Queen of the West

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QUEEN OF THE WEST. AKA and see "Reel de Gaspé (3)," "Sumner's Hornpipe." American, Hornpipe. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Cole, Cranford): AA’BB’ (Taylor/Tweed). A hornpipe originally published in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection in 1883, it has been played by fiddlers from several traditions, including old-time, bluegrass and Texas-style, Cape Breton and Irish. The composition was credited to New England bandleader and tune composer Zeke Backus in Ryan’s/Cole's 1000. Backus was also a minstrel performer, and apparently spent at least some time in San Francisco. The melody is very similar to"Sumner's Hornpipe." The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, was known as the Queen of the West in the first decades of the 19th century, however, the “Queen of the West” may refer to a vessel, or even to the someone from the west of Ireland. There was a Queen of the West during the American Civil War, a ship that had the distinction of serving both sides while retaining the same name. Originally a converted ram for the Union that played a part in the 1862 battle of Memphis, and operations the next year around Vicksburg, it was sunk in 1863. The Confederates raised her later the same year and she saw brief service in the Southern navy, until finally set afire and burned during an engagement in Louisiana.

Roger (Georgia Slim) Rutland fiddled this tune on the radio in the 1940’s. Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson also played the tune, also calling it “Sumner’s Hornpipe,” as did Cape Breton fiddler Winston Fitzgerald. Irish fiddler Brendan McGlinchey recorded it under the title “Tosspot (The).” Montreal fiddler Joseph Allard made 78 RPM recordings of the tune under the titles "Reel aux cheveux blancs," "Reel de Gaspé (3)," and "Reel du fricot," and Montreal fiddler Isidor Soucy recorded a version as "Reel des marins."

Source for notated version: Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford]; fiddler Terry Crehan (Clare) [Taylor/Tweed].

Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 101. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 33, p. 12. Fiddler Magazine, Winter 2005/06, vol. 12, No. 4; p. 49. Peoples (Fifty Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1986; 58. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 138. Taylor (Traditional Irish Music: Karen Tweed’s Irish Choice), 1994; p. 39.

Recorded sources: GTD Heritage Trad. HCD 008, Tommy Peoples - "Traditional Irish Music Played on the Fiddle." Rounder CD 11661-7033-2, Natalie MacMaster – “My Roots are Showing” (2000). Natalie MacMaster – “My Roots are Showing.” Solid ROCD 8, “Sharon Shannon” (1991).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]




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