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Old-Time TOTW #101: Texas Quickstep (5/31/20)

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May 31, 2020 - 7:53:36 AM
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263 posts since 7/31/2018

This week's tune is Texas Quickstep, from the playing of Jim Black of Beaver County, OK, as found in Marion Thede's The Fiddle Book. I was not able to find out anything about Mr. Black, so if anyone has information, please let me know.

Thede notes "Tempo as needed for dancing" and gives the alternate title "Black Jack." Traditional Tune Archive gives many alternate titles: Cherokee Polka, Spanish Polka, St. Louis Quickstep, Texas Galop, Rachel, and Rachael's Hornpipe. "Texas Quickstep" was recorded by fiddler Albert Lee “Red” Steeley (1893-1969), from the Arlington, TX, for Brunswick Records in October 1928 (commercially released April 1929). Steeley, along with friend J.W. ‘Red’ Graham on banjo, were billed as “The Red Headed Fiddlers.” They were originally from Alabama, Steeley having moved to Texas at around age 10. Steeley hailed from Scottsboro and his grandmother’s brothers were the famous Taylor brothers, Bob and "Alf," fiddlers and politicians from Tennessee (one became Governor of the state). Apparently Mr. Steeley also built fiddles, as a memorial left for him on Find-A-Grave by Robyn Montgomery on 26 Apr 2017 states: "Rest in Peace 'Red'. I still enjoy playing the violin you built in 1947 and varnished/completed in 1949 for Buck Covington. My friend Norman Solomon really loved this fiddle too. I wish I could have met you. Peace & Love from Grandview, Texas."

Joining me in this second "Covid edition" of Old-Time TOTW are friends Jeanie Creamer on guitar (Hocking Hills, OH), and Timm Reasbeck on bass (Clarendon, PA).

Subscribe to my YouTube channel, and be sure to click the bell icon to receive notifications, and don't forget to join the Old-Time TOTW group on Facebook at: facebook.com/groups/331005451133333/

I give remote workshops on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month that focus on the Old-Time TOTW series. Contact me at FiddlerPaul71@gmail.com for more information.


May 31, 2020 - 4:42:28 PM

4653 posts since 9/26/2008

This is the same-ish melody as Mississippi fiddler Stephen B Tucker's "Circus Peice."

May 31, 2020 - 5:37:23 PM
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DougD

USA

9609 posts since 12/2/2007

As you mentioned, this tune is sometimes called "Rachel," and vaguely associated with the wife of Andrew Jackson (without any particular evidence that I know of).
Some years ago I played fiddle for a show at the Barter theatre and at one point the entire cast left the stage for a costume change. I had to fill the time by entertaining with a fiddle medley, which involved strolling on platforms at three different levels in cowboy boots, while wearing an uncomfortable homemade wireless microphone. I chose "Liberty" and "Texas Quickstep," and after one show an audience member asked "I know that first tune was 'Liberty' but what was the second one?" so I don't think it was so well known around here.
BTW, both Taylor brothers, a Republican and a Democrat, served as governor of Tennessee. You might be interested in reading more about Robert Love Taylor: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Love_Taylor
His book "Fiddle and the Bow" (available online if you look) contains one of the earliest references to the term "old time" music that I've found.

Edited by - DougD on 05/31/2020 17:47:55

May 31, 2020 - 6:15:15 PM

175 posts since 6/3/2016

I like the video! We always call it "Rachel, also known as Texas Quickstep". And I mean, every single time we play it we say that.

May 31, 2020 - 6:19:36 PM

4653 posts since 9/26/2008

In case you didn't know, it appears that book was written by an ancestor. I could be wrong but the book is listed under his bio... 

