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Origins: Sugar Hill

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ADD: Sugar Hill (14)


Richie 23 Dec 06 - 09:55 PM
Richie 25 Dec 06 - 10:46 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Dec 06 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Dec 06 - 10:48 AM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM
Scoville 26 Dec 06 - 12:00 PM
Scoville 26 Dec 06 - 12:02 PM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 12:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 06 - 01:39 PM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 04:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 06 - 05:26 PM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 06:09 PM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 06:18 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 06 - 06:34 PM
Richie 26 Dec 06 - 06:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 06 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 29 Dec 06 - 07:26 AM
Richie 29 Dec 06 - 09:52 AM
Richie 29 Dec 06 - 11:27 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Dec 06 - 01:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Dec 06 - 03:32 PM
Richie 29 Dec 06 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,R. D. Bryant 04 Jul 24 - 11:58 PM
cnd 05 Jul 24 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,R. D. Bryant 18 Jul 24 - 06:56 PM
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Subject: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 23 Dec 06 - 09:55 PM

According to Mike Yeats:

Sugar Hill is believed to have been composed by George Washington Dixon some time prior to 1827, and a version of Dixon's song is included in Christy's Negro Songster, a collection of Minstrel songs that was published in New York, in 1855.

Does anyone have a link or lyrics to this song by Dixon?

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 25 Dec 06 - 10:46 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 10:45 AM


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 10:48 AM

Assuming you mean Mike Yates, why not e-mail him ?, I believe he has a web-site for his record label


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM

I assume someone gave/told Yeats this info when he was doing the song notes.

If he had the info he would have put it in the song notes so...

That means he doesn't have the info, e-mailing him won't help.

Finding the source on-line or someone who knows where the collection; Christy's Negro Songster can be accessed is what I want.

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Scoville
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 12:00 PM

Princeton Library has a minstrel show collection. It does not list that particular book but if you contacted them, they might know something about it. There is a "Christy's Panorama Songster" listed--I wonder if that was an "anthology" version?


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Scoville
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 12:02 PM

More about Christy's Panorama Songster.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 12:34 PM

Thanks,

I looked at all the songs but Sugar Hill wasn't there. There is an old version of "Old Molly Hare" called "De Old Hare."

Some of the other songs may be early versions of other songs also.

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 01:39 PM

There are several of these songsters.
1850, Christy's Nigga Songster, as sung by Christy's, Pierce's, White's, and Dumbleton's Minstrels, available at
http://www.iath.virginia.edu/utc/minstrel/misocat.html
Christy 1850
You will have to read through it all; nothing titled 'Sugar Hill.'

Library of Congress has no copy of 'Sugar Hill' from 19th c.
Library of Congress has nothing composed by 'George Washington Dixon (1801-, although he was a noted comic singer, esp. 'Zip Coon' (1834 copy, not original?, at American Memory).


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 04:19 PM

Q,

The only possible reference is to Tater Hill. Perrow collected a version of Sugar Hill entiled "Tater Hill"

RING DE HOOP AN' BLOW DE HORN.
A SOUTHERN NEGRO CHAUNT.

Dey take me out on tater hill,
Dey make me dance against my will,
Dey make me dance on sharp toed stones,
While ebery nigga laughs and groans
Ring de hoop, &c.

IMHO this isn't the same song.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 05:26 PM

The fragment you attribute to Perrow originated with the minstrel song "Ring de Hoop and Blow de Horn" which is no. 75 in the 1950 Christy's Songster, linked above.
The second verse is the one which you quote above "from Perrow", but this is the verse from Perrow:

TATERHILL
Ef yer want ter git yer head knocked off,
Ef yer want ter git yer fill;
Efyer want ter git yer head knocked off,
Go back to Taterhill.
With score, Tennessee, mountain whites, 1911. This is a corruption of "Tate's Hill," according to Perrow, and is a fragment of a song about a free-for-all that broke up a religious meeting about the naming of a church; thus has nothing to do with the minstrel song or 'Sugar Hill.' The church is now known as 'Mary's Chapel (location not stated). Perrow, 1911, JAFL vol. 25, no. 10.

The chorus "Ring de hoop," probably first in "Ring de Hoop and Blow de Horn," was used in several minstrel songs, e. g. "Ole Pee Dee" of the Virginia Serenaders (Levy sheet music), and no. 76 in the 1850 songster, about the author Dickens (Boz), as well as the one about planting toes. It is not in the Perrow fragment.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:09 PM

Q,

Actually Tater Hill (Taterhill) by Perrow is a version of "Sugar Hill."

Perrow didn't know that the "Ef yer want ter git yer head knocked off,
Ef yer want ter git yer fill;" meant "getting laid by a prostitute."

