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Origins: Short'nin' Bread

DigiTrad:
SHORTENIN' BREAD
SHORT'NIN' BREAD
SHORTNIN' BREAD


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Shortenin' Bread (from Lily May Ledford) (7)
Lyr Req: Mammy's little baby / Shortnin' Bread (22)
Lyr Req: mama's little baby loves shortnin' bread (20)
Lyr Req: Short'nin' Bread (16)
recipe req:shortnin bread (17)
Lyr Req: Shortnen' Bread / Short'nin' Bread (2) (closed)
Help: Shortnin' Bread (2) (closed)
Lyr Req: Short'nin' Bread (18)
Lyr Req: Shortnin' bread (4) (closed)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Shortning Bread


GUEST,David Neale 06 Sep 02 - 05:07 PM
Sorcha 06 Sep 02 - 05:17 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 02 - 06:39 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 02 - 08:08 PM
Stewie 06 Sep 02 - 09:21 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 02 - 10:24 PM
masato sakurai 06 Sep 02 - 10:37 PM
MAG 06 Sep 02 - 11:06 PM
Stewie 06 Sep 02 - 11:57 PM
masato sakurai 07 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM
Sorcha 07 Sep 02 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,david.neale@pandora.be 07 Sep 02 - 12:43 PM
open mike 07 Sep 02 - 01:20 PM
masato sakurai 07 Sep 02 - 08:54 PM
Stewie 07 Sep 02 - 10:54 PM
Stewie 07 Sep 02 - 10:59 PM
Dicho 08 Sep 02 - 01:24 AM
Stewie 08 Sep 02 - 03:07 AM
Stewie 08 Sep 02 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,david.neale@pandora.be 08 Sep 02 - 09:18 AM
Dicho 08 Sep 02 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,ro 03 Apr 03 - 02:37 AM
Stewie 06 Apr 03 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Q 06 Apr 03 - 08:04 PM
Azizi 09 Dec 04 - 10:50 AM
Azizi 09 Dec 04 - 11:13 AM
khandu 09 Dec 04 - 01:17 PM
PoppaGator 09 Dec 04 - 01:33 PM
Q 09 Dec 04 - 06:38 PM
Q 09 Dec 04 - 07:39 PM
Azizi 09 Dec 04 - 08:10 PM
PoppaGator 09 Dec 04 - 08:36 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 09 Dec 04 - 08:45 PM
Azizi 09 Dec 04 - 09:02 PM
Azizi 09 Dec 04 - 09:34 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 09 Dec 04 - 10:24 PM
Q 10 Dec 04 - 01:17 AM
PoppaGator 10 Dec 04 - 05:43 PM
Lighter 10 Dec 04 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 10 Dec 04 - 07:28 PM
Q 10 Dec 04 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Burke 10 Dec 04 - 07:59 PM
Q 10 Dec 04 - 08:26 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Dec 04 - 08:23 PM
Q 11 Dec 04 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 11 Dec 04 - 09:50 PM
Q 11 Dec 04 - 10:33 PM
PoppaGator 11 Dec 04 - 11:12 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 12 Dec 04 - 09:37 AM
Azizi 12 Dec 04 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 12 Dec 04 - 11:22 AM
Q 12 Dec 04 - 02:12 PM
Q 09 Mar 05 - 11:37 PM
GUEST 20 Feb 06 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,katsoup 08 Dec 06 - 12:59 AM
GUEST,thurg 08 Dec 06 - 10:00 AM
Q 08 Dec 06 - 02:43 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 07 - 10:53 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Jan 07 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Jan 07 - 11:43 AM
Q 06 Jan 07 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,Tim Morrill 28 Jan 07 - 07:43 AM
Azizi 28 Jan 07 - 08:53 AM
Azizi 19 Jun 07 - 09:34 PM
Azizi 19 Jun 07 - 09:37 PM
GUEST,When I was young 20 Mar 08 - 08:38 PM
GUEST,geodejerry 07 Feb 11 - 02:17 AM
Q 07 Feb 11 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 15 Dec 14 - 02:33 PM
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Subject: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,David Neale
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 05:07 PM

I'm trying to find the earliest known recording of Shortnin' Bread: who recorded it, when, where...? Any interesting stories/anecdotes about the song, good links, etc.

Ta!


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 05:17 PM

David, go read this thread and the links in it. Does that help at all?


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 06:39 PM

Trad. Ballad index lists Ora Dell Graham 1940 AFS on LC Treas. Probably others earlier.
First recorded instance of the song, 1912, East Tennessee mountain whites; first Negro records, 1915.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 08:08 PM

Shortnin' Bread-Saltin' Bread threads (in add. to one posted by Sorcha):

29791- Shortnin'
15054- Shortnin'
1327- Shortnin'
I don't think anyone has posted a discography.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 09:21 PM

Hi Dicho, I am interested in your source for that first instance being a recording. I am curious because Meade et alia's reference to this is: 'Journal of American Folklore (1915), XXVIII, 142 (from Tennessee mountain whites, 1912)'. That looks to me as if it might have been transcribed and later printed in the journal. Can you clarify this for me? If it is a recording, who recorded it?

Commercial old-timey recordings under the title 'Shortenin' Bread':

Henry Whitter (hca solo) 26 or 27 February 1924 in NYC [OK 40064]
Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers (2 vls, gtr, bjo & vcl) on 3 November 1926 Atlanta [Co 15123-D]
Dykes Magic City Trio (vln, gtr & autohp) on 10 March 1927 NYC [Br 125]
Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers (vln, gtr & bjo, with vcl ref) on 23 March 1927 Atlanta [OK 45112]
Tweedy Brothers (2 vlns & pno) ca March 1928 Richmond [Gnt 6529]
Reeves White County Ramblers (vcl by Lloyd Reaves w/vln, gtr & organ) ca March 1928 Chicago [Vo 5218]
W.H. Hinton (bjo solo) 31 January 1931 San Antonio [Vi unissued]
Cherokee Ramblers (vln, gtr, bjo, hca, jug & wshbd) on 10 July 1935 NYC [De 5162]
Clayton McMichen (vln & gtr) on 1 June 1939 NYC [De 2647]

The Kessinger Brothers (vln & gtr) made a recording under the title 'Shortening Bread' in NYC on 25 June 1929 for Brunswick but it was unissued. It does not appear on the Document 3-CD coverage of their complete recorded works.

MS&M also list a recording by the Crook Brothers String Band (2 hca, 2 gtr & bjo) under the title 'Job in Getting There' on 5 October 1928 Nashville [Vi V40020]

Above discography from Meade, Spottswood and Meade 'Country Music Sources: A Biblio-discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music'.

--Stewie.



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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 10:24 PM

Stewie, I knew you or another expert on discography would come up with a list of recordings older than that reference (ref. to Ora Dell Graham is from the Traditional Ballad Index, no other information given).

The other references to lyrics or music are taken from N. L. White, American Negro Folk Songs, p. 193, where he refers to or quotes lyrics collected by Perrow, 1915, p. 142, "nine stanzas with music as from East Tennessee mountain whites in 1912, ...", J. Am Folklore, var. issues 1912-1915 (as listed in Bibliography in White, American Negro Folk Songs), and other stanzas in White from Mss by Killingsworth 1915-1916 , Harward 1919 and others.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: masato sakurai
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 10:37 PM

"Shortenin' Bread" by Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio (rec. unknown; issued March 1932) [Realaudio], which is not on the Country Music Sources list, and "Shortening Bread" by Dykes Magic City Trio [Realaudio] can be heard online at Honkingduck.

