Annotation:Peter Street (1)

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X:1 T:Untitled T:Peter Street [1] M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel S:Seth Johnson – Woburn Fife Manuscript (c. 1807-40?, p. 44) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G (3B/A/G/ d/G/ (3B/A/G/|d/G/ g/G/ f/G/ e/G/|G (3B/A/G/ d/G/ (3B/A/G/|F/D/A/D/ B/D/A/D/| G (3B/A/G/ d/G/ (3B/A/G/|d/G/ g/G/ f/G/ e/G/|d/^c/d/B/ d/g/d/B/|A/G/A/B/ G2:| |:D (3F/E/D/ A/D/ (3F/E/D/|c/D/B/D/ A/D/G/D/|G (3B/A/G/ d/G/ (3B/A/G/|d/G/g/G/ f/G/e/G/| d/^c/d/B/ g/f/g/e/|d/^c/d/B/ g/f/g/e/|d/B/g/f/ e/d/c/B/|A/G/F/E/ D/E/F/D/:|

PETER STREET [1] (Sráid Phaedair/Peadair). AKA – “Peter Street Lasses," Sweet Peter Street.” AKA and see “Babes in the Woods (3),” “Blackling Races,” “Blanchland Races,” "McGregor's Reel," "Miller's Frolics (2)," "Mudville Frolic," "Timour the Tartar." Scottish, Irish, New England; Reel (cut time). A Major (Cole, Haverty, Miller & Perron, O'Connor, O'Neill, Spadaro): G Major (Breathnach, Eames, Robbins). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Cole, Haverty, O'Connor, O'Neill/1850 & 1001, Spadaro): AA'B (O'Neill/Krassen): AABB (Miller & Perron, Robbins, Sweet): AA'BB' (Breathnach). The melody is known in English and Scottish collections as “Timour the Tartar” (see note for Annotation:Timour the Tartar) for more on the origins, which predate “Peter Street”), however, it appears in the 19th century music manuscript collection of John Burks’ as “Blackling Races,” perhaps a mishearing of another alternate title, "Blanchland Races." The name “Peter Street” first appears in a publication by P. Alday in Dublin, c. 1815, as “A Favourite Dance—as danc’d at Peter Street,” a reference perhaps to Dublin's Peter Street. Peter Street in Liverpool was a notorious 19th-century red-light district, which may have contributed something to the later popularity of that name. The reel "Peter Street" appears in a repertoire list brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997). John Hartford thinks the tune hints of "Olive Branch Hornpipe" (or perhaps, more correctly, vice-versa).

"Peter Street" seems to have enjoyed some former popularity for contra dancing. An early version (as "Peter Street") appears in the music manuscript collection of musician M.E. Eames, frontispiece dated Aug. 22nd, 1859. Nothing is known of the fiddler, although some tune titles in his manuscript suggest Philadelphia, Pa., associations. It was entered as an untitled tune into in the Woburn (Mass.) Fife Manuscript, a ms. collection inscribed with the the name Seth Johnson and "Woburn. April 20th day, 1807. I Bought this Book, 5:3." Entries were made between 1807 and as late as 1840. "Peter Street" probably gained popularity for contra dancing through its appearance in several of Boston publisher Elias Howe's publications.

In Ireland, the reel (as "Peter Street Dance") was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman [1], the c. 1883 collection of County Leitrim piper and fiddler Stephen Grier (Book 2, p. 1 [2]), and dancing master P.D. Reidy's 1890's copybook. Goodman also entered a fragment of "Peter Street Dance" (the first four measures only) in a section of pipe tunes[1]. Philippe Varlet remarks that the tune was often recorded during the 78 RPM era, although not very much in modern times. Early recordings include a 1927 waxing in the United States by concertina player William Mullaly, and a 1936 recording by Co. Sligo/New York fiddler James Morrison accompanied by Tom Carmody on accordion. Piper Leo Rowsome recorded it as well in 1936, and the great accordion player Paddy O'Brien recorded it for a 1950’s Copley EP that had tracks by fiddler Sean McGuire as well. Perhaps the earliest recording is from 1904 by violinist Charles D’Almaine [3], born in 1871 in England, who died in 1943. D’Almaine immigrated to the United States in 1888, and by 1890 had established himself as “instructor on violin” in Evanston, Illinois; by 1910 he had removed to Yonkers, and in 1920 was a chiropractor in New York City. He was not, however, a traditional instrumentalist but rather prolifically recorded a wide variety of popular and classical music.

In some circles the tune is associated with piano accordion players as a “show-off” piece.

An early American version was printed by Boston music publisher Elias Howe in his Second Part of the Musician's Companion (1843) as "McGregor's Reel." Fiddlers prefer the tune in the key of ‘A’, while B/C accordion and tin whistle players prefer it in ‘G’, both of which keys favour their respective instruments; flute player John Clinton set it in 'D', accordingly.

It was the theme song for the popular CBC TV show "The John Allan Cameron Show," featuring the "Cape Breton Symphony" (which featured Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, Wilfred Gillis, John Donald Cameron, and Jerry Holland on fiddles) broadcast 1979-1981.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - piper Seamus Ennis, 1959 (Dublin, Ireland) [Breathnach]; Rev. Luke Donnellan music manuscript collection (c. 1909, Oriel region, south Ulster) [O'Connor].

Printed sources : - Breathnach (Ceol Rince na hÉireann vol. II), 1976; No. 169, p. 88. Clinton (Gems of Ireland: 200 Airs),1841, No. 189, p. 98 (as “Sweet Peter Street”). Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 50. Giblin (Collection of Traditional Irish Dance Music), 1928; 48. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 1), 1858; No. 75, p. 32. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; p. 18. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddlers Repertoire), 1983; No. 153. O'Connor (The Rose in the Gap), 2018; No. 165, p. 89 (as "Peter Street Lasses"). O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 119. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1325, p. 248. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 803, p. 139. Robbins Music Corp. (The Robbins collection of 200 jigs, reels and country dances), New York, 1933; No. 42, p. 14. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 78. Hugh and Lisa Shields (Tunes of the Munster Pipers vol. 2) 2013; No. 553. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 35. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 64.

Recorded sources : - CC61, “Drones and Chanters, vol. 2.” Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 173, Brian Conway – “Consider the Source” (2008). Copley Records EP9-20 (45 RPM), Paddy O’Brien (195?). Okeh 84179 (78 RPM), James Morrison's Trio (1936, 2nd tune, following "Cup of Tea"). RCA 09026-61490-2, The Chieftains - "The Celtic Harp" (1993). Gay McKeon – “Irish Piping Tradition.” Brownrigg BRG GMI 001, Cape Breton Symphony - "Fiddle" (1970's).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [4]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [5]
Alan Ng’s [6]

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  1. James Goodman music manuscript collection Vol. 5, p. 26, No. 37 [7]