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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 10/7/16 - Mississippi Snagboat


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/323523

EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 10/07/2016:  17:42:36


Today's TOTW volunteer had to postpone doing a tune, and now the fill-in volunteer is unable to post - so this is a very quick double-emergency back-up Tune of the Week.  :-)



The tune is Mississippi Snagboat, which comes to us from Kansas fiddler Bert Payne, via Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains.  I came across the tune on the CD/DVD release "The Spotted Pony" from Spencer & Rains, on the Old Time Tiki Parlour label, which I picked up at Clifftop this year. The album is subtitled "And Other Tunes From the Midwest Corridor", and features tunes from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.



While down in southeastern Ohio this week - where my family is from - I stopped by the Ohio River Museum in Marietta (tinyurl.com/OhioRiverMuseum) and therefore am in somewhat of a riverboat frame of mind; thus my choice for this Tune of the Week



 



BERT PAYNE



I have been unable to discover much about Bert, other than the fact that he was from Hill City, Kansas, and was born in 1873.



 



TRICIA SPENCER AND HOWARD RAINS



Tricia and Howard both grew up in musical families in the aforementioned Midwest corridor (Kansas and Texas, respectively).  They met at an east Texas festival in 2012, and soon formed a musical partnership devoted to preserving and passing on the traditional music they grew up with.



spencerandrains.com/



 



SNAGBOATS



The term "snagboat" (or "snag boat") referred to steamboats equipped with apparatus designed to remove "snags" - downed trees, logs, and other debris - from the path of riverboat traffic.



A few photos:



 photo EAWoodruff.jpg  photo 2cc9bd95dceaaa881cd2a42a3d2536fb.jpg  photo 5061.jpg



For a more detailed look at a snagboat, you can read about the U.S. Montgomery, built in 1926 and now a National Historic Landmark: alabamawx.com/?p=1228



 



THE TUNE



Mississippi Snagboat is in the Key of D. 



Tricia and Howard had this to say about the tune in the liner notes to "The Spotted Pony":



"In searching for rare Kansas tunes, a friend of ours, J. F. Stover, sent us old recording that were made in his home in Hill City in the early 1960s.  The playing was of Bert Payne (born 1873) on the fiddle and his daughter on piano in a powerful yet distinctly late-19th century Midwestern style.  This beautiful tune was on of many in Bert's unusual and lost repertoire."



 



AUDIO, VIDEO, AND TAB



Spencer & Rains, fiddle/guitar: youtube.com/watch?v=GxVj8HNd8Ccyoutube.com/watch?v=UgTPJfDr55g



Howard Rains and Isaiah Rains, twin fiddles: youtube.com/watch?v=VjUQVU3ysU8



 



Tab by Ken Torke on his TaterJoe's website: taterjoes.com/banjo/index.html



 



 



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 12/12/2016 17:59:53

Paul Meredith - Posted - 10/07/2016:  19:56:44


ERB - very nice tune, one I'm totally unfamiliar with.  And I was also unfamiliar with the term "snagboat".  So, double score for your double-emergency back-up Tune of the Week!



Thanks for always stepping up when people can't do their TOTW.


Kernel - Posted - 10/07/2016:  20:10:56


There's tons of good stuff on those Spencer and Rains CDs. If you just can't get enough of those mid-tempo, "seems like it's crooked but it's not" tunes this is a good addition. There's a fiddle transcription for your fiddling friends as well...



taterjoes.com/banjo/Mississipp...gboat.pdf



taterjoes.com/fiddle/Mississip...gboat.pdf


Don Huber - Posted - 10/07/2016:  21:24:34


Spencer and Rains are playing in Saint Louis at the Focal Point Theatre January 14. Wild horses (or spotted ponies) will not prevent me from attending that concert!

Thank you for the snagboat images. I enjoy having visual image in my mind when playing or listening to a tune.

RG - Posted - 10/08/2016:  00:08:23


Also on the new Spencer & Rains Old-Time Tiki Parlour release...nest best thing to being there... oldtimetikiparlour.com/2016/06...d-cd-set/


vrteach - Posted - 10/08/2016:  11:40:09


They taught that tune at the Bluff Country Gathering this spring. It's a good one, and you are inspiring me to (maybe) revisit it.


hweinberg - Posted - 10/08/2016:  17:56:08


Very nice dance tune. Thanks! 


BrendanD - Posted - 10/08/2016:  23:51:40


I'm delighted to see this tune as TOTW! For what it's worth, I'm the banjo player on this tune on Howard and Tricia's "The Spotted Pony" video. I learned it from Tricia at their home in Lawrence, KS when I went there to recorkd "The Old Texas Fiddle, Vol. II" with them (as well as Charlie and Nancy Hartness and Virginia Musser) a couple of years ago. I immediately loved the tune, and was so happy to play it with them on the video! We only did one take, but it came out just right, we all felt.