African-Americans who recorded it are: Emma Jane Davis (26 July 1942), Ora Dell Graham (24 Oct. 1940), George James (14 March 1937), Billie James Levi (10 Aug. 1942), Celina Lewis (29 May 1939), Tom McKinney (10 April 1936), Piney Woods School (6-9 May 1938), Ruby Smith (11 Aug. 1942), Henry Truvillion (18 May 1939), and Bobby Leecan (5 April 1927). (Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943, 4th ed., Oxford, 1997)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: MAG
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 11:06 PM

AND Taj Mahal, on Shakin' a Tailfeather.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 11:57 PM

Dicho, thanks for that info.

Masato, MS&M list the Doc Roberts recording separately because it forms part of a 4-part tune, only one part of which, the chorus, relates to 'Shortenin' Bread'. Fiddlin' Doc Roberts and Edgar Boaz recorded the tune as 'My Baby Loves Shortenin' Bread' (vln & gtr) on 1 October 1925 in Richmond [Gnt 3162]. The Fiddling Doc Roberts Trio (vln & 2 gtr) recorded the tune in NYC on 5 March 1931 [Ba 32309 inter alia]. The former (Roberts and Boaz) has been reissued on CD - Document DOCD 8042 - and the latter on DOCD 8044, vols 1 and 3 respectively of Document's 3-CD reissue of Roberts' recorded works.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: masato sakurai
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 04:51 AM

Stewie, thanks.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Sorcha
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 09:51 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,david.neale@pandora.be
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 12:43 PM

Many thanks for these replies! Looks like the earliest commercial recording (which is what I'm looking for) so far is Henry Whitter's 1924 version. I don't care waht colour the performer is -- doesn't come into the equation and could be blue with yellow spots as far as I'm concerned, as long as their from planet Earth! What about the history of the number, though?


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: open mike
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 01:20 PM

i thought this might be a recipe thread--- any body have a good one for shortnin' bread?


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Subject: Lyr Add: SALT RISING BREAD
From: masato sakurai
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 08:54 PM

open mike, there's a RECIPE THREAD.

On the background info (from The Fiddler's Companion):

SHORTENIN' BREAD [1]. Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; east Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, north Georgia, Arkansas. A Major: D Major (Fuzzy Mountain String Band). Standard, ADAD (Reaves White County Ramblers) or AEAE. AABB. The melody has wide currency in the South, and appears in many traditional song collections starting with Perrow (1915). Perrow's version was collected from East Tennessee white singers, and has been called an "east Tennessee favorite" by musicologist Charles Wolfe. Mattie Cole Stanford, in her 1963 book Sourwood Tonic and Sassafras Tea, listed it as one of the tunes played at the turn of the century by fiddler George Cole of Etowah County, Alabama (Cauthen, 1990). It was one of the first tunes recorded by Kentucky fiddler Doc Roberts in the 1920's and was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, from the playing of Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's.
***
African-American collector Thomas Talley, in his book Negro Folk Rhymes (1922, a new edition 1991 edited by Charles Wolfe), prints a unique version of the song as "Salt Rising Bread," which goes:
***
I loves saltin', saltin' bread,
I loves saltin', saltin' bread.
Put on dat skillet, nev' mind de lead,
Caze I'se gwinter cook dat saltin' bread;
Yes, ever since my mammy's been dead,
I'se been makin' an' cookin' dat saltin' bread.
***
'Saltin' bread' seems to refer to bread made from water-ground corn meal, remarks Charles Wolfe, while the more common 'shortenin' bread' is bread mixed with bacon bits or bacon gravy, sometimes called 'cracklin' bread.' See also related tune "Three Little Niggers Layin' in Bed" (Pa.). Krassen (Masters of Old Time Fiddling), 1973; pg. 15. Reiner (Anthology of Fiddle Styles), 1979; pg. 12. County 519, Reaves White County Ramblers - "Echoes of the Ozarks, Vol. 2." County 526, "The Skillet Lickers, Vol. 2" (1973). Gennett 6529 (78 RPM), 1928, Tweedy Brothers (W.Va. brothers Henry, Charles and George playing two fiddles and a piano). Mountain 310, Tommy Jarrell - "Joke on the Puppy" (1976. Learned from his father). Old Homestead OHCSS 191, "Dykes Magic City Trio" (east Tenn.). Rounder 0035, Fuzzy Mountain String Band - "Summer Oaks and Porch" (1973. Learned from Dan Tate, Fancy Gap, Va.). Rounder 0057, Fred Clifton - "Old Originals, Vol. 1" (1978). Rounder 0089, Oscar & Eugene Wright - "Old-Time Fiddle and Guitar Music from West Virginia." Rounder 0320, Bob Carlin & John Hartford - "The Fun of Open Discussion." Voyager VRLP 328-S, "Kenny Hall and the Long Haul String Band" (learned from a Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers recording).

SHORTENIN' BREAD [2]. Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Kentucky. G Major. Standard. AABCC'D. See also the related tune "Irish Cobbler." Source for notated version: James Bryan [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; pg. 222. Conqueror 7975 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts (Ky). Rounder 0175, James Bryan - "Lookout Blues" (1983. Learned from Doc Roberts' recording).

SHORTENIN' BREAD [3]. Old-Time, Breakdown. G Major. Standard. AA'BB'CC'DD'. A variation of version #2. Source for notated version: Gary Lee Moore [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; pg. 221.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 10:54 PM

Alan Lomax noted that it began as a genuine plantation ring game: 'This old ring game tells of the longing of the slaves for the good things on their master's table. The children, of course, felt the sharpest pangs'. [A.Lomax 'Folk Songs of North America' Doubleday 1960 p492].

Henry Whitter's recording is an harmonica solo, so the Skillet Lickers' recording would be the first commercial hillbilly recording of it with vocals.

It is interesting to recall that Whitter was the first old-timey artist to record, some 4 months before Fiddlin' John Carson who 'sparked Okeh's hillbilly movement'. Whitter, a Virginia millhand went to NYC early in March 1923 and somehow persuaded Fred Hager, Okeh's concert and studio band director, to record him. Tests pressings were made of some instrumentals and ballads. His 'Lonesome Road Blues' and 'Wreck of the Southern Old '97', which was later to be made famous by others, were released early in 1924. Archie Green points out that these had master numbers that indicated a December 1923 session and that either Whitter's March test pressings were not assigned master numbers until December 1923 or Whitter was called back to re-record his own material. [ref. Archie Green 'Hillbilly Music: Source and Symbol' Journal of American Folklore July-Sept 1965].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 10:59 PM

Lomax suggested that 'Shortenin' Bread' became widely popular as a result of recordings by the opera singer Lawrence Tibbett and others. [A.Lomax 'Folk Songs of North America' p504].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Dicho
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 01:24 AM

The complete three verses of "Saltin' Bread" (Salt Rising Bread) from Talley is given in thread 29791: Saltin'
The notes by C. K. Wolfe, p. 71, in addition to those given by Masato, state that "Talley was apparently the first to present a black-derived version of this piece, more commonly known as 'Shortenin" Bread.'" It was in the manuscript "Leading Themes Used in Singing Negro Folk Rhymes, Manuscript, ca. 1921, Talley Papers, Fisk University.

As is often the case, Lomax provides no information to verify his statement that "Shortenin' Bread" originated as a "ring game." It does not, as Lomax states, tell "of the longing of the slaves for the good things on their master's table." This is story-teller's invention.
Newman L. White, 1928, in American Negro Folk-Songs, p. 193, says, "I suspect that the 'Shortnin' Bread' song originated with the whites."

