Ugly Customer (An)

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UGLY CUSTOMER, AN (Rocdaire Granda). AKA and see “After the Hare," "Eleventh of October," "Patrick O'Dermot.” Irish, Reel. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. An 'ugly customer', meaning an ill-natured or vicious individual, has been in slang use at least since the mid-19th century. Given the number of policemen in the Chicago music scene during Chief O'Neill's collecting period, one wonders if the title for the tune (presumably from patrolman Kissane) was the result of occupational banter.

As "After the Hare" the reel was published in Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883), and as "Eleventh of October" in R.M. Levey's Dance Music of Ireland, vol. 2 (1873). The tune also appears as an untitled reel in Brendan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince na hÉireann, vol. 2 (1976, No. 151). The first strain of the strathspey "Duchess of Atholl's Slipper (The)" is similar, although the second parts differ. The resemblance is perhaps incidental and not cognate. Reseracher Conor Ward finds the reel in local manuscripts from County Leitrim and County Longford from the 1880's onwards with Levey's "Eleventh of October" title but also as "Ninth of August (The)." See also the cognate tune "Patrick O'Dermot" in Patrick O'Flannagan's 1860 collection.

Chicago's Irish Music Club, c. 1903. Michael Kissane is in the top row, 2nd from right[1].

Source for notated version: "Kissane" [O'Neill]. Michael Kissane was a member of the Chicago Music Club. He had been a student of blind fiddler Jeremiah Breen of North Kerry, and emigrated to the United States where he became a businessman, "and one of the best Irish fiddlers in the city" [O'Neill, 1913]. Curiously, O'Neill makes little further mention of him in his Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1903). In Chief Francis O'Neill's annual report of 1901 [2] to the Chicago city council, a Michael Kissane is listed as a 4th precinct patrolman who was injured while on duty, but whether this is the same man is unknown.

Printed sources: O’Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 127. O’Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 623, p. 113. O’Neill '(Music of Ireland), 1903; p. 1373.

Recorded sources:

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