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Steamboat coonjine songs

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GUEST,Q 05 Dec 02 - 05:52 PM
Allan C. 05 Dec 02 - 07:00 PM
Stewie 05 Dec 02 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,Q 05 Dec 02 - 08:17 PM
GUEST,Q 05 Dec 02 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,Q 05 Dec 02 - 08:51 PM
Keith A of Hertford 06 Dec 02 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,Q 06 Dec 02 - 02:12 PM
Art Thieme 06 Dec 02 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,Q 06 Dec 02 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,Q 06 Dec 02 - 11:06 PM
GUEST,Q 06 Dec 02 - 11:26 PM
Richie 06 Dec 02 - 11:37 PM
Richie 06 Dec 02 - 11:50 PM
masato sakurai 07 Dec 02 - 12:02 AM
GUEST,Q 07 Dec 02 - 12:03 AM
Richie 07 Dec 02 - 12:09 AM
Richie 07 Dec 02 - 12:12 AM
Richie 07 Dec 02 - 12:19 AM
John Minear 07 Dec 02 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Q 07 Dec 02 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Q 07 Dec 02 - 01:56 PM
Richie 07 Dec 02 - 07:04 PM
Barbara 07 Dec 02 - 07:52 PM
Rapparee 07 Dec 02 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,Q 07 Dec 02 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,Q 07 Dec 02 - 10:22 PM
Nathan in Texas 07 Dec 02 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,Q 08 Dec 02 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,Q 08 Dec 02 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,Q 08 Dec 02 - 01:09 AM
Rapparee 08 Dec 02 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Q 08 Dec 02 - 11:11 PM
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EBarnacle1 09 Dec 02 - 04:30 PM
Charley Noble 09 Dec 02 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Q 09 Dec 02 - 11:20 PM
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Subject: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 05:52 PM

A coonjine was the Negro laborer (roustabout) who loaded the steamboats on the rivers. His technique of humping bales and barrels on the gangplank and across decks and wharfs was called coonjining. The word also was applied to a dance step in the minstrel days.

American Memory, among its WPA life Histories, has a rare interview (1939) with an old Negro coonjine who had made it to New York and was found working at the docks on West Street. The interviewer, Garnett Laidlaw Eskew, also was unusual, in that he knew his subject, having been reared near the inland rivers.

The rouster wore the traditional covering of gunny sack fastened with nails across his neck and shoulders and the hat turned up in front.
He sang several songs and song fragments typical of the work and times on the Mississippi River system. In the mid-late 19th century there were over 2000 steamers (all painted white) on the river system, each with about 50 roustabouts on board, before the railroads became dominant. The roustabout carried everything from live pigs to cotton bales. Between loading and unloading, the men rested on deck, gambled and ate. For the Negro rouster, the pay was relatively good and food was plentiful.

Here are the songs, some of which belong with lyrics already posted,
but put together here to show something of the repertoire of a river roustabout.

Love her in the sunshine
Love her in the rain!
Treats her like a white gal,
She give my neck a pain!
De mo' I does for Sadie Lee
De less dat woman thinks er me.

Old roustabout ain't got no home,
Make his living on his shoulder bone!

Lizzie Bay
De ole Lizzie Bay she comin' roun' de ben'
All she's a doin' is killin' up men.
De ole Lizzie Bay she's a mighty fine boat
But hit take nine syphon ter keep her afloat.
(Lizzie Bay ran from Ragtown (Cincinnati) to Cairo; rags for paper shipped out on the boats, hence the name.

Who been hyuh sints I bin gone?
Big ole rouster wid a derby on,
Layin right dar in my bed
Wid his heels crack open like cracklin' bread.
A whoop my woman and I black her eye,
But I won't cut her throat kaze I skeered shemight die.

(The "well-nigh unprintable songs "Rango, Rango" and "Roll, Molly, Roll" are mentioned.

Whar wuz you las' night?
O tell me where you wuz last light?
Rattin' on de job
In Saint Chawles Hotel.
(ratting = loafing. The "Hotel" was a warm, cleared space beneath the steamboat boilers on the lower deck)

I chaws my terbacker and I spits my juice,
Gwinter love my gal til hit ain't no use.

Boozum bread, boozum bread,
I eats dat stuff till I damn near dead.
(Boozum bread is long slabs of ginger bread, "nigger belly," that was obtained in Vicksburg. Roustabouts carred it under his shirt bosom next to the skin. By ducking his chin he could bite out chunks of the stuff (softened by sweat) without interference with his work. The song had reference to a "one-armed, hard-fisted steamboat mate named Lew Brown.

Reason I like de Lee Line trade,
Sleep all night wid the chambermaid.
She gimmie some pie and she gimmie some cake,
An' I gi' her all de money dat I ever make.

Dey wuks you hawd but dey feeds you fine
On dem big boats er de Anchor Line.
(A Line with large boats boasting fine cuisine, "sumptious cabins and speed." See song thread on the W. S. Hays song, "Down in de Co'n Fiel.")

De City of Cairo's a mighty big gun,
But lemmee tell you whut de Monroe done;
She lef' Baton Rough at haff pass one
An' git ter Vicksburg at de settin' er de sun.
(Anchor Line)

Me and muh woman done had a fus...
Gwinter take a little trip on de Trusty Trus.!
I owes de lanlady fifty cents,
Gwinter roust on de Providence.
(Anchor Line)

Sal Teller leave St. Looey
Wid her lights tu'n down.
And you'll know by dat
She's Alabama bound.
(ship Saltillo called the Sal Teller).

Alabama bound!
She's Alabama bound!
You'll know by dat
She's Alabama bound!
Doan you leave me here!
Doan you leave me here!
Ef you's gwine away and ain' comin' back
Leave a dime for beer!
Leave a dime for beer
Leave a dime for beer!
Brother, if yu gwine away
Leave a dime for beer!

I ask de mate
Ter sell me some gin;
Says, I pay you mister
When de Stack comes in
When de Stack comes in
When de Stack comes in!
Says, I pay you mister
When de Stack comes in.
(The ship Stacker Lee of the lee Line)

Catfish swimmin' in de river
Nigger wid a hook and line.
Says de catfish, Lookyere, Nigger,
You ain' got me dis time.
....Come on, bale,- got yuh!
(cotton-loading song, New Orleans.

"Coonjine- moving in perfect time meant that the rousters' feet hit the stageplank with uniform precision. ...For if a rouster should step upon the vibrating boards out of time, and thus catch the rebound of the stage-plank, he was very likely to be catapulted with his load over into the muddy bourne from which no roustabout returns- or rarely so."
A general opinion prevails that nobody but the Negroes can sing Coonjine.
At the time this was written, some of the old coonjines were still alive, but had come north to live with the "chillun" in the cities.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Allan C.
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 07:00 PM

Great information. I especially like the note at the end about staying in sync with the bounce of the planks. Anyone who has ever walked on such a board can easily relate. Thanks, GUEST Q!


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Stewie
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 07:55 PM

I'll second that. Thanks, Q.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:17 PM

The word "rouster" was pronounced "rooster."

