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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Songs to play on a paddlewheel boat (not the two passenger type)

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:

LittleGoomba - Posted - 03/23/2022:  07:24:58

I'm about to do something only a handful of people have done. I'm one of three captains, or a crew of 12 that is going to take the paddlewheel Samuel Floyd from Jacksonville FL to Apalachacola via the intercoastal waterway of Florida. Since I'm going to be on a grand paddlewheel, I thought I'd try and learn a few banjo solos appropriate for playing on the Hurricane Deck (top of boat) when I'm not on pilotage. Any suggestions?

I picked up a 1920 Supertone Dixie Wonder banjo recently. Probably a more appropriate instrument than a Gibson/Yates/Huber quality/vintage. Fifth string tuner is a bit loose, but it holds a tune for a while.

The boat I'll be piloting can be read about here: and via web searches for paddlewheels Samuel Floyd and Jean Mary, her previous name. Journey begins early April.

banjered - Posted - 03/23/2022:  07:39:18

Glendy Burke, Boatman, Oh Suzzana, My Dixie Darling for starters. banjered

Tractor1 - Posted - 03/23/2022:  07:42:54

Swanee River--Down Yonder--Proud Mary

Eric A - Posted - 03/23/2022:  07:43:52

It has to be Karma Chameleon, in costume, or don't even bother!


Tractor1 - Posted - 03/23/2022:  07:47:55

you can play my suggestions or not without a guilt trip

trapdoor2 - Posted - 03/23/2022:  10:02:45

If you want to play period pieces, you're looking at a wealth of music from the 19th century. This ranges from simple stroke-style to complex three-finger ragtime. You wouldn't be wrong to play such stuff as "Old Joe Clark" to "Boatman Dance" (or anything out of the early banjo tutors). Songs from Stephen Foster (Angelina Baker, Camptown Races, etc.) to popular stuff from the Civil War to later tunes like "The Man On The Flying Trapeze" and "The Cat Came Back". Moving to the 1880-1920 period, you're into more complex three-finger ragtime, marches, schottisches, etc.

Frankly, I'd stick to stroke style (essentially the granddaddy of clawhammer). Easier, shorter tunes...for the most part.

Otherwise, play what you like. The boat was built in the 1990s (former Jean Mary) and even if you're in full reenactor mode, virtually no-one will know what you're playing anyway...

banjoy - Posted - 03/23/2022:  11:33:14

This thread evoked fond memories of John Hartford, who besides being a cool banjo picker and composer, loved piloting paddle boats (or steam boats?) on the Mississippi.

Sound like you have a fun gig, I hope you have a great time, I'm sure you will!

Edited by - banjoy on 03/23/2022 11:34:14

Owen - Posted - 03/23/2022:  12:07:49

... The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald ??????   cheeky

Sounds like it'll be an enjoyable time.  The only paddle wheelers I've ever been on,  were much smaller ships [I assume] and shorter cruises..... afternoon or evening junkets on the Red River in Winnipeg, MB.   I always had a good time.... at least partially due to the young ladies I was with*.

* = lady / ladies ?? Let it be known, it was individually ... separate occasions.  smiley



steve davis - Posted - 03/23/2022:  19:42:49

Julia Belle Swain

Steamboat Whistle Blues

Edited by - steve davis on 03/23/2022 19:47:56

steve davis - Posted - 03/25/2022:  11:55:33

Big Stern Wheeler

steve davis - Posted - 03/25/2022:  12:52:18

Steam Powered Aereoplane,imo.
Though not a boat song it fits very well in that setting.

mike gregory - Posted - 03/25/2022:  13:41:56

"Shenandoah" (Across the Wide Missouri)

mike gregory - Posted - 03/25/2022:  13:57:32

And then there's the Kingston Trio's "Who's Going to Be My Man?"

"I watched that paddle wheel go 'round, dipping into the sea...And every time that wheel went 'round.....She was farther away from me!"



Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Too much work to row!

Paddle wheels use steam!!

Row, Row, up the stream,

Any time you want!

Fulton's steam-boat

Is the great CLER-MONT!


And then there's this 1950's hit by Patti  Page

Mister and Mrs. Sippi

BeeEnvironment - Posted - 03/25/2022:  15:54:00

"Shenandoah" (Across the Wide Missouri), is a very neat one. Also is Oh Susanna!

J.Albert - Posted - 03/26/2022:  16:23:17

"Old Time Riverman" by John Hartford... of course!

steve davis - Posted - 03/27/2022:  07:11:51

Anything from John H.

steve davis - Posted - 03/27/2022:  07:18:23

Waiting on the Robert E. Lee

richard baskowski - Posted - 03/27/2022:  07:44:28


Tractor1 - Posted - 03/27/2022:  08:27:44

titanic-sank the bismark --yellow submarine --sailor's hornpipe--off to sea once more--backwater blues

Edited by - Tractor1 on 03/27/2022 08:35:07

steve davis - Posted - 03/28/2022:  20:29:36

You're welcome,Rob.

elkinsfiddler - Posted - 03/29/2022:  10:29:23

The Boatman Song
Gun Boat
Way Down Upon the Swanee River

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