Rose of Alabama (1846)

Discussion in 'Twanger Central' started by MrAstro, May 23, 2019.

  1. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    Rose of Alabama (1846) Words by S.S. Steele with special thanks to Tom Roush for uncovering the original lyrics. Rose of Alabama was popularised by the movie "The Outlaw Josie Wales" but was actually an old minstrel song that predated the American Civil War. The tune was apparently popular with the Confederate Soldiers.

    In this version I have arranged a solo guitar arrangement in something resembling Chet Atkin's style and also arranged a bluegrass style banjo accompaniment. I also sang the song for a change however I'm no singer so that part of the performance should be rather amusing for everyone :)
     
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  2. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I quite enjoyed that! on some of the verses your singing made me think of the Poques.
     
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  3. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Nice one, made me think of the kid with the floral shirt in Josey Wales.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks fellas - it was a great movie that one! One of my favourites!
     
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  5. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I enjoyed your version! Great work.

    Back in the mists of time...2006? The very first Antietam Early Banjo Gathering was held in the original 1844 barn next door to the Pry House (now the Civil War Medical Museum). This was a gathering of Banjo collectors and players who specialize in the banjo history, etc. Many very early banjos were present (1840's) and those that were capable were played.

    The barn itself was used as a field hospital during the battle of Antietam. Here's a group of my friends playing "Rose Of Alabama" in the original barn...ca 2012.

    edit: these banjos are reproductions, not originals but about as close as you can get!

     
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  6. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    That was really great and I loved the period clothing! I wonder if the tuning on those banjos was standard? I actually tuned my banjo to c tuning which is common but not as common as the standard G tuning. The guitar suited the key of C for the travis picking so I sort of got stuck in the keys of C and D which is a bit odd for Banjo I think. I don't really play banjo - I just worked out a few chords and inversions and a pattern and luckily playing some Jerry Reed and Chet stuff on guitar meant that I could fake my through haha. Thank you very much.

    It's great that you come from Alabama and liked it - that made my day!

    Also I'm an Australian - I wonder can you pick up on that in my singing (or what passes for singing haha)?
     
  7. tintag27

    tintag27 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Nice work!
    That's an excellent arrangement and I am in awe of your multi-instrumental talents and harmony singing. Super sound on the recording too...
    (now where the heck did I put my old fiddle?)
     
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  8. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very cool.
    Good singing too.
    Yes, my ref is Josey Wales too.
     
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  9. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    I wish I could play fiddle - I wished I had one when I was doing it.

    Thanks for the kind words too!
     
  10. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Actually, I didn't notice any accent and didn't see your location when I was listening. To my ears, you sound like a yankee. :D

    Contrary to popular belief, the banjo in the pre-Civil war era was almost exclusive to the Northeast. The county I live in was one of the largest cotton producers in the state back then and I have yet to find any mention of banjos in the period prior to the War. Occasional runaway slave notices mention that the runaway "plays the banjo" but for the period, it is like claiming your telecaster has Leo's fingerprints on it. Very common in runaway listings. Current historians have documented that in the late 1830s and early 1840s the banjo was co-opted by white players and popularized in the metropolitan centers of the north (that's where the paying gigs were). The war actually brought the instrument to the south and popularized it with the rural whites.

    The Song was written by S.S. Steele, who wrote quite a few minstrel hits, including one of my favorites, "Gum Tree Canoe". The "Rose Of Alabama" was extremely popular in the north and when it made it down south, popular there too. It is hard to understand 150yrs on that the sides were neighbors, brothers and former compatriots, often soldiers that fought side-by-side previously. They shared common interests and common popular songs.

    As far as tuning, there is some controversy as to which tuning was employed in what period. The first banjo tutor, published in 1851, used dGDF#A (5-4-3-2-1) tuning but only a couple years later, in 1860 a new tutor's published tuning moved up a whole tone to eAEG#B. By the 1880's, the tuning had climbed two whole tones to gCGBD and that was considered "normal" until Earl Scruggs popularized the gDGBD tuning in the 50s and 60s. At the Early Banjo Gatherings (which are now held in Appomattox, VA), the early tuning (dGDF#A) is very popular...but some use the later tuning.

    Don't get me started on this subject...I've been studying it (and occasionally lecturing) since 1992 and can drone on and on and on...
     
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  11. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    That was really fascinating reading. I'm like a sponge when it comes to interesting stuff like this. I had done some reading on the history of the song but it didn't concentrate on history of the banjo as much. If you were closer I'd invite you over for dinner - I could listen for hours! :)

    Oh and I watched endless reruns of Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid too haha.
     
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  12. decker

    decker Tele-Holic

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    Smooth track.
     
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  13. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    The banjo has quite the history in Australia as well. One of the early 20th C. explorers (I can't remember which, my memory sez he was somehow involved in early Aussie oil exploration) carried a banjo with him on his travels and I know the gentleman who now owns it (lives in Melbourne). I have its twin brother (they were made in England around 1901). I have corresponded with the nice folks at UTAS as well on some of Tazmania's banjo history.
     
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  14. MrAstro

    MrAstro Tele-Afflicted

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    I know my Dad told me there used to be Banjo clubs over here in like the 1930's and 1940's. I have a feeling (but don't quote me on it) they might have often been four string banjos. So yes they were very popular here at one point. I guess before television a lot of people used to devote themselves to various instruments more than they would today.
     
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