A little more information from "The Mississippi Roustabout," Stoughton Cooley, The New England Magazine, v. 17, issue 3, Nov. 1894, pp. 290-301.
"The sense of rhythm in the roustabouts, like that of all Negroes, is very acute. Though they have a limited vocabulary, they readily construct songs for any and all occasions. Whether it be at a log freight pile---or leaving port at New Orleans, where the crew line the forecastle and sing as the flag comes down, the words will be apt and the tune melodious. No boat ever had a name so long or so outlandish that they could not weave it into a song; no event in river history is so complicated that it cannot be told in musical rhyme.
All of the songs consist of rhyming couplets, with a refrain following each line,- the leader lining off---, the whole crew.... joining in the chorus. The sense of rhythm shows itself even in their walk. They have a swinging, shuffling gait, called "coongineing," in which their movements are in such accord that the whole boat will respond, swaying until the mate compels them to break step."
The men may be divided into watches, each with a "captain of the watch."


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:18 PM

Sorry- I should have noted that the complete article is at American Memory.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:51 PM

Does anyone know the roustabout songs Rango, Rango, or Roll, Molly, Roll? Supposedly "unprintable."

(Not the Spanish language Rango, Rango or the performer.)

A reminder of another steamboat rouster song- "Wake Up, Sleepy," from Lomax, thread 41618: Wake Up, Sleepy We have too few of these songs that are legitimate. At the height of the river steamboat traffic, perhaps 75,000-100,000 men were employed at any one time on board the ships and countless more brought goods to the planks of the loading areas.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 05:11 AM

The DT has Rolling to Cairo by Dillon Bustin.
Is that a modern version of thr genre?


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 02:12 PM

There is another Dillon Bustin song in the DT as well. I believe I found them by entering steamboat or river boat in the DT. His are new songs, as are most, if not all, in the DT. Even Steamboat Bill only dates to 1910, after the railroads had killed the old steamboat lines.

Here are two more fragments from Newman L. White, "American Negro Folk Songs," both collected about 1915:

Roll dat bale, roll dat cotton,
De Lord is good, your sins will be forgotton.

Carry dat load on your head,
De Lord will bless your good corn bread.

Also from White, coll. 1915, this one sung on Tennessee River boats.

The boat's up the river
And she won't come down;
I believe to my soul
She must be water bound.

The boat's up the river
And she won't come down;
One long-lonesome-blow
And she's Alabama bound.

(Reported separately, about the railroad). There are many verses to "Alabama Bound," the song changed through time and visited several topics:
She is a long tall yellow gal,
She wears a Mary Jane,
She wears a Mary Jane.
If that train don't leave dat rail
I am Alabama bound.

Much like the sailors in the days of sail, the rousters had different types of song for different jobs. Unfortunately, these have been lost.
Stowing cargo required a different meter from working the plank boards. "When the stowed bales [of cotton] in the hold are in contact with the upper deck, another layer has to be forced in. This is effected, bale by bale, by powerful jack screws, worked by four men. ... The men keep the most perfect time by means of their songs. These ditties, nearly meaningless, have much music in them, and as all join in the perpetually recurring chorus, a rough harmony is produced, by no means unpleasing. I think the leader improvises the words...he singing one line alone, and the whole then giving the chorus, which is repeated without change at every line, till the general chorus concludes the stanza..." Gosse, P. H., Letters from Alabama, 1859, p. 306; quoted in Epstein, Dena J., "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals," 1977, p. 185.

As Stan Hugill noted in his "Shanties from the Seven Seas," steamboat crews included blacks (many slaves, many free including West Indian) in a mixed crew with Irish, English and others. Some slave holders hired out their slaves, the slave receiving about ten per cent of the pay, the owner the rest.
Another specialized job was that of fireman, nearly all black. They would sing as they fed wood into the furnaces, again of the lead line type with following chorus: "keeping time most exquisitely, hurled one piece of firewood after another into the yawning fiery gulf." F. Bremer, describing her experiences aboard a river steamboat in 1850. "America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer," selected and ed. A. B. Benson, 1924, American-Scandanavian Foundation.

Most riverboat towns has a "roustabout neighborhood" close to the docks. At Natchez, this area was beneath the bluffs with the town high above. There were the "Shinbone Alleys" where the roustabouts could relax. A favorite fiddle tune, dating back at least to the 1830s, was "Natchez Under the Hill," or simply "Natchez." American Memory has an audio of Henry Reed playing the tune on the fiddle. It is included in Knouff, 1839, Virginia Reels v. 1, # 11, as Natchez on the Hill.
Perhaps Richie will give us a thread on this tune. These tunes were heard by several who wrote about the steamship days, but, unfamiliar with the music, lumped them together as Zip Coon or Turkey in the Straw.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 09:41 PM

Good thread, folks.

Many (some) of Dillon Bustin's songs were from the book STEAMBOATIN' DAYS (1944) by Mary Wheeler---University Of Louisiana Press. Dillon adapted the bits and pieces of songs Ms Wheeler printed into some very singable songs--with good chorus' for modern audiences to sing along on. I did the same thing with that little book.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:00 PM

William S. Hays was a white man who wrote for the minstrels, but he did know something about the steamboats. One of his best songs describes loading the cotton as it was done along the river. The steamboat would work its way close to the bank, at a spot where the water was safe enough, and the slaves and rousters would load by means of planks laid to the boat.

Lyr. Add: ROLL OUT! HEAVE DAT COTTON

I hear dat bell a-ringin',
I see de Captain stand,
Boat done blowed her whistle,
I know she's gwine to land;
I hear de mate a callin'
"Go git out de plank,
Rush out wid de head line,
And tie her to de bank."

Chorus
Roll out! Heave dat cotton,
Roll out! heave dat cotton,
Roll out! Heave dat cotton,
Ain't got long to stay.

It's early in de mornin'
Before we see de sun,
"Roll aboard dat cotton,
An' git back in a run,"
De Captain's in a hurry,
I know what he means,
Wants to beat de Sherlock,
Down to New Orleans.

I hear dat mate a shoutin',
An' see him on de shore,
"Hurry boys! Be lively,
Ain't but fifty more;
We ain't got time to tarry
Here at dis Cotton pile,
We gwine to git another,
Below here forty mile."

We done took on de cotton,
Shove out from de shore,
Sailin' down de river,
We gwine to land for more,
When you hear de whistle,
An' de big bell ring,
We gwine to land for cotton,
Roll out, boys, an' sing.

1877, William S. Hays. Lyrics and midi at Roll Out!
Published by J. E. Ditson and Co., Philadelphia. Sheet music at American Memory.

The first boat(s) in to the port city would get the cotton taken up by buyers and perhaps earn a bonus. Later boats might have to wait for buyers or have to take a lower price; the consigner would be unhappy. Moreover, the quicker the boat could return up river, the quicker new cargo could be taken on and contracts filled.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:06 PM

I should have given the Index Page site: Hays lyrics and midis


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:26 PM

Lyr. Add: MISSISSIPPI BOAT SONG

Some boats are fast and others slow,
Stern wheel boats on the Ohio,
With five feet scant on all the bars,
This boat can beat the railroad cars.
Now is the time for a bully trip,
So shake her up and let her rip!