By the way, the "unknown fiddler" on the second video is Howard's sweet and talented young teenage son Isaiah! Howard has a good story about this which, I'm sure, led to him recording this video last month of the two of them. I predict that we'll be hearing more from Isaiah in the future.



And thanks for posting the info on and pictures of the snagboats. I'd never actually seen one (despite being born on the banks of the Mississippi in Minnesota), and have been curious about what they looked like and how they worked. I'll have to send a link to this page to Tricia and Howard!



Edited by - BrendanD on 10/08/2016 23:57:04

Don Huber - Posted - 10/09/2016:  16:17:51


@RG: I hope Trish & Howard bring plenty of Tiki Parlour CDs to sell. Bruce Molsky ran out of recordings at his performance last year. He could have sold a bunch of CDs.

JanetB - Posted - 10/10/2016:  13:15:42


Thanks, Brett, you've often come through with flying colors for us TOTW aficionados.  I'm glad to have a chance to see and hear Spencer and Rains. Brendan's comments are revealing, too, and I find it amazing that he's the banjo player who recorded with them.  Ken Torke's tab was more than helpful, so here's a crack at the tune using his tab with some added cello banjo accompaniment.



BrendanD - Posted - 10/10/2016:  18:41:40


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

 

Thanks, Brett, you've often come through with flying colors for us TOTW aficionados.  I'm glad to have a chance to see and hear Spencer and Rains. Brendan's comments are revealing, too, and I find it amazing that he's the banjo player who recorded with them.  Ken Torke's tab was more than helpful, so here's a crack at the tune using his tab with some added cello banjo accompaniment.







Sounds great, Janet! I think you're playing it about 95% identically to the way I do, and even closer to my own version than Ken's tab has it! :-)  So happy to see other people picking up this lovely tune.



By the way, Tricia and Howard have been invited to be on the faculty at next year's Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. The fiddle traditions of Kansas have never been featured there in the 40 years of Fiddle Tunes history, so Tricia is breaking new ground there! She's the genuine article when it comes to growing up within the tradition, and she's got great stories and tunes from her own life. Howard has plenty to offer from his own home state of Texas as well. Don't miss it if you can help it. Fiddle Tunes is an amazing and wonderful experience!



 



 



 


ScottK - Posted - 10/11/2016:  12:08:41


Tricia and Howard are also playing a house concert here in Portland, Oregon, November 12.  That show will be streamed live on Concert Window starting at 7:30pm PST.  Folk interested can find it at Abbie Weisenbloom Presents



Scott


bhniko - Posted - 10/11/2016:  13:18:29


Here listening,,,guessing #1 bridge. Always impressed with your playing.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 12/12/2016:  17:50:43


quote:

Originally posted by Paul Meredith

 

ERB - very nice tune, one I'm totally unfamiliar with.  And I was also unfamiliar with the term "snagboat".  So, double score for your double-emergency back-up Tune of the Week!




Thanks for always stepping up when people can't do their TOTW.







 



I had never heard of the term "snagboat", either.  That is one thing I really enjoy about the TOTW - whether researching a tune myself or reading someone else's write-up, I almost always learn some interesting musical or historical fact.



Glad you enjoyed the tune.



 


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 12/12/2016:  17:57:38


quote:

Originally posted by BrendanD

 

I'm delighted to see this tune as TOTW! For what it's worth, I'm the banjo player on this tune on Howard and Tricia's "The Spotted Pony" video. I learned it from Tricia at their home in Lawrence, KS when I went there to recorkd "The Old Texas Fiddle, Vol. II" with them (as well as Charlie and Nancy Hartness and Virginia Musser) a couple of years ago. I immediately loved the tune, and was so happy to play it with them on the video! We only did one take, but it came out just right, we all felt.




By the way, the "unknown fiddler" on the second video is Howard's sweet and talented young teenage son Isaiah! Howard has a good story about this which, I'm sure, led to him recording this video last month of the two of them. I predict that we'll be hearing more from Isaiah in the future.




And thanks for posting the info on and pictures of the snagboats. I'd never actually seen one (despite being born on the banks of the Mississippi in Minnesota), and have been curious about what they looked like and how they worked. I'll have to send a link to this page to Tricia and Howard!







That's neat to find out you were the banjo player, Brendan - it's always good to come across a BHO member outside of the website, and a bonus to hear an active TOTW participant playing a TOTW!   At the time of my write-up I hadn't yet watched the video, just listened to the CD a number of times.



Thanks for identifying that "unknown fiddler" - I will keep an eye (and ear) out for Isaiah's fiddling.  I have edited my original post to include his name.