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/taylor-robert-love-1941-robert-taylor-robert-love-taylor-jr

May 31, 2020 - 6:25:17 PM
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263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

As you mentioned, this tune is sometimes called "Rachel," and vaguely associated with the wife of Andrew Jackson (without any particular evidence that I know of).
Some years ago I played fiddle for a show at the Barter theatre and at one point the entire cast left the stage for a costume change. I had to fill the time by entertaining with a fiddle medley, which involved strolling on platforms at three different levels in cowboy boots, while wearing an uncomfortable homemade wireless microphone. I chose "Liberty" and "Texas Quickstep," and after one show an audience member asked "I know that first tune was 'Liberty' but what was the second one?" so I don't think it was so well known around here.
BTW, both Taylor brothers, a Republican and a Democrat, served as governor of Tennessee. You might be interested in reading more about Robert Love Taylor: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Love_Taylor
His book "Fiddle and the Bow" (available online if you look) contains one of the earliest references to the term "old time" music that I've found.


Hey Doug, sounds like quite an experience there on stage! I had thought about including the supposed association with Rachel Jackson, but with no evidence, and the fact that the TX OT Fiddling website took that information off, I decided I might be doing more harm than good spreading something that most likely was not true.  I also thought about including more information about the Taylor brothers as well, but the featured fiddler here really is Jim Black. I tried  my best to find information about him, but with no birth/death for him, it was really a crap shoot to figure out which Jim Black in OK in the "era of Thede" was him. :-) One thing I have been finding out is that I'm rarely finding the fiddlers actually residing in the counties in which Thede notes. I don't know if they moved around a lot (some of the counties are really not all that close to each other), or if perhaps they were gathered in counties other than where they lived to play at other's homes, and that's where Thede notated their playing. Still a lot of unknowns and mysteries, but I guess as a researcher I like that. Keeps me going! Thanks for following and commenting, Doug. 

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 05/31/2020 18:26:35

May 31, 2020 - 6:37:36 PM
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263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by RinconMtnErnie

I like the video! We always call it "Rachel, also known as Texas Quickstep". And I mean, every single time we play it we say that.


Thanks! I called it Texas Quickstep aka "Black Jack" because that is how the source fiddler for this specific version referred to it. I, of course, mention other names in the description. Yes, Rachel is really the same tune, but Rachel is more notey than the notation of Jim Black's playing of Texas Quickstep. You'll notice in the Old-Time TOTW series that I use the name that the source fiddler used for the particular version I'm playing, and then mention other names in the descriptions. This is to document the tunes in the most historically accurate way. If you are familiar with the tunes in Thede, you know that many are listed by names that are often different from what the tunes are more commonly known as now. Jenny Nettles is a good example. Thede notated the tune from the playing of W. S. Collins under the name "Jenny Nettles". There is a recording of his son Max playing the tune, but it is called "Cluck Old Hen." Then, we have Bob Holt who called it "Old Charlie Deckard." Is one more correct than the other? Of course not. But when I present that tune, which I leaned from the playing of W. S. Collins, and cite him and Thede as my sources, I must refer to it as Jenny Nettes, with mention of the other names.  Thanks for listening and following Old-Time TOTW. 

May 31, 2020 - 6:38:46 PM
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263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

In case you didn't know, it appears that book was written by an ancestor. I could be wrong but the book is listed under his bio... 

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/taylor-robert-love-1941-robert-taylor-robert-love-taylor-jr


Yeah, Billy, the tune sure got around! I normally don't go into such detail about alternate recordings/fiddlers from the specific source I'm featuring/citing, but in this case, I would have had nothing to write about because I couldn't find out anything about Jim Black. I used the recording of the Taylor Brothers at the end of the video because it was *most* similar to Thede's notation of Black's version. What I am playing is pretty much note for note what Thede notated from Black's playing.  The "Red Headed Fiddlers" recording from the Brunswick record is still more notey than Black's version, and the recording of Max Collins playing the tune (he called it Texas Quickstep as well), is just as notey, if not more notey, but there's an annoying needle scratch sound throughout the whole recording, so I opted for the Brunswick recording to round out my video. 