Chorus
Now is the time for a bully trip,
Hudah, hudah, hudah hay,
So shake her up and let her rip!
Hudah, hudah, hudah hay,
With five feet scant on all the bars,
This boat can beat the railroad cars.

Our boys they all do like this fun,
'Tis not the first time that we've run.
Our Captain bets on every race,
And when he drinks he runs his face.
I saw him bet ten thousand down,
With Captain Joe, in Orleans town.

So crowd her hard with pitch and pine,
The other boat's ten miles behind.
Telegraph wires are mighty slow,
And our safety valves are tied below.
I bet my money and I'm bound to win;
And fill my pockets full of "tin."

Minstrel song, about 1870, of the type which helped build up the myth of the river steamboat. Possibly by Jerry Bryant, who sang it at Bryant's Minstrels, N. Y.
Published as a broadside by H. De Marsan, N. Y. From American Memory, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets. No music given.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:37 PM

Guest Q, good thread. I posted from that 1939 article in the Hook and Line thread:

Catfish swimmin' in de river
Nigger wid a hook and line.
Says de catfish, Lookyere, Nigger,
You ain' got me dis time.
....Come on, bale,- got yuh!
(cotton-loading song, New Orleans

There is also a banjo piece named "Roustabout" that is related to "Shout Lulu." The lyrics don't have the steamboat theme. Here is some info about "Ropustabout' from A Fiddler's Companion:

ROUSTABOUT. AKA and see "Shout Lu/Lulu," "Shout Little Lulu/Lulie." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; southwestern Va, western N.C. C Major/G Major (Dent Wimmer): D Major (Dan Tate). GDGD. AABB. The tune is known as a banjo song and employs a special tuning on that instrument.
***
How can you be so mean to me,
Been so good to you.
Wish to the Lord I'd never been born,
Died when I was so young;
Never be here to eat this salty meat,
Or hear your lying tongue.
Who's Gonna shoe your pretty white foot,
Who's gonna glove your hand;
Who's gonna kiss your ruby red lips,
When I'm in a far off land.
Papa will shoe my pretty white feet,
Mama will glove my hand;
Nobody's gonna kiss my ruby red lips,
'Till you return again. (Tom Carter & Blanton Owen)
***
Source for notated version: Fuzzy Mountain String Band (North Carolina), who had the tune from Gaither Carlton {d. 1972} (Deep Gap, N.C.) [Brody, Spandaro]. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; pg. 236. Spandaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; pg. 32. Heritage XXXIII, Dan Tate (Fancy Gap, Va.) - "Visits" (1981). Kicking Mule 213, Susan Cahill- "Southern Clawhammer Banjo." Rounder 0035, Fuzzy Mountain String Band- "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973). Rounder 0057, Dent Wimmer (Payne's Creek section, Floyd County, Va.) - "Old Originals, Vol. 1" (1978. Learned from the Smith boys {John, Dink, and Dan} of Green Creek, Va.).

Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:50 PM

Guest Q- This is closer to the old steamboat songs you originally posted. Here from a Lomax field recording in 1939 is the audio with lyrics below:http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?lomaxbib:1:./temp/~ammem_LkZ6::


WAKE UP, SLEEPY! (Steamboat)

O---O---O,
Wake up, sleepy, tell you Joe.
I wanna make you a'quainted with the *two blue seams.

O---O---O
Midnight was my *cry, 'fore day was my *creep,
I got a pretty little girl in *Jeanie Orleans,
An' she lives on Perdita street.

O---O---O
If yo' shoulder bone get sore this time,
Get yo' little shoulder an' head on down.

O---O---O
Oh, roustabout don't have no home,
Make his livin' on his shoulder bone.

O---O---UM
I lef' my home in eighty-four,
I ain't never been there no mo--oh.

AH ---AAH
I know my sweetie gwine open the door,
Soon she hear the Natchez blow.
AH ---UM
De Natchez up the bayou, an' she done broke down,
She got a head to'ad Memphis and she's *New bound.

O---O---O
Didn't you hear Daniel in the lion's den,
Lord have mercy, shove me down.
O---O---O
Roustabout don't have no home,
Gonna see you tomorra 'bout dawn.

O---O---O
Oh, day was my cry, midnight was my creep,
I got a sweet little girl in Jeannie Orleans,
An' I do all I can to see her.

O---O---O
Take dis here Black boy, he's a stevedore,
Headin' down the river sho' 'cause dere ain't no more.

*Blue seams on the cotton bales. *Jeannie?, and New; New Orleans. *Cry and creep; free time versus work time.
Sung very slowly, with drawn out words, to match the pace of carrying heavy bales, etc. This song could be a winner for the right folk singer.
Henry Truvillion, Newton County, Texas.
Poorly recorded, and with gaps and mis-hearings in the field notes. John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip. Click on Links at top of page and go to Lomax Collection, select Audio Subject and go to list of Work songs; under "Steamboat." (Transcribed Dicho)

Another verse was placed with this song, but does not seem to belong.

Oh, up an' down Big Muddy with my sack up on my back,
I'm goin' make it to my shanty, ain't comin' back.
I'm sech an old man ?
Ain't goin' up the Mississippi no mo' ?

No audio or other notes were found.
Henry Truvillion, in Lomax

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: masato sakurai
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:02 AM

The article at American Memory from which GUEST Q quoted songs is Coonjine in Manhattan. There's another article (The Black South in Chicago") containing a song:

"You done ask me 'bout steamboat songs. Hit bin zo long ago, an' I done jined de church sense I lef down dar, dat I mos fergit all about Coonjone. But dey wuz one song day we uster sing dat went like dis:

          Sing dis song in de city,
          Roll dat cotton bale!
          Nigger always happy
          When he gits out of jail.
          Mobile's got de wimmin,
          Boston got de beans,
          New Yawk done got flashin' swells,
          But de nigger like N'yawleens,
          Cho: Coonjine, baby, won't you coonjine,
          Coonjine, honey, is you game,
          Mammy won't lemme coonjine
          But I coonjine jus' de same!

"Sing hit fer you? Lawd, boss, I aint sung no sich song for forty years. Hit went like dis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (NOTE: He sang it, but impossible to reproduce it.)

"We useter sing dat song when I was workin' on de Alice B. Miller, runnin' up Yazoo River and sometime when I work on de Saint John, a cotton boat, dat run up Red River."

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:03 AM

Wake Up, Sleepy was posted about a year ago by Dicho, thread 41618. Wake Up, Sleepy Too bad Lomax didn't meet up with more people who worked the rivers and ports.

