Dick Sliter's

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DICK SLITER'S. American, Schottische or Hornpipe (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Slitter began dancing in the 1830's. Col. T. Allson Bronw remarks in Early History of Negro Minstrelsy:

During the year of 1838, E. P. Christy, Dick Sliter, John Daniels and John Perkins (a Negro jig dancer who played on the jawbone) were giving entertainments in Child’s Alley (now Pine Street), Rochester, N. Y. They charged three cents each admission. They all blacked up and had bones, tambourine, banjo (made out of a gourd), fiddle, jawbone (horse’s), and triangle. The bones used were horse rib fifteen inches long. E. P. Christy was the originator and manager. [Ed. It is interesting the even the 'Negro' performer 'blacked up'].

Sliter was a member of numerous mid-19th century minstrel organizations (as troups often formed and re-formed for various tours and venues), including Booker & Evarts' Minstrels, Grey's Warblers, Booker and Sliter's Minstrels and Dick Sliter's Empire Minstrels. By the 1850's he had a reputation as "the most brilliant dancer of his day" (Ohio State Journal) for his performances on "A Championship Jig," "A Fancy Hornpipe" and similar pieces. Frank Dumont, writing in his article "The Golden Days of Minstrelsy" (New York Clipper, 12/19/1914) wrote:

For a long time, with the early troupes, the jig dancer was monarch of all he surveyed. He posed about attired in a velvet coat, flashy, flowing necktie, glazed cap, tight pants, patent leather shoes with old copper pennies fastened to the heels. He was the star of the troupe. If he signified his intention of quitting the show the entire troupe would almost upon their bended knees beg him to remain and not leave them to their fate. Without the champion jig dancer the minstrel show was a ship without a rudder.

Dick Sliter, John Diamond, Juba (colored boy), Jim Sanford, Billy Birch, Pete Lane, Dick Carroll, Mickey Warren, Hank the Mason, Tommy Peel, Joe Brown, Williams and a few others were the great jig dancers of the early troupes.

Sliter died in May, 1861 in Jackson, Michigan, the year after Buckley's book was published.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Buckley (Buckley's New Banjo Method), 1860; p. 74. Rice (Correct Method for Banjo), 1858; p. 63.

Recorded sources:




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