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And The Cat Came Back The Very Next Day

Genre: Old Time  Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time  Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Expert
Posted by ChuckJo, updated: 4/4/2013
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: “And the Cat Came Back The Very Next Day”, from Doc Roberts: I have long been an admirer of Doc’s fiddling. He infuses his rich repertoire of tunes with a distinct bluesy sound characterized by powerful, yet smooth bowing and remarkably clear intonation. First, I learned to play this tune on the fiddle. Eventually I was able to eke out a fair approximation of The Cat. I would dust it off from time to time, but really did not fully commit to it, in part because I didn’t feel fully confident in my fiddling. But of course, it kept coming back, insisting that I give it the attention it deserved, so that now it lays curled up comfortably at the fire amongst the other familiar G tunes. I suppose it became jealous of my time on the banjo, so slyly crept into my clawhammer fingers, where it sits now as a banjo favorite. One of the charms of Doc’s fiddle version, is how the tune wanders in no obvious pattern (at least to me) between what I am labeling the A, B, and C parts. In order to share more easily with others, I play it as AABBCC. A brief bio of Doc Roberts compiled from the internet (Wikipedia and other sources) Dock Philipine Roberts was born in 1898 near Kirksville, Madison County, and learned to play the fiddle at an early age with some help from his older brother Liebert. Doc's and Liebert's musical mentor was the African-American fiddler Owen Walker who was born in 1857, and taught Roberts most of his tunes. After finishing his studies in Berea Roberts married in 1913. In 1925, a talent scout, Dennis Taylor, recruited Roberts along with Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz as old time recording artists for Gennet Records In early 1927, Roberts recorded with the string band, the "Booker Family". Together with Dick Parman and Ted Chestnut, he formed the Kentucky Thorobreds. They recorded in April 1927 for Paramount. In the fall of 1927, teamed up with Asa Martin as Martin & Roberts. They made their recording debut in May 1928 for the Gennett label. Between 1927-1934, the duo performed at fiddler's conventions, in schoolhouses, on vaudeville stages, and on radio (WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky). Martin & Roberts recorded altogether more than 200 sides on 11 different labels. Later on, with the addition of Doc Roberts' son James, the Fiddlin' Doc Roberts Trio was formed. In 1928, Roberts was hired, through the agency of Bradley Kincaid, by the National Barn Dance radio show in Chicago . He was paid $50 a week. After only two weeks he quit the show and moved back to Kentucky because he was unable to sleep due to the noise of the big city. The Doc Roberts Trio lasted until 1934 when Roberts retired as a recording artist. During the next 4 decades, he continued to make personal appearances and occasional radio works. He died at the age of 81 in his hometown of Richmond. The Cat Came Back: I first heard “The Cat Came Back” as a camp song. The melody in Doc’s version, seemed completely separate from my vague memory of that song, so I didn’t give it much more thought. However, in preparation for this post, I conducted an internet search and quickly discovered 1) The first commercial recording of "The Cat Came Back" was by Fiddlin’ John Carson (OKeh 40119) in April 1924. It doesn’t sound at all like Doc’s version "And The Cat Came Back The Very Next Day", recorded on Gennett 3235 on November 13, 1925. However, the Fiddlin’ John’s version appears directly related the Harry S. Miller Song of 1893: "The Cat Came Back: A Nigger Absurdity." Ouch! The racism that runs through much of American popular culture is revealed again. I don’t like reporting this, but just thought you should know.


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