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Apr 12, 2024 - 7:26:52 AM
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John D

USA

450 posts since 11/3/2004

The TOTW for April 12, 2024 is.....Whistling Rufus. This Ragtime or Tin Pan Alley era tune was written in 1899 by American music publisher and composer, Kerry Mills. He was Born in Philadelphia in 1869 and died in California in 1948. He also composed the tune "Red Wing." (Actually, he swiped the first part of "Red Wing" from "The Merry Peasant" by Robert Schumann.)

Here's the sheet music for Whistling Rufus from the Session:

thesession.org/tunes/15028

There are dozens and dozens of versions of Whistling Rufus on Youtube. I chose a few:

Souza's band: youtube.com/watch?v=1z7x5ERXFQM


Scottish band leader Jimmy Shand: youtube.com/watch?v=u_r7soLEmBA


The Seekers (of Georgy Girl Fame): youtube.com/watch?v=pS5sSQZsa9k


Banjoist Vess L. Ossman: youtube.com/watch?v=1g6C6IzKEgw

Doc Watson: youtube.com/watch?v=ejQZuHrhoSU

Greg Adams and Hank Sapoznik: youtube.com/watch?v=1-z6ZJyeOHs

A bluegrass version from Ron Stuart: youtube.com/watch?v=QQwtwqHufTE

And on and on......

Lots of good versions in the BHO music archives.

Here's my take from 14 years ago: banjohangout.org/myhangout/med...archived=

John D

Apr 12, 2024 - 9:36:08 AM
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carlb

USA

2593 posts since 12/16/2007

There are lyrics, though originally has some offensive terms. However, there are not many songs that sing the praise of musicians.

They are in an old BHO discussion, though my modifications left him a black man.
https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/150617
I heard lyrics from the McGee Brothers under the title "Rufus Blossom". My changed line, modified by me (after the posting them and crediting me with the cleanup):
Black as a stick of ebony

There's also some conflicting opinions about the last line of the chorus.
Was Whistling Rufus, the one man band
or
Was Whistling Rufus, the one band man.

I could not find a recording of the McGee Brothers  "Rufus Blossom" after searching on the internet, though I do have a copy of it from a cassette tape.

Apr 12, 2024 - 10:11:30 AM
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11351 posts since 4/23/2004
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The original sheet music, with lyrics, are available online. The chorus ends: "...was Whistling Rufus, the One Man Band." (one man band in caps).

Whistliing Rufus sheet music

The last verse also "...dey call him the One Man Band."

The American Banjo Fraternity plays this as one of their standards...but a 4th strain has been added in Dmaj (I'm working from memory). It is a great tune and a lot of fun to play.

Back in the 2000s at the first Antietam Early Banjo Gathering, a few of us Classic Fingerstylists got together for a few minutes and played WR as an ensemble. It was amazing...and I started it way too fast!

Apr 12, 2024 - 10:41:01 AM
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8262 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by trapdoor2

The original sheet music, with lyrics, are available online. The chorus ends: "...was Whistling Rufus, the One Man Band." (one man band in caps).

Whistliing Rufus sheet music

The last verse also "...dey call him the One Man Band."

The American Banjo Fraternity plays this as one of their standards...but a 4th strain has been added in Dmaj (I'm working from memory). It is a great tune and a lot of fun to play.

Back in the 2000s at the first Antietam Early Banjo Gathering, a few of us Classic Fingerstylists got together for a few minutes and played WR as an ensemble. It was amazing...and I started it way too fast!


Nope, nothing was added.  It is simply played as composed and published. The 4th strain was redacted (reasons unknown) by Clifford Essex when he published it. 

In the classic era recordings, like Ossman, it was played complete, with the 4th.

As far as I can tell, there were only two arrangements published for banjo, CE and Walter Jacobs (but the Walter Jacobs' was for plectrum banjo-- complete with the 4th part.

Based on everything I can find, it was not a big part of the American classic banjo repertoire (likely because it was not published in the US for banjo) and seems to have been taken up by the ABF due to the ragtime revival. 

The ABF's arrangement is in C and F, the 4th being a repeat of the B part in F. 

Apr 12, 2024 - 1:52:21 PM
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11351 posts since 4/23/2004
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Yes, I was running on memory (which I know I should not do). I've never really liked the 4-strain version anyway (probably because I learned it from the Essex version).

The original piano score's A and B parts are in Bb. The Trio is in Eb and then the 4th strain is the repeat of the B part but remains in Eb like the Trio. Yup, same key modulations as the ABF.

Apr 14, 2024 - 2:47:06 PM
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269 posts since 4/10/2010

Good one. This seems to be going through a resurgence of popularity since I heard it four or five times at festival jams this weekend, all called by fiddlers. Perhaps they read your post.

Apr 15, 2024 - 6:46:36 PM
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7129 posts since 6/27/2009

You did a great job playing Whistling Rufus, John! That was a tough tune to figure out and to play. It goes to several places chordally speaking that you wouldn't expect. I hope you enjoy this version, rough as it came out after my effort today to work on it.


Apr 18, 2024 - 4:05:28 PM
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raybob

USA

14142 posts since 12/11/2003

I always liked this tune. I learned it long ago from a local old time fiddler's newsletter (standard notation). It was written in G with no key modulations.

Apr 24, 2024 - 1:34:45 PM
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1006 posts since 6/16/2007

Very nice choice! Enjoyed all the posts.
Here is "The Skirtlifters" from 1990. Curly Miller is the one whistling....starts at 1:10 50. The entire sound recording is worth a listen. Clarke Buehling, Curly Miller, Jim Lansford, Pete Howard and Billy Mathews.


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