Seneca Square Dance

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X:1 T:Seneca Square Dance S:Sam Long (Oklahoma) M:C| L:1/8 Q:Quick D:County CD 3506, Sam Long - Echoes of the Ozarks (1995) F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/seneca-square-dance Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G G2A2|B2B4B2| d2B2 AG3|B4 B3d|BA3 G4| B4B3B|d2B3AG2|ABAG E2F2|1G4:|2G6|| |:ef|g2{f}g4e2|d2B4ef|ggf2 g3a|b2e4g2-| gaba g2e2|d4 BA G2|ABAG E2F2|G6:|



SENECA SQUARE DANCE. AKA and see “Federal Hornpipe,” "Georgia Boys," “(Got a) Little Home to Go to (1),” “Higher Up the Monkey Climbs,” "John Hoban's Polka,” “Running from the Federals,” “Shelby's Mules,” "Take Me back to Texas," "Waiting for the Federals." Old Time, Breakdown. USA; Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Johnson): ABB (Ford): AABB (Phillips, Songer); AA’BB’ (Beissenger & McCann).

"Seneca Square Dance" has been, and continues to be, a popular tune among regional fiddlers, now widespread and a part of the core "old-time revival" repertory. The origin of the title is obscure. Jim Kimball, a musicologist from Genesco, NY, points out that many Seneca indians (part of the Iroquois nation) were relocated to Oklahoma after the War of 1812, and that there is still a large community of Seneca in the northeastern part of that state, not far from southwest Missouri. They were located between the Wyandot reserve and the Cherokee Nation on the Grand River. The tune may also be called after the town of Seneca, Missouri, in the southwestern part of the state (which may itself have taken its name from the Indian tribe). It appears to have had a long history in the United States, judging from some of the alternate title that suggest pre-Civil War times and hiding from authority. A Civil War connection is made with the alternate title “Shelby’s Mules,” a reference to the Confederate cavalry commander General Joseph Shelby.

Johnson (1982/1988) notes that there is an old hymn set to this tune, but does not give specifics. The melody is known to Irish musicians as "John Hoban's Polka" and appears to be related to the tune “(What Shall We Do with a) Drunken Sailor” and perhaps the gospel song “Rock-a My Soul (in the Bosom of Abraham).” A distanced, somewhat odd although regularly phrased version appears in Pioneer Western Folk Tunes (1948) by champion Arizona fiddler Viola “Mom” Ruth, under the title “Get Away from the Federals” with “Fall of Paris” given as an alternate title (which, as "Downfall of Paris," more commonly belongs to a precursor of "Mississippi Sawyer").

"Seneca Square Dance" was recorded for Gennett Records (#3284) on a 78 RPM record in Richmond, Indiana, in January, 1926, by ‘Fiddlin’ Sam Long of the Ozarks’. Long (1876-1931) was born in Kansas but a resident of Oklahoma and Missouri at various times, who actually won a big contest in Missouri when living in Oklahoma. At the time of the recording Long lived in the northeastern part of the state of Oklahoma, near both the reservation and Seneca, Missouri, just across the state line. The side was also released on the Buddy label (#8019, a subsidiary of Gennett) and the Challenge label (a subsidiary of Sears and Roebuck), albeit on the latter Long is credited under the pseudonym "Fiddlin' Dave Neal." Long recorded the tune via acoustic, not electronic methods in 1926, and despite the rather poor quality of the sound it sold well in the Mid-west and West. Gus Meade and W.L. McNeil researched Long and discovered he had been born in 1876 and died sometime in March 1931 (in Burns, Kansas). He was the first Ozarks fiddler to have been recorded. The Gennett recording was reissued by County Records on an LP entitled “Echoes of the Ozarks” in the 1970's.

Fiddlin' Bob Larkin recorded a version with words called "Higher Up the Monkey Climbs," while Arkansas fiddler Lon Jordan played it as "Take Me back to Texas." Alton Jones (1918-2002) of Theodosia, Mo., calls it "Seneca War Dance" and Cliff Bryan of West Plains calls it "Got No Little Home to Go to." It is infrequently called “Echoes of the Ozarks,” the name of a different tune (by Clyde Davenport, for one). The late John Hartford (2001) notes similarities with “Turkey Buzzard,” and there are musical similarities to “Shoot that Turkey Buzzard," and there are similarities with John Carson's "Hellbound for Alabama" and with the Skillet Lickers "Ride Old Buck to Water."

The melody was featured in the score by Ry Cooder for the film The Long Riders. It seems that one of Cooder’s associates, David Lindley, previously performed an idiosyncratic version when he played with folk-rock musician Jackson Browne. There was no name attached to it and it was called “David's Fiddle Tune” at the time.

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - John Hartford [Phillips]; Sam Long (early-mid 20th century, Mid-West) [Beisswenger & McCann].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 90. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 122. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 2: Occasional Collection of Old Timey Fiddle Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc.), 1982 (revised 1988 & 2003); p. 12. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 125. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 179.

Recorded sources: -County Records CD-3506, Sam Long – “Echoes of the Ozarks, vol. 1” (1995. Reissue recordings, various artists). Gennett Records 3284 (78 RPM), Sam Long (1926). PearlMae Muisc 004-2, Jim Taylor – “The Civil War Collection” (1996). Revonah RS 932, The West Orrtanna String Band "An Orrtanna Home Companion" (1978). Kerry Elkin et al - “Tradition Today.”

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear Sam Long's recording at Slippery Hill [2]



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