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 05/31/2020 18:44:14

May 31, 2020 - 8:13:48 PM
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DougD

USA

9609 posts since 12/2/2007

Billy, some confusion there. The book I was thinking of was this one: library.beau.org/gutenberg/2/0...171-h.htm
Its a collection of three lectures he used to give, published in his lifetime and worth a look.
Since I last looked at this, apparently this has been republished by "your" Robert Love Taylor who seems to be a descendant, and who also wrote a "historical novel" with the same title.
Paul, I think you mean you included the Red Headed Fiddlers record in your video. AFAIK there are no recordings of the Taylor brothers playing this or any other tune. The Red Headed Fiddlers is where I learned it.

Jun 1, 2020 - 11:17:12 AM

DougD

USA

9609 posts since 12/2/2007

Looking around, I came across sheet music with this title in the Levy collection. Published in New York in 1841 its in C and bears some resemblance to this tune, although its certainly not identical.
levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/col...n/016/055

Edited by - DougD on 06/01/2020 11:22:56

Jun 1, 2020 - 11:42:51 AM

263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Looking around, I came across sheet music with this title in the Levy collection. Published in New York in 1841 its in C and bears some resemblance to this tune, although its certainly not identical.
levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/col...n/016/055


Interesting, Doug, thanks for sharing that. "A" part is in G, "B" part in C....last "B" is a variation, ends with restatement of the A part. Very cool! 

Jun 1, 2020 - 11:45:57 AM

263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Billy, some confusion there. The book I was thinking of was this one: library.beau.org/gutenberg/2/0...171-h.htm
Its a collection of three lectures he used to give, published in his lifetime and worth a look.
Since I last looked at this, apparently this has been republished by "your" Robert Love Taylor who seems to be a descendant, and who also wrote a "historical novel" with the same title.
Paul, I think you mean you included the Red Headed Fiddlers record in your video. AFAIK there are no recordings of the Taylor brothers playing this or any other tune. The Red Headed Fiddlers is where I learned it.


Oops, yes...Steeley's grandmother's brothers were the Taylor Brothers.  

Jun 1, 2020 - 6:25:13 PM
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252 posts since 7/18/2014

Hello Paul. I’ve noticed in some of your post that sometimes the fiddlers name doesn’t line up with the census county reference. In early Arkansas statehood the counties were really big. As an area became populated, the counties were downsized to become more manageable for local government. Sometimes one of the large counties would be divided two, three or four times. This would happen over many years with no rhyme nor reason of strategy. Each time it happened, all new borders and a new name added, all depending on what year it was. My grandfather lived in the same house all his life, he was born there and he never moved, yet he lived in three counties during his life time. If you were tracking him down through the census reports it would drive you crazy. This may have happened in other states also.

I like the tunes you guys play, thanks for posting them. I would never get to hear them if you guys didn’t play them. Really enjoy your banjer player, tell him so for me. thanks

Jun 1, 2020 - 7:05:45 PM

263 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Astrang

Hello Paul. I’ve noticed in some of your post that sometimes the fiddlers name doesn’t line up with the census county reference. In early Arkansas statehood the counties were really big. As an area became populated, the counties were downsized to become more manageable for local government. Sometimes one of the large counties would be divided two, three or four times. This would happen over many years with no rhyme nor reason of strategy. Each time it happened, all new borders and a new name added, all depending on what year it was. My grandfather lived in the same house all his life, he was born there and he never moved, yet he lived in three counties during his life time. If you were tracking him down through the census reports it would drive you crazy. This may have happened in other states also.

I like the tunes you guys play, thanks for posting them. I would never get to hear them if you guys didn’t play them. Really enjoy your banjer player, tell him so for me. thanks


Hi Randy, thanks for the great information. Very possible that is the case with many of these fiddlers/counties. Definitely something for me to look into. Thanks for the spark. Glad you enjoy Old-Time TOTW! 

Jun 1, 2020 - 7:08:01 PM

263 posts since 7/31/2018

I just copied and pasted your comment and texted it to Stephen. Thanks again, Randy.

Jun 2, 2020 - 10:49:23 AM
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10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Nicely played!

Jun 2, 2020 - 12:17:02 PM
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263 posts since 7/31/2018

Thanks, Peggy!

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