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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
JWB Origin: John Cherokee (59* d) RE: John Cherokee 03 Jun 07


I checked my library, and found this chantey only in Hugill (under the title "Alabama") and in Colcord's "Roll and Go". I thought it might be in Abrahams's "Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore" but, no.

Colcord got her version (which she says was a capstan chantey)from Captain Robinson's collection "The Bellman"; he states that he heard it used in Nassau during the American Civil War, for loading cotton. Colcord thinks it's of West Indian origins.

Hugill apparently got it from his West Indian source, Harding the Barbarian, who says it was a hauling song "in fairly common use among coloured crowds in old West Indian Traders."

A quick look in my CD collection turns up recorded version by Bob Webb on "Bank Trollers" (a different approach to the song, to say the least, accompanied by the banza), and by Forebitter on "American Sea Chanteys" (volume 11 of the Chasse-Maree series).

One of the things I find fascinating about the song is it's connection to Downeast: Miramichi, where John Cherokee hails from, is a bay and eponymous port in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick. That means John Cherokee was more likely a Passamoquoddy or Micmac.


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