Instead he erroneously came up with this laughable rationale: "When the church now called Mary's Chapel was built, there was much dispute among the parishioners as to what the church should be named. One party stood for "Mary's Chapel," another for "Mount Zion," and another for "Tate's Hill." Officially the first prevailed; but the common people chose the last, which by folk-etymology they transformed to "Taterhill." The dispute, however, was for a time very violent, and the contending parties several times came to blows,—"drawed rocks en knives," as my friend Dave Noe expressed it. This stanza is a part of a song which sprang up to celebrate this contest. Even to this day it is not infrequent to have religious meetings broken up by a free-for-all fight. The men bring their pistols and their whiskey to the church, and, if things do not go to suit them, they sometimes resort to violence. I remember on one occasion the group on the inside of the church were besieged by the Moore clan from the outside. My cousin succeeded in holding the doorway against them by knocking down each man as he came up the steps, while the women and children were taken out through a window at the back of the building."

This is a good example of a collector Perrow being completely wrong about what he's found. The other version of Sugar Hill he puts as a footnote under "The Old Blue Jay"

You have to remember that back in the early 1900's Perrow didn't have a high speed internet connection, probably dial-up.


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Subject: ADD: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:18 PM

Q,

If you look at the the info from Kuntz below (last lines) you'll understand more about Sugar Hill:

SUGAR HILL. AKA and see "Sailing on the Ocean." Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA; Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia. D Major. ADae. AABB. The song has African‑American roots and 'Sugar hill' is said to signify the 'wild part of town', the red-light district. Mike Yates (2002) reports that "Sugar Hill" is "believed to have been composed by George Washington Dixon some time prior to 1827," a version of which was published in New York in 1855 in Christy's Negro Songster, a collection of Minstrel songs. The title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954, and the tune is sometimes found in that region under the title "Bunker Hill." The tune has come to be identified with Galax, Va., style string bands and it has also been described as a classic Surrey County, North Carolina, number. Yates finds it related to a Kentucky tune called "Jenny Get Around."


SUGAR HILL

Five cents in my pocket change, two dollars in my bill;
If I had ten dollars more I'd climb old Sugar Hill.

Possum sittin' on a 'simmon tree, cider's in my mill,
And if I had ten dollars more I'd climb on Sugar Hill.

If I hadn't no horse to ride, I'd be found a‑walkin',
Up and down old Toenail Gap, you can hear my woman talkin'.

Jaybird and the sparrow hawk, they had a fight together,
They took all around the briar patch, went to it down to a feather.

(all the above from Tommy Jarrell)

Squirrel's got a bushy tail, Possum's tail is bare,
Rabbit ain't got no tail at all, just a little old piece of hair.

Possum up a simmon tree, raccoon on the ground,
Raccoon says, "Hey, Possum, won't you toss them simmons down."

I'm getting lonesome for my gal, I want a drink of rye.
I'm going on to Sugar Hill, or know the reason why!

If you want to get your eye knocked out, if you want to get your fill,
If you want to get your eye knocked out, go on to Sugar Hill.

***

The phrase 'getting your eye knocked out' in the last verse refers to copulation, according to fiddler Tom Paley.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:34 PM

I think Perrow's explanation is much more likely.

I fail to see the connection with
"The Old Bluejay":
Jaybird up the sugar-tree,
Sparrow on de groun',
Jaybird shake de sugar down,
Sparrow pass hit eround.
Shoo, ladies, shoo (2x)
Shoo ladies, shoo my gal,
I'm boun' for Sugar hill.

Five cents is my pocket change;
Ten cents is my bill;
If times get no bettah hear,
I'm bound for Sugar Hill.

(This could well be from a minstrel song)

I would surmise that any connections are through various later dance songs put together by the callers, united by happenstance effected by proliferation through high speed internet.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:52 PM

Hi Q,

The version you just posted from Florida (as a foot note) is a version
of Sugar Hill.

Usually it's a possum in the tree but exceptions must be made! The last verse directly relates to Jarrell's above (first verse):

Jarrell: Five cents in my pocket change,
Two dollars in my bill;
If I had ten dollars more
I'd climb old Sugar Hill.

Perrow: Five cents is my pocket change;
Ten cents is my bill;
If times get no bettah hear,
I'm bound for Sugar Hill.


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 10:44 PM

Right, from Florida.
No support found yet for Yates statement on origin.

Most of these floaters posted by Sandy Paton, thread 8194: Sugar Hill


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 07:26 AM

I see that I am being quoted re the origin of the song 'Sugar Hill'. I'm not an expert on American songs, but this is what I can say about this song. The earliest version known to me can be dated to 1912 and appears in JAF XXV p. 154, as 'Tater Hill'. The Ward family of Galax recorded the song in 1928 (OK 45179)and Ernest Stoneman, also of Galax, recorded it a year later (Gnt 6687). An Ozark version - Sailing on the Ocean - was recorded in 1930 by Luke Highnight & His Ozark Strutters.But this is not the full story. In 1827 George Washington Dixon began singing a song called 'My Long Tail Blue'. The song was printed in 'Christy's Negro Songster' (New York, 1855) pp. 149 - 50 and, as such has occasionally been colleced - see the version in the Frank Brown Collection, volume 3 (p. 502). It seems that Dixon's tune was the origin of that used for 'Sugar Hill' and, over the years, additional 'floating' verses were added. This happened as Dixon's verses began to be dropped. See, for example, the version printed in Roberts' 'Sang Branch Settlers' (Austin, 1974. pp. 174 - 75 & 347, which still contains a couple of Dixon's verses. Incidentally, when I visited Toe Nail Gap with Tommy Jarrell, I asked him about his verse which mentions the Gap. 'Where does that verse come from?' I asked. And Tommy replied 'I guess I made that one up myself' or words to that effect.

