Eli Greene's Cakewalk

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ELI GREEN(E)'S CAKEWALK. Old-Time, Country Rag. USA, Nebraska. A Minor ('A' part) & C Major ('B part) {Christeson}: E Minor ('A' part) & G Major ('B' part) {Phillips, Songer}. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB + Coda (Christeson): AA'BB (Phillips): AA'BB' (Songer). The tune was composed by Sadie Koninsky, published in the late 1890's during the national vogue for cakewalks. Music publisher Edward B. Marks, in his book They All Sang (1934), remembered:

We had a big cakewalk hit, by the way. A young girl from Troy, New York, came into the office one day with a letter of introduction and a tune she had written. Her name was Sadie Koninsky--she had a music counter in a department store. Dave Reed Jr., wrote some words; and "Eli Green's Cakewalk" made a hit. It had only one successful competitor for popular favour, Kerry Mills's "Georgia Camp Meeting." Miss Koninsky never wrote another hit. (p. 94).

The variants that have survived in fiddling tradition usually are somewhat truncated versions of the original. Christeson's source was an elderly man in the 1950's and who had made a living busking among work crews and labor camps in his youth.

Source for notated version: W.A. "Banjo Bill" Lottridge (Lincoln, Nebraska) [Christeson]; Stuart Williams (Seattle, Washington), who learned if from fiddler and folklorist Linda Danielson (Eugene, Oregon), who collected it from Oregon fiddler Wayne Walter, the nephew of Uncle Bob Walters--Christeson's source [Songer].

Printed sources: R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 2), 1984; p. 118-119. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 47. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 71.

Recorded sources: Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Bob Walters (b. 1889) - "Drunken Wagoneer." See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: A Guide to Recorded Sources [1]




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