Shortnin' bread is made with fine-ground white cornmeal (sometimes with a little flour), usually saturated with lard. Scarborough noted that "saltin' bread" contained bits of bacon or cracklin'. Cracklins are the rind of cured pork, usually shoulder, fried or roasted crisp and dry. Old time southerers, including whites, would snack on strips of cracklin; some still do, saving and preparing the rind from a ham. My wife is one of them. For skillet-fried bread, see the recipes in the thread on corn bread. The Plains and Pueblo Indians and Navajos now make the best frybread, cooked crisp in a pie-shaped round, and usually served dribbled with honey. Usually sold at every gathering. Delicious!


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 03:07 AM

Dicho, you are right that Lomax's statement is undocumented - and very short. But, to muddy the waters again, Harold Courlander ('Negro Folk Music USA' Columbia Uni Press 1963) included it in his chapter headed 'Ring Games And Playparty Songs' with this comment: 'A play song that had burst into popularity a decade or so ago as a show tune is "Shortenin' Bread"'. [Courlander Dover reprint 1992, p160].

Meade, Spottswood & Meade obviously don't think it is of plantation or slavery origin as they include their discography of it under the heading of 'Tunes From the Minstrel Stage' rather than under one of their other categories such as 'Songs of Black Origin' or 'Slavery & Memories of Plantation Life' or 'Black Face Minstrel Pieces'.

As the old-timey bloke said about Napoleon's visit to America: 'scholars differ'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 03:16 AM

Sorry, Courlander's spelling was 'Shortnin'', not 'Shortenin'' as I had it the first paragraph of the previous post.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,david.neale@pandora.be
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 09:18 AM

Masato, great information and links! Many thanks!


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Dicho
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 01:38 PM

The ring game use could be 20th century. Some have noted minstrel lines in some verses; they could be floaters.
One version of "Shortnin' Bread" (in White, from Ms of W. T. Huckabee, 1919, Negro workers in eastern NC):

Two little niggers black as tar,
Tryin' to get to heaven on a 'lectric car.
De street car broke, down dey fell,
'Stead a goin' to heaven they went to hell.

Compare this with another white song (Ms of H. Carder, 1915-1916, again noted in White)
I come to a ribber, an' couldn't get across
So I gib half a dolla for an old blind horse, ---etc.
From the "Original Jim Crow" sung by Tom Rice, "Negro Singers' Own Book, 1846(?).
Just speculation, but when sung to the same rhythm, and cadence, I think I can see how floaters came in from other songs.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have transcripts of these manuscripts? Must be a lot of material buried in them. Might answer some of these questions, or at least provide more fuel for speculation.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,ro
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 02:37 AM


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 07:37 PM

For another slant on the history of this, see Vance Randolph 'Blow the Candle Out: "Unprintable" Ozark Folksongs and Folklore' (Ed. G.Legman) Uni of Arkansas Press 1992, pp 608-609. For information on 'Shortenin' Bread', Legman references the Brown Collection Vol III, pp 535-36. Radolph recorded the following from Mrs M.M. at Springfield, Missouri, in October 1921. She heard it in Stone County, Missouri, in the early 1900s. In his note, Legman describes it as a 'parody or continuation of the minstrel song, "Shortenin' Bread"'.

Two little niggers layin' in bed
One turned over to the other'n an' said
You pee'd in my warm place (4 times)

The doctor come an' the doctor said
Feed them niggers on shortenin' bread

A similar fragment is given from Mrs E.H., Hot Springs, Arkansas 1938. Legman notes that the reference in both versions is to sexual intercourse with 'my warm place' being the vagina.

There is also version C: 'Gates Thomas, in "Publications of the Texas Folklore Society" (1926) vol V, p 163, courageously printed the following':

Two little niggers layin' in the bed
One turned over, and t'other one said
You've wet in my warm place
Gwain tell my mammy
You've wet in my warm place
Gwain tell my mammy

Legman notes that 'various northern white-culture versions exist, some of them replacing the invidious reference to Negroes with an equally invidious reference to "old maids", in this case implied to be lesbians as well'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 08:04 PM

The "old maids" are not just northern. A sister-in-law from Georgia also sings about them. "Learned from her Mama."

Also barnyard.
Two black guinea hens, pickin' at the corn,
Gonna get plucked before tomorrow morn.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 10:50 AM

From 1997-2002 I facilitated sessions for girls & boys ages 5-12 years which explored the creative & performing arts potential of [what many, including myself, consider to be] traditional African American game songs, rhymes, and cheers. Children attending these sessions were also encouraged to share examples of contemporary "playground" rhymes that they knew. Given the neighborhoods that were targeted for these after-school and early evening sessions, most of the girls & boys in attendance were African American.

Introducing children to pre-Civil War & post-emancipation rhymes that they did not know was one way of providing information about African American culture and helping children develop & reinforce their self-esteem/self confidence {for example, over time, most children got over their initial reluctance to be the center person in circle games}. Besides, for the children {and often adult assistants and me} learning & performing these rhymes was fun!

One of the "play party" songs that we "re-claimed" was "Shortnin Bread". For me, re-claiming this song meant changing some of its words and dropping some of its traditional verses. One of the first words to go was the infamous "N word". The "N-g" referent in this song is highly offensive to me, and I believe in this context, parents of those children {and probably the children themselves} would have considered the use of that word to be controversial if not inappropriate. I say this notwithstanding the use of that word in many hip hop songs. That is another subject that I won't go into.

Because the word "Mammy" also has negative connotations, I substituted the word "Mama". However, in this case, I did mention this change to the children and explained why {i.e. "Mammy" was an old fashioned term for "Mama" and we were updating the rhyme}.

Performing this rhyme also provided an opportunity to describe what "shortnin bread" was {see Dicho's 1992 post above} since none of the children or I had ever tasted it}. It may have been more educational to cook some shortnin bread and share a batch with the children, but since I don't eat pork, I passed on this opportunity...

Here is an example of the words we used for this rhyme. Note that in the true tradition of African American [and other] folk rhymes,
I made up two action verses to go with this song.

Mama's little baby loves shortnin shortnin.
Mama's little baby loves shortnin bread.
{repeat 1x}

Put on the skillet. Put on the lid.*
All I want is some shortnin bread.
{repeat 1x}

Hands on your hips. Hands on your head.
Give me some of that shortnin bread.
(repeat 1x}

Touch your toes. Touch your head.
Give me some of that shortnin bread.
(repeat 1x}

Mama's little baby loves shortnin shortnin.
Mama's little baby loves shortnin bread
{repeat 1x}

* I also explained that "skillet" is another word for "frying pan" and "lid" was another word for the cover for the frying pan.

The group performed this "play party" or "dancing song" by choosing a partner and standing facing their partner. The two partners would then hold each other's hands in a criss cross fashion. On the first line each verse they would move their arms back & forth in what I call a scissors move. Their feet remain flat on the ground with their knees slightly bent while they rocked slightly back & forth.
For those familiar with the song "Zudio" , this is the same movement used for that song.

On the second line, both of the partners jump back and forth and one verse flows into the other in syncopated fashion.

