:55 PM

I have a copy. I'll find it and post the details.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,Winter Storm
Date: 19 Sep 14 - 10:40 PM

Maybe this
Way down South where the sly old 'possum hides in the sycamore tree, thar lived a coon named Rufus Blossom, black as a man could be


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,Roger
Date: 20 Sep 14 - 06:29 AM

When I was at sea there was a song an old matelot used to sing when he'd had a beer or two. I think it was Royal rather than Merchant.

'You've got a face like a mess deck locker
Eyes like a Dogger Bank cod'

Can't for the life of me remember the rest of it.
I think we'd all had a beer or two at the time!!

Roger


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Sep 14 - 06:18 PM

Description from the sheet music at Baylor University:

WHISTLING RUFUS
"A Characteristic March Which Can Be Used Effectively as a Two-Step, Polka or Cake-Walk"
Words by W. Murdoch Lind; music by Kerry Mills
New York: F. A. Mills, ©1899.

Lyrics are identical to the second set posted by John in Brisbane above.

The following have sheet-music images of the tune only, without words:
Indiana University
Johns Hopkins University (Levy Collection)
Mississippi State University
University of Maine
University of Mississippi
National Library of Australia
York University


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Sep 14 - 10:33 AM

Hello, Will Fly. Belated thanks for the performance on guitar.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Whistling Rufus (W M Lind, Kerry Mills)
From: GUEST,Janice Kelley
Date: 16 Jul 16 - 01:59 PM

I am 78 years old. When I was young (in the early 1940's) my parents would sing "Whistlin' Rufus", with my father playing guitar. These are the words to the song, as taught to me by them:

"Way down south lived a sly old possum,
High up a sycamore tree.
Lived close by was Rufus the Blossom,
Black as a nigger could be.
Rufus had a head like a great sledge-hammer,
And a mouth like a terrible scar.
There never was a nigger in old Alabama
That could head him on his old guitar.

   Chorus:
He don't make no blunders, they could not lose him.
He's a perfect wonder, they had to choose him.
He's a grand musician, with a high position.
He's Whistling' Rufus, the one-man band.

On his way to a ball or party, when the weather is fine,
When he gets there he's welcome and hearty,
Out comes chicken and wine.
When he gets through with his wine and his chicken
He whistles and he sings so grand.
Most anyone would think he was an angel on a harp,
But they call him the one-man band."


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