Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I went to a house concert last night where I heard a mesmerizing "Pompey Ran Away" played on an old Dobson banjo. (Not an everyday occurrance around here!) Came home and checked out Tim's video version, and am trying to get it into my head and fingers. I understand this is one of the first documented "Negroe Jigs". Can anyone fill me in on the provenance of this tune? Thanks.

Views: 30

Comment by Tim Twiss on October 4, 2010 at 11:49am
My information comes from the Hans Nathan Book, where he says, in talking about the intercourse between slave and white society, "resulted a blend of European and primitive melodic styles, of which the earliest known to us is an 18th Century "Negroe Jig", probably of the British colonies in the New World. It (Pomey Ran Away) consists of English and Scottish folk song elements, but the frequent reiteration of a short-winded motive is the contribution of a slave".
Comment by Rob Morrison on October 4, 2010 at 12:05pm
Ian--

It's a small world. I learned "Pompey Ran Away" this weekend and have been playing it ever since. It's a fun little tune. I learned it from a CD by Carson Hudson, Jr. called "I Come From Old Virginny!"

He attributes the tune to "A Selection of Scotch, English, and Foreign Airs" , published in 1782. The subtitle for the tune is "A Negro Jig (Virginia). Bob Carlin has also recorded a similar tune with the same name, But I much prefer this version.
Comment by Silas Tackitt on October 4, 2010 at 3:26pm
That song is considered contraband in my house. The internal repetition within the song which makes its it so fun to hear and play is why Mrs. Silas won't let me play it. When I play other songs with much internal repetition like De Glendy Burke, Rose of Alabama or Nelly Gray and when I receive a hint it's time to play something else, I often threaten to play "That Pompey song." That changes the subject well enough to get me out of hot water.

Since I don't get to play Pompey Run Away regularly, it's not one of those songs I can play without looking at the tabs. It's sad because I really like the song. However, when it comes to playing some song verses staying married, I choose marriage.

At least when Mrs. Silas is around.

- Silas
Comment by Rob Morrison on October 4, 2010 at 3:41pm
Silas--
I've been married for 33 years now. The trick is to play these songs while your wife is out of the house or stick a hankerchief in the back of the pot and play several rooms away with the door closed while your wife is asleep. This always works for me. On the other hand, I've been trying for two days now to get that tune out of my head.
Comment by Tim Twiss on October 4, 2010 at 3:54pm
It tends to be hypnotic and mesmerizing, or just plain annoying...depending on how its played-and who's listening. It's not just a "plain old tune", is it?
Comment by Ian Bell on October 5, 2010 at 6:44am
Thanks for the comments gents. The The groove of this tune reminds me of what's usually called a "triple hornpipe" or in Quebec, a "gigue" in 3/2 or 6/4. (Although the print versions I've found of Pompey are written out in 3/4)
It's a really old form. French Canadian and Metis players up here still play tunes hypno-groove like this - Le Brandy, Le Grande Gigue Simple and The Red River Gigue. More musical DNA.

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