Roustabout (1)

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X:1 % T:Roustabout [1] S:Gaither Carlton (N.C.) D:1972 field recording by M:C| L:1/8 N:Repeat 1st strain as needed for vocals. R:Reel Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G G|DEGA BAGG|DEG2 ([GA][G2B2])[GB]|DEGG AGEG|DE G2 [G,3G3]:| |:(A|B2)BB edBA|BBd2 e3B|G2GG BAGE|DG2z G3:|



ROUSTABOUT [1]. AKA and see "Shout Lulu/Lu," "Shout Little Lulu/Lulie." Old-Time, Song and Breakdown. USA; southwestern Va, western N.C. G Major (Gaither Carleton): C Major/G Major (Dent Wimmer): D Major (Dan Tate). Standard or GDgd tuning (fiddle). AABB. A roustabout is an unskilled laborer, often itinerant, and has been used to refer specifically to workers on oil rigs. “Roustabout” is known as a banjo tune/song, and the banjo player employs a special tuning for it. According to Cece Conway (in notes to the recording “Black Banjo Songsters”, Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40079) it “is one of the most important showpieces in the Black banjo repertory,” although it appears to be equally popular among white musicians (Mike Yates, 2002). Yates is of the opinion that the tune probably originated in Virginia and was originally called “Long Steel Rail.”

The rather simple tune has attracted several sets of words, including many "floating" verses. North Carolina fiddler Gaither Carlton, source for the tune for many “revival” fiddle versions of the latter 20th century, sang:

I got a woman and a sweetheart too,
Woman don’t love, but the sweetheart do.

Me and my honey had a falling out,
She called me a red-eyed roustabout.

Took my honey to a peanut stand,
Left her stickin’ to the peanut man.

Tom Carter and Blanton Owen sang:

How can you be so mean to me,
Been so good to you.
Wish to the Lord I'd never been born,
Died when I was so young;
Never be here to eat this salty meat,
Or hear your lying tongue.
Who's Gonna shoe your pretty white foot,
Who's gonna glove your hand;
Who's gonna kiss your ruby red lips,
When I'm in a far off land.
Papa will shoe my pretty white feet,
Mama will glove my hand;
Nobody's gonna kiss my ruby red lips,
'Till you return again.

Dan Tate (b. 1896), of Fancy Gap, Carrol County, Virginia, sang the following verses:

Roustabout, my bare-footed child,
Take your boat to the shore;
There’s a hundred dollar bill and I’ve got no change,
Oh don’t you want to go?

Walkabout, on Sunday my boys,
What pleasure can I see?
When I’ve got a woman in New Orleans,
And she won’t write to me.

So roustabout, my bare-footed bums,
Take your boat to the shore;
There’s a hundred pretty women on the other side,
Oh, don’t you want to go?


Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Fuzzy Mountain String Band (North Carolina), who had the tune from Gaither Carlton {d. 1972} (Deep Gap, N.C.) [Brody, Spadaro].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 236. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 32.

Recorded sources: - Field Recorders’ Collective CD 101, "Fred Cockerham." Heritage XXXIII, Dan Tate (Fancy Gap, Va.) - "Visits" (1981). Kicking Mule 213, Susan Cahill - "Southern Clawhammer Banjo." Musical Traditions MTCD0231, Dan Tate – “Far on the Mountain, vols. 1 & 2” (2002). Rounder 0035, Fuzzy Mountain String Band - "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973). Rounder 0057, Dent Wimmer (Payne's Creek section, Floyd County, Va.) - "Old Originals, vol. 1" (1978. Learned from the Smith boys {John, Dink, and Dan} of Green Creek, Va.). Rounder CD 0439, Fred Cockerham. Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40079, Dink Roberts – “Black Banjo Songsters.”

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]



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