Seely Simpkins' Jig

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X:1 T:Seely Simpkins' Jig C:Dan Emmett (1815-1904) N:The tune was entered as No. 48 in Dan Emmett's music manuscript book (Ohio Historical Society, Columbus). M:2/4 L:1/8 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Emin [E2e2][EB]>A|G/>A/B/>G/ E>F|G/>G/G B/G/(d/G/)|G/>G/G B/G/d/G/| [E2e2][EB]>A|G/>A/B/>G/ Ef|g/B/e/g/ f/B/^d/f/|e E3:| |:z/B/d/g/ b2|z/B/e/g/ b2|z/A/d/f/ a2|z/A/d/f/ af| g/<b/ z/B/ b/B/b/B/|f/<a/ z/B/ a/B/a/B/|g/B/e/g/ f/B/^d/f/|e E3!D.C.!:|]



SEELY SIMPKINS. AKA and see "Running through the Rain to Keep Your Hair Dry." A fife tune composed by blackface minstrel Dan Emmett, printed in Bruce and Emmett's ('The Drummers and Fifers Guide') in later in Dan Emmett’s own Fife Instructor , 1880, p. 78. It was named for Knox County, Ohio’s first fiddler. Simpkins, born in 1799, was a man who reportedly “frequented race tracks, and drew crowds and supplied hoe-downs on demand.” Hans Nathan ('Dan Emmett and Negro Minstrelsy, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1962, p. 106) writes:

Mount Vernon (Ohio, birthplace of Dan Emmett) counted a highly unconventional, droll character among its citizens—Seeley Simpkins. Dan must have known him and been impressed by his antics, because he set him a “monument,” many years later, by naming after him one of the tunes in his Fife Instructor. This Simplins was as grotesque as the Ohio wilderness itself: a musician, dancer, self-styled actor, and backwoodsman all at once. While others were content to ride on horseback, he proudly perched on the nick of a bull, taking “an airing around the town, whistling as he went.” In the words of a pioneer history, he was “a great favorite with the squaws and papooses, by reason of his uncommon musical talent. He could mimic any sound of varmint of human, surpassed the lute of Orpheus, and outwhistled all creation. He furnished the music for early musters, and when it took four counties to make a regiment, he gave a challenge to outwhistle any man within them…He frequented race tracks, and drew crowds and supplied hoe-downs on demand.” (Quoted from Norton, History of Knox County)

Simpkins' home was adjacent to another pioneering resident, Thomas Snowdon, an ex-slave who had followed his former master to Mount Vernon; and both were north of the Emmett homestead. Snowdon was a master whistler, and is known to have been the inspiration (if not the composer) of Emmett's famous song "Dixie." For more information on Emmett and the Snowdon family see Howard L. Sacks' article "From the Barn to the Bowery and Back Again: Musical Routes in Rural Ohio, 1800-1829", The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 16, No. 461 (Summer, 2003, pp. 314-338).

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