Whiskey before Breakfast

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X:1 T:Whiskey Before Breakfast L:1/8 M:C| S:Jay Ungar K:D A,B,D(E D2) D(E|FA)BF A(FED)|G2 [GB]G F2 AF|EDE(F ED)B,G,| A,B,D(E D2) D(E|FA)BF A(FED)|GAB(c dB)GB|AGF(E D4):| |:B d2 (B d4)|(ef)ed c(B A2)|c e2 (c e2) (ef)|gfed c(B (3ABc)| d2 fd c2 ec|BAB(c BA)FD|G2 BG F2 AF|EDE(F D4):|]



WHISKEY BEFORE BREAKFAST. AKA and see "Spirits of the Morning." Canadian (originally), American; Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A widely known tune, often mistaken for an old traditional old time tune (it was even listed on one album as "an Irish tune which has been popular in America for a number of years”). It has generally been credited to the mid-twentieth century Manitoba, Canada, fiddler and composer Andy deJarlis (known for his fine waltzes) probably on the strength of his copyrighted arrangement (it is a common practice among music publishers to copyright arrangements of traditional tunes). " “Whiskey Before Breakfast” was included in deJarlis’ book Canadian Fiddle Tunes from Red River Valley (1957), where he is credited for the arrangement only.
Andy DeJarlis (1914-1975)
According to Paul Gifford, the reel’s popularity in the United States is fairly recent, probably stemming from its inclusion on a Voyager Records LP called “More Fiddle Jam Sessions,” performed by Texas fiddle champion Dick Barrett. It's not clear where Barrett learned it. The tune is often used as musical accompaniment for the quadrille 'Reel of Eight' in Canada; fiddler Myllie Barron (b. 1910 in Manitoba) told Vivian Williams that he heard it played for that dance when he was a boy. Roy Gibbons (1982) notes that “Whiskey” is a favorite of Métis (First Nation) dance troupes in Western Canada, and in this connection Gifford suggests that deJarlis learned the tune from Métis fiddler Teddy Boy Houle’s father (deJarlis himself had Métis blood). The story goes that De Jarlis and the elder Houle were up playing till dawn with the aid of libation before finally passing out. On finally awaking, deJarlis remembered the last tune they played and perhaps gave it the “Whiskey” name. Perlman (1979) identifies it as coming from Canada's Maritime provinces where it is called "Spirits of the Morning."



However, melodic material from "Whiskey before Breakfast" was circulating prior to western Canadian fiddlers. It has been pointed out by several sources that the first strain of the reel is similar to the older melodies “Liverpool Hornpipe,” “Great Eastern Reel (1),” “Bennett's Favorite” and the Irish reels “Silver Spire” and “Greenfields of America." It has also been suggested that the original source for all these tunes may be the British “Speed the Plow.”

Folksinger/multiinstrumentalist Mike Cross wrote words to the melody which have become popular in Bluegrass circles (Bryan Bowers also recorded his song).


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Frank Lowery (Prince Georges, British Columbia) [Gibbon]; Clem Myers [Phillips]; Dick Barrett [Phillips].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 290. Frets Magazine, April 1989; p. 64. Gibbons (As It Comes: Folk Fiddling From Prince George, British Columbia), 1982; No. 3, pp. 14 15 (includes variations). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, Vol. 1), 1994; pp. 254-255 (two versions). Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 168. Sing Out!, 198?, p. 75. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 20.

Recorded sources : - American Heritage 19A, Loyd Wanzer "Plain and Fancy Fiddlin.'" Bay 204, "The Arkansas Sheiks." Fretless 103, "Clem Myers: Northeast Regional Fiddle Champion 1967 & 1970." June Appal 003, John McCutcheon "How Can I Keep From Singing?" (1975. Learned from Ben Hensley, Speedwell, Tenn.). London EBX 4118, Andy DeJarlis "Backwoods Fiddle Tunes.' Marimac 9017, Vesta Johnson (Mo.) "Down Home Rag." Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Association 002, Taylor McBaine (Mo.) "Boone County Fiddler." Revonah RE 924, "The West Orrtanna String Band" (1977). Rounder 0063, Norman Blake "Whiskey Before Breakfast." Voyager 301, Dick Barrett "Fiddle Jam Sessions."

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



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