Mike Yates


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 09:52 AM

Thanks Mike,

I think your info (song notes) and work on Far (sic) in the Mountains is first rate. I figured the tune by Dixon had a different title. Your imput is appreciated.

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 11:27 AM

Here's soem info on "My Long Tail Blue:"

Much of the music that was performed by the blackface performers contained melodies that had orignated in Britain. Some examples of these melodies and their origins include such songs as "Jim Crow," which resembled an Irish fok tune and an English stage song; "My Long Tail Blue," which had a melody similar to a Scottish folk song; and "Gumbo Chaff," which had a melody identical to that of an English song called "Bow Wow Wow."

Anyone come up with the lyrics?

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 01:30 PM

"Long Tail Blue" lyrics were posted in thread 69384.
Long Tail Blue

Sheet music, 1837 (a late revision), is linked in the above thread, but there are several copies with no date, also at the Levy Collection, which may be closer to the original.
No composer is mentioned.

Mike Yates may be correct about the composer being Dixon, but I can't find reference to that. The Library of Congress Online Catalogue only lists the 1837(?) sheet music printed by Willig, no author cited.
The first verse of the posted version of "Long Tail Blue" begins like a Billy Barlow recitation, and has caused some confusion not only with routines about that character, but the title leads to confusion with "Blue Tailed Fly" and "Jimmy Crack Corn."

"Tater Hill" may be a late corruption of the minstrel song, "'Tis Sad to Leabe Our Tater Land," lyrics in "Christy's Nigga Songster," ca. 1850, T. A. Strong, and which used the tune "'Tis Sad to Leave Our Father Land," sheet music (1844) at Levy, a popular song from Balfe's "Bohemian Girl."


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 03:32 PM

A typed note pasted to the G. Willig, Baltimore sheet music (no date) reads "My Long Tail Blue, sung by Mr. Dixon, circa 1834." The title page states "As sung by Mr. W. E. Pennington."


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: Richie
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 04:06 PM

Nice work Q,

It would be nice to find some other lyric versions that show the tranformation to Sugar Hill (maybe with lyrics from both).

"My Long Tail Blue," which had a melody similar to a Scottish folk song. (quoted from above)

I wonder what Scottish song?

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin: Sugar Hill
From: GUEST,R. D. Bryant
Date: 04 Jul 24 - 11:58 PM

Mr. Yates,
Where exactly is Toe Nail Gap? I’m curious as to its location as I live in the area.

Thanks,
RDB


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sugar Hill
From: cnd
Date: 05 Jul 24 - 09:42 AM

I'm curious too -- I don't live in the area but live in NC and hike/camp the area often. It's not named in the NC Gazetteer.

In an interview with Alice Gerrard and Andy Cahan, Tommy Jarrell, of Toast, NC, related that Toe Nail Gap was "on the back side of the mountain," but which mountain wasn't clear. Later on, he stated he doubted there was "any sign of a path up there anymore (in 1983)." Apparently, Wyatt Washington "Tommy" Parrish lived over that way; the Parrishes seem to have lived near Galax/Independence, VA area (click).

Further confirmation down that path makes it seem that the area was in Carroll County, VA, possibly the western side, but other places mentioned in the clipping are similarly obscure. It does say it's west of Flour Gap [sic - Flower Gap? see map] (The Roanoke Times, January 2nd, 1955). Another article, describing the raid of a liquor still, mentioned Toenail Gap was "near the North Carolina-Virginia state line between Piper's Gap and Lowgap" (Winston-Salem Journal, July 1st, 1952). Later in 1973, there's an advertisement for the sale of a house "at top of Toenail Gap" -- no address (nor mention of how you could live at the *top* of a gap), but they mention it's near Fisher's Peak (The Sentinel, April 5th, 1973)

Based on all that, I'd guess it's somewhere near the Blue Ridge Music Center or that vicinity. Near the WBRF-FM antenna is another good candidate, imo, since it's so steep.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sugar Hill
From: GUEST,R. D. Bryant
Date: 18 Jul 24 - 06:56 PM

cnd,
Your description nearly confirms my suspicion that this is practically in my backyard in Lambsburg. If not where you believe it to be (on the Parkway side of Fisher’s Peak) I suspect it’s up present day Holly Grove Rd. which turns into Casper Stewart Rd. on the NC side. I would love to be able to verify that. It’s a beautiful mountainside from the bottom, but very steep and rugged.


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