Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Cuffie and I played at a retirement home this evening. They enjoyed it very much, but we had a few requests that we couldn't fill, and it got me thinking about "must play" tunes that are so helpful when playing for the general public. Tunes that they already know or know of.

Tunes like:

Dan Tucker
Camptown Races
Oh Susannah
Buffalo Gals
Battle Hymn of the Republic

We were requested "Darling Clementine" which I could not fufill, so I will add that to my list. "Wait for the Wagon" could also be on this list, tho it's less familiar. I'm sure there's more "must plays" out there that I can't think of.

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We get a lot of requests for Dixie. The two most commonly sung songs of the time were Yankee Doodle, and Home Sweet Home, so I would say that these really should be part of the repertoire.
I wasn't aware that Yankee Doodle was so popular as a sung song. Which set of lyrics, the ones that start something like "father and I went down to camp" , macaroni, hasty pudding and all that? We sing a later set of lyrics, I guess I got them from one of the archives, that tell a synopsis of the war for Independence.

A lot of the "must plays" are really hard to do in our band lineup, ones like Battle Hymn of the Republic, because of the meter or rhythm. It is frustrating to have to turn down a common popular tune that comes as a request, especially one anyone could sing just because I can't work it out on the banjo. We're not good enough singers by a long shot to be able to do them a capella. The great thing about performing Dixie is, that even if you can't sing the audience usually makes enough noise to cover up attempts to sing the high notes.
Ditto to your list, and a few more:

My Old Kentucky Home
Golden Slippers
Listen To The Mockingbird
Polly Wolly Doodle
Yellow Rose Of Texas

Always result in recognition or sing alongs.
There are so many sets of lyrics to Yankee Doodle that it is hard too keep track of them all. The traditional ones (father and I went to camp...) were probably the most known. For civil war events there are a number of different sets, I have a confederate one that is far from politically correct, but from that era probably most noteworthy is the Reluctant Conscript. One of my favorites is from the Songstress Museum (1826).

Yankee doodle is the tune
Americans delight in,
t'will do to whistle sing or play
And just the thing for fighting.

I have a reference somewhere that stated that when Americans congregated, such as at a concert or political rally, they would break out singing while they were waiting, the two most commonly sung songs being Yankee Doodle and Home Sweet Home.

Ol' Dan Tucker said:
I wasn't aware that Yankee Doodle was so popular as a sung song. Which set of lyrics, the ones that start something like "father and I went down to camp" , macaroni, hasty pudding and all that?
I'm not a minstrel or minstrel re-enactor (what's the difference?), so most of the requests my OT groups get (and either can't do or turn down) are bluegrass tunes. The one recurring tune request that I can think of that I get that may be from your period is "Little Brown Jug." I think that tune must have been really popular in this area (Sandhills, NC) from way back. I need to learn a version that's fiddle friendly.
Yeah, "Little Brown Jug" is an excellent "must play." Everyone knows the melody. I think it was written in 1866, so it's solid in the period, too.
I'd expected these tunes to be standard fare,as they are always requested by the general public out here..........it would be very interesting to see video versions, in different styles, given the creative talents of our members.
I've been playing old-time folk for senior centers for years, but have not yet done any minstrel performances as of yet. Look forward to doing so soon. I like the old standard song line up listed above...who wouldn't want to hear these?

In research a day or so ago I found a historic version of John Brown's Body with this explanation at top of page: The popular version of "Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" (1861) as sung by th Federal Volunteers Throughout the Union.

1. Ellsworth's [John Brown's] body lies a mould'ring in the grave,
His soul is marching on........etc.
I remember my mom singing Stephen Foster songs to me in the 60's when I was a child so those were the first melodies that I remember plus "Pop Goes the Weasel" from my pop-up music box (you wound and a clown's head would pop up). A couple of tunes that I might add are:

Oh, Susannah and My Old Kentucky Home (which is VERY similar to Home Sweet Home-I get them mixed up real easily)

St. Patrick's Day is a really nice instrumental to break up song set if you're getting a bit hoarse :)
Durang's Hornpipe is another (the name doesn't seem to be but the tune was familiar when I first heard it)
AND WHO COULD FORGET THE THREE STOOGES THEME/INTRO,RECOGNIZEABLE AS "LISTEN TO THE MOCKINGBIRD"AKA"SIEGE OF VICKSBURG"

Brent W Browning said:
I remember my mom singing Stephen Foster songs to me in the 60's when I was a child so those were the first melodies that I remember plus "Pop Goes the Weasel" from my pop-up music box (you wound and a clown's head would pop up). A couple of tunes that I might add are:

Oh, Susannah and My Old Kentucky Home (which is VERY similar to Home Sweet Home-I get them mixed up real easily)

St. Patrick's Day is a really nice instrumental to break up song set if you're getting a bit hoarse :)
Durang's Hornpipe is another (the name doesn't seem to be but the tune was familiar when I first heard it)
Living Tradition: On the subject of minstrel "standards"

On New Year's Day I hosted a jam session at the museum where I work in Port Dover, Ontario. (just across the lake from Erie, PA) The players who turned up were aged about 21 to 91 and most would probably describe themselves as "Canadian Old-Time" musicians. (not a music historian in the bunch)
Along with all the usual jigs and reels we played:

Year of Jubilo
Listen To The Mockingbird
Yellow Rose of Texas
Golden Slippers
Darling Nellie Gray
Durang's hornpipe is a late 18th century tune written for John Durang, an early American stage dancer and circus performer - a fascinating guy, whose son is said to have been the first person to sing the Star Spangled Banner in public.
It's still a popular fiddle tune in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

Brent W Browning said:
I remember my mom singing Stephen Foster songs to me in the 60's when I was a child so those were the first melodies that I remember plus "Pop Goes the Weasel" from my pop-up music box (you wound and a clown's head would pop up). A couple of tunes that I might add are:

Oh, Susannah and My Old Kentucky Home (which is VERY similar to Home Sweet Home-I get them mixed up real easily)

St. Patrick's Day is a really nice instrumental to break up song set if you're getting a bit hoarse :)
Durang's Hornpipe is another (the name doesn't seem to be but the tune was familiar when I first heard it)

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