I should mention that I received a grant from the Multicultural Arts Initiative of Pittsburgh and Heritage Health Foundation {Braddock, PA}which allowed me to engage a high energy choreography assistant, two parent assistants, and two talented musicians that added instrumental music for our sessions and our public community performances.
The musicians were one djembe {gym bay} African drummer and either an electric keyboardist who added gospel flavored accompaniment or an electric keyboardist who added a decided jazz flavor. While these traditional songs certainly had no musicial accompaniment but handclapping,foot stomping, and {sometimes} pattin juba, in my opinion, the instrumental accompaniment increased the richness of the experience. Unfortunately, due to timing and funding concerns, since 2002, these sessions are only held sporadically.

I would encourage others to experiment with these songs, and share ways that these songs can be revised so that they are more accessible and more acceptable to contemporary audiences of children, youth, and adults.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 11:13 AM

Correction: for the two added action rhymes of Shortnin Bread, the children did the indicated actions while rocking or, for the girls, switching thier hips to the beat of the rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: khandu
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 01:17 PM

Mississippi John Hurt has a version on Vanguards "Last Sessions" collection. Lyrics can be found Here

k


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 01:33 PM

I couldn't find the 1992 recipe info that would have included any pork products, but I know that *lard* (pig fat) was used as shortening for many years in many cultures, and that Crisco (or generic equivalent) is a very effective all-vegetable substitute, using the same quantities, baking times, etc. Maybe you can whip up a batch after all!

I've never understood what was meant by "lead" (rhymes with "bread"), and your interpretation that the word is "lid," as in "cover," makes sense.

I'm surprised that contemporary children were unfamiliar with the word "skillet" and needed it to be defined. In my experiennce, it's not used nearly as commonly as "frying pan," but it's not completely unknown/exotic either. For example, a number of US chain restaurants were promoting "skillet breakfasts" a year or so ago in TV advertising seen by just about everyone.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 06:38 PM

All sorts of skillets on the market here, never called fry(ing) pans in the stores, called frying pans only by oldtimers only now.

The 1850s- Slaves (or po' whites) shortnin' bread was a simple mix of white (usually) corn meal, lard and sugar (unrefined cane) or molasses.

Rough proportions- One pound lard or the pre-used drippings, one cup corn meal, one cup sugar (or equivalent molasses).

Updated and upscale- use fancy flours, sugar and butter.
Nobody has eaten 19th c. shortnin' bread for ages! I doubt that many would eat the updated recipe; they would turn to shortbreads.

We still use lard exclusively for pie crust. Never found a satisfactory substitute.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 07:39 PM

Whoops! Error. FOUR cups fine cornmeal or flour to one pound lard to one cup sugar.
For that, I get no shortnin' bread.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 08:10 PM

PoppaGator & Q,

I struggled to understand the line "Put on the skillet. Put on the lead" until it occurred to me that "lead" rhymed with bread and then I tackled the word "led" and the word "lid" popped in my head.

I probably do qualify as an old timer, but the children I meet with at the cultural sessions I wrote about don't and they don't use the word "skillet". Maybe it's a regional or racial thing, I don't know.

What is really a low down pity & a cryin shame is that these children are also unfamiliar with these words & actions:

shimmy {as in "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" or the non-children's song "Shimmy like my Sister Kate" and

strut {as in "Here comes Sally/struttin down the alley"

They knew "switching" but not "strutting". And they also don't know how to "cakewalk" or "promanade". But they do know how to do the "Butterfly", "Snake" and other contemporary popular social dances, although I'm dating myself because these dances have been retired for a couple of years and "new" {old} dances have taken their place. And these children also know how to "step" {a reference to the synchronized, syncopated foot stompin' group routines that emphasize the creation of bass sounding foot stomps. Steppin is most commonly associated with African American Greek letter fraternities and sororities". And, like these fraternity & sorority step teams, some of the children know how to pat juba, though they don't know that term either.

We're talking urban African American children here. But I believe that many surburban children regardless of race and ethnicity are also be unfamiliar with these terms.

And children, youth, and adults don't know "children's" folk songs either. It's only in day care centers and pre-schools that a few game songs and play party songs such as "Ring Around The Rosie" and "Hokey Pokey" are being taught. Since adults think that these songs are for "toddler & pre-school babies", children think so too.

Once children graduate to elementary school there are few if any in-school or after-school programs that include these cultural artifacts. They could be used to teach history, word building, rhyming, and other language art skills-not to mention critical thinking. But that would be too much like right.

Schools are too busy teaching to the test to teach children how to think and how to appreciate the finer things in life like music and other art forms. Maybe that's a whole 'nother story, but I don't think so.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 08:36 PM

Hah! "But that would be too much like right" -- amen!

It sure is a shame that so much age-old traditional culture may be biting the dust in avor all all-new everything.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 08:45 PM

The Tractors... a country boogie band, to simplify things, did an unusual version of this song a couple of years ago. They do a verse about the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, saying that God kept them alive by sending a little shortnin' bread down from heaven. I don't know if they made it up or not. I enjoyed it so much, I made up a verse about Christ feeding the multitude and the disciples asking how they could be fed. All they had was some little fishes and some shortnin' bread. Don't think I'd ever use it, but I like the idea of combining all the imagery of bread in the bible with a song glorifying shortnin' bread.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 09:02 PM

But someone said there is nothing new under the sun.

It seems to me that a lot of the "new" things are actually a re-working of the old. Think about popular dance steps like the Snake. That dance is really really old, but it was introduced like it was the "latest" dance.

And the "Cuttin The Pigeon's Wing" dance eventually became "Shake A Tail Feather" and all those other bird dances that I can't remember right now. But even if dance styles like clothing styles are re-cycled and repackaged with new names, we lose out because we don't even know that are part of the past.

I'm not saying that the past is better than the present. But I am saying we should learn from the past and we haven't {think Vietnam and Iraq}....

Some may consider these comments to be a long way from the Shortnin Bread song, but if you think about the large number of slave songs that mention food {and stealing the master's chickens} and recognize Shortnin Bread to be a story about the effects of the near starvation diets that {some? many??}slaves had because of insuffient rations, then the comments are not too far removed from what is going on in some parts of the world nowadays. On one level, it's the same old songs about the have and the havenots; the powerful and the powerless...

Of course, on another level, for me, after I "cleaned" up the verses, it's a fun song to sing and move to.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 09:34 PM

My last post about nothing new was in response to PoppaGator. And in that post I was referring to a version of Shortnin Bread like this one found in Dorothy Scaborough's "On The Trail Of Negro Folk-Songs":

Put on de skillet
Put on de led
Mammy's gwine to make
A li'l short'nin bread
Dat ain't all
That she's gwine to do.
She's gwine to make
A li'l coffee too.

Chorus
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin, short'nin,
Mammy's li'l baby loces short'nin bread.
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin, short'nin,
Mammy's li'l baby loces short'nin bread.

Three lil N---'
lyin in bed
Two wus sick
An t'other 'most dead
Sent fo' de doctor
An' de doctor said
"Give dem N----
Some short'nin' bread!"

I slipped in de kitchen,
An' slipped up the led,
An' I slipped my pockets
full ob shortn'nin' bread'
I stole the skillet,
I stole de led,
I stole de gal
To make short'nin bread

De caught me wid de skillet,
Dey caught me wid de led,
An' de caught me wid de gal
Cookin' shortn'in bread.
Paid six dollars for de skillet,
Six dollars for de led,
Stayed six months in jail,
Eatin' shortn'in' bread.

end of quote

Though I can't prove it, I think that the "I slipped in de kitchen;they caught me; spent time in jail lines are newer than the "sick in bed/almost dead lines.

And I've read that real doctors rarely visited sick Black people on the plantations, and that real coffee was rare, and shortnin bread was a treat.. So if the person was imagining having shortnin bread, maybe he/she thought "Since I'm dreaming about something good to eat, I might as well add some coffee in the dream too".

