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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Historical background on Coal Creek March?


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/98341

bevans - Posted - 11/04/2007:  21:41:59


Hi folks,

I've been playing Pete Steele's version of "Coal Creek March" in concerts lately and I realize that there is a very rich history behind this song, relating back to an east Tennessee mine explosion in the early 1900's that killed over 200 miners.

Can anyone point me to an article or website that discusses this tune and how it relates to the mine disaster?

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Bill Evans

www.nativeandfine.com
www.nat

chip arnold - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:10:16


Coal creek is now Lake City.
http://www.tnvacation.com/cities-towns/lake_city
A google search will get you lots of info. I sat in a motel in Lake City and played Coal Creek March a few years ago. It was an experience. Lake City is just up the road from Norris, Tn. where the Tn Homecoming is held.
Edited to add: http://www.coalcreekaml.com/
**********************
Take w


Edited by - chip arnold on 11/04/2007 22:14:16

chip arnold - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:36:39


According to Art Rosenbaum, Pete Steele claimed that his version was "a funeral march improvised for the miners killed in the explosions that finally closed the mines...."

Pete played this in 2-finger style switching leads between index to thumb. Do you play it in 3-finger or?

**********************
Take what s given
Give what is taken

bevans - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:36:56


Thanks Chip! I had discovered both of these sites as well and this is a good start but I'm looking for more info - especially in regard to how the banjo tune itself is supposed to relate to the disaster (various parts are supposed to depict explosions, etc - indirectly, of course!).

Bill

www.nativeandfine.com
www.nat

bevans - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:37:39


Trying to do it two-finger. It's hard to work up to Pete's speed on the Library of Congress recording!

www.nativeandfine.com
www.nat

chip arnold - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:44:50


There's a sound file of it on my Homepage. Not as fast as Pete.
Rosenbaum says "Many versions include imitations of the drums and bugles of the militia that put down the rebellion, but Steel's, which he claims was a funeral march.............is free of these effects. It is a remarkably compelling piece of music."

**********************
Take what s given
Give what is taken

bevans - Posted - 11/04/2007:  22:51:00


And this is where it starts to get interesting - because the rebellion and the mine disaster were some ten years apart! Bill

www.nativeandfine.com
www.nat

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 11/04/2007:  23:09:54


I've often wondered if the "March" wasn't really supposed to be only about the rebellion but it got "folk processed" into a the tradgedy later. The piece has nothing funerial about it in tone, tempo,mode, etc.
Then there is "Last Payday at Coal Creek" which is definately funerial.
The march sounds like it started as a parlour banjo (or guitar) piece to me, very similar to other pieces still existant. I'm sure it has it's roots in the Victorian era amateur music society repertoire.

Rocket Science Banjo, Chapters 1 and 2 - plus my mini-course in song accompaniment "Group 5" can be yours free for an email to:
oldwoodchuckb@yahoo.com
You can watch the videos for some Rocket Science Banjo subjects starting here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdRuf4X0X7g

"The Whiskey Before Breakfast Variations",
Several tabs in "Old G" and A modal tuning,
"How To Mold A Mighty Pinky"
are all available at banjobrad's website:
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html

chip arnold - Posted - 11/04/2007:  23:25:18


I think Tony's probably right. I used to play "Howie's Breakdown" from Howie Mitchell (Golden Ring album) with some friends. This was twenty five years ago. A year ago I heard it played and it was described as "Chip Arnold's Coal Creek March." Ain't the folk process grand?

**********************
Take what s given
Give what is taken

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 11/04/2007:  23:53:29


Yep, you don't even have to be dead to get folk processed. MY Brother in law combined the high part of Hobart Smith's "Pateroller" with the low part of "Kitchen Girl" about 30 years ago, and called it "Hobart's Transformation". Now there is at least one fiddle tune website with a long and patently rediculous story about a Civil War general named "Hobart" who snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat. I have the funny feeling that in another 20 years the web story will be "fact". And when people point out that there never was a General Hobart the story will suddenly be about the Mexican War or Hobart will become the pet name his troops had for some obscure figure who commanded a supply train or something.
A romantic yarn always beats out simple facts - ask anyone who lives in Roswell, NM.


