Annotation:Shoo Fly

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X:1 T:Shoo Fly M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:Mrs. Joe Person - A Collection of Popular Airs (1889, p. 9) Z:AK/Fiddlers Companion K:G (d/B/|g3) (d/B/|g3) (d/B/|g)(e/d/) BG|[D3A3] (d/A/)|f3 (f/d/)| a3 (a/g/)|fdef|[B3g3]:||:[GB]G2G/A/|Bd [DA]D/F/|[FA] [D2F2] [D/F/]G/| [DA][DB] [B,G]G/A/|[GB]G2G/A/|dB [D2A2]|d>d d>c|BA [B,2G2]:|

X:1 T:Shoo Fly N:From the playing of Clark Kessinger (1896-1975, Saint Albans, W.Va.) M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel Q:"Quick" D: D:Brunswick 554 (78 RPM), The Kessinger Brothers (1930). Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D +slide+"*"d2d2 d3d |d2 d4 (3dcB|AA2F- FG F2|E6 A-B| cc2c- c3B|"**"c2 e4 cB|A2A2 fd e2|1d6(3ABc:|2 d6|| |:f2-|fgfe d2 ef|g2 (f/g/f) e4|efec A2c2|efge fdeg| f2d2[d2f2]ef|gefg e2 (3efg|a2 ab afe2|d6 :| P:Substitutions "*"[F2d2][F2d2][F3d3]d|[F2d2][F4D4] (B/c/B)||"**"ce3 efec||

SHOO FLY. AKA - "Shew fly, don't bother me." American, Reel and Air (cut time). USA; widely known. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Phillips, Silberberg): AA’BB’ (Songer). The original “Shew Fly, Don’t Bother Me” was a “Comic Song and Dance, or Walk Round” (as the sheet music explained) hit for Billy Reeves (words) and Frank Campbell (music) who are often credited with the composition. The songwriting pair were blackface minstrels and claimed the tune, although it has been pointed out that the reference to ‘Company G’ in some song versions suggests Civil War origins. However, a competing and perhaps stronger claims is made for "Shew fly don't bother me" as the work of Thomas Brigham Bishop, who hailed from the village of Wayne, Maine. By his own account, he wrote the song during the Civil War while assigned to command a company of black soldiers. He overheard a casual conversation in which one soldier dismissed the remarks of his fellow soldiers, saying "Shoo fly, don't bother me" to indicate his disdain. This was all the inspiration Bishop needed to fashion a song (in which he included the designation of the unit, Company 'G'). It became almost immediately popular and several versions were published about the same time. Bishop published his in 1869, rather too late, and tried to recapture his claim by proclaiming that his published sheet music was the "Original Copy and Only Authorized Edition." It retained its popularity over the years and was assumed into Americana, especially (and later) as a children's song.

An instrumental version was recorded on 78 RPM for Brunswick Records in 1930 by Kanawha County, West Virginia, fiddler Clark Kessinger (1896-1975). The title appears in list of traditional Ozarks Mountains fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954.

I went down to Shoe-fly's house,
Shoe-fly wasn't home;
I ate up all the meat and bread,
And fed that dog a bone.

Shoe-fly, shoe-fly, don't you bother me,
Stay away from here shoe-fly, I'm as drunk as I can be.

Apple-jack, mollasses,
And lots of cornbread too;
If anyone can handle that,
It's more than I can do.

Beware, beware,
That's what my mother said;
White folk pour mollases,
Upon that darkey's head.

Little cat pour molasses,
Upon that big cat's head.

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Clark Kessinger (West Virginia) [Phillips]; Vivian Willaims (Seattle) [Silberberg].

Printed sources : - Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 220. biography:Mrs. Joe Person (A Collection of Popular Airs), 1889; p. 9. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 143. Silberberg (93 Fiddle Tunes I Didn’t Learn at the Tractor Tavern), 2004; p. 41. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 184.

Recorded sources: -Biograph RC6003, “The Original Bogtrotters” (1968). Brunswick 554 (78 RPM), The Kessinger Brothers (1930). 5 String Productions 5SP05002, The Hoover Uprights – “Known by their Reputation” (2005. Based on the playing of West Virginia fiddler Clark Kessinger).

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

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