Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Anybody play this one?

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The Camptown Shakers version of Bluetail Fly puts to shame all other modern recordings of this song.  It is the one by which all others are measured. 

I just don't think of these as even the same tune.

I am still of two minds about the meaning of "crack corn."  I know several modern forums have discussed the phrase and come up with the idea of cracking open a jug of whiskey, but I have never seen any period proof provided with that conclusion.  It could mean that, but it might not.  

Searching for "crack corn" or "cracking corn" in period literature (including dictionaries of provincalisms) provides two meanings only- a reference to the song, which was very popular - or cracking corn for livestock or to create hominy.  Whiskey is usually called "whiskey," "corn whiskey," or "American whiskey" - but I've not found it called "corn."  There are many mentions of small children singing the song, including  children in an orphan home who entertained some visitors by singing hymns and "Jim Crack Corn."  My instinct is that if the song was about getting drunk, people would have known that and prevented such a performance (it's a pretty odd combination anyway, isn't it?)  On the "pro" side - our 1852 edition of Websters mentions "drunk" as one definition for "corned."  That's more likely along the lines of being pickled, which is the other definition, as in corned beef.   

Well there ya go! I will have to give that one a listen.

Silas Tackitt said:

The Camptown Shakers version of Bluetail Fly puts to shame all other modern recordings of this song.  It is the one by which all others are measured. 

Listening to their version the difference i hear is that 2nd Carolina has double the fiddles along with the fife, and yep a quicker tempo.  Both great versions in my opinion. 

Nicholas A Bechtel said:

Well there ya go! I will have to give that one a listen.

Silas Tackitt said:

The Camptown Shakers version of Bluetail Fly puts to shame all other modern recordings of this song.  It is the one by which all others are measured. 

Glad you guys like our version of this song, one I love very much to do. It's my tribute to tinitus (long story best told around the campfire). I also enjoy the 2nd South Caorilna's recording. To be honest the main reason the instrumentation is sparse on our version is that the fiddler and jaw bone player were outside of the studio having a smoke and King Bennett and I decided to try this one so as not to waste studio time. I never have tried the Jim Crack Corn version, like Tim mentioned it would have a very different feel to sing. Dave Culgan PS Dan'l - I like that cork pop idea!

Dave, if you ever get the chance, expound on tinitus. Mine sounds like cicadas, so that's good ( and hopefully I won't go insane.)

I could not find myself playing that tune another way after I heard your version.

Ol' Dan Tucker said:

Glad you guys like our version of this song, one I love very much to do. It's my tribute to tinitus (long story best told around the campfire). I also enjoy the 2nd South Caorilna's recording. To be honest the main reason the instrumentation is sparse on our version is that the fiddler and jaw bone player were outside of the studio having a smoke and King Bennett and I decided to try this one so as not to waste studio time. I never have tried the Jim Crack Corn version, like Tim mentioned it would have a very different feel to sing. Dave Culgan PS Dan'l - I like that cork pop idea!

I can hear the can banjo strokes better on your version.  With there being less going on I get a more rootsy feel.  Which now I see where Tim's version came from. I play the song on my fiddle, when I tried to play it stroke style, it is starting to sound ok, but it's thin and I don't know how to get the whole stroke vibe going with it. 

Ol' Dan Tucker said:

Glad you guys like our version of this song, one I love very much to do. It's my tribute to tinitus (long story best told around the campfire). I also enjoy the 2nd South Caorilna's recording. To be honest the main reason the instrumentation is sparse on our version is that the fiddler and jaw bone player were outside of the studio having a smoke and King Bennett and I decided to try this one so as not to waste studio time. I never have tried the Jim Crack Corn version, like Tim mentioned it would have a very different feel to sing. Dave Culgan PS Dan'l - I like that cork pop idea!

Also now a big fan of the Camptown Shakers, thanks for the info Silas.

Ol' Dan Tucker said:

Glad you guys like our version of this song, one I love very much to do. It's my tribute to tinitus (long story best told around the campfire). I also enjoy the 2nd South Caorilna's recording. To be honest the main reason the instrumentation is sparse on our version is that the fiddler and jaw bone player were outside of the studio having a smoke and King Bennett and I decided to try this one so as not to waste studio time. I never have tried the Jim Crack Corn version, like Tim mentioned it would have a very different feel to sing. Dave Culgan PS Dan'l - I like that cork pop idea!

Tim, when I first started working on arranging this song it was late summer and the cicadas and other insects were in full song. My tinitus mimics this backwoods symphony, I hear cicadas where there are none. As mentioned this stuff is very mood and stress related so it comes and goes, but sitting and playing banjo outdoors, or near an open window or door the sounds kind of swirl together real, and perceived. It was in the fall, long after the insects had died off that I was done with my arrangement. We were in the studio and when our fiddler and jaw-bone player went outside for a smoke break I didn't want to waste valuable studio time so I asked King Benntt to try this one with me. I had asked him to make up some sandpaper blocks and do a rest-2-3-4 rhythm to mimic the insect sounds I'd been hearing. We faded out with a pre-recorded insects sound effect. Dave

John, when you playing this one?

I'm gonna take a shot at it this morning....

 

Maybe tonight.  We're expecting 6 inches of snow...

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