Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Let's put a little focus on this tune for a few days. Perhaps folks have some fresh insight into this old tune (1832) and it's history.  "old Virginny never tire". What does that mean?  And Cato Moore...lazily, I have not looked that up yet. Who is it?

I hope we have some folks that will try this tune this weekend. Also...any references? I have only heard Clarke  B.

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I was never sure about this one.  Sharp shooter regiments the world over back then wore green uniforms.  The yankee unit during the war was often referred to as "tree frogs."  I wondered if there was some kind of relationship here, but it is purely a guess.

I've been curious about the bull frog too.  I am leaning toward the African animal story explanation you see in many of the books on minstrelsy - that animal characters play an important role in stories, with the weaker character often winning through tricks.  Frogs are normally characterized as puffed up, braggarts, full of hot air.  (Think Mr. Toad in Wind in the Willow)

I went on the Lester Levy site (which has been down lately) to search the pub date of "Sich a Gittin' Up Stairs".

All I found was it included in a collection of "Crow Quadrilles" (1837), which also included "Jim Crow", "Sittin' on a Rail", "Clare de Kitchen", and "Dinah Waltz".  No verses were included.....only dance figures.  Other than Foster's songs, I haven't seen much of this before.  Was it common to use minstrel songs for dancing?  I would have thought that (other than Foster) they would have tended to utilize tunes from the English/Scottish/Irish tradition or quadrilles, etc., whose specific purpose was to accompany dances.   And, by the way, can someone give me the pub date of "Sich a Gittin' Up Stairs"?

Here is a good link from Mudcat discussing this tune (Stairs)

The exact date seems unclear, but it seems like it came right after Jim Crow.


All the references I have seen for Such a Gettin Up Stairs suggest the early 1830s.  This is one tune for which I haven't actually seen an original sheet music score.  There are many references to the song in a number of period publications, so it was well known.

There is...did you see the cover I posted? 

It is in Brown University.


By the way...this is where I secured copies of most of my banjo tutors....had to pay for it, but they were very nice.

The problem is...even they don't have a date.

So who is joining in this weeks edition of tune of the week...or whatever?

Clare De Kitchen!!!

Post them on the weekend?

Carl...hope you jump in on this one.

Dan'l,  thanks for the info on Kentucky!

Tim & Dan'l, thanks for the sheet music!  I love the cover photo...and it's really interesting when you look at in contextually.  (Such a Gettin up Stairs).  I don't want to really start in on this one right now, but if you look at the two gents "showing their knowledge of the scientific art of boxing" you'll see how well dressed they are.  Our singer is a Susquehannah raftsman, so you'd tend to think of him wearing rougher clothes.  Raftsmen were paid very well because it was so dangerous.  There were no passengers, so he was working the raft.  Yet, here, calling on Sal, he is dressed in his long tail blue...very natty indeed.

The words are a bit different...John, noticed they did say kind...not kin.

Hey Terry....sounds like you know this this one. Looking forward to a kick-ass version of this song! 

Danny plays a part behind the banjo. He has a knack for just the right kinda feel and counter melody. Heck way before he learned the concertina he was listening to this song. Clark's version. When he was little he loved jumping around to White Cat Black Cat. Now he's gonna get all embarassed. He's 20, works and goes to college too. I'll see if I can drag him away from the girls and record our version.

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