Weavily Wheat

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WEAVILY WHEAT. AKA - "Weevily Wheat." AKA and see "Christmas Eve (4)," "Prince Charlie." American, Song Tune (cut or 2/4 time). D Major (Phillips): Bb Major (Thomas & Leeder). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. A song and play-party tune mentioned in Will Allen Dromgoole's Sunny Side of the Cumberland (1886). The play-party had figures similar to those of the Virginia Reel, and was popular at church socials in north Georgia and Florida in the last decades of the 19th century where it was known as "Twistification" [Phil Jamison, Hoedowns, Reels and Frolics, 2015, p. 109]. Thomas & Leeder (1939) collected a play-party song in Rowan County, Ky., and said that it went by a variety of names in the region: "Prince Charlie," "Weevily Wheat," "Charlie's Sweet," and "Bonnie Prince Charlie."

Scott & Angel's History of the Thirteenth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry records a unique play-party event during the American Civil War:

...the arrests of Union men were so frequent that notwithstanding the prisoners were sent on to Knoxville as rapidly as possible the jail at Elizabethton would not hold them, and it often became necessary to keep the under guard. William M. Mourley, Andrew C. Fondren, Lawson F Snyder and Isaac Ellis were captured a day or two before Christmas in 1861. The two former were reported as bridge- burners and it was said they were to be shot on Christmas day. The following plan was devised for their escape: Some of the Union girls arranged to have a party at the home of William Hawkins on Christmas Eve and invited the rebel guards and other rebel soldiers to attend. The guards were also invited to the home of James Perry, a Union man, who lived near town, for supper. Perry had provided some good apple brandy to treat them, hoping to get them intoxicated so the prisoners could get away. The guards and prisoners ate supper and drank together and then went to Hawkins' to the party, where Wm. Hawkins and William Shell again treated them to liquor. They were feeeling pretty merry by this time and the girls invited them to engage in a play or dance called "Weavily Wheat." The guards and prisoners all joined in the play except William Gourley. It was understood that he was to be on watch and give the signal when to make a break for liberty. Finally the prisoners and girls commenced singing at the top of their voices and coming down on the floor with their feet with a vengeance; Gourley managed to touch the other prisoners and make a break for the door, the others following. The guards were pretty drunk by this time and the girls kept up the singing and dancing so they did not catch on to the scheme until three of the prisoners had got out into the darkness and were soon safe on the Lynn mountain. The fourth man, Ellis, did not get away but he was not an important prisoner and managed to make his escape the next day.

"Weavily Wheat" was recorded as having been danced at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, as late as the 1940's [Jamison, 2015]. The Lomax's printed these words to the song in American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934):

Oh, Charley he's a nice young man
Charley he's a dandy
Every time he goes to town
He brings them girls some candy

Chorus:
Oh, I won't have none of your weevily wheat
I won't have none of your barley
I'll take some flour and half an hour
And bake a cake for Charley

Charley here and Charley there
And Charley over the ocean
Charley he'll come back some day
If he don't change his notion

Charley loves good wine and ale
And Charley loves good brandy
And Charley loves a pretty girl
As sweet as sugar candy.

Thomas & Leeder (1939) give these words to their "Prince Charlie" version:

Charlie's neat, and Charlie's sweet,
And Charlie is a dandy,
Every time he goes to town,
He brings his girl some candy.

The higher up the cherry tree,
The riper grows the berry;
The more you hug and kiss the girls,
The sooner they will marry.

Over the hill to feed my sheep,
And over the river to Charlie;
Over the river to feed my sheep,
On buckwheat cake and barley.


Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Kerry Blech (Seattle, Wash.) [Phillips]; "as sung by Mrs. Ben Martin of Rowan County, Ky." [Thomas & Leeder].

Printed sources : - Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 164. Thomas & Leeder (Singin' Gathering), 1939; p. 74 (appears as "Prince Charlie").

Recorded sources: -

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



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