DTStudy: The Bigler's Crew (Bigler's Cruise?)
LIGHT ON CAPE MAY
THE BIGLER'S CREW
THE LUMBER CAMP SONG
Lyr Req: Road to Clady (18)
Lyr Req: Dogger Bank / Grimsby Fisherman (49)
Lyr/Chords Req: Sarah (trad Newfoundland) (19)
(origins) Lyr Req: Musselburgh Fair and Musselburgh Field (42)
Tune Add: Bachgen bach o dincar (33)
Lyr Req: The Dogger Bank / The Grimsby Fisherman (19)
Tune Req: knickerbocker line (7)
Lyr Add: Great Northern Line - Australian song (3)
In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Bigler's Crew (from Folk Songs Out Of Wisconsin - correction of the tune in the Digital Tradition)
The Bigler's Crew (Timber Drougher Bigler) (from Ivan Walton & Joe Grimm, Windjammers)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE BIGLER'S CREW|
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 03:17 PM
This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.
I started this DTStudy thread mostly because I'm not happy with the MIDI the Digital Tradition has for this song, but also because I came across a number of versions that we should compare with the DT version. The end of the DT MIDI has maybe 32 bars of rests, and then a couple of extraneous notes - otherwise, it's correct.
Some sources refer to this song as "The Bigler's Cruise," which seems to make more sense. Since this song is from my home state of Wisconsin, I am quite sure that the original title of the song doesn't have to make sense. My guess is that "Bigler's Cruise" is an incorrect correction.
The DT version is from Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin. It's a good transcription, with just a few typographical errors. Here's the DT version, with my corrections:
THE BIGLER'S CREW
Come all my boys and listen, a song I'll sing to you,
It's all about the Bigler and of her jolly crew.
In Milwaukee last October I chanced to get a sight (site?)
In the schooner called the Bigler belonging to Detroit.
Watch her, catch her, jump up on her juber ju,
Give her the sheet and let her slide,
The boys will push her through;
You ought to seen us howling,
The winds were blowing free,
On our passage down to Buffalo
It was on a Sunday morning about the hour of ten,
The Robert Emmet towed us out into Lake Michigan;
We set sail where she left us in the middle of the fleet,
And the wind being from the southard, oh, we had to give her sheet.
Then the wind chopped round to the sou-sou'west and blew both fresh and strong,
But softly through Lake Michigan the Bigler she rolled on,
And far beyond her foaming bow the dashing waves did fling,
With every inch of canvas set, her course was wing and wing.
But the wind it came ahead before we reached the Manitous.
Three dollars and a half a day just suited the Bigler's crew.
From there unto the Beavers we steered her full and by,
And we kept her to the wind, my boys, as close as she could lie.
Through Skillagalee and Wabble Shanks, the entrance to the Straits
We might have passed the big fleet there if they'd hove to and wait;
But we drove them on before us, the nicest you ever saw,
Out into Lake Huron from the Straits of Mackinaw.
We made Presque Isle Light, and then we boomed away,
The wind it being fair, for the Isle of Thunder Bay.
But when the wind it shifted, we hauled her on her starboard tack
With a good lookout ahead for the light of the Point Au Barques.
We made the light and kept in sight of Michigan North Shore
A-booming for the river as we'd oftimes done before;
When right abreast Port Huron Light our small anchor we let go
And the Sweepstakes came alongside and took the Bigler in tow.
The Sweepstakes took eight in tow and all of us fore and aft,
She towed us down to Lake St. Clare (sic) and stuck us on the flats.
She parted the Hunter's tow-line in trying to give relief
And stem and stern went the Bigler into the boat called Maple Leaf.
The Sweepstakes then she towed us outside the River Light,
Lake Erie for to roam and the blustering winds to fight.
The wind being from the southard we paddled our own canoe,
With her nose pointed for the Dummy she's hell-bent for Buttalo.
We made the Oh and passed Long Point, the wind was blowing free.
We howled along the Canada shore, Port Colborne on our lee
What is it that looms up ahead, so well known as we draw near?
For like a blazing star shone the light on Buffalo Pier.
And now we are safely landed in Buffalo Creek at last,
And under Riggs' elevator the Bigler she's made fast.
And in some lager beer saloon we'll let the bottle pass,
For we are jolly shipmates and we'll drink a social glass.
from Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin, Peters
@sailor @lake @midwest
TUNE FILE: BIGLRCRW
CLICK TO PLAY
The version above was sung by M.c. Dean, Virginia, Minnesota, for Franz Rickaby.
