Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This tune (an adaptation of a 17c. Irish ballad about the 1690 Battle of Boyne Water) is from Micah Hawkin's song "Backside Albany" or "The Seige of Plattsburg" written in 1815 for the play, "The Battle of Lake Champlain", first performed in Albany in 1815. Told from the point of view of an American Black sailor, the song recounts a naval battle between the Americans and the British that took place on Lake Champlain on 11 Sept. 1814. For more on this song, please see William J. Mahar's essay: "Backside Albany" and Early Blackface Minstrelsy: A Contextual Study of America's First Blackface Song (in American Music, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 1-27.)

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Comment by Rob Morrison on April 25, 2014 at 9:43am

Very nice Paul.  That tune is quite familiar.  I know I've heard it before.

Comment by Paul Draper on April 25, 2014 at 9:49am

Thanks Rob.  It's a nice little modal piece.  To make it easier to play, I tuned up the 2nd string to G (playing in D modal).  (I got that idea from Bob Lanham's recording over on BHO - thanks Bob!)

Comment by Al Smitley on April 25, 2014 at 9:52am

Thanks, Paul, for the historical background.  I always appreciate that and it, in turn, helps me have more appreciation for the associated tune/song.

Comment by Paul Draper on April 25, 2014 at 10:06am

I posted Mahar's article in the following thread a while back.  http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/gumbo-chafing?commentId=...

Comment by Strumelia on April 25, 2014 at 10:27am

Paul- are you saying that you are simply in sawmill tuning but with lowered pitch?

Comment by Paul Draper on April 25, 2014 at 10:35am

Yep.  dADGA

Comment by Strumelia on April 25, 2014 at 10:37am

We were in that tuning last night I think...  :D

Comment by Rob Morrison on April 25, 2014 at 11:04am

Paul--I play modal fiddle tunes out of that tuning, too, but it's a little bit tricky, because I already play those tunes out of  aEADE tuning, so I have to relearn the fingering.

Comment by Bob Lanham on April 26, 2014 at 6:32am

Thanks for pointing out Mahar's article.  I look forward to reading it!

Comment by Wes Merchant on April 26, 2014 at 6:47am

"Very nice Paul.  That tune is quite familiar.  I know I've heard it before."

Bob this tune was recorded by John McCutcheon on dulcimer in the early 1980's and had some currency among dance bands at the time. I don't know where he got the tune, but if someone runs into him it would be an interesting question, in fact if I can find the record around here it may be on the liner notes, hmmm, now where would that be...

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