Rocket Science Banjo, Chapters 1 and 2 - plus my mini-course in song accompaniment "Group 5" can be yours free for an email to:
oldwoodchuckb@yahoo.com
You can watch the videos for some Rocket Science Banjo subjects starting here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdRuf4X0X7g

"The Whiskey Before Breakfast Variations",
Several tabs in "Old G" and A modal tuning,
"How To Mold A Mighty Pinky"
are all available at banjobrad's website:
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html

BrendanD - Posted - 11/05/2007:  04:15:38


Hi Bill,

You may already have these tidbits, but on the chance that you don't have access to the old Pete Steele Folkways album, I dug out my old vinyl copy and looked up the notes for both "Coal Creek March" and "Last Payday At Coal Creek", which I will copy below. The record itself is now available as a "custom" CD through Smithsonian Folkways at:
http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.o...x?itemid=601

These notes were written by Ed Kahn in 1958:

Side II, Band 3: Coal Creek March

Since Pete Steele's recording of this banjo instrumental for the Library of Congress in 1938, there has been valuable work done on the facts and songs centering around Coal Creek (now Lake City), Tennessee. It seems that there were three separate incidents centered around the mines of Coal Creek. In 1891, the miners rebelled against the use of convict labor as competition in the mines. In both 1902 and 1911, there were mine disasters. In spite of Steele's introduction, it seems likely that the March centers around the rebellion of 1891 (see Korson, pp. 353-370).

Other versions of "Coal Creek March" often involve imitations of drums and other sounds of a military march. There may have been words associated with the tune. Possibly either Pete Steele or his informant, Andy Whitaker, took the center part of a fairly standard version of "Coal Creek March" and developed it into this fantastic banjo instrumental.

References:
Korson, pp. 353-370
AAFS 1703 A

Side II, Band 4: Last Payday At Coal Creek

"Payday" has proved every bit as difficult a problem as "Coal Creek March." Because it hasn't been nearly as widely collected as the March, it is difficult to draw any conclusions as to its origin. It would seem, from the introduction given by Mr. Steele, that this song is the result of the explosion of 1911. Judging from textual, metric, and musical evidence, it seems likely that this song may be of Negro origin. Steele learned this song from Andy Whitaker.

References:
Lomax OSC, p. 274
AFS, 1702 B1


Following this are the lyrics for "Last Payday At Coal Creek". Actually, I just now discovered that you can download a PDF file of a photocopy of the cover and all of the notes from the original LP at:
http://media.smithsonianglobalsound.../FW03828.pdf

Also, the bibliography reveals that the notes about "Korson, pp. 353-370" refer to a book by George Korson titled "Coal Dust On The Fiddle" published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1943, and probably long since out of print, though it seems that it may have been reprinted in 1965. You can find more through a title search at the Library of Congress's Online Catalog:
http://catalog.loc.gov

I hope this is helpful, and I'd be interested to know what else you find out about the tune and its origins!

Brendan


Edited by - BrendanD on 11/06/2007 19:01:08

bevans - Posted - 11/05/2007:  10:50:33


Thanks Brendan,

This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for - many, many thanks! Bill

www.nativeandfine.com
www.nat

pod222 - Posted - 11/05/2007:  18:05:36


Just curious: Dock Boggs recorded a version of Coal Creek March - any relation to Steele's version? A presume the both pertain to the same history(?)

rendesvous1840 - Posted - 11/05/2007:  20:06:05


http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/in...thisland.htm
Try searching this site, there may be info here.
http://www.coalcreekaml.com/Legacy.htm
And this one.
Paul

"A master banjo player isn't t


Edited by - rendesvous1840 on 11/05/2007 20:13:04

chip arnold - Posted - 11/05/2007:  21:52:21


Link to a short clip of Boggs' Coal creek March: http://www.last.fm/music/Dock+Boggs...+Creek+March

Dock's version is similar to Pete Steel's but not the same (or, IMHO, as good). This is one of those tunes that seems to get fitted to the player so there is a truckload of versions out there.