BTW, the scarcity of sugar and sweets like candy in the diet of enslaved African Americans gives added meaning to the "Who'll Take Sugar In The Coffee-o"; "He Loves {Likes}Sugar & Tea" and other such songs...

Also, Scaborough included versions of Shortnin Bread in the lullaby section of her book. Apparently, at some point, this song was became "jazzed" up {made faster}. Versions that I've heard certainly aren't lullabies.

Jerry, your verse sounds interesting. I'd love you to post it.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 09 Dec 04 - 10:24 PM

My mother used to sing 'Momma's little baby love, shortnin shortnin, Momma's little baby love short-en-in bread'. She only ever sang the chorus as far as I can remember, and that when she was baking.

Perhaps she heard it from American servicemen over in England during WWII. She was born in 1927 or 29 - depending how old she felt.

Shortening is an old fashioned word for fat.

Short crust pastry - although in many recipe books is made with butter, or these days margerine, in my family it is made half and half butter and lard. The more fat to flour the shorter the pastry.

English Lardy cake is a truely artery hardening food - if you believe the medical profession. It is bread dough (1 lb)layered with 6 oz of lard, 6 oz of mixed dried fruit, 2 oz of mixed peel and 6 oz of sugar. When the dough had done the first rising to double its volume you roll it out and use one third of the other ingredients, spread the (warmed) lard and press in the fruit over two thirds of it, then fold the unspread third over and then over again - making a double sandwich. Do that twice more but do not roll it out the last time. Put it in a square tin, press down gently and leave to rise for half an hour. Bake at 475degrees Farenheit for 45 minutes, leave to cool until handlable, flick onto a plate and cut it if you are feeling civillised, otherwise tear into big sticky pieces and devour.

There are still folk tales and at least one song I know of English people being sent to America and sold to work on farms - handy way to get rid of unwanted villagers particularly when the poor laws were introduced. In Scotland the people could be driven off the land - but in England with its feudal inheritance people were bound to their parish. Of course England could not supply enough labour and Africa was willing to sell its people - but there would be quite a few unwilling Americans with memories af an English upbringing and yeast risen cakes full of fat and sugar.

By the way, hokey pokey is the stuff Italians(mostly) used to sell in the streets - it is frozen custard, pre-cursor of ice cream.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:17 AM

Shimmy like my sister Kate- the word is lost on young ones here. Originally it was shimmyshake, (possibly derived from chemise says Webster's). Shimmyshake, of course, immediately brings up Kate as a rhyme. Really popular in early jazz dance(about 1915-1920) although the word goes back to the early 19th c.

Anne, Surprised to see "shortening is an ond-fashioned word for fat." In my cookbooks, shortening is the general term for fats, including butter, lard, vegetable fats like Crisco (many years ago Crisco was lard, but it was transformed by the manufacturer). Of course, my cookbooks are not English (except for an old Beeton's we picked up as a curiosity). The "artery-hardening" foods that Anne mentions were a large part of the 19th c. diet in North America as well as in the British Isles. Hard work burnt calories, but poverty and ignorance led to poor diets and illness among the populace in both regions.

On the plantations where sugar cane could be grown, the slaves generally had molasses but not sugar. Corn, molasses, lard, bacon and dried peas (term includes beans) were important parts of the slave diet; "shortnin' bread" filled the belly because better foods were lacking.
Vegetables often were raised in small patches by the slaves but they never had the variety raised by them for the benefit of the owners and overseers. Peas, beans and potatoes were grown and provided on some plantations, but actual quantities and how widespread? Don't know.
There are few studies such as Rosengarten's "Tombee," which examines the actual conduct of a planter's domain. Detailed records are not popular with historians, but they exist and should be better known.
Skilled slaves were valued, and often loaned out. One of many diary entries from the 1850s- "Major's Jack came here and did some work on my boat, paid him in corn and bacon." Many trips by the slaves are listed in the "Tombee" journals; to deliver and pick up materials, to fish on the river, to collect oysters in season, cut timber, etc. (This planter near Beaufort, SC).

Real doctors, as suggested above, generally did not visit the slaves, although the health of the slaves was important to productivity (seldom used by the planters themselves except in real emergencies- at that time, probably just as well). Most plantations maintained a "sickhouse." Nursing was provided by special slaves or by someone from the master's or overseers families. Illness a constant problem. Journal entry, Feb. 1850. "Isaac and Moll still sick. God knows when I will get all of my small force at work. So many mouths to feed & so few to work that it is impossible for me to get along" (Thinks about how to get more Negroes in the field and fewer in the yard). "Out of 30 head to feed, only nine work and make feed for them, then they expect clothes and shoes regularly..."


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:43 PM

"Shortening" is not at all an archaic word, it's very much in current use for fat-as-used-in-baking. Some common current examples of delicacies whose most important ingredient is shortening:

Strawberry shortcake
Shortbread cookies -- e.g., Nabisco "Lorna Doone"

Of course, the above are made with refined white (wheat) flour and plenty of refined white sugar, while old-time sho'tnin' bread was made from coarse corn flour (ideally white, but probably yellow sometimes) and perhaps molasses or cane syrup as sweetening. Still, even the most rudimentary shortnin brad was probably pretty tasty. (I could eat me some right now, in fact!)

I know it's counterintuitive, but the more shortening (fat) in the mix, the lighter the pastry. More strangely yet, lard produces even more delicate pastry than vegetable fat like Crisco. Go figure.

I heard many discussions in my grandmother's kitchen concerning the relative merits of lard vs Crisco in pie crust. This was *long* ago -- early 1950s -- and Crisco had already become a vegetable product while lard was less widely available. So, the switch from animal fat to vegetable oil as the base for solid shortening came much earlier than the more recent trends favoring low-cholesterol foods, vegetarianism, etc. It may have been the result of WWII era rationing of meat(?).


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 06:15 PM

The Andrews Sisters recorded a swing version of "Shortenin' Bread" about sixty years ago. It's probably on CD somewhere. The old 78 may be how the song got to England.

There's never any need to apologize for modifying the lyrics of traditional songs. Azizi's adaptation sounds good to me.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 07:28 PM

Shortening is not a word in use in the UK - I suspect you would get blank looks if you asked where it was kept in the supermarkets.

There are some products labled as vegetable shortening (in small letters) - but it would not really be known as such - vegetarian cooking fat might find it. It would probably be in a specially labled area - vegetarian foods are still not considered 'main stream' in this neck of the woods.

Shortening is not in my ancient pocket Oxford dictionary - the 1947 reprint - though shortbread is, and is universally known - though its etymology would be obscure. Also unlisted is skillet, by the way.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 07:41 PM

Trivia and digression.
Poppagator raised an interesting question- when did Crisco become vegetable? Or was it always? The website, and a web 'facsite' say it was vegetable at the start. "From its introduction in 1911 Crisco has revolutionized the way food is prepared..." "From being the first shortening product made entirely of vegetable oil..." Not completely clear but sounds like it always was vege.
I remember that we bought lard in 10-lb pails when I was a kid. These were recycled as lunch buckets. A 25-lb pail also was available in the grocery.

Found a song about John Ashcroft titled the "Crisco Kid." "(He) was known to anoint himself with Crisco oil in religious ceremonies.+
Crisco Kid


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Burke
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 07:59 PM

Yes, reference sources say it's used more in US than UK. It was recorded as a Suffolk term in 1823. Isn't Suffolk supposed to be one of the main population sources for the early south? I have a vague recollection from Albion's Seed.