This version also appears in Rickaby's Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy (1926)
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:
Bigler's Crew, The [Laws D8]DESCRIPTION: The Bigler sets out for Buffalo from Milwaukee. A number of minor incidents are described, and the Bigler's lack of speed sarcastically remarked upon: "[We] MIGHT have passed the whole fleet there -- IF they'd hove to and wait"
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Dean)
KEYWORDS: ship travel humorous
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Laws D8, "The Bigler's Crew"
Rickaby 47, "The Bigler's Crew" (1 text)
Warner 19, "Jump Her, Juberju" (this version rather heavily folk processed); 20, "The Bigler" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSUSA 46, "The Bigler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 174-175, "Bigerlow" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 843-845, "The Bigler's Crew" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT 611, BIGLRCRW*
cf. "The Light on Cape May" (tune, lyrics)
cf. "The Crummy Cow" (tune)
The Crummy Cow (File: HHH501)
The Light on Cape May (File: Doe130)
The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.
Subject: Lyr Add: THE BIGLER|
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 03:20 PM
I found the following at this page, and decided it should be stolen in toto so it doesn't get lost.
Subject: RE: DTStudy: The Bigler's Crew (Bigler's Cruise?)|
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 04:48 PM
"The Timber Drogher Bigler" is recorded on a cd included in "Windjammers, Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors," track 8, sung by Asa M. Trueblood, with Ivan Walton interview, Sept. 7, 1938. Track time 3:19.
The schooner John Bigler was built by James M. Jones, 344 gross tons, at Detroit in 1866 for J. Currier, "primarily to carry waneys from the Upper Lakes to the head of the St. Lawrence River. From there, logs were rafted downriver to Quebec and salt water.The Bigler foundered in 1884 off Marquette, Michigan.
Lyrics, story and sheet music in "Windjammers,...." pp. 129-134.
waney: logs on which the butt ends were squared to more easily fit aboard lumber vessels- Glossary, in "Windjammers..."
ju-ber-ju: a play on the words jib boom but seems to come from the French 'gibre,' the extension of the stem or knee piece of a vessel to which the bowsprit is attached. On some vessels, bow rails ran all the way to the gibre, giving sailors a foothold. The line of the verse also is rendered "Look out for her old jib-boom." The jibboom is a spar extending forward beyond the bowsprit of a ship from which a head sail or jib is set.
"A William Head of Pictou, Ontario, sailed aboard the Bigler for several seasons and said that at 126 feet long by 26 feet by 10 feet, the Bigler ...fit snugly through the old Welland locks and had the lines of a shoebox. He added that the Bigler had an extra long jibboom and caried more than the usual amount of canvas for a two-master, but its blunt bow made it slow ...and a man-killer to steer." The Bigler generally carried coal up the lakes and and squared timbers down.... when Head sailed on her. As the song in some versions states, the drougher also entered the late-season grain trade.
The song is full of jargon. Joe, 'sight' in the first verse- your first version- should be 'site,' meaning a position on the crew. 'Give her the sheet' means to allow the sheets- the lines that control the booms- to run out, permitting the sails to swing out nearly to right angles with the keel to take full advantage of a following wind. 'Courses' are the large, heavy sails immediately above the deck. The courses are said to be 'wing 'n wing' when the foresail is extended at near right angles to the keel over one side of the vessel and the mainsail is extended out over the opposite side. 'Full and by'- vessel tacking into the wind and the vessel's direction is as close to that of the wind as possible with its sails still full and pulling. The 'dummy' was a decommissioned light. 'Eau' of some versions is Rondeau, Ontario.
Pointe aux Barques is the correct spelling, but often rendered Point Aback. Mackinaw of course is spelled Mackinac.
See "Windjammers..." for more. The main version has 13 verses plus chorus.
Born is the king of Israel.
Subject: RE: DTStudy: The Bigler's Crew (Bigler's Cruise?)|
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 05:48 PM
Other corrections to DT version:
Chorus, line 3- seen 'er howling (nut us).
Verse 6, line 1- False Presque Isle light (not Presque Isle).
Verse 7, line 1- Michigan's east shore (not north- that would have been impossible).
Verse 8- Flats (should be caps; this is the St. Clair Flats.
Verse 10 - We made the Eau (not Oh. The town of Rondeau is meant.)
Verse 11 - Riggs Elevator should be Rood and Smith's Elevator. Obviously hauling grain this trip.
Verse 3 of Trueblood version- lee, not lea.
Verse 4 - Pointe, not Point.
Canadians get confused by reference to Thunder Bay. The one in Michigan is meant, not the Canadian city on Lake Superior.
