Welcome Whisky Back Again

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WELCOME WHISKY BACK AGAIN. AKA - "Whiskey Welcome Back Again." Scottish (originally), Canadian; Strathspey. Canada, Cape Breton. B Flat Major (Gow, Skye): A Major (Skinner): C Major (Hardings): D Major (Little): G Major (Williamson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Cranford): AAB (Athole, Little, Skinner, Skye): AABB (Hardings, Williamson): AABB' (Kerr). "Alluding to permitting whiskey to be distilled in the year 1801. It is a merry dancing tune" (Gow). Composed by famed Perthshire fiddler-composer Niel Gow (1727-1807). In many collections (beginning with the Gow family’s Fifth Collection, 1809) it is paired with Gow's "Farewell to Whiskey (1)", lamenting the ban on whiskey making in the late 18th century. It has been set in several keys, however, the composer set it in B flat major.

John Riddell, in his book Aberdeen and its folk, from the 20th to the 50th year of the present century (1868, p. 132) relates an annectode about amateur musician Geordie Donald, a mason by trade...

...whose skill as a player of strathspeys and reels was famous among the fiddling fraternity far beyond the bounds of Aberdeen. When Geordie was in his "potestatur," as I recollect him, he was without rival in his line of performance. I was then myself a devotee, and spent a good deal of spare time in endeavouring, as I best could, to solve the intricacies of the problem stated in the couplet:--

Strange that such difference should be
'Twixt tweedledum and tweedledee!

To hear Geordie's solution of it, as the lively and inspiriting strains flowed from his bow, was a treat of no ordinary kind to an amateur, and his performance was the more admirable that, from hard work at his trade, his fingers had become enlarged and stiff. His precision and delicacy of touch were wonderful notwithstanding, and his style of playing so clear, accurate and tasteful, has never, I believe, been excelled by any performer of Scottish dance-music. Geordie was in great requisition at the several musical instrument makers' workshops in the town, and on most occasions of a "raffle" for disposing of a fiddle--a method of "raising the wind" often resorted to, when trade was dull and funds low--he sat at the head of the table as "Magnus Apollo," illustrating, by his performances on the instrument thrown for, its powers and capacities--a good "fourth string" being with Geordie a great recommendation. At such gatherings the competitors, while the dice box went its rounds, generally regaled themselves by potations, more or less extensive, of the national beverage, and Geordie, who relished a dram, had many a "gill" and "half mutchkin" heartily bestowed upon him for his music. I was once a competitor at an assemblage of this nature where he performed, being thither chiefly to hear his delightful strains. He was then, however, less discursive than usual, for the only tunes he played during my stay in the room were "Farewell to Whisky," as the "stoup" before him waxed lower, and "Welcome whisky back again," as it was replenished.


Source for notated version: Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Carlin (Gow Collection), 1986; No. 229 (appears as "Whiskey Welcome Back Again"). Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 103, p. 43. Gow (Fifth Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1809; p. 36. Hardings All Round Collection, 1905; No. 28, p. 9. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880’s; No. 206, p. 23. Little (Scottish and Cape Breton Fiddle Music in New Hampshire), 1984; p. 10. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 136. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 96. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 291. Williamson (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1976; p. 67.

Recorded sources: Breton Books and Records BOC 1HO, Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald - “Classic Cuts” (reissue of Celtic Records CX 44). Rg Recordings, The Albanach Guitar Duo - "Weave" (2012). SmiddyMade Records, Pete Clark - "Even Now" (2012).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
See J. Scott Skinner's handwritten music notation for the strathspey at the Univ. of Aberdeen's site [3]




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