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I don't read music; it looks like dog droppings to me - Pinetop Perkins, in Faded Blues by Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Author Topic: John Henry  (Read 2770 times)

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Cleoma2

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John Henry
« on: January 10, 2006, 11:13:55 PM »
My friend Evie Ladin (a great dancer and banjo player who plays with the Stairwell Sisters, a Bay Area oldtime band) is looking for an old-time recording of John Henry, preferably by a blues artist, that has really good driving groove and would be suitable for buck dancing.  She wants to use it for a elementary school performance in which the kids will be dancing.  Any suggestions?
Suzy Thompson

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2006, 11:43:54 PM »
From memory of an ancient Origin compilation, the one that comes to mind is that by Joe Evans & Arthuir McClain (aka The Two Poor Boys) recorded in 1931 and is a vocal duet with two guitars and mandolin. But whether suitable for Buck Dancing I not qualified to comment upon. :)

Offline Rivers

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 04:28:40 PM »
Not oldtime but my favorite version is Pink Anderson's on Gospel, Blues and Street Songs. Half the tracks on the album are Pink and half Rev. Gary Davis. Buckdancability or oherwise, nobody would ever regret owning this record. Here's a link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000000XXP/ref=m_art_li_2/104-1184941-2253513?s=music&v=glance&n=5174

Offline outfidel

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2006, 01:53:03 PM »
I like the happy, quills-filled version by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas.

You can request the song on Weenie Juke, or listen to a soundclip on Amazon, to see if it's buckdanceable.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2006, 01:57:34 PM by outfidel »
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Offline GhostRider

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2006, 08:09:07 AM »
Suzy:

I had a listen to the Evans and McClain version of John Henry. It's very fiddle-centric (ahh..) but definately not suitable for Buck dancing (or any other kind).

Alex

Offline phhawk

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2006, 09:20:47 AM »
As an alternative, you might consider Bill Wilson by the Birmingham Jug Band. Same tune, different lyrics, kicks butt. It's on the Juke and the Rukus Juice and Chitlins CD.

Offline GerryC

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2006, 01:44:11 AM »
The only contribution I can make to this thread is a question, understandable only in the context of my being a strictly non-dancing Englishman (but I'm fascinated): What is the Buck Dance? How is it done? Is doing it in public an arrestable offence? I think I should be told...

Cheerily,

Gerry C
I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these...

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2006, 11:45:18 AM »
The only contribution I can make to this thread is a question, understandable only in the context of my being a strictly non-dancing Englishman (but I'm fascinated): What is the Buck Dance? How is it done? Is doing it in public an arrestable offence? I think I should be told...
He-he, I like it.

Clarence Major in his "Juba To Jive: Dictionary of African American Slang" (Penguin 1994) has an entry thus:

Buck-and-wing. n. (1840s-1940s) a tap dance step originating among "negroes". Sometimes known among whites as "buckdancing".

From memory Jacqui Malone in her book Steppin' On The Blues; Visible Rhythms Of African American Dance" (Illinois UP, 1996) has a more indepth explanation/analysis of buck-and-wing

When Jesse Fuller was touring Britain in 1965 he performed a most amazing buck-and-wing routine to one of his songs - but it wasn't to John Henry I'm afraid.

Offline waxwing

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2006, 11:56:41 AM »
I saw Suzy and Evie (and friend) playing a brunch gig at a small cafe last Sunday (Appalachian OT and Gospel w/great 3 part harmonies) and Evie said she was gonna go with the Henry Thomas version, with much thanks to all the Weenie suggestions.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2006, 12:00:17 PM »
There's some history and info on buck dancing or buck and wing here:

http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3buckw1.htm

Offline GerryC

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Re: John Henry
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2006, 01:24:20 AM »
Thanks, bunker and unkie bud. I am now much better informed. I now know that a buck dance is a form of physical exercise and thus something to be sedulously avoided. A subliminal reason for my taking up the guitar when a lad was to avoid the unspeakable horrors of dancing and still be able to attract young women. It worked too..... :P

Cheerily,

Gerry C
I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these...

 


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