Richie, could you give some details of "Natchez," or Natchez Under the Hill- the fiddle tune? Apparently it goes back to the 1830s and was popular with the roustabouts.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:09 AM

Guest Q,

Here's the info from A Fiddler's Companion:

NATCHEZ UNDER THE HILL [1]. AKA and see "Turkey In the Staw," "The Old Bog Hole," "Old Zip Coon." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia. A Major. AEAE. AABB. The tune is related to, and perhaps pregenitor of, the American fiddling standards "Turkey in the Straw" and "Old Zip Coon" (it is distinct from the latter, a Northern relative, by virtue of the two different beginning measures). It appears to be American in origin, though Alan Jabbour sees the roots of the tune in the English country dance melody "The Rose Tree," while others note the similarities of the English morris dance tune "Old Mother Oxford." Jabbour (1971) states: "The only conspicuous difference in the melodic contours is that 'The Rose Tree' drops to tonic in the third phrase of the second strain, while the American tunes thrust up to the octave for rendering much of the same melodic materical." Though it seems clear its roots were in the British Isles, "Natchez Under the Hill" appears to have been one of the earliest American tunes that can be characterized as "old-timey" (i.e. having entered American traditional fiddling repertoire via the folk process) and a popular one. It was first published in this country in George P. Knauff's Virginia Reels, volume I (1839), and the title was mentioned in a humorous dialect story called "The Knob Dance," published in 1845, and set in Eastern Tennessee. Brown maintains the tune served as a "rhytmically enlivened" transitional melody between "The Rose Tree" and the song "Old Zip Coon" (curiously published in 1834, five years before the Knauff's printing of 'Natchez'--the two tunes were probably older than their publications), which closely follows "Natchez" harmonically and melodically (save the opening arpeggios of "Natchez" are replaced by a more singable phrase). By at least 1899 it was enough of a "chestnut" that it had become a category tune for fiddlers' contests, like the one held that year in Gallatin, Tennessee. Each fiddler would play his version, and the rendition judged the best won a prize (C. Wolfe, The Devil's Box, Vol. 14, No. 4, 12/1/80).
**
Marion Thede (1967), quoting Cushman, elucidates the title, the name of a river town in the state of Mississippi:
**
'Natchez Under the Hill' was in that early day (the late 1700's and early
1800's) the sine qua non as the point of rendezvous for the rough and
care-for-nothing men who navigated the keel and flat boats on the
Mississippi River ere they were superseded by the steamboat. At that
early day the city of Natchez was an excellent market for the products
of the 'upper country', consequently hundreds of heavily laden and
richly-laden boats congregated there, to the great dread of the
law-abiding and peaceful inhabitants residing in the upper part
of the city, known as 'The Bluff;' for the wild and lawless boatmen
knowing no restraint...indulged in their caprices in every kind of
rowdyism known to man...thus did those specimens of American
freemen spend their leisure hours in drinking whiskey, yelling,
fiddling, dancing, and fist-fighting...'"
**
Sandy Hook, Kentucky, fiddler Alva Greene called his version "Matches Under the Hill." Kerry Blech suggests comparison with the Cape Breton/Scottish tune "Old Bog Hole" which seems to be a close relative or variant of "Natchez." A version of "Bog Hole" was fiddled by Joe MacLean on Rounder 7024, "Old Time Fiddle Music from Cape Breton Island."
**
"Natchez" was recorded in 1941 for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozark Mountain fiddler Lon Jordan, of Farmington, Arkansas (AFS 5317 A3), and was reissued on the Library of Congress LP AFS L62, "American Fiddle Tunes from the Library of Congress," edited by Alan Jabbour. Other Libarary of Congress recordings of the tune were made in 1937 of Theophilus G. Hoskins of Hyden, Kentucky (AFS 1520 A1), and in 1941 of Emmett Lundy of Galax, Virginia (AFS 4941 A3).
**
Sources for notated versions: W.S. Collins (Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma) [Thede]; Mrs. John Hunter (Richmond, Va.) [Chase]. Chase (American Folk Tales and Songs), 1956; pg. 208. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; pg. 112-113.

NATCHEZ UNDER THE HILL [2]. Old-Time, Breakdown. G Major. Standard. AABB. Related to version #1. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pg. 56.

NATCHEZ UNDER THE HILL [3]. Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major. Standard. AABB. Source for notated version: John Hartford [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; pg. 163. Rounder CD 0392, John Hartford - "Wild Hog in the Red Brush and a Bunch of Others You Might Not Have Heard" (1996. Learned from Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson "one night in Dallas at a birthday party").

NATCHEZ UNDER THE HILL [4]. Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major. Standard. AABB. A different tune that versions #1 and #2. Source for notated verison: Bob Walters (Burt County, Nebraska) [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; pg. 163.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:12 AM

Roustabout: from Gary's Bluegrass Site

Chorus: Well, it's a long long way
It's a long long way
To the Gulf of Mexico

Well, I make my home on the Mississippi
I'm a roustabout on a Steamboat line
Let's hit the deck on a Monday morning
Let's make the lock on a Saturday night

Well, I have me a gal way down in Vicksburg
And she used to stop every time I passed
Then she made off with a little rich man
With a new silk suit and a little mustache

This is a bluegrass roustabout song. Anyone know the origin?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:19 AM

Here's another Roustabout song with info from the "Far in the Mountains" site.

Roustabout: Dan Tate

Roustabout, my bare-footed child,
Take your boat to the shore.
There's a hundred dollar bill and I've got no change.
Oh don't you want to go?

Walkabout, on Sunday my boys,
What pleasure can I see?
When I've got a woman in New Orleans,
And she won't write to me.

So roustabout, my bare-footed bums,
Take your boat to the shore.
There's a hundred pretty women on the other side,
Oh, don't you want to go?

Notes: Sung by Dan Tate at his home in Fancy Gap, Carrol County, Virginia.

A roustabout was an unskilled labourer, especially one who worked on the oil rigs, and, according to Cece Conway (notes to Black Banjo Songsters - Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40079) the tune Roustabout 'is one of the most important showpiece tunes in the Black banjo repertory'. It seems that the tune probably originated in Virginia, under the title Long Steel Rail, and is nowadays equally well-known among both black and white musicians. Dink Roberts performs a good version on the above mentioned Smithsonian Folkways CD, while Fred Cockerham can be heard playing his version of the tune on Rounder CD 0439. (Mike Yeats)

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: John Minear
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 08:14 AM

This is a great thread, Guest Q. It helps fill in the context for another thread, the one on "Limber Jim", which has some roustabout/river connections in Cincinnati,   click here. Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 01:26 PM

A lot of information about Natchez from the Fiddlers Companion, etc., Richie. As you have done with other old tunes, it should be the subject of a new thread so that it isn't lost under this thread title.
In American Memory, there is an old photograph of the area beneath the bluff at Natchez. Not very good. In the 1850s one visitor heard the tune being played there, but he knew nothing about the music beyond the name, and Turkey in the Straw.

B. A. Botkin, "Mississippi River Folklore," 1955, has little to say about Natchez except to mention it as a stop and a place where gamblers reigned. He has almost nothing to say about the rousters, except to tell the tale of the one-armed mate, Lew Brown (partly fictional), a paragraph about mates selecting and ticketing rousters for a trip, and a few songs, some post-steamship compositions. Botkin was more interested in the "romance" of the river, than in the work and workmen on the boats and on the docks and levees.

The oilfield roustabout is something quite different. Still going strong. Perhaps someone will start a thread about him. There are a few country songs at least and there must be some folk by now.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 01:56 PM

PASSING OF THE NEGRO ROUSTABOUT
River steamboat companies hire white men on dock.

