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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 6/29/2012: Bile Dem Cabbage


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/239561

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 06/28/2012:  21:39:07



 



This week’s TOTW is for all us noobs & slow learners [but we'll let the more proficient join in too]; that old chestnut “Bile Dem Cabbage Down” a much maligned and abused tune that is a lot of people learn to play with and then discard because it isn’t complicated enough.  



So much so that of the approximately eight thousand “Old Time” entries into the BHO music archive I could only find one version of “bile or boil dem cabbage”



hangoutstorage.com/jukebox.asp...ID%3D6925



Yet it’s been recorded by Uncle Dace Macon [1924] in a less than usual manner…



youtube.com/watch?v=A3-zH50aag8



It has also been recorded by the hard-core Old-Time grand masters Jarrell, Jenkins & Cockerham on the album ‘Stay All Night’ 



hangoutstorage.com/jukebox.asp...D%3D26927



 One of my favorite recorded versions of this tune is the version collected by Charles Seeger for the Library of Congress in 1939 at Adams Mill South Carolina.  The banjo player is Belton Reese [1888~1954 a son of freed slaves] and the tuning is fA#FAC



youtube.com/watch?v=p1PN7yaaY-w



 Mike Seeger also recorded a version in 2007, which begins to allude to the more poignant lyrics than the 20th century sanitised verses associated with what was a slave work song



youtube.com/watch?v=x7xwUomZnl...C60350263



 



The tune part of the arrangement has supposedly been traced back to an English dance tune ‘Smiling Polly’ of 1765, however the veracity of this is questionable and considering it was adopted by the African American slaves is unlikely to not have been heavily altered.



The song part of the arrangement was largely cleaned up in the 20th century to make it palatable for general consumption.  The lyrics below have had the N word replaced with Slave and are those collected from South Carolina Gullah people by Miss Cohen of Charleston SC circa 1920



The chorus is…..



Boil dem cabbage down, An' tu'n 'em roun' an' roun'.



Stop dat foolin', little slave gal, An' boil dem cabbage down!



 



W'ite folks go to chu'ch,



An' he never crack a smile; An' slave go to chu'ch,



An' you hear Jim laugh a mile.



Chorus



Rat he got a leetle tail,



Mouse it ain't much bigger White folks got no tail at all,



Neither have the slave



Chorus



Raccoon 'e am bushy-tail', An' possum }e am bare.



Raccoon 'e am bushy-tail',



But 'e ain't got none to spare*



  



What is intriguing is that the lyrics that appear in many other OT songs seem to be able to and have been be made to fit into “Bile Dem Cabbage”.  Or is the criticism true that there really is only one Old-Time tune and it's "Bile Dem Cabbage"?   evil



all the best



Chris



 


janolov - Posted - 06/29/2012:  06:03:03



I think it is a good choice. It is an easy and simple tune with a lot of opportunities. It is a tune for both newbies and advanced players! It should be a challenge also to the more advanced players to show up their versions, since the simplicity of the tune gives a lot of possibilities to improvisation and own creative interpretations. 



I use to play BDCD in different styles: frailing, clawhammer, RP CH, two-finger thumb lead, two-finger index lead, Bluegrass stye, OT three finger style, classic banjo style, etc. 



By the way, is there a B part to the BDCD? I think it is mostly the A part that is heard, and the possible B part is usually just a simple variation of the A part. I think I have heard versions where the B part more or less just starts a third higher or lower and then ends  as the A part.



 


mojo_monk - Posted - 06/29/2012:  07:38:27



Great song/tune that *for no good reason* gets passed over these days. Some of the finest musicians of days gone by kept this one in their repertoire as a show piece (believe it or not)!



My favorite banjo versions are from Lewis 'Big Sweet' Hairston (2 finger) and Nathan Frazier (from Altamont: Black String Band Music from the LOC). I still want to be Nate Frazier when I grow up.



Thanks for choosing this one, Chris. It's a good one to know.



Here'r some 'humorous lyrics' by way of the treasure trove Bluegrass Messengers website:



Chorus: Bile them Cabbage down

Turn them hoecakes round

The only song that I can sing is

Bile them cabbage down




Verses:

I gave my girl a bicycle

She learned to ride it well

Till she rode into a telephone pole

And broke it all to pieces



Grandma had an old grey hen

A sittin hen you know

She sat it on two Buzzard eggs

and hatched out one old crow.



Of all the birdies in the sky,

I love the mallard duck

He flies above the desert sands

And watches people… holding hands



Of all the fishes in the sea

I love the stripey bass

He climbed up on a beechie tree

And slid down on his ….hands and knees.




(VARIATION:) Of all the fishes in the seas,

The strangest is the bass.

And slides down on its hands and knees

To frolic in the grass.




(Flatt and Scruggs version:)

My gal ran around the barn.

I run out to meet 'er.

She pulled up her petticoats

And I pulled out .... for Georgia.



