Eugene Stratton

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EUGENE STRATTON. Scottish, Hornpipe. B-Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Composed by the famous Scots composer and fiddler J. Scott Skinner (1843–1927), recorded by him on a 78 RPM disc in the 1920's, at the end of his career, as part of "The Celebrated Hornpipes" medley. A copy of the melody was written on the back of a postcard [1] and sent by Skinner to Alexander Grant (1856–1942), a younger fiddler of considerable skill, at Inverness in 1905.

Eugene Stratton

New York-born Eugene Stratton (1861–1918) came to England with a minstrel troupe and established himself as a solo music hall performer, whose act included blackface routines at which times he was styled as "The Dandy Coon," or "The Whistling Coon." His most famous song was "Lily of Laguna." He was the President of the Grand Order of the Water Rats in 1896. This charitable group began in 1887 with several music hall performers who owned a trotting pony called Magpie that was winning many races around London. The proceeds from such victories were used to help troubled and distressed music hall stars and to help sustain soup kitchens in London's east end. The name of the group came about when, during a torrential downpour, the pony was being returned to stabling. A horsedrawn taxi driver, seeing the sodden beast shouted: "Blimey, wot you got 'ere?" The trainers replied they had a trotting pony. "Trotting pony!," barked the cabbie, "looks more like a bleedin' water rat."

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Edward Le Roy Rice, in his book Monarchs of Minstrelsy (New York, 1911) gives this brief bio:

EUGENE STRATTON (Ruhlman), who is at the present time one of the most pronounced favourites in England of any man that ever blacked his face, began his stage career about 1878 as one of the Four Arnold Brothers. On the 21st day of October, that year, he opened at Chicago with Haverly's Original Mastodon Minstrels. He was a member of that company when they opened at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England, July 31, 1880. Shortly after this event he went to Moore and Burgess' Minstrels in the same city, where he remained about ten years. In addition to being a good song and dance man, he also developed into a fine comedian. Eugene Stratton was born in Buffalo, N.Y., about 1864. (p. 320).


Source for notated version: Jean Carignan (Montreal, Canada) [Phillips]; Winston Fitzgerald (Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 100. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; p. 3. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Phillips (Natalie MacMaster's Cape Breton Island Fiddle), 2010; p. 32. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: British Isles), 1989; p. 18.

Recorded sources: Flying Fish FF 70572, Frank Ferrel – "Yankee Dreams: Wicked Good Fiddling from New England" (1991). Folkways FG3531, Jean Carignan – "Old Time Fiddle Tunes" (appears as the second tune of 'Bank'). Great Meadow Music GMM 2002, Rodney Miller & David Surette – "New Leaf" (2000). Philo 2001, "Jean Carignan" (appears as the second tune of 'Banks Medley'). Regal Gramaphone Record G.6616, J. Scott Skinner. Rounder RO 7023, Natalie MacMaster – "No Boundaries" (1996. Learned from Dave MacIsaac). Topic 12T280, J. Scott Skinner – "The Strathspey King." Patty Furlong – "Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion" (1999. Learned from box player P.J. Hernon, originally from Connemara).

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index, A Guide to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]




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