New Orleans, La.- The passing of the Negro as a "roustabout," marking an epoch in steamboating on the Mississippi, was witnessed by a large crowd of people, who recently saw 69 white men, sent here from western and northern cities, go to work at the steamboat landing in place of the colored men. For years the steamboat men have suffered from the strikes of Negro "rousters," who have been in the habit of waiting until a steamboat was loaded and ready to leave and then refusing to ship unless their wages were raised. The steamboat interests recently decided to try the experiment of doing away with Negro labor and hiring white men and the first contingent went to work. A crowd of Negroes appeared on the levee, but no attempt to molest the strangers was made. Precautions have been taken to send police to the river front in case of violence.
Cleveland Journal, 02, no. 32, 10/22/1904, p. 1. Reproduced in American Memory (search Roustabout).


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 07:04 PM

Here's a clip of Mike Seeger playing "Rousabout" with the same lyrics as Dan Tate's version: Click here

Off to see Doc, Earl and Ricky,

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Barbara
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 07:52 PM

One chanty many of us know that is obviously a coonjine song is this one --Roll the Woodpile Down And I would also suspect that "Let the Bulljine Run" is another. Are there earlier versions of these songs available? And Q, are you interested in other songs we know that are likely coonjine?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 09:30 PM

Dear God! I was raised on the Upper River (there's only one River!) and I haven't thought about coonjine in years. I'll have to check, I might even have some stuff that hasn't been posted or be able to get some; my family goes 'way back in Mark Twain Country.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 10:19 PM

Barbara, my idea was to find as many 19th century songs about rousters as I could and put them together, so all are welcome.
Some, like "Limber Jim," have a long and informative thread already, so reference to the thread is sufficient. It is more a song known to the rousters than it is a song about them, but it is not always easy to separate the two. Limber Jim
Here are some from Botkin, but he tended to edit and leave out parts he thought would not be accepted in print by a refined, white audience. Moreover, he left out sources of most of them, so it is dificult to tell which are true rouster songs and which are fragments from other lines of work, and which are minstrel creations never used by the rousters.
This one has some verses that seem to fit, but the first verse, at least, was not part of a rouster song. I would guess that it was put together to make a minstrel recitation-song:

Lyr. Add: NUMBER NINETY-NINE

You may talk about yer railroads,
Yer steamboats and can-el,
If it hadn't been for Liza Jane,
There wouldn't be no hell.

Chorus:
Oh, ain't I gone, gone, gone,
Oh ain't I gone, gone, gone,
Oh ain't I gone, gone, gone,
Way down de ribber road.
(or- Way down to Rockingham)

Whar do you get yer whiskey?
Whar do you get yer rum?
I got it down in Bucktown,
At Number Ninety-nine.

I went down to Bucktown,
Nebber was dar before.
Great big niggah knocked me down,
But Katy barred the door.

She hugged me, she kissed me,
She told me not to cry;
She said I wuz de sweetest thing
Dat eber libbed or died.

Yonder goes the Wildwood,
She's loaded to the guards,
But yonder comes de Fleetwood,
An' she's de best for me.

Bucktown was on the river at Cincinnati.

Lyr. Add: MOLLY

Molly was a good gal and a bad gal, too,
Oh, Molly, row, gal.
Molly was a good gal and a bad gal, too,
Oh, Molly, row, gal.

I'll row dis boat and I'll row no more,
Row, Molly, row, gal.
I'll row dis boat and I'll go on shore,
Row, Molly, row, gal.

Captain on the biler deck a-heaving of the lead,
Oh, Molly, row, gal.
Calling to the pilot to give "Turn ahead,"
Row, Molly, row, gal.

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.

This one could have been used when moving cotton from the holding area to the planks.
Belle-a-Lee's got no time,
Ob, Belle! Oh, Belle!
Robert E. Lee's on railroad time,
Oh, Belle! Oh, Belle!

Wish I was in Mobile Bay,
Oh, Belle! Oh, Belle!
Rollin' cotton by de day,
Oh, Belle! Oh, Belle!

I wish I was in Mobile Bay,
Rollin' cotton by de day,
Stow'n' sugar in de hull below,
Below, belo-w,
Stow'n' sugar in de hull below!

De Natchez is a new boat; she's in her prime.
Beats any oder boat on de New Orleans line,
Stow'n' sugar in de hull below, etc.

Engineer, t'rough de trumpet, gives de firemen news,
Couldn't make steam for de fire in de flues.
Stow'n' sugar in de hull below, etc.

Cap'n on de biler deck, a scratchin' of his head,
Hollers to de deck hand to heave de larbo'rd lead.
Stow'n' sugar in de hull below, etc.

May have been a rouster song made into a minstrel song. Possibly made of two songs.

All of the above from Botkin, B. A., 1975, "A Treasury of Mississippi River Folklore," pp. 589-592.







There wouldn't be no hell


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 10:22 PM

Rapaire, I hope you can add material here!


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 10:57 PM

The Anchor Line verse

De City of Cairo's a mighty big gun,
But lemmee tell you whut de Monroe done;
She lef' Baton Rough at haff pass one
An' git ter Vicksburg at de settin' er de sun.

is related to the railroad song "Dummy Line" which includes the following verses:

Some folks say that the Dummy don't run
But come let me tell you what the Dummy done
She left St. Louis at half past one
And she rolled into Memphis 'for the settin' of sun.

and

Some folks say that the Dummy don't run
But come let me tell you what the Dummy done
She left St. Louis at half past two
And I walked into Memphis 'fore the Dummy came through.

Be interesting to know which came first.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 12:06 AM

The "City of Cairo" was launched in 1856 and wrecked on the Wabash in 1858. Another launched 1864, attached by creditors 1874. the third 1882-1896. The 4th, 1912-1829 and renamed Vicksburg then. Haven't got the Monroe's dated yet.
Norm Cohen seems to have got more than one song and his text in "Long Steel Rail" doesn't touch on the possible riverboat connection.
Need to do a little work on this one!


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 12:28 AM

Two Monroes. One launched 1820s-1830s, the other 1835, and operated on the Ohio River, then elsewhere. No date on its demise.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 01:09 AM

Collected in 1909, from American Negro Folk Songs, Newman L. White, p. 345.
O where were you when the steamer went down, Captain? (3 times)
I was with my honey in the heart of town..

Often associated with Alabama Bound verses. Later worked into songs about the Titanic going down.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 07:41 PM

I grew up in Quincy, Illinois, a river town about twenty miles above Hannibal, Missouri (I'm not kiddin' about Mark Twain Country).

Clat Adams ran a store there, it had been in his family for years. He had one of the largest collections of steamboat and river related photographs around -- this are now on-line here, courtesy of the librry at Quincy University. Note that this is an "index" site; you have to click on the name of the picture instead of a thumbnail view. The Clat Adams collection is identified by the word "Adams"; most have some sort of identification.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 08 Dec 02 - 11:11 PM

Rapaire, some excellent shots of the old river steamboats (must use internet explorer).
I believe that I found a description of the Pittsburg. Built in 1879, she was dismantled in 1945, a long life for these boats. Sternwheeler, 250 feet long.
See Index of Riverboats This index is far from complete. Indexes to Boats, Boat Captains, and Owners and Companies at the bottom of each page.

The page (p-2)listing the Pittsburg has a Currier and Ives print of one of the boats named Princess "wooding up."


