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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 22 April, 2016 - Richmond Cotillion

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jack_beuthin - Posted - 04/22/2016:  06:04:29

I chose Richmond Cotillion for this installment of TOTW, a fairly common tune that seems to phase in and out of popularity.   Lately, it’s been getting play time at jams in my area.   Just to clarify, there is a tune from Emmett Lundy with the same name, but it is a completely different tune.  Richmond Cotillion is considered a D tune, although the B part shifts to the key of A (part of what makes this tune fun).

Most folks who know Richmond Cotillion would associate it with Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters (and the fiddling of Ben Jarrell, Tommy’s father, and the unique banjo style of Frank Jenkins).  The recording appears on Document Records DODC 8023.  The Southern Broadcasters recorded the album a three-day session in 1927.  Mike Seeger home-recorded Richmond Cotillion in 1962 and released it on the Folkways album Old Time Country Music.  Notably, Mike plays all the instruments in the recording.  More recently, Richmond Cotillion appears on the 2012 release, Chicken Train, that features John Engle, John Herrmann, and Meredith McIntosh.  Lastly, Kirk Sutphin and Jeremy Stephens appear in a YouTube video playing Richmond Cotillion à la Ben Jarrell and Frank Jenkins.  Links to YouTubes are below.

Da Costa Woltz's Southen Broadcasters:

Mike Seeger:

Engle, Herrmann, and McIntosh:

Sutphin and Stephens:

Green Mountain Polka is a closely related tune, and some might say that it’s just a variation of Richmond Cotillion (or vice versa).  There are several recordings by source players.  Charlie La Prade and the Blue Ridge Highballers recorded Green Mountain Polka in 1926, just before the Richmond Cotillion recording by the Southern Broadcasters.  Howard L Maxey of Franklin County, Virginia was recorded in 1939 (a Library of Congress field recording by Herbert Halpert).  Last, but not least, the great Ed Haley also recorded Green Mountain Polka. The Ed Haley recording is a home recording made using a Wilcox-Gray Recording machine.  My internet sleuthing showed that these “Recordio” machines were released to market in 1939.  Ed Haley died in 1951. So the best I can pin down the date of the Haley recording is 1939-1951.  Here are YouTube links to a couple recordings of Green Mountain Polka:

Blue Ridge Highballers:

Ed Haley:

The H. L. Maxey recording can be found on the Larry Warren's Slippery Hill website:

And lastly, I’ve included my recent take on Richmond Cotillion and an accompanying tab.  One item of note:  On the first run through the B part, I end on A, but on the second time through, I end on G (seems to be the local twist in my parts).  Anyway, in my tab, I show the B part as 16 bars, once played, so that I could capture the variation at the end (I haven’t caught on to using all codas and al segnos and such in TableEdit).

More recordings and tune trivia most highly encouraged.  Hope you enjoy!

Richmond Cotillion

Richmond Cotillion

hendrid - Posted - 04/22/2016:  08:30:16

Thanks Jack.  Good pick.  A lot of other names for Richmond Cotillion, or as you say, closely related., Fiddlers Companion

RICHMOND COTILLION. AKA and see "Green Mountain Polka," "Hanging Around the Kitchen (Till the Cook Comes Home)," "Jackson's Breakdown," “Little Boss,” "Old Richmond," "Plaza Polka," "Redman's Reel," "Richmond Polka," "Robert E. Lee Swing," "Rocky Road to Dublin [7]" (old‑time version in 2/4), "Run Them Coons in the Ground," “Stonewall Jackson,” "Wait in the Kitchen (Till the Cook Comes In)." See also "Richmond." Old‑Time, New England; Breakdown or Reel. USA, western North Carolina. D Major ('A' part) & A Major ('B' part). Standard tuning. AB (Silberberg): AABB (most versions): AABB’ (Songer). A story circulating in some areas has it that this tune acquired its name from being a mainstay at the debutantes’ ball called the Richmond Cotillion, though there seems to be little evidence to substantiate this. The title may have derived from “Richmond Polka” which is said to have been printed in the 1850's. It has been said by Kerry Blech and others that the tune’s original name was simply “Richmond” or “Richmond Polka” and that the ‘cotillion’ became appended by its appearance on some of the Gennett stencil labels of Da Costa Woltz’s 1920’s recording which read “Richmond” Cotillion. Blech and Gerry Milne take this to mean that the tune Richmond was a vehicle for the cotillion, an old dance form. Henry Ford’s dance orchestra recorded the tune for the dance Heel and Toe Polka, in a medley with “Jenny Lind Polka,” under the title “Richmond Polka.” 

carlb - Posted - 04/22/2016:  17:51:26

And then there's "Hey Aunt Katy, There's a Bug on Me"


HEY AUNT KATY, THERE'S A BUG ON ME. Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, West Virginia. A two-key tune in the repertoire of the late Braxton County, West Virginia, fiddler Melvin Wine (d. 1999). It is a variation of the tune known as "Richmond Cotillion" or "Richmond."

I also found this title in a book of notations from Texas. The first part was the same; the second was different. I don't remember the name of the book; I think it was about 15-20 years ago that I saw it.

JanetB - Posted - 04/23/2016:  13:36:26

Interesting presentation, Jack, and a great choice -- a tune I've wondered about.  Your rendition is really wonderful.  It sounds complex, but your tab is clear and appears simple for learning. 

I chose Ed Haley's Green Mountain Polka to work on, as I can never know enough of his music.  The two tunes are definitely related, but I hear the differences.  And Ed Haley actually played it in the key of C.  I was pleased that the double C tuning could handle the modulating B part which changed from the key of C to G.  Sometimes a discordant 5th string will bug me when modulating.

Actually, there are so many good resource recordings portrayed here, it would be worthwhile to attempt more than one, but my chores and other projects call me...... 

Green Mountain Polka (Ed Haley)

Green Mountain Polka (CH) tab

jack_beuthin - Posted - 04/23/2016:  14:28:07

Really lovely Janet.  I like your use of the Galax lick in the A part.  I agree--hard to get enough of Ed Haley!  I'm defintitely going to try your tab--but after I take a nap from a beautiful afternoon up in the mountains

I neglected to mention that Mac Benford recorded a clawhammer rendition of Green Mountain Polka on his Ed Haley tribute album, Half Past Four.

bhniko - Posted - 04/23/2016:  14:55:02

A nice little tune to lift one up at the end of the day. Nice picking.

Randy Adams - Posted - 04/26/2016:  16:07:48

This is the best totw ever!.... : ).... I've always loved this tune. What a fiddler that John Engle is. I've listened to him play that RC bunches of times.... & the other suggested tunes at the end are dang good also.

mbuk06 - Posted - 04/27/2016:  09:24:10

John Burke refers to a cotillion as a tune that modulates between keys and that has one part played through twice and a second part played once (AAB structure). Not sure how accurate that second part of his description is musically, but I do like the way that the AAB dip-in-and-out structure does parallel the structure of a traditional cotillion dance.

I play Green Mountain Polka and have also just recently picked up a more standard version of Richmond Cotillion as our Appalachian dance team are currently creating a new routine to that tune. Both versions I play have clear similarities but also distinct differences. The main one being that my GMP is crooked as a dog's back leg hence I had to learn a more 'standard' square version for the dancers. Crooked and dancers don't sit well together! As I already mentioned to Jack I will record and post  a couple MP3's when I get a few spare minutes when I'm not working.

hweinberg - Posted - 04/28/2016:  07:43:20

thanks to all for a really informative tune of the week -- never knew so much about the tune. I used to play Richmond Cotillion more often, and this moves me to bring it back up nearer the top in the play list. 

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