Subject: ADD Version: The Timber Drougher Bigler|
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 02:55 AM
I grew up on the Great Lakes, so this song brings back lots of memories. My Uncle Louie used to work as an engineer on the "lakers," the steam-powered ore boats. He'd get on at one port, fix the engines and boilers, and get off at another port and take the train or bus home to Detroit. I used to love watching the ships on Lake Michigan - we could sometimes see them out our front window. It was a special treat to spend time on the Detroit River, where there was a constant parade of the big boats.
I made a lighthouse tour of the Great Lakes in 1998, circling Erie, St. Clair, and Huron, and touching the other three Lakes. It was a thrill to finally cross the Straits of Mackinac. I remember when that bridge opened in the 1950's, but I didn't see it until 1998. I also got to see the big ore boats go through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, something I'd wanted to see since I was a little kid.
This song brings all those wonderful sights to life. On my 1998 tour, I visited almost all of the places and lighthouses mentioned in the song.
Here's the version from Windjammers: Songs of the Great Sailors (Ivan Walton & Joe Grimm). It's the most complete version of the song that I've found.
The Timber Drougher Bigler
Come all you jolly sailors and listen to my song,
It's but a few short verses and will not detain you long.
In Milwaukee in October I chanced to get a site
In the timber drogher Bigler a'hailing from Detroit.
Watch her! Catch her! Jump up on her juberju,
Give 'er the sheet and let 'er howl, we're the boys to put 'er through,
You should've seen 'er howling, the wind a'blowin' free,
On our passage down to Buffalo from Milwaukee.
It was on a Sunday morning, about the hour of ten,
The Robert Emmet towed us out into Lake Michigan.
We set sail where she left us, in the middle of the fleet,
The wind was from the south'rd, an' we had to give er sheet.
The wind chopped 'round to sou'-sou'-west, an' blew both fresh and strong,
And plowing through Lake Michigan the Bigler she rolled on.
And far before her foaming bow the silver spray did fling,
With every inch of canvas set, her course was "wing and wing."
The wind it hauled ahead, my boys, as we reached the Manitous;
Two dollars and a half a day just suited the Bigler's crew.
From here unto the Beavers, we steered her full 'n' by;
An' we laid 'er to the wind as close as she would lie.
We made Skillagalee and Wobble Shanks, the entrance to the Straits,
And might have passed the fleet, had they hove to and wait,
But we drove 'em all before us the prettiest you ever saw
Clear out into Lake Huron through the Straits of Mackinac.
We made the light at False Presque Isle, and then we boomed away;
Courses and tops'ls straining for the isle of Thunder Bay.
The wind it hauled 'round, we laid on 'er starb'rd tack,
With a good lookout ahead, m' boys, for the light of Point Aback.
We made the light and kept in sight of Michigan's east shore,
A'booming for the river as we'd often done before.
But where's the schooner fleet we raced all through the night?
Can that be sails ahead, just glimmering in sight?
We plowed on down Lake Huron, the wind was steady and fast,
Port Sanilac's off to starb'rd, the river's ahead at last.
And when off Gratiot Light our anchor we let go,
Till the Sweepstakes hove in sight, and took the Bigler in tow.
The Sweepstakes towed eight schooners, an' all of us fore 'n' aft,
She towed us down the St. Clair and stuck us on the Flats.
She parted the Hunter's towline in trying to give relief,
An' the Bigler smashed head-on into the yawl of the Maple Leaf
She towed us down and left us outside the river light,
Lake Erie for to wander and the blusterin' winds to fight.
The wind being fresh and fair, we paddled our own canoe,
Her nose points o'er the dummy, we're hell-bent for Buffalo.
We made the "Eau," flew by Long Point, the wind was a'blowin' free;
We howled along the Canada shore, Port Colborne on our lee.
What light is that ahead that grows as we draw near?
It's like a blazing star, it's the light on Buffalo pier.
An' now, my bully lads, we're in Buffalo port at last,
Under Rood and Smith's Elevator, the Bigler she's made fast.
An' in Tommy Doyle's saloon we'll let the bottle pass,
For we are jolly shipmates, and we'll drink a social glass.
An' now my song is ended, I hope it pleases you:
Let's drink a health to the Bigler, her officers and crew.
I hope she sails for many a fall in command of Cal McKee,
Between the ports of Buffalo and Mil-wau-kee.
As sung by Carl Joys of Milwaukee, 1932
Authorship most frequently is credited to “Billy Clark of Buffalo.” However, John W. Green insisted that his uncle and fellow Beaver Islander, Peter O’Donnell, composed it and many other songs as well.
The tune is very similar to the one in Rickaby.