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 06:39 AM

I've been able to view the photos using Netscape 7.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 01:56 PM

Dummy steamboat or Dummy train? Difficult to tell which was first. This one from Newman L. White, American Negro Folk Songs, quoted from Tiersot.

Some folks say that a dummy can't run,
But I done tell you what a dummy done done.
It left at-a Memphis at-a half-past ten
Arrived at Natchez at de settin' of de sun!
Wan't she movin', chil'?
Well, I reckon so!
Git up de good Lawd home.

Il y a des gens qui disent qu'un "mannequin" ne peut pas courir,
Mais mois je vous dis ce qu'un "mannequin" a fait, a fait:
Il a quitté Memphis, à dix heures et demie,
Est arrivé à Natchez au coucher du soleil!
Est-qu'il ne courant pas, enfant?
Certes, je l'affirmais!
Amenez le bon Seigneur à la maison.

Tiersot, J., 1911(?), La musique chez les peuples indigines de l'Amérique du Nord, Paris, Fischbacher; New Yory, Breitkopf et Haertel, 231 pp.

Dummy verses also often mixed with verses of "When the good Lawd sets you free!"


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 04:30 PM

The first 3 verses of Q's entry seem related to an early form of Hogeye Man, both in meter and rhythm. Divergence or development?


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 09:10 PM

Nice thread! Lots of meat.

What on earth does the line in the first posting mean:

"But hit take nine syphon ter keep her afloat."

Not sure what word "syphon" is slang for, although the meaning seems to be to members of a pumping gang.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 11:20 PM

Syphon stopped me too. I took it to mean either nine of those old pumps used to clear water from a boat, or a pumping crew.
EBarnacle, I know of an English song- someone wrote about it in the Forum, and I have seen a shanty, the latter with some floating lines from Negro or minstrel songs. I have no information.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 11:32 PM

Considering that these were steamboats, I would give odds that syphons were steam powered pumps.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Dec 02 - 11:34 PM

Siphon- from the OED, reference to Mason 1724 in Abridged Patent Spec., Shipbuilding, 1862: "A new machine called a siphon or attracting engine, composed of two tubes, one within the other." Looks like an idea by Mason, 1724, machine patented 1862. This could be the "syphon."


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 08:53 AM

I'll have to reread "Life on the Mississippi" and see if there are any more clues about "syphons" but I think you've about wrapped it up.

Here's a river version of "Roll the Woodpile Down" that appeared in another Mudcat thread which I think belongs here in full:


HOLD THE WOODPILE DOWN

Saw my love the other night
Hold the woodpile down
Everything wrong, just a-nothing was right
Hold the woodpile down
She can make me lovely, can make me glad
Hold the woodpile down
I kissed her, till here come her dad
Hold the woodpile down

But I was travellin', travellin'
As long as the world goes around
Oh the black gals shine on the Georgia line
Oh hold the woodpile down

Come to town the other night
Hold the woodpile down
Heard a little noise and I see'd a little fight
Hold the woodpile down
Police watchin' and a-runnin' all around
Hold the woodpile down
Glory, white lightning done come to town
Hold the woodpile down
But he was travellin', travellin'
As long as the world goes around
Oh the black gals shine on the Georgia line
Oh hold the woodpile down
Boat keeper swallowed a nickel one day
Hold the woodpile down
Run him most crazy, I must say
Hold the woodpile down
Oh listen now and I'll tell you what it's about
Hold the woodpile down
He's a nickle in and and a nickle out
Hold the woodpile down
But he was travellin', travellin'
As long as the world goes around
Oh the black gals shine on the Georgia line
Oh hold the woodpile down
Down to the packing house, stoled a ham
Hold the woodpile down
Folks don't know how bad I am
Hold the woodpile down
Carried it home and I laid it on the shelf
Hold the woodpile down
Just so bad, I'm scared of myself
Hold the woodpile down
But I was travellin', travellin'
As long as the world goes around
Oh the black gal shine on the Georgia line
Oh hold the woodpile down
Love my wife, I love my baby
Hold the woodpile down
Love them biscuits a-broken in gravy
Hold the woodpile down
Carry my dice for to throw my passes
Hold the woodpile down
Love them flapjacks floating in molasses
Hold the woodpile down
But I was travellin', travellin'
As long as the world goes around
Oh the black gals shine on the Georgia line
Oh hold the woodpile down.

Source: Uncle Dave Macon 'Hold the Woodpile Down' Recorded 7 May 1927. Reissued on Uncle Dave Macon 'Go Long Mule' County CO-CD-3505.


Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 09:02 AM

Another good river song or family of songs is "Goin' Down to Town/Lynchburg Town."

Other river songs include the "Black Them Boots" and "Goin' Down to Cairo" songs from the Liza Jane family.

For the Ohio River there are the "Boatman's Dance" type songs including "Way Down to Shawneetown."

These are just a few of the many river songs. I don't know how far you want to take this thread which could include thousands of songs and pieces of info.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 03:06 PM

Richie, I was most interested in songs about coonjines or rousters and their work, and about the river steamboats that they served.
Songs like Liza Jane and its allies need their own threads.

Way Down to Shawneetown is covered in five threads and DT. This is a modern song, and doesn't belong here. Songs like Glendy Burke (Foster) and Emmett's De Boatmen Dance I have mostly avoided- nothing really about the rousters. They are also in the DT and threads.

Are there more than a couple of songs about the canalers that go back to their time? Maybe someone should start a thread on their working methods to see what can be turned up.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Richie
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 11:22 PM

Guest Q,

The "Diamond Joe" songs were said to have originated with the Diamond Jo Steamboat Line. "Boatin' Up Sandy" and "Davy, Davy" are other old river songs.

Here are some of my notes I've got several fairly large piles of notes, haven't sorted though them but maybe you can develop the info.

Roustabout Holler
DESCRIPTION: "Oh, Po' roustabout don't have no home, Makes his livin' on his shoulder bone." The singer, loading sacks of cottonseed on the steamer Natchez, has no home and a sore shoulder, but does have a "little gal in big New Orleans."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1939
KEYWORDS: work river
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 571, "Roustabout Holler" (1 text, 1 tune)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Levee Camp Holler"
cf. "Steel Laying Holler"
File: BMRF571

Levee Camp Holler
DESCRIPTION: "We git up in de mornin' so dog-gone soon, Cain'[t] see nothin' but de stars and moon. Um...." An enumeration of typical travails in a hard day behind a team of mules.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1934
KEYWORDS: poverty work hardtimes
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 569, "Levee Camp Holler" (1 text (composite, from Lomax), 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 49-52, "Levee Camp 'Holler'" (1 text, obviously composite, 1 tune)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Roustabout Holler"
cf. "Steel Laying Holler"
Levee Camp Holler
1.        American Ballads and Folk Songs, MacMillan, Bk (1934), p. 49
2.        Moore, John L. (Johnny Lee). Sounds of the South, Atlantic 7-82496-2, CD( (1993), cut#2.08

The following material is excerpted from a larger body of material in progress called Muleskinners, by Adele Thomsen

