It seems our volunteer for this week's Tune of the Week may be in a tryptophan-induced slumber after overdosing on Thanksgiving turkey, so I am going to post a very quick emergency back-up tune. I usually choose a tune I have "in the works", but my quiver is empty at the moment so I will rely, as I often do, on Ken Torke's great TaterJoe's site and just pick one that he has posted.
I could not find any Thanksgiving-related tunes, so I went with a more generic title to celebrate the weekend - Kick Up the Devil on a Holiday. The tune comes to us from the nineteenth-century minstrel tradition, specifically from banjo player Thomas Briggs, who is credited with composing the tune and who included it in his 1855 tutor "Briggs' Banjo Instructor", considered to be the first banjo instructional book. The tune has gained in popularity among the old-time community in the last decade, after the Foghorn Stringband included it on their 2005 album "Wesier Sunrise".
Nice choice. Every once in a while I sit down and play through some of the Briggs tunes and this one caught my ear late last year. I worked on it around Halloween and recorded a not-quite-in-tune-but-oh-well version for posterity. :)
Thanks for posting. A great tune and a fine array of versions to listen to! After watching the video of Greg Adams playing solo (I just met him at this year's terrific Banjo Gathering), I thought, I'll try to pick this out on my Prust fretless using the provided Briggs notation. it's a simple tune, but I'm a slow read, so that's going to take a while. When I checked back, Cyndy, I found your lovely clean version, and I thought, low and behold, she's playing on a Prust! So I know what I might get it to sound like somewhere down the line.
I was curious to know what “kick up the devil” might mean, so I did a bit of online searching.
A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English ; Abridged from the Seven-Volume Work, Entitled Slang and Its Analogues by John Stephen Farmer and William Ernest Henley, published in London by G. Routledge & Sons and in New York by E. P. Dutton & Co. in 1905 (you can access it on Google Books) includes this entry on p. 133:
Devil’s delight. To kick up the Devil’s delight, to make a disturbance (1854)
I’m thinking the tune name might be related?
“Kick up the devil” (or "kick up the devil's row") seems to have been a common phrase in the 1800s and early 1900s—a quick search of newspapers.com returns numerous hits—but don’t think I’ve heard it before. Did I just miss it all these years or has it pretty much disappeared from the English language?
Another unexpected treat from you, Brett. Cyndy, I think your jack-o-lantern-banjo picking and research on the tune suit it well.
Using a cello banjo got me into the key of D with open G tuning, but tuned down a fifth. A book called The Early Minstrel Banjo by Joe Weidlich has the original Thomas Briggs notation (also linked above), plus tab with minstrel technique. It's called "Kick Up De Debble on a Holiday." I tabbed it to be more suitable for my clawhammer style.
Thanks a lot to Brett, Cyndy and Janet for their great contributions, I spent the evening with studying the Briggs original version, the entire book can be downloaded here: archive.org/details/briggsbanjoinstr00brig