OED:
A fat or oil used to make pastry, etc., short.

1796 A. SIMMONS Amer. Cookery 34 Loaf Cakes No. 2 Rub 4 pound of sugar, 3 and a half pound of shortning, (half butter and half lard) into 9 pound of flour. 1823 MOOR Suffolk Words, Shortning, suet or butter, in cake, crust, or bread. ... 1970 SIMON & HOWE Dict. Gastronomy 347/2 Shortening, a culinary term used more in the United States than in Britain and it applies to fats used in making breads, cakes, pastry etc. All fats, even oils, come under this nomenclature and are used because they make mixtures 'short' or tender.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 08:26 PM

Right, Burke. Currently the term is American by 27 years and lardy cake becomes American- But did the Vikings introduce short(e)ning to the Indians and was loaf cake a staple on their ships? And from the Indians to the ---


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 08:23 PM

Flour when mixed with water tends to produce a sticky stringy dough that can be pulled. When fat is Incorporated, especially is the flour is well mixed with the fat before the liquid, 'shortens' the dough, resembling a lot of breadcrumbs.

Compare with a 'short temper'....

For puff pastry, you roll 'normal type dough' out into thin sheets - each separated by fat.

Keeping the fat well chilled before the high heat hits it makes the 'shortened' dough work well. Animal fat tends to more solidity at room temperature, vegetable fats tens to be more fluid, so animal fat will give better results, unless you have highly hydrogenated vegetable fats - in which case you are not getting any health benefits...


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 08:39 PM

The cookbook by Amelia Simmons is noteworthy for the first printing of two other recipes: pumpkin pie and mince pie. I doubt that the latter was original, however.
Pemmican, anyone?


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 09:50 PM

My origins are in Yorkshire - the Kingdom of Elmet - famous for its oat cusine (sorry)

The Northmen invaded and settled the area - it was called the Danelaw. There is a tradition of using oats in cooking there. I have my own recipes for oatcakes and parkin, tend to eat porridge for breakfast, use it to coat fish.

Does the cookbook with the mince pie recipt give the ingredients for the mincemeat? Does it include meat? I think the older mixtures include meat, the more recent just suet.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:33 PM

The prepared mincemeat in jars found in the groceries here contain suet, but a purist demands meat.
Here is an old New York recipe, from the daughter of Marion McLinden, who was in charge of the family kitchen at Sunnyside, Washington Irving's home.

SUNNYSIDE MINCEMEAT PIE

2 pounds lean beef, finely minced
1 pound suet, ground (= English minced)
2 pounds sugar
5 pounds tart apples, pared, cored, chopped
2 pounds muscat raisins
1 pound currants (real currants, not the corinthian raisins sold in groceries as currants)
1 pound sultana raisins
1/2 pound citron, chopped
1/2 pound orange peel, chopped
1 tablespoon salt\1 teapoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon mace
1 quart boiled cider (approx.)
Brandy
Pastry for 2-crust pie.

Mix beef, suet, sugar, fruit, spices and cider in a large kettle. Cover and simmer, stirring frequently for two hours. Add cider as needed. Stir in brandy to taste. Pack into sterilized jars, seal securely, store in a cool place and allow to mellow (ca. one month) before using. makes 5 jars (? size not specified).
Bake two-crust pies at 450 F for 30 minutes. serve warm.
From American Heritage Cookbook, vol. 2.

Here is the one we use, much simpler:

QUICK MINCEMEAT

1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup seeded raisins, chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon boiled cider (we use brandy)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon salt
Stock to moistem
1 cup chopped cooked meat
2 tablespoons fruit jelly

Mix, except meat and jelly, and simmer one hour. Add meat and jelly, cook 15 minutes. From Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook-Book, our standby (1946 or earlier edition, the later ones have cut the fats and messed up the recipes).

Anne, we would like to see your recipe. We eat oatmeal most mornings. All the kids eat prepared dry cereal.


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Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 11:12 PM

I never realized the word "shortening" in this context was relatively unknown in Britain. "Shortcake" and "shortbread" are certainly in use on both sides of the ocean...

By the way, I am thoroughly enjoying the drift this thread has taken.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 09:37 AM

Think I'll throw out an anchor, Poppa..

The verse in the Shortenin' Bread (as they spell it) version on The Tractors album "Farmers In A Changing World" is"

Moses and the children of Israel
Wandering in the desert trying to do God's will
Tired and hungry - almost dead
God sent down some shortenin' bread

They don't acknowledge the song as traditional, and have added another verse, making it more of a love/desire song, so I have no idea whether the Moses verse is traditional. Sure made me smile, though.
The song has a nice, loping, boogie beat to it, which does the song justice.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 10:04 AM

Here's another etymological explanation to add to the mix, from a fascinating website for all lovers of word origins:
Take Our Word For It
http://www.takeourword.com/Issue006.html

From Lawrence Lutman:

What is the derivation of shortening as in shortening bread and what does it have to do with short?

Shortening has nothing to do with short as most of us know it. Instead, there's another word short which describes something which is easily crumbled or brittle. This word short, as in the terms short iron and cold short (both of which refer to brittle iron), comes from a Germanic source, the latter being a corruption of Norwegian and Danish kuldsjśr "coldshort" which, in Swedish, is kallskor. Skor means "timid", in the sense that anything which is crumbly or brittle is not strong but is timid. So, ultimately, shortening is an ingredient (usually butter or another fat) which makes baked goods timid! And I wonder if the Hershey candy-bar-naming committee had that in mind when they chose the name Skor for one of their buttery, slightly crumbly treats. By the way, shortening was first recorded in about 1823.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 11:22 AM

What is citron?

Something citrous obviously - but - what?

Here sultanas and raisins are different things - that is they come in different packets. We don't see them labled with the grape they originated from either - at least not in the supermarkets I frequent.

I think that cooking methods and ingredients tend to last - being passed down the distaff line.

A man might look back on the work his grandfather had to do with amusement or distain, but remember his childhood dinners with fondness.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 02:12 PM

Azizi, like many 'factoid' websites, the one you cite is out of date and jumps to an debatable conclusion. It is best to consult a late edition of the complete Oxford English Dictionary; one after 1987 is needed here since that was when the entries on shortening were last updated. As noted above in posts, Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery" of 1796 has the first printed usage of the word shortening applied to cookery.

First use found so far of shorten in English print in the sense here (to make friable) is 1723, in a discussion of how to make clay suitable for farming by applying sand and chalk. The derivation of this usage is unknown; connection with 'short iron' is unproven. It may derive from the process of manuring farmland.

(Where did the word short come from originally? Some authorities believe it is a Teutonic word, others believe it originally was Latin curtus, modified by the Teutonic people. The Saxon word is curt. The many different applications of the word in English, however, may have little relation to the root word.)

Anne, citron is a thick-skinned fruit related to the lemon, and in cookery it is the preserved rind. Now, the word has been applied to preserved watermelon rind. Real citron is rare except in specialty stores but it shows up in really good fruitcakes. Preserved watermelon rind, dyed green and sold packaged in stores as a substitute, tastes nothing like real citron.

Raisins- many types, all from grape varieties. Sultanas are a light-skinned raisin, often used in cookery. As you say, often just called Sultanas. Muscat raisins are the usual dark-skinned type. Corinthian raisins, usually sold as 'currants' in our groceries, are very small and dark. When I cook oatmeal, I throw in a handful. Real currents are not easy to find in stores, sometimes in the frozen food section.
Over here, porridge refers to any cooked grain cereal, not just oatmeal. Many kinds, made from wheat (Cream of Wheat a popular brand), etc.