Mary had a little watch.

She swallowed it one day.

The doctor gave her laxative

To pass the time away.



Mary took the laxative,

But the time, it would not pass,

So if you want to know the time,

You can look up Mary's aunt, who has a watch too.



Wouldn't marry an old maid

Tell you the reason why

She'd blow her nose in cold corn bread

And call it Pumpkin Pie!



Took my gal to a blacksmith shop

To have her mouth made small

She turned around a time or two

And swallowed shop and all



Bought my gal a brand new watch

She swallowed it one day

Now she's in the old outhouse

A passin' time away



 



-Sean


vrteach - Posted - 06/29/2012:  11:56:40


Excellent choice.

After all these years I still have times when I settle in and have fun with this tune in the privacy of my home. I tend to enjoy it most when I play it out of "standard C" (gCGBD) or the capo-ed equivalent.

It's best if one sings. But, as Sean's lyrics show--music may be timeless but humor perhaps is not.

steve j. - Posted - 06/29/2012:  12:02:25


Ive never done totw , but I think Ill try this one.

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 06/29/2012:  14:47:39



quote:


Originally posted by janolov




I think it is a good choice. It is an easy and simple tune with a lot of opportunities. It is a tune for both newbies and advanced players! It should be a challenge also to the more advanced players to show up their versions, since the simplicity of the tune gives a lot of possibilities to improvisation and own creative interpretations. 



I use to play BDCD in different styles: frailing, clawhammer, RP CH, two-finger thumb lead, two-finger index lead, Bluegrass stye, OT three finger style, classic banjo style, etc. 



By the way, is there a B part to the BDCD? I think it is mostly the A part that is heard, and the possible B part is usually just a simple variation of the A part. I think I have heard versions where the B part more or less just starts a third higher or lower and then ends  as the A part.



 






 Hi Jan ,I've just looked up a couple of tabs and BDCD has an A & B part both 8 measures each.  But the last 2 measures in each part are identical.    The versions were by two different authors Steven C Parker, & Tim Jumper.   I'm envious of your ability to play in all those styles, frailing is my limit and occasionally itt comes out sounding about right



rgds



Chris 


plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 06/29/2012:  14:54:31



quote:


Originally posted by mojo_monk




Great song/tune that *for no good reason* gets passed over these days. Some of the finest musicians of days gone by kept this one in their repertoire as a show piece (believe it or not)!



My favorite banjo versions are from Lewis 'Big Sweet' Hairston (2 finger) and Nathan Frazier (from Altamont: Black String Band Music from the LOC). I still want to be Nate Frazier when I grow up.



Thanks for choosing this one, Chris. It's a good one to know. 



-Sean






 Sean - thank you for those versions especially the Lewis Hairston version, this TOTW has made my world richer if nothing else!  I don't want to grow up by I'd settle for being able to play like that



rgds



Chris



 



 


plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 06/29/2012:  14:55:17



quote:


Originally posted by vrteach




Excellent choice.



After all these years I still have times when I settle in and have fun with this tune in the privacy of my home. I tend to enjoy it most when I play it out of "standard C" (gCGBD) or the capo-ed equivalent.



It's best if one sings. But, as Sean's lyrics show--music may be timeless but humor perhaps is not.






 it's seems to be a safe tune to noodle with, add a few notes try some slides, an aspo or DT but it always has a semblance of being BDCD - in my case a bad version but recognizable non the less :)



Some of the older lyrics would most certainly be considered offensive today, but equally many of the more acceptable lines appear in other songs.  It's probably not possible to find out which tune appropriated which set of lyrics from another but its still interesting when I see familiar phrase set to other rhythms 



In this house the singing goes on in my head so that my wife doesn't beat me around either the house or my head!



rgds



Chris



Edited by - plunknplinkntwang on 06/29/2012 15:10:28

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 06/29/2012:  15:11:55



quote:


Originally posted by steve j.




Ive never done totw , but I think Ill try this one.






 Go for it !


J-Walk - Posted - 06/29/2012:  17:15:25



Very rarely, this tune comes up at a jam. I always like to play it, even though most people think it's a beginner's tune. 


mbuk06 - Posted - 06/30/2012:  08:05:20



Great choice for TOTW exactly because it tends to be considered a 'learner' song and overlooked for this reason. Actually it lends itself well to a driving rhythm and is a fun tune to play.


mbuk06 - Posted - 06/30/2012:  08:06:22



Great choice for TOTW exactly because it tends to be considered a 'learner' song and overlooked for this reason. Actually it lends itself well to a driving rhythm and is a fun tune to play.


steve j. - Posted - 07/02/2012:  07:13:59


I already have had some fun, playing around with this. On my horrible steel string OB. this is fun,

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 07/02/2012:  13:26:49



I've just switched back to steel on my fretless - takes some getting used to!  And yes BDCD was the first tune, it's funny but its such a familiar tune that it serves as a test bed for all things banjo


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