Mississippi River Waltz / Mississippi Sawyer


Hammered dulcimer-Cathy; guitar-Dave; fiddle-Howard; harmonica-Knox

The waltz was recorded by the Memphis Jug Band in the early 1930s and has been kicking around the St. Louis old-time music scene for several years, but it was Ellie Grace who caught it and taught it to us. The second tune runs a current in American musical traditions almost as deep as the Mississippi itself. One of the most well known tunes in America, an older title is "The Downfall of Paris," as it was known in Britain and published in 1816. French revolutionaries sang their own words to the tune in the 1780s. 'Sawyer' was a boatsman's term for an uprooted, partially submerged tree whose roots were anchored to the bottom of the streambed. River currents would cause the trunk to bob up and down and often break surface suddenly in front of an unsuspecting boat. A sawyer is also someone who runs a sawmill.