Now to add musical content- Jerry, I haven't seen that verse in the collections I have, but it is a good 'un.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 11:37 PM

Lyr. Add: SHORTENED BREAD

Run hyeur, mammy, run hyeur quick!
Shord'n bread make baby sick!
My! don't 'e love shord'n shord'n shord'n
Don't 'e love shord'n bread!

Oh, give me sump'n, I don't kyeur what
Tuh cyore this awful pain I got!
My! don't 'e love shord'n etc.

Two little niggers layin' in bed;
One turned over, en the tother one said,
"My! don't yer love," etc.

Two little niggers layin' in bed;
They sent fer the doctor, en the doctor said,
"Feed them niggers on shord'n," etc.

Two little niggers black ez tar
Tried to go ter heaven on a 'lectric car.

Two little niggers dressed in black
Tried to go to heaven on a railroad-track.

Two little niggers dressed in white
Tried to go to heaven on the tail of a kite.

Two little niggers black as hell
Tried to go to heaven in a pea-nut shell.

Two little niggers in a pea-nut shell
Tried to go to heaven but they went to hell.

From East Tennessee. mountain whites, collected in 1912.
No. 22, with music, an adaptation of that of "Run, Nigger, Run!"
E. C. Perrow, 1915, "Songs and Rhymes from the South," Jour. American Folklore, III, section VII, Songs of the Plantation.

Dorothy Scarborough, in "On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs," collected a similar first verse from Lynchburg, VA, learned from black mammies (p. 151).

This verse, from Texas, collected from young plantation blacks and reported in Scarborough, p. 152, mentions the source of the lard.

Ain't I glad
The old sow's dead:
Mammy's gwine to make
A little short'nin' bread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Feb 06 - 08:44 AM

dose anyone know who wrote shortnin bread??anyone have tab for shortnin bread,mississippi john hurts song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,katsoup
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 12:59 AM

I read in a book (years ago) that the shortnin' bread was the main intagonist. In the early century, shortnin bread killed the poor black familys that consumed it and as often than not, kids made fun in song.

Mammies lil baba
Loves shortnin, shortnin
Mammies lil baba
Loves shortnin bread

Two lil chillun lyin'in bed
One rolled over 'n'
tha otha' one's dead!

It was the shortnin bread itself that killed the children because they loved to eat it and it was bad for them. (Lead poisoning?).

Maybe it's not lid in the lyrics but rather "lead" pronouced as "lid".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 10:00 AM

The lyrics I remember from childhood are just slightly different from any of the lyrics posted so far. Seems to me they were in one of several songbooks my mother refered to, although I'm not certain of that ...



SHORT'NIN' BREAD


Put on the skillet, put on the lid,
Mama's gonna [Mamma gwine?] make a little short'nin' bread.
That ain't all Mamma gonna do,
Mamma gonna make a little coffee,too.

CHORUS
Mamma's little baby love short'nin', short'nin',
Mamma's little baby love short'nin' bread.
(repeat)

Two little chill'uns up in bed,
One just sick, the other 'most dead;
Send for the doctor, the doctor said,
Feed them chill'uns some short'nin' bread.

CHORUS

Stole the skillet, stole the lid,
Stole that gal makin' short'nin' bread;
Paid six dollars for the skillet, paid six dollars for the lid,
Married that gal makin' short'nin' bread.

CHORUS



Among the others mentioned, Sonny Terry recorded a version of this song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:43 PM

Lid in the song has nothing to do with lead.
A diet heavy on shortning bread (essentially corn meal or white flour and lard) lacks essential elements and has been blamed is several studies for higher child mortality among the very poor in Depression and earlier times. Sweetening, if any, would have been molasses.

It is nothing like our shortbread, which is made with eggs, sugar, etc.
In the thread on 'recipe' (see threads listed in the heading), Azizi mentioned cornpone-like recipes flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, etc. I also like cornpones (see recipes given by Azizi) and Indian frybread, but other foods are needed for a good diet.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 07 - 10:53 PM

it would be great if somebody could post a .mp3 version of any of these very old songs.

Joe in Canada
Jan.5, 2007


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Jan 07 - 11:26 AM

In haste now and don't have time to look, but some versions of the song use a different chorus:

I like that shortnin', shortnin',
I like that shortnin' bread.
I like that shortnin', shortnin',
Everybody like that shortnin' bread.

That's used in at least one of the early recordings, if memory serves it may have been Gid Tanner's. It would be worth posting his version since it's the earliest recorded lyric.

I suppose the change may have been made to get away from the "Mammy's little baby loves shortnin'" phrase, which some singers could have felt inapplicable to themselves, to say the very least. It's the one I tend to sing. Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Jan 07 - 11:43 AM

Yes, in fact too much haste. Had I been a little more leisurely I might have noticed that "I like / love that shortnin'" etc. shows up in the earliest versions, like Talley.

Seems to indicate the stage-pattery "Mammy's little baby" version that became standard in 1940s songbooks -- along with analogous transformations of tradition-into-pop like "I got a gal an' you got none, Little Liza Jane" -- did not rule exclusively earlier.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 06 Jan 07 - 02:17 PM

'Mammy' may sound like stage patter, but it was common among both Blacks and Whites at the turn of the century; Al Jolson's signature song on the stage and in the film, 'Mammy," is probably the source of the current antipathy to 'mammy' in these nursery rhymes.

The earliest record of the song (although it is undoubtedly older) is in the collection by Perrow, JAFL 1915, vol. 28, no. 108, p. 142, ""Shortened Bread," with partial score, posted above 09 Mar 05, which begins:
"Run hyeur, mammy, run hyeur quick!"
It was collected from Tennessee "mountain whites."

Talley in "Negro Folk Rhymes," no. 263 (1991 ed.) prints the rhyme under the title "Two Sick Negro Boys," without 'mammy,' but beginning with the often collected verse, "Two liddle N-boys sick in bed." Talley collected many of his songs about the same time as Perrow.
Mammy appears in "Saltin' Bread" (salt-rising bread mixed with bacon bits, etc.) in Talley, Play Rhyme Section, no. 110, which is closely related to "Shortnin' Bread":

Lyr. Add: SALTIN' BREAD

I loves saltin', saltin' bread. (2x)
Put on dat skillet, nev' mind the lead;
Case I'se gwineter cook dat saltin' bread;
Yes, ever since my mammy's been dead,
I'se been makin' an' cookin' dat saltin' bread.

I loves saltin', saltin' bread. (2x)
You loves biscuit, butter an' fat?
I can dance Shiloh better 'an dat.
Does you turn 'round an' shake yo' head?-
Well, I loves saltin', saltin' bread.

I loves saltin', saltin' bread. (2x)
W'en you ax yo' mammy fer butter an' bread,
She don't give nothin' but a stick across yo' head.
On cracklin's, you say, you wants to git fed?
Well, I loves saltin', saltin' bread.
Also posted in thread 29791: Saltin Bread

Mammy makes several appearances in other songs in Talley's Book.

Scarborough also has more than one version of the rhyme with 'mammy.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,Tim Morrill
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 07:43 AM

I have read with interest all of the posts. I'm still curious though. Does "led" refer to lid? Also, does "Cut the pigeon wing" refer to a dance? Or, does "Cut the pigeon wing" refer to slaves actually butchering pigeons for food. I'd appreciate your knowledge and comments. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 08:53 AM

Tim Morrill, I believe that "led" refers to the cover of a fying pan {skillet}. And there's no question that "cut the pigeon wing" is an African American dance from at least the 19th century American South.