**********************
Take what s given
Give what is taken

chip arnold - Posted - 11/05/2007:  21:55:08


pod222, Did you know that Canada had a Coal Creek Mining disaster of it's own?
http://www.coalking.ca/challenges/m...l_creek.html

**********************
Take what s given
Give what is taken

Bill Rogers - Posted - 11/05/2007:  22:13:25


Bill, I'm sure Korson's books are still available in the UCB library if you still have access.

Bill

ScottK - Posted - 11/06/2007:  00:24:52


In the recording of the 1964 Studs Terkel WFMT radio interview with Fleming Brown, Fleming plays a version of Coal Creek March he learned from Doc Hopkins where he discusses how Hopkins used different parts of the tune to depict bugle calls, dogs barking, militia marching, etc. It's a great listen! It's on-line at http://www.glenbard44.com/radio.htm The Coal Creek March segment is about eight minutes into "Part One".

Scott

Chris Berry - Posted - 11/07/2007:  01:49:13


The Dock Boggs "Coal Creek March," in G tuning (the Pete Steele is in Reuben tuning) is closer in feel to the Marion Underwood version, which has some of the sound effects in it and is an amazing recording.

Henke - Posted - 11/08/2007:  07:38:40


Maybe this is not the right thread but; As far as I´ve read here I have collected that Pete Steele´s coal creek march is in reubens tuning? (f#DF#AD) Is there any tab available for it, or can some one just point out some notes to be played, there seems to be some barre-thing going on in the b-part?
Thanks


Take it easy, and if it´s easy

chip arnold - Posted - 11/08/2007:  09:43:04


There is a tab for the Steele version in Art Rosenbaum's old book "Old Time Mtn. Banjo" which is out of print. The barres are for the G and A chords and are played on the 5th and 7th frets. Pete played these barres in both the A and B parts. Have a listen to it on my home page...........I learned this version from Steel's '38 recording which is available from the library of congress.

I'll see if Tish can scan the tab if you'll send me your email adress.

**********************
Take what is given
Give what is taken

janolov - Posted - 11/09/2007:  08:09:16


I have the tab in TablEdit. I learned Pete Steele's version it from Rosenbaum's book, and after a while I tabbed down how I played it. Send me your email address if you want the tab.

Jan-Olov

trapdoor2 - Posted - 11/09/2007:  13:30:06


quote:
Originally posted by chip arnold

There is a tab for the Steele version in Art Rosenbaum's old book "Old Time Mtn. Banjo" which is out of print. The barres are for the G and A chords and are played on the 5th and 7th frets. Pete played these barres in both the A and B parts. Have a listen to it on my home page...........I learned this version from Steel's '38 recording which is available from the library of congress.

And it's as pretty a rendition as I've heard. Thanks for that, Chip!

===Marc

"If banjos needed tone rings, S.S. Stewart would have made them that way."

chip arnold - Posted - 11/09/2007:  14:36:04


Aw shucks............
Thanks :-)


**********************
Take what is given
Give what is taken

Bigbike4 - Posted - 11/11/2007:  21:20:47


And yet another website clip of this tune:
http://www.aca-dla.org/cdm4/item_vi...R=1394&REC=4
This one from the on line files of the music of appalachia.

It don't matter what ya play,

chip arnold - Posted - 11/11/2007:  21:43:18


Mr Stalcup called his style "flippin'the banjo". He was a 2-finger picker. He picked up with his index, "flipped" the index back out across the strings, picked up again and ended with his thumb on the 5th string. I had the good fortune to know him and to play with him many times. He had some wonderful stories about growing up in Martin's Creek, N.C.. Martin's Creek is an area, not a town and is just next to Brasstown, N.C., home of John C. Campbell Folk School. http://folkschool.org/ and just over the line from our place in Blairsville, Ga. There are recordings of him speaking in the Berea collection as well as his picking.

**********************
Take what is given
Give what is taken

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