The first documented and descriptive observation of the black work holler was done in June of 1901 in Coahoma County, Miss., not by a folklorist but by archeologist, Charles Peabody. Arriving to excavate Indian burial mounds, his first stop was Clarksdale, Miss. where he gathered supplies and recruited a gang of black workers, then set off for the first dig. Proceeding to the work area, Peabody was astonished when his workmen burst into rhythmic song, and continued until they reached the campsite. Directing his crew to dig deep trenches, he observed they continued singing while timing their song to the rhythm of the digging.
Soon Peabody was startled to hear himself referred to in their songs as improvisation became obvious as a dominant characteristic: "Mighty long half-day Captain" or "I'm so tired I'm almost dead." (Palmer, p. 23) But Peabody experienced more than improvisation as a difference between the music he was hearing and music he was accustomed. LeRoi Jones explains why.
       "While the whole European tradition strives for regularity—of pitch, of time, of timbre and of vibrato—the African tradition strives precisely for the negation of these elements. In language, the African tradition aims at circumlocution rather than at exact definition. The direct statement is considered crude and unimaginative; the veiling of all contents in ever-changing paraphrases is considered the criterion of intelligence and personality. In music, the same tendency... is noticeable: no note is attacked straight; the voice or instrument always approaches it from above or below, plays around the implied pitch and departs from it without ever having committed itself to a single meaning. The timbre is... constantly changing vibrato, tremolo and overtone effects. The timing and accentuation... are not stated, but implied or suggested." (Jones p. 31).
The levee-camp holler appears to be distinct to the Delta. Lomax's many recording trips to the region revealed an extensive genre of songs, called hollers. "For example, every black prisoner in the penitentiary, we discovered, had a holler that was, in effect, his personal musical signature."

"All these hollers share a set of distinctive features. They are solos, slow in tempo, free in rhythm (as opposed to the gang work songs) composed of long gliding, ornamented and melismatic phrases, given a melancholy character by minor intervals... blued or bent tones, sounding like sobs or moans or keening or pain-filled cries..." Seldom sung except on the job, even black music scholars have little knowledge of this type of vocalizing through which black labor expressed the tragic horror of their condition. (Lomax p. 233)

Steel Laying Holler These songs termed as hollers, were members of the same family as the levee-camp songs. Hollers "were pitched high out of a wide-open throat" in order to be heard at a distance. Convicts raising a holler could assert their individuality and defend themselves against certain prison anonymity. "Field hollers," "old corn songs" and "levee-camp hollers," interchanagably termed, demonstrate characteristics uniquely different from other black music. These Delta hollers usually tend to be solos sung in minor keys with recitative-like free-form rhythms distinguished by long-held notes, lengthy embellished phrases emphasising vocal color. Other black folk music is usually characterised by group singing using short phrases, and tends to conform to a steady beat. (Lomax p.273)
      A visitor arriving in the Delta in 1909 described the singing (holler) of a black woman plowing a cotton field. He heard the "lamentation of a creature in great distress and isolation," and her music "made {him} feel as if {he}I were traveling through an African region and had just been to visit a colony of prisoners in confinement." Several musicologists agree that certain elements of African communal music appear in the blues and that former slaves combined both old African heritages and new American experiences as a cultural response to emancipation which was, in reality, disappointing.
Plantations, levee camps and logging camps of the Deep South provided the conditions that were ripe for the birth of the blues. Blacks seeking a better life through employment in these labor-hungry industries soon felt like prisoners in a continuous cycle of hard labor, deplorable living and working conditions which offered little reward for their efforts.
      The blues emerged most directly from the holler where hard manual labor was the impetus for its birth. Delta bluesman; Bukka White affirmed this when he insisted, "That's where the blues start from, back across them fields.... It started right behind one of them mules or one of them log houses, one of them log camps or the levee camp. That's where the blues sprung from. I know what I'm talking about."
      Speaking of the hollers, bluesman Son House recalled, "They'd sing about their girl friend or about almost anything—mule—anything. They'd make a song of it just to be hollering."
David Evans stated that near the end of the nineteenth century the "free almost formless vocal expressions" of the field hollers "were set to instrumental accompaniment and given a musical structure, an expanded range of subject matter and a new social context" in the dynamic creative process that became the beginning of the blues. (Cobb p. 278-279)

DESCRIPTION: Foreman's instructions for laying a railroad iron, with variations to fit the particular situation. E.g. "Awright, awright, Ev'rybody get ready. Come on down here. Come on, boys. Bow down. Awright, up high, Awright, throw 'way...."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1934
KEYWORDS: work railroading nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 10-12, "Steel Laying Holler" (1 text, 1 tune)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Roustabout Holler"
cf. "Levee Camp Holler"
File: LxA010

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 01:44 PM

Hollers is a "whole 'nother subject," as someone said, and needs another thread. The 1901 date for first documented observation is wrong (Adele Thomson, in Richie, above).
A field holler was noted by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1853 ("The Cotton Kingdom"), as he saw a loading gang of Negroes making a fire. "Suddenly one raised a sound as I never heard before: a long, loud musical shout, rising and falling and breaking into falsetto, his voice ringing through the woods in the clear, frosty night air, like a bugle-call." They were rolling cotton bales up an embankment.

One of the first recorded dates to 1851, and does concern the river boats and the rousters. It also was used by Negro firemen loading a fire engine:

Fire on the quarter-deck, Fire on the bow,
Fire on the gun-deck,
Fire down below.
(last line sung or shouted by all hands)
"Every-Day Commerce," in Schwaab., ed., Travels II.

Both of the above from Dena J. Epstein, "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals, 1977, Univ. Illinois Press.

Courtlander, "Negro Folk Music," published a number of them


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Dec 02 - 08:19 PM

Another Anchor Line song, from Talley.

Lyr. Add: ANCHOR LINE

I'm gwine out on de Anchor Line, Dinah!
I won't git back 'fore de summer time, Dinah!
W'en I come back be "dead in line,"
I'se gwineter bring you a dollar an' a dime,
Shore as I gits in from de Anchor Line, Dinah!

If you loves me lak I loves you, Dinah!
No Coon can cut our love in two, Dinah!
If you'll jes' come an' go wid me,
Come go wid me to Tennessee,
Come go wid me, I'll set you free, - Dinah!

The Anchor Line was originally known as The St. Louis and New Orleans. It was the first Line to put regular uniforms on its crew.

Thomas W. Talley, Negro Folk Rhymes, # 114, p. 74-75 of revised edition, 1999, Univ. Tennessee Press. Music is given, from "Leading Themes" notebook # 38.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Dead Horse
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 07:57 PM

Holy shit! This thread has sure opened my eyes about negro work songs and their relation to so many sea shanties (and other stuff) I wasn't completely ignorant before - but this certainly ties a lot of stuff in, if you see what I mean.
Thanks a lot, all you knowledgeable folk. This is what makes the Mudcat such a joy to visit.
It seems obvious that the links between negro chants, sea shanties, timber calls, cajun music, jaz songs, blues, spirituals, skiffle, rock 'n roll, and even calypso, are endless.

So, I ask the question, what isn't folk music?


