Paresis

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PARESIS. AKA and see "Lady Hamilton's Strathspey," "Sailors on Shore," “Sailor’s Return (1) (The).” American, Reel. F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The tune appears, set as a strathspey, in the music manuscript copybook of musician M.E. Eames, frontispiece dated Aug. 22nd, 1859, under the title "Lady Hamilton's Strathspey." Nothing is known of the fiddler, save that a few tune titles in his manuscript suggest Philadelphia, Pa., associations. Paul Cranford (1997) finds the tune related to Robert MacIntosh’s 18th century strathspey “Lady Dalrymple.” It was a favorite of fiddlers Angus Chisholm and Winston Fitzgerald, as well as many other fiddlers of their generation on Cape Breton. O’Neill prints a reel version under the title “The Sailor’s Return.”

Paresis refers to, among other things, the debilitating end-stage of syphilis (there is also another medically-referenced tune in Harding's collection--a hornpipe called "Lone Appendicitis"). Brooks McNamara, writing in his book The New York Concert Saloon: The Devil’s Own Nights (2002), says that the anxiety about gay bars being sources for disease transmission was even more pronounced in the latter 1800’s than it is today, although there was little that was publicly written about the issue.

The scanty evidence that remains suggests that at least a few of the gay saloons—for example, “Paresis Hall” at 392 Bowery—may have had shows, probably mostly presented by customers. But we know little about them. In an 1899 investigation, for example, we are told only that at Paresis Hall, “they had promised to give a show, as they call it, and it seems that the thing fell through.” And in the same report, that customers “get up and sings as women, and dance.” .... (p. 79)


Source for notated version: Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 165, p. 65. Harding (The Harding Collection), 1915. MacIntyre & Cline (Cape Breton: Traditional Style Fiddle Sets with Guitar Tablature), 2011; p. 18.

Recorded sources: Rounder 7018, "Boston Fiddle: The Dudley Street Tradition" (1996). Rounder CD 11661-7033-2, Natalie MacMaster – “My Roots Are Showing” (2000). Lisa Ornstein & Dan Compton - "The Magic Paintbrush."

See also listing at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]
Hear Lisa Ornstein & Dan Compton's recording on youtube.com [2] (last tune in set).




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