Week #376 ~ Buffalo Gals

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    The voting was close this week, but the winner by one vote, is Buffalo Gals, which was submitted as an American Tune.

    Here is a link to notation on abcnotation.com

    Here's a link to notation and lyrics

  2. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    This is the recording I posted a few months ago as an "other tune", based on a polka arrangement for contra dancing by Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni from "Evelyn's Big Book for Mandolins 2015" (available from Amazon). I know the tune mainly from the Woody Guthrie version (later covered by his son Arlo).

    I have played Evelyn's arrangement on two mandolins, tenor guitar and mandocello -- authentic string band/old-time instrumentation on an authentic old-time mandolin...

    1921 Gibson Ajr mandolin (x2)
    Ozark tenor guitar
    Suzuki MC-815 mandocello

  3. Bob Michel
    Bob Michel
    Here's a rough-and-ready version that I put together in a spare hour this afternoon. The setting is just the way I remember playing it in a string band context many years ago (plus a little improvised silliness) With overdubbed guitar and uke.

    Bob Michel
    Near Philly
  4. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Bob.... that was awesome!
  5. Bob Michel
    Bob Michel
    Thanks, Barbara!

    Bob Michel
    Near Philly
  6. Doghearty
    Here's the history of the song, more or less. It originates from the American western fur trade, which got underway after the Lewis and Clark expedition and peaked around 1840. On the plains and among the plains tribes, there was a tradition of holding an all night drum/dance/ritual that was supposed to bring the buffalo herd close by and encourage the fertility of the herd. There is a brief depiction of this in Dances With Wolves-- on the night when Dunbar sees the herd. One of the activities that happened during the Buffalo Dance was-- how shall I put this-- the young men and women were publicly promiscuous--. The fertility thing, don't ya know. The young American fur trappers were distinctly impressed. And that's where the song comes from. In the movie "Mountain Men" (1980) during the big rendezvous scene, the players in the circle dance are playing "Buffalo Gals."

    Now you can read scholarly articles about the widespread popularity of the tune and the song and its many varied permutations beginning in the middle 1840s, but they never quite get around to pinning it down. ;-) It has nothing to do with Buffalo, New York, except the common term.
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