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 12/12/2016:  17:58:28


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

 

Thanks, Brett, you've often come through with flying colors for us TOTW aficionados.  I'm glad to have a chance to see and hear Spencer and Rains. Brendan's comments are revealing, too, and I find it amazing that he's the banjo player who recorded with them.  Ken Torke's tab was more than helpful, so here's a crack at the tune using his tab with some added cello banjo accompaniment.







Glad you enjoyed the tune, Janet. Thanks for contributing your version!


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 12/12/2016:  17:59:09


Thanks to all for your responses and contributions.


cbcarlisle - Posted - 12/13/2016:  08:51:48


You know this tune is a pair with "Mississippi Sawyers."  "Sawyer" is the early American term for snag, especially one that was only partially attached and, hence, bobbed up and down with the tides. I put together an extensive note on my website under the above tune on my CD with the late Bob Webb, "Waiting for Nancy." 



 


[From the Dictionary of Regional American English by Joan Houston Hall: Sawyer 4, A menace to navigation consisting of a log or tree caught in a river in such a way that its top bobs up and down with the current. esp. Mississippi-Ohio valleys. cf. planter 1 (similar stationary obstacles.)


1785 (MS Journal of Jas. Boyd, Lancaster PA, quoted in 1804, Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal, I,1,) "This morning we had like to have run foul of a sawyer. These are old trees which lie in the river fast at the roots, and from the manner of their tops rocking up and down they are called sawyers. They are deemed very dangerous."


1786 (Quoted in 1877, Magazine of American History, I, 312). "Arrived in Guyandot this evening and lay all night off its mouth in rapid water - obliged to make fast to a sawyer."


1843 (The New Purchase; Seven and a Half Years in the Far West, Robert Carlton) "A sawyer is either a long trunk, or more commonly an entire tree, so fixed that its top plays up and down with the current and the wind, and is therefore periodically perilous to the navigator."


184- (Anon., in Cyclopaedia of Wit and Humor, Wm. E. Burton, 1866) "Oh sometimes we run foul of a snag, or sawyer; then again we occasionally collapse a boiler and blow up sky high." {"Run foul of a sawyer [or snag]" was a common phrase in the early 1800s.} In this same narrative is found an early version of an allusion from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. "...a ham, like a turkey, are a monstrous onconvenient bird - a little too much for one, and not quite enough for two.")]



 



Edited by - cbcarlisle on 12/13/2016 08:52:33

rudy - Posted - 12/27/2016:  09:34:20


quote:

Originally posted by cbcarlisle

You know this tune is a pair with "Mississippi Sawyers."  "Sawyer" is the early American term for snag, especially one that was only partially attached and, hence, bobbed up and down with the tides. I put together an extensive note on my website under the above tune on my CD with the late Bob Webb, "Waiting for Nancy." 




 [From the Dictionary of Regional American English by Joan Houston Hall: Sawyer 4, A menace to navigation consisting of a log or tree caught in a river in such a way that its top bobs up and down with the current. esp. Mississippi-Ohio valleys. cf. planter 1 (similar stationary obstacles.)



1785 (MS Journal of Jas. Boyd, Lancaster PA, quoted in 1804, Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal, I,1,) "This morning we had like to have run foul of a sawyer. These are old trees which lie in the river fast at the roots, and from the manner of their tops rocking up and down they are called sawyers. They are deemed very dangerous."



1786 (Quoted in 1877, Magazine of American History, I, 312). "Arrived in Guyandot this evening and lay all night off its mouth in rapid water - obliged to make fast to a sawyer."



1843 (The New Purchase; Seven and a Half Years in the Far West, Robert Carlton) "A sawyer is either a long trunk, or more commonly an entire tree, so fixed that its top plays up and down with the current and the wind, and is therefore periodically perilous to the navigator."



184- (Anon., in Cyclopaedia of Wit and Humor, Wm. E. Burton, 1866) "Oh sometimes we run foul of a snag, or sawyer; then again we occasionally collapse a boiler and blow up sky high." {"Run foul of a sawyer [or snag]" was a common phrase in the early 1800s.} In this same narrative is found an early version of an allusion from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. "...a ham, like a turkey, are a monstrous onconvenient bird - a little too much for one, and not quite enough for two.")] 







I coincidentally just read a bit of further information on "snags" as found in the Mississippi River in a book titled "Old Man River: The Mississippi in North American History" by Paul Schnieder.



amazon.com/Old-Man-River-Missi...80509136X



The author related that snags were divided into "Sawyers", which pointed downstream, and "Preachers", which pointed upstream and were named that because they were the snags that bobbed up and down in a "baptizing motion".



As per the text, the boats that were developed for snag removal were often referred to as "Uncle Sam's Tooth Pullers".  laugh



In any case, great stuff here, both historically and musically.



Edited by - rudy on 12/27/2016 09:41:16

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