In his 1922 book "Negro Folk Rhymes" Thomas W. Talley, an African American professor of Fisk University, indicates that the following references in the rhyme "Juba" were specific dance steps: "skin the Yellow Cat","cut that Pigeon's Wing", "[do] the Jubal Jew", "Raise the Latch", and [do] "the Long Dog Stratch". [Kennikat Press Edition, 1968, p.9; capitalizations by Talley].

There are numerous online references to cutting the pigeon wing dance. Here are three of these references:

When the slaves left the fields, they returned to their cabins and after preparing and eating of their evening meal they gathered around a cabin to sing and moan songs seasoned with African melody. Then to the tune of an old fiddle they danced a dance called the "Green Corn Dance" and "Cut the Pigeon Wing."
http://fcit.usf.edu/Florida/docs/s/slave/slave02.htm

**

"There was an old Negro sitting in the corner of the room
patting his foot and wagging his head squeezing out the
'Mississippi Sawyer', the 'Arkansas Traveler', 'Leather Breeches' and other tunes fashionable in those days. The dancers were cutting the pigeon wing, running the double shuffle and the three-step with great vigor."

http://www.carolinamusicways.org/history_1800.html

**

"The rhythmic echo of feet shuffling on pavement can still be heard on warm summer evenings at downtown Waynesville's old-time street dances. It's a fond sound for many folks in Haywood County who remember nights long ago spent in the loft of a barn on Moody Farm in Maggie Valley, square dancing to the calls of Sam Love Queen, Sr.

Queen was born in 1889 in the shadow of Soco Mountain at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He began to buck dance, or clog, when he was "hoe handle high" as he used to used to say. His grandmother, Sally, was his teacher. It was said that at 96 she could still dance a jig and cut the pigeon wing."

http://mountaingrownmusic.org/sam-queen.html


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 09:34 PM

Somewhat off topic:

Fwiw, the current Mudcat thread BS: Biscuits(cookies): Nature's Wonder Food
thread.cfm?threadid=102644&messages=11 motivated me to look up Internet articles on shortning bread.

Here's one website that may be of interest to Mudcat members & guests:

"Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread

Dedicated to promoting the traditional Irish Soda Bread as baked by our great-great-grandparents.

Over 30,000 soda bread lovers visited this page in March 2006!

If your soda bread has raisins in it, it's called "Spotted Dog"!

If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it's called "cake", not "bread".
...

Here you will find history and background information on Irish Soda bread...The site was inspired by my personal love of historical accuracy and Irish soda bread...

If one searches the internet using the term "Traditional Irish Soda Bread" an amazing number of recipes appear. 98% of them incorrect.

Would "French Bread" (15th century) still be the same if whiskey, raisins, or other ingredients were added to the mix? Would Jewish Motzah still be traditional if chocolate chips and raisins were added? So why is traditional "Irish Soda Bread" (19th century) not given the same respect by modern-day bakers?...

http://www.bookguy.com/cooking/Sodabread.htm

-snip-

Recipes for Irish Soda Bread are given on this page of that site:

http://www.bookguy.com/cooking/SodabreadRecipes.htm

Here is an excerpt from that page:

"All recipes for traditional soda bread contain flour, baking soda, sour milk (buttermilk) and salt.

This was a daily bread that didn't keep long and had to be baked every day or so. It was not a festive "cake" and did not contain whisky, candied fruit, caraway seeds, raisins (add raisins to the recipe and it becomes "Spotted Dog" not to be confused with the pudding made with suet of the same name), or any other ingredient. There are recipes for those type of cakes but they are not the traditional soda bread eaten by the Irish daily since the mid 19th century.   Here are a few basic recipes. Note that measurements below are in American standards. (An Irish teaspoon is not the same as an American teaspoon measurement.)"

...

Brown Bread

3 cups (12 oz) of wheat flour
1 cup (4 oz) of white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt)
2 ounces of butter
14 ounces of buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly crease and flour a cake pan. In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter until the flour is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.

Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Let cool and you are ready to have a buttered slice with a nice cup of tea or coffee.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 09:37 PM

Here's an excerpt of an article that I found while googling the phrase "shortning bread":

"All About Mammy
By William S. Gooch, III, SeeingBlack.com Theater and Dance Critic
Feb 14, 2007, 19:47

Mama's lil' baby loves shortening, shortening,
mama's lil' baby loves shortening bread.

Shortening bread is made from a simple recipe in about 20 minutes; a much shorter time than it took to come up with the Black mammy stereotype. In "The Mammy Project," which played at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City, Michelle Matlock used film, mime, rap lyrics and historical references to explore the origins of the Black mammy, and how that image is still a part of American culture. Moving deftly from Aunt Jemima to Mammy in "Gone With the Wind," to modern-day references (i.e., Whoopi Goldberg in "Corrina, Corrina" and Nell Carter in "Gimme a Break"), Matlock convinced and illuminated with layered character development and well-scripted monologues. Matlock's one-woman performance was everything a work of this nature should beówell researched, thought provoking and entertaining. An expert mime, Matlock used bulging eyeballs and full-toothed grins to enhance her characterization of the docile, subservient Black house servant.

Nancy Green, who portrayed the original Aunt Jemima, is conjured up in this production. Greenóthough not a cookówas hired by the manufacturers of the Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix to be the face of the brand at the 1893 World's Fair Exposition. Matlock portrayed Green as a former slave, grateful for the chance at lifetime employment, who doesn't quite understand how her scripted characterization of the down home, plantation-loving, rotund, house servant is an affront to African Americans of her time. After being snubbed by African Americans on "Colored Day" at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, Green exhaustingly says, " I reckon I will survive this colored day." Using the catch phrase, "I's here," Green's portrayal comforts the mind of Whites who long for the antebellum, pre-Civil War days... Although "The Mammy Project" was just a little over sixty minutes in length, Matlock gave the audience an insightful and funny perspective on the role of the mammy in society. She also encouraged audience members to break free of any boxes or constraints that might impede their personal growth".

http://www.seeingblack.com/article_137.shtml


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,When I was young
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 08:38 PM

My early years late 40's / early 50's I lived in Lynchburg, Va.
We sang the Shortnin Bread, but never with the word Nigger. Even though my grandparents owned slaves, the word nigger didn't cut it. My grandmother would say nigra with no intended disrespect.
We had a Mammy and a maid, one of Mammy's daughters or a niece, and we learned the song from them. The word darky was used.

You know, it was I guess a more politically incorrect world, but there was, by and large, a hell of a lot more respect between the races.

orygunian@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,geodejerry
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 02:17 AM

My college roommate (white) had studied jazz piano in Berkeley in the '50's with African-American teachers, and told me he had been told that the song carries a double meaning: that the "Mammy" in the song is a madam, and "Mammy's li'l baby is one of her clients, and "short'nin' bread" is a code name for an (unspecified) kind of sexual intercourse. He didn't say what the "coffee" referred to...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: Q
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 01:21 PM

Oh my! More nonsense. Almost anything can be read into any song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 02:33 PM

"It is interesting to recall that Whitter was the first old-timey artist to record...."

He wasn't. E.g., fiddler Eck Robertson first recorded in 1922. Sam Moore, born in Florida in 1887, was recording in 1921 ("Laughing Rag" with Horace Davis on the other guitar is on youtube).


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