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 10:48 PM

hey would ya'll happen to know the name of the song or where I can find it and who sings it..some of the words go like this.."Mark Twain on the Mississippi,Mark Twain coming round the bend;Mark Twain on the mississippi load 'er up and send 'er back(?)again..and another part is similair to this"Payday,payday on the river,yes payday coming round the bend oh payday rolling down the river,?????????
I would appreciate any help..you can e-mail me at dabug@ntelos.net
Thanks


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 11:41 PM

Don't know for sure but it sounds like Jim Post.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 03:02 PM

Check out the "Whoop, Jamboree" minstrel song I just added. Not a traditional riverboat song but there may have been a precursor of the same name.

Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add:Roust-A-Bout
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Jan 04 - 06:52 PM

Re. Richie (07 Dec 02 - 12:12 AM)

The song referenced isn't a coonjine song at all. If my information is correct is was written by Billy Graves and Jake Lambert ©1967 Flatt & Scruggs Publishing. Also the lyrics found on the Internet must be from the same source because they are mostly all wrong. The actual lyrics are below. It's a great bluegrass tune. I'll try to get it fixed up and properly submitted in it's own thread.

      - Mark

Roust-A-Bout

The fog is rollin' down the river
Dark clouds hangin' mighty low
It's a long long way from ol' St Louis
To the Gulf of Mexico

   Refrain:
   I make my home on the Mississippi
   I'm roust-a-bout on a steamboat line
   We hit the deck on a Monday morning
   We make the docks on a Saturday night

Well I had me a girl way down in Vicksburg
I used to stop every time I passed
Till she made off with a riverboat gambler
With a new silk hat and a little mustache

Now when I die I've got one favor
Don't lay me down in the cold cold ground
Just take me out to the middle of the river
And roll me over and point me south


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Dead Horse
Date: 27 Jan 04 - 07:26 PM

Just came accross this tidbit.
Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Productions, president, discussing the origins of his Arhoolie Record label.
"I had thought of names like Delta, Gulf, Down Home, etc., for my label when Mack McCormick suddenly suggested ARWHOOLIE! My initial response was: "AR what?" But soon the name, at least a part of which apparently means a field holler, seemed rather appropriate for the music I wanted to record. The word, spelled as above by the recordist, appeared on a Library of Congress recording made in Mississippi and apparently was the response of the singer when asked what he called the selection just recorded. I have since heard the word "hoolie" in reference to a field holler but I think the "ar" in front of it was simply the man stuttering a bit in Mississippi fashion when somewhat nervous!"


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Apr 07 - 09:21 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Apr 07 - 10:00 PM

Here are two reposts from the Mudcat thread thread.cfm?threadid=36781&messages=22 may be of interest to those people who are curious about the Coonjine dance:

Subject: RE: Rolling to Cairo Town/Background
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 28 Apr 07 - 07:36 PM

Here's an excerpt from Lynne Fauley Emery's book "Black Dance from 1619 to Today" {second edition; Princeton Book Company, 1988, pps 1146-147}:

"The Coonjine, another of the river dances, was still "remembered in scattered areas through the Antilles" as late as 1963. In the Caribbean, however the dance was performed during carnival time and called the "Counjaille", while in the United States the Coonjine was performed on the waterfront by the black roustabouts and "was a rhythmic shuffle affected to expedite loading and unloading..." Harold Courlander reported:

'The term Counjaille, or Coojine is still used in southern United States waterfront areas to mean moving or loading cotton, an activity that once, in all probablility, was accompanied by Counjaille-type songs and rhythms. Negro children on the docks and levies sand such songs as:

Throw me a nickle, throw me a dime
If you want to see me do the Coojine.'

According to Mary Wheeler. The Coonjine was a combination of song and dance connected with frieght handling on the steamboats.

'The "plank walk" springs under a heavy weight or even under the lighter step of the rouster when he trots back again empty handed for more freight. To avoid jarring, the feet are dragged along the stage plank accompanied by a song that takes its rhythm from the shuffling feet and swaying shoulders.'

Allen, Ware, and Garrison mentioned the Coonjai and described it as a sort of Minuet, Unfortunately, although the authors spparently saw the dance, they described the musical accompaniment rather than the movements".

**

Subject: RE: Rolling to Cairo Town/Background
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 28 Apr 07 - 09:57 PM

Here's another online reference to the Counjaille:

"Counjaille.
One of the popular tunes in Guadeloupe «Counjaille O Counjaille etc...) and is proof of a Congolese presence in the country. This term describes a dance from the Congolese ritual, traces of which can be found in Guadeloupe and Santo Domingo in 1807/1809 at a time when ethnic groups were travelling from these countries to New Orleans to escape from the Napoleonic wars.

In the same way as the bamboula, Calinda, Chacha etc., these dances were performed from French Guiana to New Orleans as well as Santo Domingo and all of the French West Indies. …

It is important to specify that in the Creole language, this word can mean several different things. The same word describes the music, dance, group gathering, etc"

http://svr1.cg971.fr/lameca/dossiers/gwoka/references/glossaire/glossaire_eng.html

-snip-

Given the antiquity of the Counjaille dance, it appears that the roustabouts may have adapted those dance steps to fit their needs rather than independently created the Coonjine dance.

Also, similar to the glossary, in the United States, the word Coonjine apparently came to be used as a referent for the roustabouts' particular movements, and the dance that Black children and others imitated from those movements, the songs which accompanied that dance, and the dock workers themselves.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 07 - 12:00 AM

up


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Aug 07 - 12:36 PM

refresh


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Subject: 'Coonjine Baby Coonjine' Mary Wheeler
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 Aug 16 - 03:33 PM

Mary Wheeler's papers still exist, and here's a "Coonjine, Baby, Coonjine" that didn't make the cut for her essential book _Steamboatin' Days_:

http://digitalcollections.mclib.net/luna/servlet/detail/McCracken~13~13~125~2245:Coonjine,Baby,-Coonjine?qvq=q:coonjine&mi=0&trs=2


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,harpgirl
Date: 17 Jul 17 - 09:30 PM

Redux


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jul 17 - 09:24 AM

Mary Wheeler also collected and edited a songbook titled ROUSTABOUT SONGS which I've been mining for a new CD which I should have finished by December, titled "Steamboat Days."

Cheerily,
Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jul 17 - 09:27 AM

Here's a link to my version of "Roll Out! Heave Dat Cotton!": Click here for a good time!

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM

Oddly enough, whenever I go back to my hometown and actually think about it, I do look for coonjine songs (see my post of 07 Dec 2002 or thereabouts). Haven't found any new ones yet -- my best sources have all up and died. Not surprising, as one of them was 85+ when I started. But the search continues. From mid-August to early September I'm taking a riverboat down the Mississippi from Minisoda to Nawleens and if I hear any (doubtful!) I'll post them.


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Subject: RE: Steamboat coonjine songs
From: GUEST,Mim
Date: 23 Jul 17 - 10:26 PM

I know nothing about coonjine but one of the songs made me remember one I heard my father sing. I have no idea where he heard it. His ancestry is Scottish and we lived in Oregon.

Sing a song of the city
Roll that cotton bale
Nigger ain't half so happy
As when he's outa jail
Norfolk for your oyster shells,
Boston for your beans
Charleston for your rice and corn
But for the nigger, New Orleans.


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