Mike Mitchell's Favorite Jig

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X:1 T:Mike Mitchell's Favorite Jig C:George H. Coes M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Sand Jig B:Coes Album of Jigs and Reels, something new, for professional and amateur violinists, B:leaders of orchestras, quadrille bands, and clog, reel and jig dancers; consisting of a B:Grand Collection of entirely New and Original Clog-Hornpipes, Reels, jigs, B:Scotch Reels, Irish Reels and Jigs, Waltzes, Walk-Arounds, etc. (1876, p. 42) N:Coes performed with the San Francisco Minstrels in California from 1852 to 1859. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:A z/A/c/A/ F/A/E|z/e/f/g/ a2|g/b/z/g/ a/f/e/c/|{e}d/c/d/f/ e/d/B/G/| A/c/z/A/ F/A/E|z/e/f/g/ a2|g/b/z/g/ a/f/e/c/|B/A/z A:| E/G/B/d/ c/A/z|A/c/e/=g/ f/d/z|(3e/f/e/ (3d/c/B/ A/B/c/A/|B/d/f/a/ =g/e/z| e/c/A/a/ f/d/z/e/|g/b/e/g/ a>d|{d}c/B/c/A/ E/G/B/E/|A/a/ zA|| A4|e/ef/ e/c/A/|B4|B/BA/ B/c/d/|e4|z/f/e/d/ e/f/g|B/dB/ EG|A/A,/ zA| A/A,/ zA|B/dB/ EG|A/A,/ zA|A/A,/ zA|e4|z/f/e/d/ e/f/=g|B/dB/ EG|A/A,/ zA:|]



MIKE MITCHELL'S FAVORITE JIG. American, Sand Jig (2/4 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABC. Mike Mitchell (1830-1862) was a blackface minstrel, renowned as a jig dancer, particularly on the West Coast, whom the Cincinnati Gazette in 1854 called "the never-was-outdone dancer of the present age." His tour-de-force was a song called "The Laughing Darkie" to which he danced his specialty, the plantation rattlesnake jig. He was popular and astute enough to form his own minstrel company[1] which toured the American west and even Hawaii. The latter adventure did not go well and Mitchell absconded without paying his bills. Three years later, in 1862, he died at age 32. His obituary in The Oregonian read, in part:

At an early hour yesterday morning, Mike Mitchell, the minstrel and well known as the best Jig dancer ever on this coast was found in the yard of a house where he had been lodging--laying in the snow, and life nearly extinct. A physician was called in, and restoratives applied, but without avail, and he expired shortly after being taken into the house. An inquest was held and the verdict was that the deceased came to his death by freezing, while under the influence of liquor. It appears that on Saturday night Mitchell, while drunk, abused some of his fellow lodgers and on Sunday night, when he asked admittance, then inmates, thinking that his admission would be followed by still further abuse, denied him and being stupefied with liquor, he sank down on the spot and froze to death. Mitchell was a gentleman when sober, and possessed of many fine qualities, and was well liked by his comrades but his love of strong drink over-came him, and like it does thousands of others--dragged him to an early grave. And this died the wandering minstrel. It will be along time his like is seen again in this country.

Edward Le Roy Rice in his Monarchs of Minstrelsy (1911) gives his date of death as Jan. 13, 1862, but has the place as Victoria, British Columbia, instead of Portland.

See also "Mitchell's Favorite", a different tune likely named for the same performer, also contained in Coes' collection.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - George H. Coes (Coes Album of Jigs and Reels, something new, for professional and amateur violinists, leaders of orchestras, quadrille bands, and clog, reel and jig dancers; consisting of a Grand Collection of entirely New and Original Clog-Hornpipes, Reels, jigs, Scotch Reels, Irish Reels and Jigs, Waltzes, Walk-Arounds, etc.), 1876; p. 42.






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  1. Mitchell's Minstrels and Jesters, which opened at Melodeon Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 30, 1855.