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JEFFERSON CITY. AKA - "Bill Caton's Hornpipe," "Bill Katon's Tune," "Jeff City," "Old Jeff City." AKA and see "Caton's Hornpipe." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Missouri. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Beisswenger & McCann): AA'BB' (Phillips). The tune is associated with African-American fiddler Bill Caton (sometimes Katon), from around Tebbetts, south Calloway County, Missouri, born in the 19th century. The capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, is south, across the Missouri River, from Caton's area. Missouri fiddler Howard Marshall writes: "Mr. Katon was well-known in central Missouri and frequently played dances throughout the area, played over live radio programs, and played for both white and black people's dances...Mr. Katon's name was spelled with a "C" and also with a "K." I have been told he preferred "K." He is buried in the old Tebbetts community cemetery high on a river hill north of Tebbetts in Callaway County MO." "Jefferson City" (also called "Old Jeff City" and "Jeff City" by Caton) appears in R.P. Christeson's Old-Time Fiddler's Repertory, vol. 1 (1973), as an un-named hornpipe. Missouri fiddler Charlie Walden calls it "Bill Caton's Hornpipe" and it is on his list of '100 essential Missouri fiddle tunes'. Iowa fiddler Dwight Lamb also played the tune, but Theodosia, Missouri, fiddler Alton Jones (who can be heard on Rounder 0437) played a somewhat distanced version from that usually heard. Mr. Marshall also remarks: "...It's a square dance tune. The fine part of the tune is striking, as it needs some pretty keen and specific bowing that in a manner that is rarely heard. I learned the tune from the late Jimmy Gilmore of Jefferson City MO and Pete McMahan of Columbia Mo., both of whom were fans of Bill Katon's music. Lyman Enloe and all the other top fiddlers in central Missouri play (played) this tune." Mark Wilson posits a possible connection with "Hog House Rag" (as played by Vesta Johnson), and Drew Beisswenger (2008) also finds resemblance to the Kessinger brothers' "Wild Goose Chase."
Source for notated version: Bill Driver (Missouri) [R.P. Christeson]; Jere Canote [Phillips]; Alton Jones (1918-2002, Theodosia, Missouri) [Beisswenger & McCann].
Printed sources: Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 82. Christeson (Old Time Fiddler's Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 158 (appears as untitled breakdown attributed to Bill Caton). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 123. Songer (Portland Collection, vol. 2), 2005; p. 98.
Recorded sources: Rounder 0437, Alton Jones - "Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, vol. 3: Down in the Border Counties" (2000. Various artists. Appears as "Jeff City"). University of Missouri (cassette), Charlie Walden - "Now That's a Good Tune" (1989. Appears as "Bill Caton's Reel").
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources