aka Kingdom Coming aka Lincoln’s Gunboats
Key of D – Double D Tuning -aDADE
In this, Tunetorial Dan "Clawdan" Levenson teaches The Year of Jubilo aka Kingdom Coming aka Lincoln’s Gunboats. Dan has relatively few reference recordings for this one in his library including one of fiddler Tink Queer from his home recordings. You can also find it on Dan's recording Eat At Joe’s with The Boiled Buzzards (Buzzard 1003). Dan plays banjo on that one as Christian Wig fiddles along with the band. As in past weeks, Dan just plays the tune and breaks down sections on the fly.
Wikipedia says it “is an American Civil War song, written and composed by Henry C. Work in 1862, prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. The song celebrates promised freedom to slaves whose master has been frightened away by the Union military forces.
The lyrics are seldom heard nowadays. The song is usually played as a lively instrumental, as with the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War.”
The words are not singable by today’s standards but as Dan mentions using words as one way of deciding rhythmic choices, the first verse and chorus are:
“Say, darkies, hab you seen de massa, wid de muffstash on his face,
Go long de road some time dis mornin', like he gwine to leab de place?
He seen a smoke way up de ribber, whar de Linkum gunboats lay;
He took his hat, and lef' berry sudden, and I spec' he's run away!
De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho!
It mus' be now de kingdom coming, an' de year ob Jubilo!”
The title of Lincoln’s Gunboats is most obviously from the reference to “Linkum gunboats” in the first verse.
The references to the Year of Jubilo is sometimes thought to also be referring to the year of Jubilee – a biblical reference to the 50th (or 49th) year when according to Leviticus, slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.
There is a lot of interesting history on this one for sure and it’s a GREAT tune to learn to play at jam sessions.
This tune appears in two of Dan's books, Old Time Favorites for Clawhammer Banjo (MB 30224) AND in his landmark instructional book Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch (MB 20190). This tune can be very basic or quite involved so pick your licks and make it your own!
Feel free to post any questions you have on it, remark on sections you would like clarified or things you might like added. Yes even the things you don’t like are fair game. It grows the tune and the community when you know what you like and don’t like as you build your own style.
It would be great to hear some of your versions so far so post them here for all to hear!
Enjoy and Play Nice.